Bob Oatley, Australian wine pioneer and founder of Rosemount Estate, as well as owner of the Wild Oats XI yacht, has died at the age of 87.


Bob Oatley established Rosemount Estate in 1969 and built it into one of the driving forces of the modern Australian wine industry before selling via a A$1.5bn merger deal with rival Southcorp in 2001.

Five years later, he set up Robert Oatley Vineyards with son Sandy, and was also a keen sailing enthusiast whose yachts dominated the Sydney to Hobart race, and also won the Admiral’s Cup in Cowes.

From modest beginnings in the Hunter Valley, Oatley made his first fortune in exporting coffee and cocoa beans from Papua New Guinea in the 1950s and 1960s.

He was named as an Officer of the Order of Australia in the 2014 Australia Day Honours.

Fellow winemaker Bruce Tyrrell told the ABC News website: ‘He drove Rosemount into those early days of exporting Australian wine.

‘You know I remember in the early ’80s being thrown out of a New York liquor store because “they didn’t make wine” in Australia.

‘Bob and the crew at Rosemount were really one of the ones that did a huge amount of work to break that down.’

Announcing Bob Oatley’s death with ‘profound sadness’, the Oatley family said, ‘The Oatley family has been touched by the many kind words and tributes that have already been received from friends, colleagues and the wider Australian community. They thank everyone for their love and condolences.’