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Wine Pioneer’s Fierce Commitment To The Industry

By Monday 10 May 2021No Comments

James David O’Dea OAM 

Born 17 December 1939
Died 7 May 2021

 

David was born and raised in Sydney, spending a lot of his childhood on the family dairy farm in Richmond.

He attended Hawkesbury Agricultural College and, after completing his studies, purchased Windowrie in 1959.

David married Wizz Hegarty in 1964 and they settled in Canowindra, establishing a mixed farming operation.

They had four children, Steph, Doe, Jason and Nook.

David and Wizz were very active members of the local community, establishing the Cowra Eagles Rugby Club and helping with starting the Canowindra Pythons Rugby Club.

David was chairman of the Canowindra Show Society for more than 10 years, and was very active in the Society before and after this period.

Canowindra was home to the major drug rehabilitation facility Lyndon House which was a not for profit service for families battling drug issues.

David was passionate about the facility and the first chairman of the board, remaining in the role for many years ensuring the ongoing survival of the facility.

David often said, “If we can change the life of one young person and avoid the terrible impact drug use can have on family and friends, it is worth every effort.”

Of great economic significance to the region was David’s pioneering of the Central West wine industry.

Following several years of difficult environmental conditions, a review of the farm business with advice from the Orange Agricultural College was completed. Following this review, David made a decision that would change the direction of the farm forever.

David sold 50 percent of the wheat and sheep farm and used the funds to invest in a trial planting of stone fruit and winegrapes.

David said, “It was a huge gamble, and many thought I was crazy.

“When you love the land so much you find yourself willing to do almost anything to stay in the game.”

David and Wizz were the first individuals to plant winegrapes in the Canowindra region.

They further cemented their place in the industry and the local wine region by developing the first winery in the region – Windowrie Estate – in 1999.

David remained active in the business until recent years. He once said, “It’s wonderful to be involved in such a vibrant industry.

“I am very proud of our family-owned business and excited about the great team we have and the direction of the business.”

David was recognised for his tireless work and fierce commitment to the wine industry and local community with an Order of Australia Medal in 2021.

David’s life will be celebrated at Canowindra Catholic Church on Thursday 13 May at 12.30pm.

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