22 March 2024

At 74, Murrumbateman vintner revs up for a new career in a faster lane

| Sally Hopman
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Dog with family behind at farm gate

Lila Shaw is always out front to welcome visitors to Shaw Wines at Murrumbateman. Behind, daughter Tanya Olinder, her husband Michael, son Michael Shaw and Graeme and Ann Shaw. Photo: Supplied.

When most people retire, they usually opt to take life a little easier, but for Murrumbateman winemaker, Graeme Shaw, it’s literally full-speed ahead.

Graeme and his wife Ann run Shaw Wines, with help from their daughter Tanya Olinder, her husband Michael Olinder and their son Michael Shaw – and a team of locals.

The Shaw family moved to Murrumbateman more than 26 years ago, and in 1998 purchased “Olleyville”, the historic 284-hectare fine wool-producing property dating back to the mid-19th century.

Although his first passion was breeding and racing horses, it was wine that was to be the industry for him. He had worked in the field in Canberra, growing grapes for Hardy’s Canberra operation before branching out on his own to produce premium cool climate wines.

But this year, at 74, he started thinking about a succession plan. He had just sold 100 hectares of land at the back of his property when the new owners came to lunch at the winery.

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“They were blown away when they saw what we had done with the place,” he said.

“Within the next fortnight, we had got an offer from them to buy everything. It was a good, sensible offer and after talking to the family, we were happy to go that way. It was time to move on.”

He said the buyers were a consortium, keen to increase the hospitality side of the business and introduce boutique accommodation.

“What they can do, with their expertise, is take it to the next level,” Graeme said.

He said many people had asked him after putting 26 years into the business, would he be sad to leave?

“No, I’m not sad. I look back at what we’ve achieved and what we’ve done is as good as anything done in Australia.

“We’ve got a top-class cellar door, we’ve won lots of awards and we’ve helped attract a lot of business to the region.” The successes have included best cabernet sauvignon at the London Wine Show and best merlot at the Vienna event.

“I don’t get emotional about assets,” he said, “but I do about people.”

Man holding bottle of wine in cellar

Producing premium wine has been his life’s work but at age 74, Graeme Shaw has got his second wind – and will soon head on to the car racing circuit. Photo: Shaw Wines.

He said when the offer for the winery was made, he spoke to his family for their opinion. When they told him they were in favour, it was full steam ahead.

Although Graeme said he and his wife Ann were keen to have a holiday – “I went overseas last year for six weeks – it was the first holiday I’d had since I left school” – he is just as keen to embark on a new career – production car racing.

“I’ll be the oldest driver in NSW doing it,” he laughed. “But I’m really looking forward to it.”

And he will be working with the best. Four-times Australian rally car champion Neal Bates is building up a car for him – a Toyota 86.

“I’ve been wanting to get back into the car racing circuit for a while,” he said, “so now is the perfect time.”

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