ROBERT OATLEY AO, FOUNDER
(1928 — 2016)
Robert Oatley Vineyards is not a recreation but a reinforcement of the family’s on-going commitment to the Australian wine industry.
In the fields of wine, coffee, tourism and yachting, Bob Oatley not only made his mark nationally and internationally but also raised Australia’s profile and boosted its prosperity. The Oatley family history goes back to almost the beginning of European settlement in Australia, as evidenced by the name carried by the Sydney suburb of Oatley.
That family name is now renowned in wine, tourism and yachting – all due to Bob Oatley, his dedication to his country and solid family enterprise.
BOB OATLEY – A PROUD AND PASSIONATE AUSSIE
Bob Oatley was a proud and passionate fifth-generation Australian who has taken Australian wine to the world.
He built a diverse family business that runs from vineyards, wineries and cattle stations, through to thoroughbred horses and luxury tourism at Hamilton Island on Australia’s iconic Great Barrier Reef.
It’s often said that success is all a matter of timing and Bob Oatley had that in spades.
His instinctive nature and ability to seize an opportunity has seen him lead the way in the world of wine, developing new styles, varietals and markets and in doing so, taking his own business and the Australian wine industry on to dizzying new heights.
“Bob was a great believer in what is possible,” says his long-standing friend and colleague Chris Hancock, “and a great believer in the people around him. He gave people strength, individuality and presence. He turned ordinary people into extraordinary people. Just being in his presence made you a different person. It’s quite amazing.”
Having enjoyed tremendous success marketing Papua New Guinea’s coffee and cocoa beans throughout the world in the 1950s and 60s, Bob Oatley established the now famous Hunter Valley-based Rosemount Estate, producing his first commercial vintages in the early 1970s.
Over the ensuing three decades his wines developed an impressive pedigree – gracing the world’s best wine lists and winning many of the highest accolades, whilst consistently topping sales in Australia, the UK and USA.
Bob stepped back from the world of wine in 2005, returning, with a sparkle in his eye, just one year later launching his eponymous label in Australia and shortly thereafter, the USA and Europe.
Bob Oatley was appointed an Officer of the Order of Australia (AO) in the 2014 Australia Day Honours and passed away after a short illness in January 2016, aged 87.
Today, the family’s winemaking home is Mudgee, 261 km north-west of Sydney, a region of sunshine, ancient red-brown earths and a rich winemaking history. The wines are produced from a diverse set of family-owned vineyards spread throughout the Mudgee region as well as grapes grown for the family from vineyards as far away as Margaret River and Pemberton, Western Australia. Fittingly, in 2017 they opened a cellar door and restaurant in Margaret River.
It’s a mark of the man, that despite the fame of Hamilton Island, Rosemount Estate and his super-maxi yacht Wild Oats XI, Bob Oatley was little-known outside of his close circle of friends.
There are precious few profile stories about Bob Oatley – he was a man of actions rather than words.
In short, he simply preferred to let his wine ‘do the talking’.