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About Us

The people, the vineyard, the winemaking


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 21st 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.

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. 

The Team

The team at Dionysus is dedicated to providing a fun and welcoming environment at the cellar door and high quality wines. 

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).  

Important note - don't encourage your friends or family to start a winery - you'll be roped into helping!!!

Check out this cool video of Dionysus Winery that explains a bit more about us.

The Vineyard

Dionysus Winery and vineyard are nestled in the rolling hills east of the village of Murrumbateman in the Canberra District. The vineyard is planted in fertile granite based volcanic soils. The climate of this area is similar to Canberra with a rainfall of around 600mm per year and cool autumns that contribute the quality of the wines produced in this area.

The vineyard uses minimal chemicals and can look a bit messy at times!  The limited use of chemicals ensures that the soil has plenty of protection from the harsh sun in summer (via weeds) and moisture remains in the ground.  By lifting the canes in summer to expose the fruit, each vine gets a nice hit of sunlight - but not enough to get sunburnt.  Michael carefully thins the Pinot Noir to ensure that the nutrients travelling through the vines go to ripen a smaller number of bunches and create better fruit flavour intensity.

The first planting at Dionysus Winery was in October 1998, when 1.5 acres each of Cabernet Sauvignon and Shiraz were planted. These vines were devastated by the October 1998 frost, however almost all recovered and grew up to the cordon wire in the first season. Chardonnay (1.5 acres), Sauvignon Blanc (1 acre) and Merlot (1 acre) were planted in 1999. Pinot Noir (1 acre) and Riesling (1.5 acres) were planted in 2000 and produced their first crop in 2004. Since the original planting Michael has added Gamay, Tempranillo and Viognier to the offerings.

The fruit is picked with a combination of mechanical harvesting and hand picking.  The sparkling wine, pinot, chardonnay and Riesling are handpicked to ensure only the best bunches are used in the winery.


The winemaking approach at Dionysus is simple; attention to detail at every stage of the process is paramount. For the floral white varieties cool fermentation techniques are in favour to emphasise the fruit characters. For the reds the emphasis is on warm fermentation, followed by 12 to 24 months in French oak barriques to soften the tannins and enhance the fruit flavours.


Website built by Justin O’Dea www.webdeveloperdocklands.com.au