Believing that wine had medicinal powers, a young doctor named Christopher Rawson gave rise to one of the best-known wine producing companies in the world.
Although Portugal is a producing country, there are always those who like to try wines from other stops. Recognized worldwide for the wines it produces, Penfolds is now very present on the shelves of supermarkets and national wine cellars.
The history of the company dates back to the 19th century. Born London in 1811, Christopher Rawson was the youngest of eleven siblings, but from an early age proved to hold a strong personality and a strong aptitude to pursue a career in medicine. It was also in the British capital that he graduated and married, eventually emigrating to Australia, the land of opportunity. However, before travelling he managed to acquire some strains from the south of France, which he planted around the small stone house (Grange Cottage) he built in Magill, on the outskirts of Adelaide.
Like other doctors of the time, Christopher Rawson believed that wines had healing powers, hence having invested in a small production of fortified (Port and Sherry style) that prescribed to his patients. The tasty wine was so successful, that the orders were no longer enough for the orders. For this reason, it decided to expand its vineyards and produced even more wines.
After the doctor's death in 1870, it was his wife Mary Penfold who continued to run the business, and his role was instrumental in the development and success of the small business. In 1881, Mary accumulated more than 500,000 litres of wine, a record for the time, as it represented more than a third of the wine stored throughout South Australia. And although he retired in 1884, he continued to exercise his influence in the company until his death in 1895, when the business was managed by Georgina and Thomas Hyland, his daughter and son-in-law. At the turn of the century, the vineyard went from 50 to 120 hectares, a growth that strongly solidified the company's name.
Georgina and Thomas had four children, all involved in the life of the company, two of which, Frank Astor Hyland (born 1873) and Herbert Leslie Hyland (born 1878), played roles of greater responsibility, directing her until the beginning of World War II. It was during this time that the company changed its name to Penfold Hyland. However, during the 1920s, the company already dominated the wine market: in every two bottles of wine sold in Australia, one era of Penfolds.
Even during World War II, the company, which until then had produced only fortified wines and Brandy, also began to bet on table wines.
A new stage
During the 1950s, the descendants of Frank and Herbert Hyland changed the company's philosophy, as consumer taste focused more on table wines.
Max Schubert, who during the 1930s had worked as a errand boy at the company, later became an oenologist, later returning to Penfolds to perform this role. In 1951, based on what he had learned in France, he produced the first experimental vintage, the "Grange Hermitage", a Shiraz based on the great French wines with great capacity to age. Back in the '60s, Schubert and his team, were responsible for the development of the wine range, including: 'Bin 707 Cabernet Sauvignon', 'Bin 389 Cabernet Shiraz', 'Bin 28 Kalimma Shiraz', 'Bin 128 Coonawarra Shiraz', Bin 2 Shiraz Mataro' (Mourvedre) and, in 1976, the 'Koonunga Hillraz Shi Cabernet'. Since then, his successors have continued to produce high-quality wines, many of which have become rare and desirable references for both consumers and collectors.
It will also be in 1962 that Penfolds becomes a public company, while maintaining respect for the founder's family traditions and commitment to the quality of wines.
Penfolds, a symbol of quality
Today, Penfolds is considered one of the most important and powerful wine producing companies in the world, the result of work developed more than a century ago. However, it does not accommodate the laurels achieved, always investing in research and new technologies that allow the continuous production of high quality wines.
In addition to the vineyards around the founder's small house in Magill (Adelaide) Penfolds has been acquiring other vineyards in Barossa Valley, McLaren Vale, Clare Valley, Coonawarra, among other regions.
However, Magill (in Adelaide) is the centre of it all. This is where the visitor fully becomes emcaught in the history of this company and understands, better than ever, its philosophy. In addition to guided tours of the founder's house, wineries and vineyards, there is also a place where it is also worth wasting a few hours, without looking at the expense: the modern and luxurious «Magill Estate Restaurant» - a space where Australian, French and Italian cuisine merge, in full harmony, with the wines produced by Penfolds.