Mount Ophir Estate- The Past to the Present
Rising from its illustrious past producing wine under the royal seal of England, Rutherglen’s Mount Ophir Estate has been transformed into highly sought-after luxury accommodation and boutique event spaces.
Coming to the fore in the early 1900s as a prominent viticultural concern, the estate supplied 10,000 British outlets at its height with annual exports to England exceeding 2.7 million litres of wine.
Once renowned as the world’s largest state of the art wine-making complex, the property originally boasted over 740 acres of vines, crushing grapes of up to 45 vineyards in 1905 alone.
First acquired under a crown grant in 1874, the land that became Mount Ophir Estate was the traditional home of Whroo, a branch of the Bangerang people.
Construction of the buildings that remain today was first undertaken in 1891 by the Eisemanns and Gleesons, subsequent owners who carved out a two-storey cellar from the side of the hill.
It was during this period that grapes were first planted on the estate’s rolling landscape, with the first vines imported from Germany.
With its warm summer days and startlingly cold nights, Rutherglen and surrounds had been found to provide the perfect climactic conditions for producing full-bodied reds and fortified wines.
Establishing a local viticulture industry couldn’t have come at a better time for the region’s economy, which had slowed dramatically since the gold mining sector’s decline - but this good fortune wasn’t to last.
First identified in Rutherglen as the 1800s drew to a close, the phylloxera insect (a relative of the aphid family) devastated the industry with the forced destruction of every vine.
Not many were in the position to start again, but a change of owners at Mount Ophir in 1893 saw the estate equipped to undertake a new direction with phylloxera resistant vine stock.
Drawn to the property to secure continuity of supply for their London wine merchant business, it was under the influence of the enterprising Burgoyne family that Mount Ophir really made its mark. During their 60 years of ownership, the onsite winery complex swelled to six large halls on two levels, more than an acre under one roof and an impressive French provincial tower that was officially opened in 1903.
Sparing no expense, the Burgoyne’s major investment into such solid construction ensured its longevity and attracted heritage preservation under the National Trust. Of extreme architectural significance, the buildings at Mount Ophir sadly fell into disrepair however when the Burgoyne operation came to a halt, crippled by British import taxes. Recognising that under such dire economic conditions few could justify its continued operations, the property was sold off as grazing land in 1955.
Attracting a number of owners from then on, each could see the benefits of restoring the outstanding series of double-brick buildings and remaining homes on the estate, but it was hard to find momentum.
Purchased in 2016 by fourth-generation winemaking siblings, Eliza, Angela and Nick Brown, they’ve taken Mount Ophir on with a passion not seen since its heady days under the Burgoyne family.
Known for their successes with All Saints Estate, Terrace, Indigo Food Co, St Leonards Winery and Rutherglen’s Thousand Pound bar, the Browns painstakingly set to work, spending countless hours undertaking a loving restoration of the now 140 acre property.
Currently operating as an exclusive site for private events, including weddings, corporate getaways, and unique, luxury accommodation, Mount Ophir’s future as a distinguished Rutherglen landmark has been assured.