The Purbrick Family
David Dunstan suggests that the Purbrick family made Tahbilk a bridge for carrying forward the culture of wine from the nineteenth century to the twentieth. Entrepreneur Reginald Purbrick certainly recognized a good deal when he saw it – he too saw gold in the rich river soil. His son Eric had inherited his fine palate, a love of wine, intelligence, charm and energy as well as an appreciation of history. Thanks to him Tahbilk escaped the wholesale modernization of the 1960s while he recreated a vineyard producing fine table wine and contributing to the emerging Australian wine industry. Eric’s son John quietly rebuilt the marketing arm, while his son Alister bought management skills and modern techniques to old wine-making traditions. It is Alister’s daughter Hayley who will guide the winery into the 21 st century, ensuring that the winery’s future develops in sustainable balance with its environment.
REGINALD JOHN PURBRICK
1877 - 1950
An Investment Opportunity
Sydney born Reginald rose from clerk to CEO of the Consolidated Milk Co in Victoria. In 1924 he purchased the company, then promptly sold to the Swiss company Nestlé for a handsome profit and retired to London. He bought Tahbilk sight unseen a year later, planning to uproot the
vines and sub-divide into dairy farms. He visited Tahbilk once with Eric, shortly after purchase, but was supportive of his son in rehabilitating the winery. In 1929 Reg won a seat in the British House of Commons, becoming a confidant and drinking companion of Winston Churchill.
ERIC STEVENS PURBRICK
1903 - 1991
A Formidable Gentleman
Eric moved to London with his parents, completing History and Law degrees at Cambridge before making the fateful decision to forego Law and return to rebuild Tahbilk in 1931 in the midst of the depression. By seeking good advice and hard work Eric learned the craft of
winemaking, but in 1940 war intervened. He served in the North Australian Observation Unit and the Red Cross in Greece before returning home. Over the next 60 years he became a doyen of the Australian Wine Industry, an innovator and the charming soul of Tahbilk.
REGINALD JOHN STEVENS PURBRICK
Chairman of the Board
John was born in London but grew up at Tahbilk and boarding school. He went jackerooing in Dunkeld and Deniliquin before returning to Tahbilk to manage the farming side in 1955. In 1979 he moved to Sydney to run the very successful distribution of Tahbilk
wines in NSW, setting the agenda for future marketing. He finally returned to Tahbilk as Chairman of the Board and as part of Purbrick & Crawford, producing relishes, jams and spreads. John has now retired, but retains an intense interest in the winery.
ALISTER JOHN PURBRICK
Creating points of difference
Alister was to be Tahbilk’s first fully qualified wine-maker. Trained at Roseworthy, he worked at Mildara Wines before being lured back to Tahbilk as CEO by his grandfather. Aged just 24, he faced a glut of light wines, outdated methods and haphazard quality. A new cellar and modern techniques revitalized the white
wines, but Eric convinced him to retain the fruit driven, multi-layered style of the reds. Alister has since modernized management, diversified the company, served on wine industry bodies and developed the Wine Club, heritage and eco-tourism, the Nagambie Lakes Wine Region and First Families of Wine marketing strategies.
KATHERINE HAYLEY PURBRICK
Creating Future Vision
When Hayley was five, she publicly reminded her grandfather “girls can be winemakers too!” Although not a winemaker, Hayley brings an eclectic set of fresh skills to the Tahbilk management team. With degrees in Agricultural Management, Commerce and Marketing, she worked with
Ernst & Young before returning to the family business in 2009. With an accountant’s eye and an eco-warrior stance she has actively researched, promoted and developed the Carbon Neutral strategy now fundamental to every area of the winery, from vineyard to bottling line and the Wine Club.