A winery on Charles Sturt University’s Wagga Wagga campus changed name and focus three years ago, and now produces a smaller number of boutique drops.

Story Ken Eastwood  

Viticulture has been part of the Wagga Wagga campus of Charles Sturt University since grapes were planted in 1893 as part of an experimental farm. Wine science and viticulture have been taught there since 1976, and the purpose-built winery was completed in 2002. For more than 10 years it was producing up to 10,000 cases annually under the name Charles Sturt Wines. But in 2015 the emphasis changed dramatically. Production ceased for a whole year as the winery and university decided instead to produce a much smaller number of boutique, top-quality wines. “We just couldn’t compete with all the big guys,” says Campbell Meeks, a former student at the university who came on board as chief winemaker during that period. “We pulled out vines in Wagga and Orange because it was too expensive to keep that going. We moved to a boutique range and now we just work with premium regions. We do two-tonne ferments and we keep it boutique, we keep it interesting, producing about 800 cases a year.” Wines generally cost $20–30.

Wines under the new name CSU Boutique Winery have been well received, with gold, silver and bronze medals for everything from rosé to tempranillo, and the university’s Tumbarumba Chardonnay receiving 95 points from wine writer James Halliday.

This story excerpt is from Issue #119

Outback Magazine: June/July 2018