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The Story of Clare's Wineries

Chapter 3. Clare Wines between the Wars

Koonowla's History.jpg

The 1920s were prosperous for the wine industry. Halliday reports that by 1928-1929 sales and profits were good.

NOT for Stanley Wine Company. From the figures below left
"1932 Wine Export Bounty" a very low bounty, £817/5/3 was claimed by Stanley compared to newer Clarevale Co-op: £3400/18/2.

A vast surplus of grapes had accumulated on growers' farms, so the Clarevale Cooperative was formed to make more wine.

However, on 24 October 1929, the US stock market crashed. Amid global economic instability, this was the catalyst that sent countries around the world into depression.

Stanley Wine Company
1. Stanley Wine Company

Continued from P.2 Stanley Wines int the Boom Years

Until 1938 Stanley was run by Elders Trustees for the estate of Joseph Knappstein, and went badly into debt, to £45,000, which at that time, was a small fortune.

  • From the time that Elders Trustee and Executors Co. took over the management of the company there was a steady decline in the business, while exports to England increased.

  • From 1919 to 1938, no dividend was paid, and then the Knappstein family finally took back the business.

  • The family agreed that their bankers would bankroll the firm while it was rebuilding, in exchange for the family not suing Elders Trustees, who shared the same directors with their bank.


In 1935 a reporter from the Advertiser found that "the greater part of the area's wine grape crop is processed at the winery of the Stanley Wine Company,

  • which is managed by Mr. W. M. Gillard for the estate of the late J. H. Knappstein,

  • who was associated with the foundation of the vine industry in the district."

"True to the family tradition of the wine industry, the sons are carrying on with the business, while Mr. R. O. Knappstein is the manager of the extensive vineyards that are associated with the winery."

16-Sep-1932 Wine Export Bounty.jpg

"I visited the Pendee vineyards with Mr Knappstein yesterday.

  • The cellars are chiefly remarkable for the storage capacity of 350.000 gallons in wonderful old tanks of English oak.

  • which imparts to the wine something rich and rare;

  • that gives to Stanley port its unique and palatable flavor."


"Their port, with dry burgundy and brandy, form the bulk of the production.

  • Through the cellars there is the same meticulous attention to cleanliness and detail

  • that is such an impressive part of our wine cellars and which is in no small measure responsible for the world famed reputation that has been attained by South Australian wines."

From 1932 to 1939 Stanley exports to England dwarfed those of France.

Halliday notes (p.53) that in 1927 they had exported 4.220 million gallons of table wine to England (in wooden hogsheads).


Virtually all of Stanley Wine's production before the War was of (fortified) dry red table wine for England.

When the War came Stanley changed to sweet wine-making because of the demands of American Soldiers.


Continue to page 4: Stanley Winery in the Post-War Boom

A.P. Birks, Wendouree - 1914
2. A.P. Birks, Wendouree - 1914

Continued from A.P. Birks Wendouree - The Boom


Up to 1914 their maximum production was only 4,000 gallons. So in 1914 Alfred Percy Birks decided to build a proper wine cellar and expand production.

James Halliday describes (p.58) the extensions in detail: stone sections, and a basket press, originally made for Leslie Salter.

10 Oct 1946 Obituary A.P. Birks.jpg
Roly Birks celebrates 60 years of winemaking

Above: Roly Birks celebrates 60 years of winemaking at A.P.Birks with friends,

especially Bill Knappstein

In 1917, A.P. Birks handed over responsibility to his son Roly Birks, who lasted 65 vintages.

Roly expanded Wendouree's vineyards, purchasing the Eastern vineyard and planted it in 1919 and 1920, and those rootstocks remain today.

Wendouree started selling wine direct, not in bottles but in casks, kegs, quarter casks, octavos, tenths, and fives (gallons), never in bottles. 

Most of the wine sold to hotels was port, sherry came later.


Before World War II, output was half full-bodied dry red, and half was fortified wine.

Bottled wine was only sold at the cellar door, by the case, and always to private customers. The highest annual output was 250 dozen.

Read more:

Continue to page 4: A,P. Birks Wendouree - Post War Boom

Sevenhill WInery from 1925
3. Sevenhill Winery - from 1925

Continued from page 2: Sevenhill Winery - Boom Years


IN 1925 Brother George Downey took over as winemaker, and produced a memorable Port Wine equal to the best ports Australia has produced,

  • Using 3 1/2 small pressings of shiraz skins to 400 gallons of liquid shiraz, which was thought a 'little bit too light in colour', for a good coloured port. With aging the port later acquired a good colour.

  • This became the 1925 Sevenhill Port, one of the greatest port wines produced in Australia.

  • All the wines produced from shiraz, tokay, grenache, pedro and frontignac were fortified with ' fifteen proof gallons of spirit to every 100 gallons of wine.'

  • Production increased significantly, and most of the wines were fortified.


In 1931 the crushings were: 14 tons of grenache,, 11 tons of pedro ximinez, 10 tons of riesling, 9 1/2 tones of shiraz, 5 tons of doradillo, and 4 1/2 tons of mataro.

Continue to page 4:Sevenhill Winery - Post War Boom

Sevenhill Cellars-from-side.jpg
Quelltaler Winery expands - 1925
4. Quelltaler Winery Expands in 1925

Continued from P.2 Quelltaler Winery - Boom Years

The aging winery founders passed away, and were succeeded by their children.

  • Herman Buring died in September 1919, aged 73. Rudi Buring stepped into that role, running the Currie Street premises, and then Quelltaler House in Adelaide.

  • Carl Sobels died in September 1923 aged 85. He was succeeded by Emil, who died in 1937 and was succeeded by Talbot Sobels.


In 1925, electricity came to the Mid-North of S.A. and QuellTaler built a new fermentation cellar with eight new tanks built from slate.

In 1932 they opened a large east wing with vats for bulk wine storage.

A large storage warehouse was opened at the western end of the building complex with room for 90,000 gallons of wine.

Quelltaler Granfiesta Sherry Label.jpeg

Quelltaler House opened on Gilbert Street Adelaide in 1934 allowing the bulk storage of wine bottles in the city.

Granfiesta Sherry was first released in 1936 and won the Champion Flor Sherry Trophy on many occasions.

Charles Sobels, Emils son, graduated from Roseworthy College, and started working for his uncle Leo Buring in Sydney.

Leo Buring acted as technical adviser to various Australian wineries in 1919-23 and was governing director of Lindeman Ltd in 1923-30.

In 1931 Leo set up his own business, Leo Buring Pty Ltd.

He was a director of H. Buring & Sobels Ltd in 1934-60 and his great interest was the promotion of Australian wines


Continue to P.4. Quelltaler Winery - Post-War Boom

Clarevale Cooperative, Clare - 1930
Clarevale_Chatswood Muscat.jpg
5. Clarevale Cooperative, Clare - 1930


The Clarevale Cooperative was founded in 1930, with a loan of 8,000 pounds from the State Government, but started crushing wine in 1929 as Clarevale Growers' Winery, which had money troubles, and was liquidated.



The building Known as Hill & Co's stables was purchased, and with alterations and additions, was turned into up-to-date wine cellars.

  • This Winery is centrally and conveniently located in the large building near the Mid-North Electricity Co's Power House.

  • The company has about 90 members, and the directors at the present time- are Messrs.

    • Maddern Kimber, of Chatswood, Clare (chairman), who was born in the Mill House, Main Street, Clare, and who died in 1932.

    • H. G. Lloyd,

    • J.C. Dux J.P. (President of Clare A. & H. Society),

    • G. B. Martin (appointed secretary to the Australian Wine Board 1939)

    • and S. H. James,

    • with Mr. Syd Pascoe (of White Hut Farm) as secretary


Mr. C. A. Pollitt J.P., (who for 20 years was Assistant Manager at the Chateau Tanunda) was  appointed manager prior to the present vintage, and under his management the company is making good progress.

  • Seven hundred and-twenty tons of grapes were received and crushed at the Clarevale Winery this season (1930).

The Advertiser (Adelaide, SA) Wed 26 Jun 1935 Page 9


"The Clarevale Co-operative Winery, which is managed by Mr. M. Vogt had

its first vintage in 1928 and ha.s already a large list of wine show awards to its credit, especially for burgundy and muscat."

  • "Mr. Vogt said that the cellars were finding a ready sale for its products and its Clarevale brands had become well known.

  • The cellars had not that atmosphere which only age can give, but they form a fine example of the modern cellars.

  • Mr. Vogt said that, like other winemakers  he was finding a great demand for sherry, the increasing sale of which in Australia has been of considerable help to the wine industry in the last few years."

Clarevale_Dry REd.jpg

Fortified wine constituted 90% of consumption, and took less skill and machinery to make than did table wine, and so the farmers grew grenache, pedro, palomine and mataro.

James Halliday reports (p.69) that growers Alan McAskille and Mr. Quirke hit the road with one and a half tons of wine and sold the wine from Kimba in the west to Morgan in the east, eventually building local sales to 70,000 gallons.

By this direct selling, and the sale of (cheap) bulk wine to the big wine companies, the Clare Co-operative survived the depression.

Obituary 1932 Maddern Kimber.jpg

Northern Argus (Clare, SA) Fri 5 Apr 1940 Page 4



"Since its inauguration in 1928, the winery conducted by the Clarevale Co-operative Winery, Ltd., has been producing a wine of the finest quality, and one that has been accepted on the British market."


"Formerly known as the Clarevale Growers' Winery Ltd., with the late Mr. Maddern Kimber as chairman of directors, the company changed its name in March, 1930, and registered as the Clarevale Co-operative Winery Ltd.

  • Any grower in the district may become a member, and it is significant that practically all co-operative movements which have been established in various parts of Australia have definitely proved a success.

  • Co-operation is a method of transacting business in which every member definitely contributes to the successful management of the concern, and furthermore the directors of the company are elected from and by the members themselves.

  • Contributors to the pool receive shares to the value of £l, representative of the tonnage of grapes delivered to the winery each year, and the total number of shares allowed to any one member is 500."

"This local winery has always concentrated on supplying the English market with sweet Neutral White Wines and sweet Red Wines of the Port type, but, owing to the war conditions, curtailing overseas trade, are now endeavouring to secure the support of the Australian hotels."

  • "Prizes have been won at the Adelaide Wine Show for Burgundy, and high recommendation has been given in respect of other types.

  • The Clarevale Cooperative Winery Ltd. possesses its own distillery, and all fortifying spirit is made on the premises.

  • Seven men are in continuous employ, and during the vintage season a further four or five are engaged in order to cope with the extra work entailed in crushing, etc.

  • We can only add that, in our opinion, readers who are growers in the district should contact this local co-operative undertaking, and investigate still further the benefits to be derived by becoming a member."

Continue to P.4 Clarevale Winery - Post-War Boom

Koonowla Sold - 1929
Koonowla Street Sign.jpg
15 Dec 1954 George Sandow Pioneer.jpg
6. Koonowla Sold - 1929

Continued from P.2: Koonowla Winery - Boom Years


The winery continued to prosper until 1926 when a fire destroyed the winery building and much of the wine stock.

The Advertiser (Adelaide, SA) Mon 4 Nov 1929 Page 11



Auburn. November 3.

Owing to the death of Mr. W.A.A. West the property was placed on the market by the executors.

There was a large attendance at Koonowla on Thursday for the disposal sale.  Good prices were realised.

Some of the purchasers travelled from distant parts of the State.

Mr. Clarrie. J. Sandow was the purchaser.


Koonowla was originally farm land. but about 1893 it was bought by Messrs. Sharp and Tothill.

  • Extensive improvements were made to the place, thousands of pounds being expended on the property.

  • Subsequently Mr. J. B. Tothill became the owner. Later be sold to two young Englishmen, Messrs. Rawsteme and Hollins, who afterwards sold out to the late Mr. Henry Dutton. Mr. Tothill being appointed manager.

  • Mr. West's interest in the property began when it was next disposed of.


A property of this extent required the employment of a considerable amount of labor, which has been a benefit to the surrounding district.

  • It is stated that the new owner C..J. Sandow intends to eradicate the vines on the place (because he was a strict Methodist, and a teetotaler)

  • Should this be done there will probably be less demand for labor to work the property.

  • We understand that Clarrie Sandow sold this property around 1939, which no longer had a vineyard.

Mrs. Leo. Buring, of Sydney, Visits Clare

Northern Argus (Clare, SA) Wed 20 Sep 1950  Page 1

"WE had a call from Mrs. Leo Buring, of 'Leonay,' Emu Plains, near Sydney, last week.

  • She was formerly Miss Eda Sobels, of Watervale, and

  • was accompanied by her sister Meta, a younger sister, now Mrs. C. J. Sandow, and

  • by another relative Mrs. B. R. Sandow, both of Hoyleton.

Leonay takes its name from the riverside property of the well-known Australian wine grower Hermann Paul Leopold Buring – better known as Leo Buring – and his wife Ida –nicknamed Nay.

They built a house on this 376 acre property in 1920 and combined their names to call it Leonay.

Here they developed a commercial vineyard most of which was sold for housing development upon the death of Leo Buring in 1961.

Nay however continued to live in the house until her death.

We enjoyed a brief talk with Mrs. Buring — a very charming lady — who enjoys life."

Read more:

Northern Argus (Clare, SA) Wed 15 Dec 1954 Page 6


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