Bleasdale Vineyards has lived through two world wars and the Great Depression. On their 170th anniversary today, they look back at their challenges – and what they face today.
OVER its 170 years, Bleasdale Vineyards has faced some daunting challenges, including two world wars and the Great Depression.
And today – as Langhorne Creek’s oldest winery celebrates its incredible milestone – is no different.
The coronavirus crisis and the closure of its cellar door means the 170th anniversary won’t be celebrated in the traditional way, with a famous staff barbecue.
Instead, the Potts family, which has run the business for six generations, will quietly raise a glass to Frank Potts, who started it all back in 1850.
“It’ll be a bit subdued and quite a strange feeling but we’re very proud of reaching this milestone,” fifth-generation Robbie Potts says. “At the moment, every day is a new milestone to get through.”
Frank Potts arrived in the new colony of South Australia aboard HMS Buffalo in 1836.
He saw potential in Langhorne Creek’s wide floodplains and bought land, planting shiraz and verdelho grapes, developing a system of levees and floodgates to capture and divert water.
“Frank established Bleasdale from nothing,” Robbie says. “He took a chance and it worked out.”
Robbie, 57, has lived within a stone’s throw of the winery all his life. He and his 90-year-old mother like to reminisce about the ancestors who went before them – such as Frank II, who died during World War I, and his wife Alice, who went on to run the winery with the eldest of her 10 children through the Depression.
The past decade has been particularly fruitful for Bleasdale’s globally renowned wines, which also include malbec, cabernet sauvignon, petit verdot and cabernet franc.
It has won a bag of trophies, including the James Halliday Winemaker of the Year 2018 and The Max Schubert Trophy for Most Outstanding Red Wine at the Royal Adelaide Wine Show.
In the face of COVID-19 challenges, the family remains positive. “You just have to have good leadership … knuckle down and do the best you can,” Robbie says.