The best stories find their foundations in truth, passion, and unexplainable coincidences, and the Ortus story is no exception.
It begins in 1848 with a gentleman by the name of Johann Gottlieb Bittner. Travelling from Prussia via Hamburg to South Australia.
Within three years of emigrating, for 25 pounds, the Bittner family purchased their first allotment in the township of Tanunda, in what would become known globally as the iconic Barossa Valley.
True to the Bittner name (Bittner translates to Cooper/Barrel Maker), in 1889, Johann Bittner built what was known as ‘The Wine Shed’, and in 1889 the family delivered their first vintage.
But this is no fairy tale, and it was not always smooth sailing. A warm, temperate climate, the Bittners were not to know the conditions into which they settled. In tough weather conditions, 8 acres of vine reduced to 4, with the final vines succumbing to drought in 1918. The Bittner vineyard was no more… for a time.
76 years later, in 1995, the story picks up again, when single mother Julie Cooper moved to Adelaide from Whyalla to work in a winery.
Over seven years, Julie worked her way from supporting her young daughter on a meagre receptionist wage, to cellar door manager, to office manager, and finally to sales and marketing manager, Australasia.
Deciding to go out on her own, Julie moved to global trading, where she still works successfully today. Julie’s daughter Paige joined the family business in 2009.
Yet the Cooper women wanted more. Together, deciding wine was a passion beyond Global Trading (and enjoying a glass at the end of the day!), in 2013, Paige began her Oenology degree, while Julie purchased 26 acres under vine in McLaren Vale.
All the while, both Julie and Paige were unaware that wine was in their blood – it took an offhand comment from Julie’s father for the women to investigate their lineage.
By pure coincidence, the last of the Bittner name (meaning barrel maker) was lost in marriage when – drumroll please – the last (female) Bittner was married in the early 1900s… to none other than a Cooper.
Over fifteen years, Julie and Paige have built their own legacy – Ortus.
Growing fruit from their own McLaren Vale vineyards, Julie and Paige work side by side through every step in creating Ortus Shiraz – from the vineyard to the bottle, and sharing the wine with you.
It may be in their blood, but from no money and no prospects, they have worked hard and lived true to the Bittner family crest’s motto: Nothing without labour.
Today, Ortus are in the process of taking another step, by constructing a regional home to become the Ortus base. We can’t wait to host you in a warm and friendly space where we can connect with wine lovers directly – on our own turf!