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The Story of Clare's Wineries

Chapter 1. Pioneers of Clare's Wineries


Next Page: Chapter 2. The Clare Winery Boom Years

First Vineyards around Clare

In South Australia George Stevenson may have been the first to plant vines, and Cock and Fergusson, at Magill, (now Penfold's) were also pioneers.

James Halliday asserts that at a meeting of the Wine Association (in Adelaide) in 1840, Captain Charles Sturt (serving briefly as the S.A.Registrar-General) announced a government subsidy of £100 (pounds) to aid in the importation of vine cuttings.

  • From those members at the meeting enough money was raised to import 57,200 cuttings from the Cape of Good Hope.

  • About half of the cuttings survived the sea voyage, and of those Clare Founder James Gleeson procured 550 cuttings which he planted at his Clare property "Inchiquin".

1. John Horrocks - 1840

   (The pioneer honoured by the name of the infamous highway through Clare)


The first planting of vines in the Clare Valley region, however, was by John Ainsworth Horrocks (pictured below left) in 1840, at Penwortham, in the heart of the Clare Valley

  • Penwortham, of course, was founded by the same famous South Australian explorer, John Ainsworth Horrocks who founded his Hope Farm there.

  • The first vines were planted on Horrock's Hope Farm, a thousand acre property. Returning to England in 1842, Horrocks arranged for further vine cuttings to be sent from Madiera to Hope Farm.

John Ainsworth Horrocks 1840
First Vineyards around Clare
Sevenhill Cellars spotlight.jpeg
John Ainsworth Horrocks.jpg
2. The Hawker Brothers of Bungaree 1842

Bungaree was founded in 1841, twelve kilometers north of Clare, where they found a good water supply.

George Hawker (pictured at left) planted vines there in 1842.

  • Bungaree Station’s history begins on Christmas Day 1841, when George Charles Hawker and his brothers James and Charles, from Hampshire, England, selected the site 12 kilometres north of Clare for the homestead. 

  • ‘Bungurrie' (Bungaree) was the aboriginal name for the area.

  • It was good land with plenty of water available from shallow wells near the Hutt river.


“When George Charles Hawker settled there in 1841, he established an expansive vegetable garden that included vines,” Sal Hawker told the Stock Journal in 2017.

  • “(In 1851), the Jesuits pushed a barrow load of vine cuttings from Bungaree so as to grow vines at Sevenhill for the production of (non-alcoholic) sacramental wine.

  • “They were the pioneers of the wine industry in the district, with these  original vines from Bungaree.”

Hawker Brothers of Bungaree 1842
George Charles Hawker.jpeg
Paddy Gleeson - late 1840s
3. Paddy Gleeson at Inchiquin

E.W. Gleeson (pictured at left) had an orchard and vineyard planted at Inchiquin by the late 1840's, with some sources even quoting 1842 as the earliest planting of vine cuttings from the South African shipment, to which Paddy had subscribed 5 pounds.

  • Afterwards he had renown as a vigneron, and Robert Noye records that Inchiquin wine was still being sold by James Hill in the 1890s.

  • It is said that Paddy Gleeson had a fondness for fortified wine.

    • In his book James Halliday emphasises that in the early days hygiene was almost non-existent, and wines must have been 'acetified' (with vinegar) or heavily fortified (with spirit) to keep it sound.(p. 21)

    • In 1867 Mr. Gleeson presided over the dinner in connection with the first Agricultural Show at Clare, and it is said that the banquets of the Northern Agricultural Society were never so happy as when his portly form and jovial face were seen in the presidential chair. (Northern Argus)

    • At the 1868 Clare Agricultural Show, his son J. W. Gleeson. won first prize for his "Wine Grapes —Best nine varieties, with foliage attached,  J. W. Gleeson".

    • The 'King of Clare' was a keen sportsman, and rarely missed a local race meeting, where he "always diffused an atmosphere of merriment".

Esward Burton Gleeson B-76590.jpeg
Sevenhill Winery -1851
4. Sevenhill Winery -1851

The Society of Jesus was founded in the sixteenth century by the Basque soldier Inigo de Loyola to become the spearhead of the Counter Reformation.

  • As schoolmasters, the Jesuits shaped the entire ruling class of Catholic Europe,

  • as confessors, they directed Kings and Emperors,

  • as missionaries they roamed from Ireland to Russia and from India to Texas.

    • In China they converted the last Ming Emperor and became astronomers, clockmakers, mathematicians and gardeners to his Manchu successors.

  • In Australia, the Jesuits arrived in the Clare Valley in 1848, and three years later built a slab hut in the valley at Sevenhill and in 1852 began to plant vines.

Sevenhill’s vineyards surround St Aloysi

Sevenhill College was the first Winery in the Clare Valley. Sevenhill was named in honour of the seven hills of Rome.

  • The Jesuits arrived in the Clare Valley in 1848, leased an area of land at Sevenhill, and three years later built a slab hut in the valley at Sevenhill and then in 1852 began to plant vines.

  • As noted above, cuttings were taken from Bungaree in 1851 and by 1858 seven acres of vines had been planted now purchased by the Jesuit College at Sevenhill.

The cellars were constructed out of solid rock, and a distillery was working to produce brandy under the supervision of Brother John Schreiner from 1851-1884.

  • It was Brother Schreiner who wheel-barrowed his vine cuttings from Bungaree to Sevenhill, and planted these vine cuttings on the site of the present vineyard, making Sevenhill Cellars the oldest winery in the Clare Valley.

  • In 1858 only one acre was bearing fruit, and yielding 1,000 gallons of wines of various qualities, with an additional sixty gallons of brandy.

  • The wine was stored in casks, but the wine-making tanks were of Mintaro slate, which was more easily cleaned.

  • Under his winemaking leadership, which continued until 1884, an underground cellar was constructed and a wine press built.

Sevenhill college and church early 1900s

Read more:

Sevenhill Winery: Page 2: The Wine Boom Years

5. Valentine Mayr, Watervale - 1852
Valentine Mayr, Watervale - 1852
29 Oct 1900 Rosenberg Wines Advert.jpg

The second vineyard in the Clare Valley was planted by Valentine Mayr, who planted four acres at 'Pomona' in 1852, and made his first wine in 1856.

  • Mayr expanded his cellars in 1881, and in 1903 he marketed Rosenberg wines, in a partnership with Mr. Nykiel, who had been making wine for 30 years as vigneron at Hill River.

  • They also operated a distillery at the same location, which allowed them to fortify their wines.

  • He had thirty acres planted with shiraz and verdelho.

  • Now the site of Crabtree Watervale Wines, located on Main North Road north of Watervale. 

    • This 16 hectare vineyard and winery was first established in 1851 but closed in 1912.

    • The current Crabtree Watervale Winery opened in 1985 and specialises in red and white table wines.

Read more:

Kapunda Herald (SA) Fri 6 May 1904 Page 7 AROUND THE COUNTRY.

6. John Ward, Watervale - 1853

John Ward had settled east of Watervale, producing small quantities of wine.

  • By 1896 he was vigneron at Leasingham, with ten acres of shiraz and six acres of verdelho.

  • ‘Crack shot’  John Ward competed for the ‘Watervale Defence Rifle Club’ “Friday 27th June 1902 representing the successful Watervale team against Port Broughton and Brinkworth.

Read more:

Kapunda Herald (SA) Fri 6 May 1904 Page 7 AROUND THE COUNTRY.

John Ward, Watervale - 1853
2018 Pirramimma Watervale 303 Riesling.j
Francis Treloar, Watervale - 1853
Quelltaler old crusted port.jpeg
Spring Vale Cellars-from-side.jpg
7. Francis Treloar, Watervale - 1853

Francis Trelour worked hard, mined at Burra, and in the Victorian gold rush of 1851 made enough to buy 117 acres of land near Watervale, which he named Spring Vale.

The success of this winery, stimulated the changeover in land use from exhausted wheat farms to vineyards.

  • In 1853 Treloar noted that he had planted vines obtained from Mr. Reuben Solly, but also was the first to plant wheat, and the first to use a reaper to harvest his wheat crop.

  • Francis built a new stone house for his family, in 1858, called 'Springvale

  • Treloar sold out to Captain Walter Watson Hughes, in 1862, but stayed on as manager. Hughes purchased Spring Vale for his nephew James Richman, and also Dalore and Green's gardens, which became Hughes Park, the homestead built by Sir Walter Watson Hughes in 1845; Hughes Park occupied the whole Skillogalee valley.

  • Treloar established the Springvale wine cellars in 1868: sections of these stone cellars, dug into the hillside (as was typical of cellars at that time) survive. He advertised wine for auction in the Northern Argus 1 Oct. 1869.

  • Francis was manager of Springvale until James Richman came of age.

  • In 1868 Carl Sobels moved to Spring Vale as winemaker and manager of 35 acres planted with vines.

Buring & Sobels business nameplate 1910.
Buring & Sobels business 1879.jpg


In 1890 Mr TGH Buring and Mr Sobels joined forces and purchased the Spring Vale vineyard and plant and since that time the name of Buring & Sobels was one of the best known in the wine trade.

  • This winery subsequently was developed as Quelltaler, known recently, as Annie’s Lane.

  • IN 2017 this winery and vineyards were bought by Seppeltsfield, but the name Annie's Lane remains with the the seller.

Read more:

Quelltaler Winery: Page 2 the Wine Boom Years

Kapunda Herald (SA) Fri 6 May 1904 Page 7 AROUND THE COUNTRY.

8. William Ahle, Sevenhill - 1865

William Ahle and A. Ahle had a small distillery east of Sevenhill, producing from 1867-1878.

  • By 1896 they had expanded from 5 acres to 30 acres.

  • Varieties included cabernet, shiraz and frontignac.

William Ahle, Sevenhill - 1865
Joseph Weikert, Clare - 1867
Sevenhill Cellars spotlight.jpeg
9. Joseph Weikert, Clare - 1867

Weikert was a distiller and farmer, and a well-known Clare identity. He operated Sevenhill Cellars until 1871.

Franz Weikert, the founder of Sevenhill settlement, was the German Catholic man who held considerable property for the times, and who decided to sell his Prussian land and found a German Catholic colony in the new British Province in South Australia

10. Carl August Sobels, Watervale - 1875

(31 Mar 1840 - 27 Sep 1923)

Employed as wine-maker at Spring Vale for F. Treloar.

Mrs. C.A. Sobels of Quelltaler Winery, was a notable local benefactor.

Carl August Sobels, Watervale - 1875
11. M. Dabely, Sevenhill - 1879

Vine grower near Sevenhill until 1881.

M. Dabely, Sevenhill - 1879
12. Joseph Dunstan, Clare - 1881

Vine grower near Clare until 1885.

  • Mr. and Mrs. Dunstan came from Cornwall to South Australia in 1874. For a time they resided at Burra, and then came to Clare, where they settled.

  • Six children were living at the time of Mrs. Dunstan's death in 1927.

  • Mr. A. Dunstan was a son.

Joseph Dunstan, Clare - 1881
T. Giles, Armagh - 1887
13. T. Giles, Armagh - 1887

Vigneron, at Armagh until 1906. After an ankle injury in 1891, his leg was amputated at Clare Hospital.

Brother Storey, Sevenhill - 1889
14. Brother Storey, Sevenhill Cellars - 1889

The very first Jesuit winemaker, Br. J. Schreiner, was Vigneron at Sevenhill Cellars from 1851-1884 when Brother Lenz arrived from Austria. Brother Storey came from Ireland in 1889 and stayed for 28 years.

Brother Schreiner premium Cab Sav.jpg

Next Page: 2. The Boom Years

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