Our History & Heritage

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OUR HERITAGE

With six consecutive generations of winemakers and over 140 years of experience, the wines we make are more than just quality, award-winning wines. They are wines that tell the story of our family and a century long love affair with winemaking.

SAMUEL MCWILLIAM STARTS A LEGACY

1830 – 1902

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1830

Samuel McWilliam is born in Raloo, Northern Ireland.

1857

Samuel McWilliam arrives in Melbourne aboard the “Morning Light”.

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1868

John James (J.J.) McWilliam is born to Samuel and Martha McWilliam.

1877

Samuel McWilliam plants his first vines on the outskirts of Corowa, NSW at the Sunnyside Vineyard and Winery

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1904

Samuel McWilliam passes away and his daughter Eliza Jane starts to manage the Sunnyside vineyard and winery operations with the support of her two younger sisters, Rose May and Mary.

Under Eliza Jane’s leadership, they were able to sustain the business for a few years before selling the property to her brother J.J. McWilliam in 1907. 

JJ MCWILLIAM EXPANDS THE BUSINESS

1913

J.J. McWilliam carts 50,000 vines to the Riverina, pioneering the wine industry in the region. He plants them in a nursery and waters the vines from water sourced elsewhere until irrigation arrives the following year.

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1917

J.J. McWilliam opens the Hanwood Estate winery.

1922

McWilliam's commence construction on their second winery in Yenda, NSW.

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1935

The first McWilliam’s wines are exported internationally to the UK.

1941

The McWilliam family acquire Mount Pleasant estate in the Hunter Valley. THE Legendary Maurice O’Shea, who was retained as Chief Winemaker, went on to make some of Australia’s greatest wines.

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1943

McWilliam's purchases the Bellbangera Coop winery, originally established in 1926 by Leo Buring

1953

JJ McWilliam passes away

1960

McWilliam’s release their first varietal table wines to accommodate Australian’s growing appreciation of premium table wines. Previously, the nation was very much driven by spirits and fortified wines.

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1973

A new Cellar Door at Hanwood Estate is opened. The building, which is shaped to the precise scale of a wine barrel, was designed by Glen McWilliam. The Cellar Door remains at the site today.

1977

McWilliam’s Family Winemakers celebrate their centenary. This marks the 100 year anniversary of when Samuel McWilliam planted his first vines on the outskirts of Corowa, NSW.

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1980

The Robinvale Winery in the 1980s

1982

McWilliam's Wines become the official wine sponsors of the 1982 Commonwealth Games.

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1990

The McWilliam family inaugurate the McWilliam's Maurice O’Shea award. The awards are considered Australia’s most prestigious wine award.

1994

McWilliam's Wines expand into the Coonawarra and Yarra Valley wine regions.

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2009

McWilliam's complete construction on a new premium winery at their Hanwood Estate, focusing on small batch production of cool climate Pinot Noir and Chardonnay.

2012

McWilliam’s is awarded Most Successful Exhibitor at the Sydney Royal Wine Show for an unprecedented 18th consecutive year

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2017

McWilliam’s Wines celebrates 140 years since Founder Samuel McWilliam’s planted his first vines on the outskirts of Corowa, NSW.

2019

Mel McWilliam joins the winemaking team and is welcomed as a 6th generation winemaker. 

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2021

Calabria Family Wines acquires the McWilliam's Family Brands, a year after it went into administration.

2022

McWilliam's named in Drinks International Top 50 Most Admired Wine Brands

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2022

The Australian Industry Wine Awards proudly celebrates the Maurice O’Shea Award and a new award - the McWilliam’s Excellence in Action Award.

Winners - Pamela Dunsford OAM and the Australian Women in Wine Awards