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A Barossa legend since 1859

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Our History

Saltram has celebrated the tradition and heritage behind the Barossa Valley, making flagship red wines of great style and taste.

1844 – 1871

William Salter arrived in South Australia from Exeter, England aboard the Caroline in December, 1839. In 1844, Salter became one of the first people to purchase land in the newly opened land survey known as the Barossa Valley. In 1859, Salter formed a partnership with his son Edward, then aged 22, founding the firm W Salter & Son. They began with clearing and planting 10 acres of Shiraz at the eastern end of the property. A shed was erected for making wine and a cellar was carved out of a nearby hill. Their first vintage in 1862 produced 1800 gallons (8000 litres)

William Salter passed away in 1871, leaving Edward to run the property. By 1873, the vintage was harvested from 12 hectares of Shiraz and 4 hectares of Palomino used for sherry. In the same year, Edward employed Alfred Birks, who introduced Saltram wines to New Zealand before setting up the famous AP Birks winery in Clare.

1882 – 1891

In 1882, Thomas Hardy agreed to buy all Saltram's wine and find a market for it. This arrangement was in place for 10 years, and Hardy is credited with establishing Saltram wines in London. By 1891, the size of the vintage had grown to 182,000 litres, 3/4 of which was high quality dry red, mainly shiraz, for export markets. In 1898, Edward's sons Charles and Leslie entered into a partnership with their father each holding a quarter share of the business. Charles was appointed manager, a position he held until 1902 when he left to start his own business. Leslie succeeded his brother and separated the winemaking operations from the viticulture and focussed on red wine production for export.

Leslie Salter had been educated at Roseworthy College and became a close friend of Ronald Martin of ‘Stonyfell’. Martin bought a third share of W Salter & Son in 1920, assuming the role of Chairman of Directors. When Leslie Salter resigned as Managing Director in 1937, the Saltram vineyard was managed by H.M Martin of Stonyfell and in 1941 it became a wholly owned subsidiary of Martin's. The two operations worked in tandem with winemaking being performed at Saltram and Stonyfell being used for maturation and bottling.

1938 – 1979

Fred Ludlow took over winemaking at Saltram, having worked there since 1917. He retained this position until he retired in 1953. A young Brian Dolan graduated from Roseworthy college in 1949 and was later appointed manager at Saltram by Henry Martin. By 1954, Brian had taken over winemaking and was promoted to General Manager of H.M Martin and Son in 1959. Brian continued as General Manager and later as Production Director until 1979.

In 1960, the legendary Peter Lehmann succeeded Dolan at Saltram. Lehmann lightened the traditional styles and made distinctive reds and fine ports. He encouraged the planting of Cabernet Sauvignon, harvested earlier for better pH control and introduced new oak casks. In 1979, Lehman left Saltram to form what is today known as Peter Lehmann Wines. The late 70s through to the early 90s were difficult times at Saltram, with ownership and management changes continually shifting the focus on wine styles.

1992 - 2001

Things took a turn for the better in 1992 when Brian Dolan's son Nigel, who was born in Mamre Brook House, was appointed Chief Winemaker. Nigel's first vintage with Saltram was as a cellar-hand in 1979, but he returned to carry the mantle of Chief Winemaker until 2007.

Nigel took Saltram back to its roots, focussing on Barossa sourced grapes and styles which had made Saltram famous. Nigel's achievements include being named South Australian Red Winemaker of the Year in 1996 and Barossa Winemaker of the Year in 2000.

In 2001, he was a finalist in the Qantas Australian Winemaker of the Year competition.

2008 - Now

Shavaughn Wells was appointed Saltram Senior Winemaker after years working with the wines and vineyards behind the scenes.

The following year, Saltram celebrated its 150th anniversary. To mark this milestone, Saltram released a 1959 Vintage Rare Tawny and the first release of The Journal Shiraz. In 2010, Saltram released the first of its Estate Grown wines. Sourced from the unique vineyards that surround the Saltram Estate in the heart of the Barossa Valley, the new Shiraz Tempranillo is a modern blend from an old master.

Alex started as 10th Winemaker at Saltram in 2017 – six years after his first experience with Saltram, working alongside the 8th maker, Nigel Dolan.  Alex has been actively involved in keeping the high standards set by his predecessors, and has continued to promote Saltram, including launching new Saltram wines into China.