Michael and Wendy O'Dea followed their dream to develop and open their own Winery. After many years visiting wine regions and being envious of the people working in the wine industry, they did a lot of research, developed a cunning plan, sold their home and moved to Murrumbateman - home to serious wines. They moved to Murrumbateman in 1996 and worked towards a planting of vines in 1998. It took a couple of years to pull down fences, set up trellising and install irrigation.
Located at an altitude of 600m Dionysus Winery is ideally suited to the production of high quality wine. The vineyard was planted over three years, commencing in 1998. In all, 10 acres of vines have been planted. The varieties planted were: Cabernet Sauvignon; Shiraz; Pinot Noir; Merlot; Chardonnay; Sauvignon Blanc; and Riesling. Since the original planting and after many a discussion between Michael and Wendy, we have now planted Tempranillo, Viognier and Gamay.
The winery was constructed in 2000 and operation commenced at the beginning of 2001. After several years of hard work, worry about the weather and balancing full time jobs as well, Michael and Wendy produced a decent crop of Cabernet and Shiraz in the first year. Not bad for a pair of public servants! Having just finished their 12th vintage the wines are proving to be very popular at cellar door. The range has expanded, the oak has changed and the label has changed since the first vintage. Michael and Wendy strive to contiunally improve the overall experience at Dionysus Winery.
Over the years Michael has been able to reduce his other job and now is full time at the vineyard and winery. Michael has completed an Associate Degree in Winegrowing at Charles Sturt University and is chiefly responsible for Winemaking and Viticulture. Wendy has completed Viticulture and Winemaking Courses at the Canberra Institute of TAFE as well as a Small Business Management Course and is chiefly responsible for wine marketing and business planning.
Who is Dionysus?
The winery was named after the Greek God, Dionysus. Dionysus was a very interesting God who led his life to the full. Born to the great god, Zeus and a mortal woman, Semele, Dionysus grew to be a bit of a party boy and a womaniser. He used to frollick in the forest with a group of women called Maenads. These women would abandon themselves to the god and forget that they were wives, mothers sisters and daughters. They took time out of their busy lives to pleasure themselves. Things got a bit grim at the end of the night for their playthings!
Dionysus finally met and fell in love with a beautiful princess, Ariadne on the island of Naxos. Ariadne was a bit tired from having saved Theseus (by giving him a ball of string and helping him slay the Minotaur) and then being dumpled and left on the island. Dionysus and Ariadne led a happy life ands had many children.
At Dionysus Winery we celebrate the important women in the life of Dionysus by naming the Rose after the Maenads and the Sparkling Chardonnay/Pimot Noir after Ariadne.
A note of warning for the above information - don't use this as a reference in any academic papers! It is true but probably not in keeping with the many fine writings about Greek Mythology.
It's not all about Michael and Wendy!
Dionysus Winery is a very small, boutique winery that is family owned and operated. An impossible task for two people that requires the support and hard work of friends and family. The vineyard was set up using free labour from family and friends and the first planting was an excuse for 50 people to try out their gardening and partying skills! The first vine was planted on 3 October 1998 by Wendy's grandmother, May (on her 89th birthday), followed by another 3000 vines planted by friends and family. The planting was quick, although several vines did have to be replanted the right way up on the following day!
Since the first planting we have had tremendous support from our kids, Peter and Lizzy as well as our siblings. Nothing like errecting a huge insultated shed to build the biceps (John) or the precision required to correctly fill bottles on chilly days (Jack). On a festival weekend you are likely to see the whole family involved with cooking, serving and cleaning - partcularly Vicki, Jane, Sophie, Elise, Lizzy, Laura and Brett. If you are here on a bottling day you'll probably see Jack, Anne-Marie, Paul, Patty, Kevin, Jacqueline and Steve!!!
Behind every great winery is a great family - a special mention needs to go to Wendy's mother Robin and her partner Nelson who are always ready to pitch in and help, provide guidance and support every step of the way.
Important note - don't encourage your friends or family to start a winery - you'll be roped into helping!!!