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Our Winemakers

Winemaking is not just an art but a legacy at O'Leary Walker, with third and fourth generation winemakers playing integral roles in our winemaking team.

David O'Leary

David began his career in 1977 with the Stanley Wine Company in the Clare Valley, doing a vintage as a lab assistant under Brian Barry. It was during this time that David was introduced to Clare Valley Rieslings, sparking a lifelong passion to achieve greatness with this variety.

David then spent a year with Petaluma and completed a vintage in Tasmania working for Heemskerk Wines before joining Chateau Reynella in 1981. This same year, he also graduated from Roseworthy Agricultural College. In September 1982, Thomas Hardy and Sons purchased Chateau Reynella and David was charged with managing juice separation in Padthaway, initiating the exhausting trend of two vintages a year between Waikerie and Padthaway.

David was appointed group red winemaker for Hardy's in 1990 and held that role until joining Mildara Blass in 1994. At Mildara Blass, he held senior winemaking roles at Quelltaller Estate in the Clare Valley where he launched Annie’s Lane, and at the Mildara Coonawarra-based Jamieson's Run winery. During his time with Hardy's and Mildara Blass, he also made wine in France and California, furthering his knowledge of the great wines and signature styles of the regions.

David has achieved considerable milestones in his career; a Jimmy Watson Trophy in 1988 and twice International Red Winemaker of the Year (1992 and 1994) sit proudly along with numerous other trophies and gold medals on his mantle.

David's goals remain unchanged: he simply wants to make great wine.

Nick Walker

Nick graduated from Roseworthy Agricultural College in 1982 and then followed the footsteps of his father and grandfather to become a third generation winemaker.

Nick's father Norm Walker was Managing Director at Seaview Champagne Cellars for over 22 years. Norm, along with his father Hurtle, have given over 100 years to the winemaking industry, in particular sparkling wine. Nick Walker and David O'Leary honour this family winemaking tradition by naming the O'Leary Walker Sparkling Pinot Noir Chardonnay the 'Hurtle', in recognition of Nick's grandfather and father's achievements.

In 1983 Nick joined the Burge and Wilson team at Krondorf Wines as an assistant winemaker. During this time, he was instrumental in making some of the great Eden Valley Rieslings of the time and had enormous success on the show circuit with his wines.

Nick undertook sparkling winemaking duties in 1998-1999 at Yellowglen and was winemaker and manager at Yarra Ridge in 2000. Overall, he spent over 14 years with the Mildara Blass group, responsible for brands including Krondorf, Yellowglen Sparkling wines, Yarra Ridge, Baileys and St Huberts.

In November 1999, Nick joined forces with good friend David O'Leary to create O'Leary Walker Wines.

His philosophy is pretty simple: make the best wines possible from the best vineyard sites - and leave a little time for fishing.

Jack Walker

Joining David and Nick on our winemaking team is Jack Walker (Nick's son and fourth generation winemaker), a Roseworthy Agricultural College graduate and SA local.

After finishing school, Jack completed successful vintages in both SA (Peter Lehman) and abroad in California in 2008, where his love for the craft began to manifest and grow. On his return to SA in 2009, he took up a position at the University of Adelaide, studying the same course at the same institution his father (Nick graduated 1983) and grandfather (Norm graduated 1951), to really hone his craft. Post study, his growing passion led him to vintage hop, working in different wine regions with different varietals, learning from a whole host of talented wine making mentors and gaining invaluable experience.

Jack is passionate about new varietals, innovative techniques and single vineyard wines, which has culminated in him heading up of the Seasonal Release project.

With a focus on exploring new wine technologies and methodologies, whilst pushing the boundaries through experimental processes and continuous improvement, Jack has his eyes firmly set on a bright future for OWW – we can’t wait to see what he’s working on next!

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