An hour with Francis d’Arenberg Osborn (otherwise known as d’Arry) simply isn’t enough. A lot can happen in 94 years and d’Arenberg’s patriarch has seen it all. Since his birth on 27 December 1926, the world weathered wars, breakthroughs in technology, science, medicine, politics and even Prohibition.
“In my lifetime, wine went from just being a thing to becoming a massive part of life,” he says.
“I’ve seen it develop across the world.”
d’Arry is quick to apologise for his memory, or lack of these days. Recent events are most difficult to grasp but the good old days and memories of a childhood growing up in McLaren Vale are clear.
He lives next door to the d’Arenberg office which is located in the bungalow his father built in 1920 (at a cost of 1,400 pounds). The humble, lived-in home looks out over the towering d’Arenberg Cube. The cellar door, restaurant and event space is his eccentric and creatively brilliant son Chester’s pièce de resistance.
“Chester wanted to build the Cube for some years and I said no because it was going to cost too much money,” d’Arry says.
“Eventually we built it and it increased my overdraft by about $11 million so it’s a bloody pain in the neck as far as I’m concerned.”
He laughs. “I must admit it’s been huge as far as South Australia is concerned. It was listed as an icon in the newspaper the other day.”
There’s no denying the popularity of the mind-boggling architectural feat. It put a spotlight on the brand and on McLaren Vale. d’Arry jokes that cash falls out of his pocket every time he looks at it. The patriarch isn’t one to spend money unnecessarily, especially on himself.
“It’s not what you’ve got, it’s what you do with it that’s important.”
• See the full eight-page spread on d’Arry Osborn in WBM – Australia’s Wine Business Magazine. Subscribe here.
Highlights of the March-April issue of WBM…
• An Hour With d’Arry Osborn – Katie Spain
• The state of the industry – Howard Duncan
• Copywriting for social media – Tash Stoodley
• 100 wine reviews by Tyson Stelzer and Mike Bennie
• Tim Knappstein unbottles 60 years of wisdom – Tony Love
• What have we built? What are we building? – David LeMire MW
• Clearing the air on smoke taint – Tony Love
• Design Clinic – showcase of Australia’s best wine label designers
• Getting the most out of your brand portfolio packaging
• Have we hit peak wine? Angus Hughson