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Winemakers David O'Leary (left) and Nick Walker stand side by side outside one of the old timber and iron sheds at the historic O'Leary Walker site in the Adelaide Hills.

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.

Assistant Winemakers

Joining David and Nick on our winemaking team are Jack Walker (Nick's son and fourth generation winemaker) and Luke Broadbent, two Roseworthy Agricultural College graduates and SA locals. Both Jack and Luke are passionate about new varietals, innovative techniques and single vineyard wines, which has culminated in them heading up our new Seasonal Release project.

The Seasonal Release project was born out of a desire to create hand-crafted, small batch wines designed to meet seasonal drinking conditions - so you always have something new to enjoy with family and friends. This range adds an extra dimension to the signature O'Leary Walker portfolio, while maintaining our core principles - quality, precision and consistently great wine.


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