Creating Great Wines is a Family Business

Peter Morrell looks at some vintages that get tender loving care from their producers

Sandy Oatley (L) and Victor Urrutia (R)

With the benefit of skills and expertise that has been handed down from generation to generation family owned wineries are renown for the quality of the wines that they produce. All own a significant vineyard base, first class winemaking facilities and cellars, giving them quality control from grape to bottle.

They have a story to tell about heritage, provenance and authenticity along with a comprehensive range of award winning wines. I have recently been sampling a couple and can also recommend another four that are well worth trying.

Robert Oatley

Sandy Oatley – Andrew ‘Sandy’ Oatley joined his father’s business straight out of high school. Today, he stands at the helm of the company, running all of the family’s commercial activities.

Robert Oatley Signature Cabernet Sauvignon 2014
From the northern end of Margaret River, around the Wilyabrup area, aged in French oak for 10-12 months. A full-flavoured Cabernet of great appeal – black berries, dried leaves and fine tannins.

Available with an RRP of £13.60 from The Co-op, The Halifax Wine Company, Hailsham Cellars, Islington Wine, The Oxford Wine Company, Cambridge Wine Merchants.

AMG Notes
This single varietal has a deep garnet colour with powerful aromas of dark cherry and blackcurrants in the bouquet. On the palate there are good vanilla flavours from the oak ageing combined with fruity tones and spices. The well structured tannins give the wine a smooth quality and the finish is long and persistent.

Pair this with BBQ meats and strong cheeses like a mature cheddar or stilton.


Victor Urrutia – CEO of C.V.N.E, is a direct descendent of the founding brothers and is closely involved with the day to day management of the wineries.

Cune Rioja Reserva 2012
Hallmark C.V.N.E. fruit shines through in this fine Reserva. Two years in American and French oak casks give greater complexity and smooth tannins along with enticing brambly and sweet spice aromas.

Available with an RRP of £15.40 from Majestic, Waitrose, Wholefoods, Wine Rack, Fresh and Wild, Eynsham Cellars, Islington Wine

AMG Notes
This Tempranillo dominant wine is a fine example of why Rioja remains centre stage with the wine drinking public. Bright flashes in its dark red hue are the introduction to a range of aromas on the nose. There are strong blackberry notes which are joined by plum and cherry fruit flavours in the mouth. There are complex spice tones and the barrel and bottle ageing have balanced the tannins. The finish is bright and satisfying.

Match this wine with slow roasted shoulder of lamb, game casseroles and pasta with ragu.

Villa Maria

Sir George Fistonich – Owner and Managing Director, founded Villa Maria in 1961 with just an acre of grapes, making wine in his parents’ garage. He remains at the helm today, with his daughter Karen now becoming more actively involved in the business too.

Villa Maria Reserve Wairau Valley Sauvignon Blanc 2016
Harvested in the cool of night to retain maximum aromatic complexity, this wine is blended from premium vineyards in the warm Wairau Valley. Fresh and zesty and then opulent and textured with dense tropical fruit.

Available with an RRP of £15.40 from Asda, Majestic, Wine Rack, Victor Hugo Wines, Ann et Vin, Bacchus Wine, Hailsham Cellars, Fenwick, Luvians Bottleshop

Jean-Luc Colombo

Father, Mother and Daughter make up the Colombo family team in Cornas – from oenologist to winemakers and sales.

Jean-Luc Colombo Côtes du Rhone Les Abeilles Rouge 2014
A classic Rhône blend with plenty of fruit flavours, fresh acidity and a pleasant silky texture on the palate. A great food-friendly and accessible wine.

Available with an RRP of £12.15 from Wine Rack, Kingsgate Wines, Vino Wines, The Clifton
Cellars, The Oxford Wine Company, Islington Wine, Noble Green Wines


Eduardo Chadwick – President. Eduardo is Don Maximiano’s descendent and the 6th generation of his family to be involved in winemaking.

Errazuriz Max Reserva Cabernet Sauvignon 2014
Quintessential top Chilean Cabernet: a blackcurrant explosion with fine tannins, careful oak ageing and great complexity.

Available with an RRP of £14.75 from Waitrose, Vino Wines, Hailsham Cellars, Partridges of Sloane Street, Village Wines (Amersham)

Kleine Zalze

Kobus Basson – MD and Co-Owner – Winemaking has taken place at Kleine Zalze since 1695 but it was in 1996, when Kobus and his family purchased the property, that the modern Kleine Zalze was born.

Zalze Bush Vines Chenin Blanc 2016
A dry, zesty Chenin with a succulent palate of crisp pear and tropical pineapple with more vibrant guava notes that jump out of the glass.

Available with an RRP of £8.29 from Waitrose, Morrisons, Booths