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South Australian wine icon d’Arry Osborn has passed away

Francis d’Arenberg Osborn, the third-generation winemaker at leading McLaren Vale producer d’Arenberg, has passed away at the age of 95.

The Osborn family patriarch – known as d’Arry among friends, family and colleagues – was a popular statesman of the Australian wine trade.

He was born on the estate in December 1926, the son of Helena d’Arenberg Osborn and Francis Ernest.

The Osborns have tended vines on the South Australia property since 1912, and d’Arry joined the family business at the tender age of 16.

Back then, Clydesdale horses did the work currently performed by a tractor and kerosene powered the motors and pumps.

He had no formal winemaking education, but he learned his trade on the job via a combination of trial-and-error and soliciting tips from neighbouring producers.

He was famed for his unconventional methods, such as wearing dinner shirts in the winery during vintage to ‘give the reds more elegance’.

Throughout his distinguished career, d’Arry oversaw more than 70 consecutive vintages, and he turned the family business into an international powerhouse.

It has earned all manner of accolades, and a variety of individual honours were bestowed upon d’Arry – including the Queen’s Jubilee Medal in 1978, a Medal of the Order of Australia in the 2004 Queen’s Birthday Honours list, and a South Australian Legend of the Vine award from the Wine Communicators of Australia.

Alongside his pioneering work for d’Arenberg, he served as treasurer, vice president, president and was an honorary life member of the Wine and Brandy Producers Association of South Australia trade body.

He was also known as a great raconteur, regularly regaling family, friends and wine lovers the world over with humorous stories gathered over a lifetime in the industry.

d’Arry is survived by his two children, Chester and Jacki Osborn, and his three grandchildren – Alicia, Ruby and Mia Osborn.

Chester, the fourth-generation family member, currently produces d’Argenberg’s wines using traditional methods in both the vineyard and the winery.

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