The History of Buller Wines
The Days Of Founder Reginald Buller
The story of the Buller Family’s involvement with the wine industry starts in the 1920’s and the uncertain times following the end of the First World War. Reginald Langdon Buller had served with distinction in the Royal Australian Navy and returned to his pre-war public service job as a fourth class clerk.
It seems that Reg was never cut out for a public service career. His diary records “Resumed the state appointment – the dislike of which had increased rather than lessened over my absence of nearly six years.”
In 1921 Reg Buller spent six months working (for 8 shillings a day!) at the Mildura Winery and with that experience behind him started looking for his own vineyard. The property he settled on “against lots of well meaning advice” was 170 acres at Rutherglen. He called the property “Calliope” after a ship of that name which was the only survivor of the Great Hurricane at Samoa in 1889.
A. B. (Banjo) Patterson’s Ballad Of The Calliope tells the tale in stirring fashion. Reginald’s vision of his new enterprise successfully sailing through the tempests of business and agricultural life proved prophetic.
The first storm to beset the vineyard Calliope came in the form of hail which completely wiped out his second vintage. The Calliope enterprise managed to keep afloat however and even managed to sail through the Great Depression. By the end of the 1930’s, Buller Wines had started to prosper.
Reg Buller put his ambitions on hold and rejoined the Navy for the duration of World War II but by 1951 he was looking for a new challenge. Leaving his son Richard (Dick) who had graduated in Oenology at Roseworthy Agricultural College in charge at Calliope, Reg bought a second vineyard and built a new winery.
The location of this new venture was at Beverford near Swan Hill, some 350 kilometres west of Rutherglen. Reg’s idea was to “drought-proof” his business by taking advantage of irrigation, which was not available at Rutherglen.
Reg Buller retired to Melbourne in 1966. Dick, now married to Val and with three sons, oversaw substantial growth of the business and its two wineries.
A New Dawn For The Australian Wine Industry
Australia was discovering wine and its thirst seemed insatiable. Wine tastes were changing also – table wines were king and the wonderful fortified wines that the industry had relied on in the past were taking the back seat.
Dick Buller, big in stature but essentially retiring by nature, became one of the leaders in the burgeoning wine industry. He was a judge at the Royal Melbourne Show for twenty years and saw the advent of wine tourism and the newly popular cellar door sales phenomenon.
The Fourth Generation
Richard Senior died suddenly at Berri in South Australia while visiting his middle son Graham in 1997.
Since that time the business has continued to be run as a family company.
Richard Buller and his wife Susan’s three children (the fourth generation) Kate, Angela and another Richard are actively fulfilling various roles in both the making and marketing of the Buller Wines products.
The Fifth Generation
Kate’s son Rippon now starts the fifth generation.
The Buller Story continues…