We are very sorry to hear that OB James Tilbrook (C 78-83) and his family business Tilbrook Estate Wines has been badly affected by the Australian bushfires in the Adelaide Hills over the Christmas period. One third of the vineyard production in the South Australia area has been wiped out by the fires with 1,100 hectares affected equating to 794,000 cases of wine, quoted by Jared Stringer from the Adelaide Hills Wine Region.
James and Annabelle Tilbrook own almost 5 hectares of vineyards at Lenswood, South Australia where their winery is located in the old Onkaparinga Woollen Mills building in Lobethal. James travelled to Australia back in 1986 after school, but a car accident led to his return to England where he worked for Oddbins and passed the Wine & Spirit Education Trust diploma, helping to set his career course. When he later returned to Australia and met his wife Annabelle, they purchased the vineyard and began planting it in 1999. He has built up the business over the past 21 years to export wine to both the UK and to Singapore.
On Friday 20 December the Cudlee Creek bushfire swept through their property. The winery, all the wine stock, 90% of the vineyard with all the farm, equipment and sheds have been destroyed. One of James' key challenges now is to get water back into the vineyard and to try to save the plants. James showed the Governor General and his wife around their vineyard and winery yesterday and hopes that once the bushfires are finally out, the Australian government will be with everyone affected by the fires for the long haul.
James has shared photographs of the Estate which were published in The Guardian on 24 December and can be seen here
Friends of James are trying to help the family during this difficult time and have set up a Go Fund Me page to try to help Save Tilbrook Estate Wines and you can see the page here