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The Story of Clare's Wineries

Chapter 4. Clare Wineries in the post-War Boom

Previous Page: Chapter 3. Clare Wines between the Wars

Next Page: Chapter 5. Clare Wineries in the late 20th Century

 

The Clare Valley is a hilly wine region, home to five districts – Auburn, Watervale, Sevenhill, Polish Hill River and Clare – that each produce distinct wine styles, from the light and elegant to the rich and robust.

Great wine-making families established great wine-making businesses:

 

In the 1970s and 1980s, big is bold is good was perhaps the apt mantra to describe the bolshie, fruit-forward styles that emerged to capture international attention. The table wine culture of Australia expanded to bring cheer in every glass of Australian wine.

  • While the 1970s proudly spoke of Australia’s sweet wine and cask wine convenience culture,

  • the 1980s held aloft the ‘sunshine in a glass’ Chardonnay styles that came in lakes from Australia’s big, smart winemaking companies.

The 1970’s saw rapid expansion of Clare's vineyards, and interest from foreign corporate investors.

  • Heinz acquired the Stanley Wine Company and

  • Remy Martin acquired Quelltaler.

International investment was short-lived.

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New Vineyards

Peter Mitchell moved to the Skillogalee Valley to farm in 1949.

Wakefield Wines was founded by wine merchant Bill Taylor Senior in 1969 with the purchase of 178 hectares of vineyards near the Wakefield River in Auburn.

Jim Barry was a pioneer of the Australian wine industry and was the first qualified winemaker to work in the Clare Valley.

  • He founded Jim Barry Wines in 1974, although in 1959 Jim and his wife, Nancy, purchased their first property and vineyards on the northern outskirts of Clare.

 
1. Stanley Wine Company

Continued from p.3 Wines between the Wars

 

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 dry red table wine. When the War came Stanley changed to sweet wine making because of the demand of American Soldiers.

The fortified wine boom continued until the removal of beer rationing in 1953 when the fortified wine market collapsed.

Stanley again resumed producing red and now white wine making.

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.

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

While we readers could (with hindsight) blame the depression years for these financial problems, please remember that Clarevale Co-op was founded and succeeding well during the same period.

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

 

Alistair Long wrote that...

  • After World War II Stanley opened new vineyards in the Watervale area, south of Clare.

  • As the new vineyards started production, older unproductive vines were uprooted.

  • Within 10 years Stanley expanded in the Leasingham-Watervale area with major plantings of Riesling, and of Cabernet Sauvignon and Shiraz vines.

 
Knappstein Success

Mitch Knappstein wrote that...

"The company fully returned to family hands in 1938, and was again paying a dividend within four years, after almost 20 years of mis-management by Elders Trustees.

  • In 1935 the family had taken cuttings from the (barely productive) best vines and planted a further 14 acres of Rhine Riesling in 1936/1937, which saved the company."

 

"Fred Knappstein had died in 1938 and Bernie took over as wine maker-manager, but in January 1954 Bernie himself died of a heart attack. After Bernie’s death Alec became winery manager, with Otto still chairman of the board.

  • Bernie’s death was seen by the family as a disaster for the company, but the employment of Bill Chambers, a young wine maker fresh out of Roseworthy College proved fortuitous for Stanley."

 

"In 1954 the wine industry experienced a slump, but the Stanley Wine Company purchased another piece of land at Leasingham, planting almost all 50 acres with Riesling.

  • In 1954 Stanley also became involved with supplying wine to Lindemans.

With younger family members on the board it was decided to expand both outside and within the cellar."

 
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Vineyard Of The Leasingham Winery Clare
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Knappstein winery and cellar door in Cla
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The Heroic Fifties

Stanley had taken advantage of the new white wine making technology developed by Gramps and

  • adopted refrigeration, and

  • controlled and closed fermentation techniques,
    which aimed to get wine from the vine to the bottle as quickly as possible.

"Gramp & Sons revolutionised the Australian wine industry with innovations such as

introducing the first cold fermentation and

the first sparkling fermentation technologies to Australia, and were influential in changing the culture from drinking fortified wine to drinking table wine with food."

 

As a result the quality of Stanley wine improved markedly.

  • Producing a superior product, Stanley Wines were very much in demand from other wineries who were slower to introduce progressive planting and winemaking technology.

  • In 1954 the Stanley Wine Company purchased another 200 acres of land at Leasingham and the planting program continued apace.

 

Stanley were selling more and more wine to Lindemans, Penfolds, Seppelts and Seaview as Stanley had the product they needed but they didn’t yet have.

In 1958 Bill Chambers returned to his family business at Rutherglen, and Peter Weste was appointed winemaker.

 

In 1959 Stanley bought another 200 acres at Leasingham and planted more vineyards while supplying more wine to Lindemans, Penfolds, Seppelts and Seaview.

Between 1947 and 1971 Stanley established between 500 and 600 acres of vineyards in the Watervale area.

Stanley's new bottled range of Leasingham wines was enormously successful, and established a new relationship with Lindemans, who previously had first pick of the new wines. Ray Kidd was the managing director of Lindemans in the 1960s.

Lindemans then turned to Padthaway for red wines, which could be substituted for the product of Stanley at Clare.

Mitch Knappstein Takes Over

In 1962 Alec died and Mitch Knappstein became managing director.

  • Production increased enormously and Stanley supplied a large proportion of the wine industry.

  • In 1966 Peter Weste also left (for Seppelts), and Tim Knappstein joined as winemaker in 1967. Tim Knappstein proved to be a very good winemaker and still is.

  • Stanley were able to supply a large section of the industry with the varieties that they lacked - This was one of Stanley's big successes.

  • Stanley must be grateful to our winemakers for the fortunate situation in which they found ourselves prior to selling it all.

  • Tim Knappstein explained that Stanley had really good equipment: centrifuges, stainless steel, refrigeration and yeast propogation plants.

 
Stanley Sold for the first time

Halliday explains that time had taken its toll on Joseph Knappstein's children, and the company's share capital was owned by their aging widows, who were not getting cash dividends because of the increased capital requirements of the winery.

With a crippling wine tax during the 1960's the family received over 10 offers for take-over or merger,

  • so the family put a price on the business, $35 a share,

  • and eventually sold to (US Giant) H J Heinz in 1971, (introduced by Len Evans in 1970)

  • who paid $3,600,000

  • and continued amicably with Mitch Knappstein as manager until he retired in 1976, after which he stayed on as a consultant.

 

Heinz Group sales rose 10% in that year. The results included the first contribution from Stanley Wine Co Pty Ltd, of SA, in which Heinz acquired a majority interest in 1971.

The Heinz consolidated profit included results of this company from January 1, 1971, to April 28 that year. The managing director, Mr Fred Kellow said the performance of the Stanley Wine Co was outstanding in 1971-1972.

Read more: P.5. Heinz Stanley Winery in the late 20th Century

Mick Knappstein

Our local wine legends by Keira James

 

Mick Knappstein’s vision gave much to the district and his legacy lingers on.

His passion as a vine grower led to the propagation of premium Riesling in the 1960s, and he had an uncanny ability to read wine trends.

Mr Mick was determined to remove the elitism from wine and is famed for hosting public educational tastings and winemakers dinners in an effort to demystify the wine making process.

His motto was: 
“flavorsome styles at very good prices”.

He was a leading force not only in Stanley Leasingham Wines but also within many wine industry organisations. 

He was awarded life membership of the Wine and Brandy Producers Association and

In 1987 he was awarded the Order of Australia for services to the wine industry.

Mick passed away in 1997 but is remembered annually by the Clare Valley Winemakers with

the Mick Knappstein Trophy for the best current vintage Riesling, and as

an inaugural inductee into the Clare Valley Winemakers Hall of Fame.

-  Our local wine legends

by Keira James

Vineyard Of The Leasingham Winery Clare
 
 
 
2. A.P.Birks, Wendouree
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Continued from A.P. Birks Wendouree - Wine between the wars

From "Tony Brady : Wendouree, Clare Valley" by Milton Wordley

 

After 53 years at the helm, Roly Birks retired in 1970, aged 77, and he sold the business ...

The place was up for sale because the previous owners, the Fitzpatricks, had borrowed against it and the bank was closing in on them.

  • Lita's father Max Liberman purchased it in 1974

  • He had previously bought a hogshead of Wendouree shiraz in 1963, and bottled it with some friends.

  • It was a mortgagee sale.

Max asked me to come and look at it. I said sure. “What do you think of it?” he asked…. “Well…” I said, “ I don’t know anything about grapes.”

  • I was retiring from academic studies, I studied law, philosophy, history. I studied in London for a couple of years, it would have been 1969-71. I was born in 43, so I was 29.

  • He asked if I would run it for him. I was living back in Adelaide, Lita and I were married and I agreed.

I have gotta give it to Max, one of the things he didn’t do was acquire it as a money making concern.

  • Not that he would have objected if it made money, it didn’t for many years.

  • It does now but that took many years. Lita did wine science and Roly Birks stayed here to help us.

  • The place still had a dirt floor, the barrels were all big format, interestingly they are coming back to big barrels now…

The crusher was Whitehill Beater so it was seat of the pants stuff equipment.

  • Virtually all the wine had been sold in bulk, mostly to people like Seabrook’s in the East… locally Penfolds bought some,

  • only about 500 gallons were ever bottled under Wendouree’s own label.

  • The vineyards had been neglected, huge erosion everywhere, the trellises had all fallen over

  • The Bradys then limited production to straight varietals or blends of shiraz, malbec, mataro, cabernet sauvignon, and a dessert muscat of Alexander.

  • In 1981, before the vine pull, we took out half the vineyard. We took out what we thought were dodgy varieties like Chenin Blanc, False Pedro or the worst grape variety in the world, Cruchon.

  • We then had serious erosion, we got brilliant advice from a guy at the Ag Department, and were able to put in strategic contour banks, without losing many rows

 

"As welcoming as they are, Tony & Lita Brady genuinely don’t like attention. There is no Wendouree cellar door. No Wendouree website. No distribution network, marketing department, salespeople. Nothing."

"Not even an email address. To communicate with the Bradys you need to either call or write a letter. A letter!"

"They don’t want attention so much that they actively discourage it. Tony Brady once told fellow scribe Tim White that he would be delighted if Tim ‘never wrote about Wendouree ever again’."

 

Riesling Trail Blazer

Tony Brady has also gained much gratitude and respect for his campaign to convert the disused Clare railway line to a tourist attraction, and the name "Riesling Trail" does NOT include the varieties he and his wife Lita make so well. Thank you Tony!

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As remarkable as the wines are, even more remarkable are Tony and Lita Brady, who consider themselves the custodians of a priceless treasure:

  • the 1914 stone winery,

  • its original equipment,

  • the time-honoured method of wine making and

  • the time-forgotten vineyard at Clare.

Tony Brady holds a degree in law and Lita Brady, a fully qualified winemaker (Charles Sturt University), and they left high powered city careers to devote their lives to keeping Wendouree what it always has been:

a place of honest, old fashioned, careful and artisan wine making where no short cuts are taken, ever.

Surprise fact: Tony Brady is a teetotaller. Their wines are not high in alcohol content either.

 

Read more: P.5. A.P. Bifrks in the late 20th Century

 
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3. Clarevale Winery from 1947

Continued from Clarevale Winery -Wine between the wars

At the end of 1947 Halliday notes that Jim Barry arrived at Clarevale fresh from graduating from Roseworthy College.

  • The years 1948-1952 were good times for Clarevale as the wines sold while there was a beer drought.

  • In 1947 Clarevale processed 600 tons of grapes, which quickly increased to 2000 tons, since Clarevale took all the grapes on offer.

 

Bill Quirke recalls that in 1953 Clarevale found itself owing money to grape growers, with not enough income to meet their debts, due to the collapse of the fortified wine market.

  • Bill Quirke and Jim Barry travelled to Sydney in 1953 to sort out the bad debt of a bankrupt wine merchant.

  • In 1956 Clarevale took over the wine merchant's licence and premises, in Little Riley Street in East Sydney.

  • Clarevale also sold bulk wine to the Taylor Hotels in Sydney: port dry sherry and some riesling.

  • From 1960 Clarevale started selling bottle wine under their own label due to the work of Olive Baldwin, their Sydney manager.

  • Clarevale also started bottling 'cleanskins' for the Taylor's hotels.

  • The Taylor family partnered with the Clare Valley Co-operative to bottle and distribute their own wines under the Chateau Clare label.

 

Jim Barry left Clarevale in 1969, and was replaced by Andrew Tolley in 1972 after he had graduated from Roseworthy College.

  • In the 1970s marketing was becoming a problem.

  • Halliday reports that Clarevale growers were waiting for their cheques while Stanley Wine was paying cash for grapes received.

 

Control of Clarevale passed to Kaiser Stuhl, who leased the buildings, plant and equipment, paid the grape growers and made the wine.

Read more: P.5. Clarevale Winery in the late 20th Century

 

Leo Buring

Leo Buring (1876-1961), the Barossa Valley-born son of German winemaker, Theodor Buring, studied oenology at Roseworthy College, being dux and gold medal winner.

Buring continued his winemaking education at the Geisenheim Viticultural College in Germany as well as at Montpellier in the south of France.

Returning to Australia he went to work for his family company, Buring & Sobels, before moving on to Rutherglen and Great Western in Victoria.

Taking up the management of Minchinbury in New South Wales, he went on to produce their first Champagne.

In 1931 he set up his own winery Leo Buring Ltd, specializing in dry white wines.

  • Buring's journal of his overseas trip describes his visits to various vineyards and cellars

  • and his notes, some in English others in French, are full of practical details,

  • as well as occasional impressions of wines tasted.

4. Quelltaler, owned by Buring and Sobels

Continued from P.3. Quelltaler Winery between the Wars

 

Prior to the formation of the Annie’s Lane brand, launched in 1996, the winery was known as Quelltaler Estate.

  • Quelltaler was noted in the 1900s for fortified wine and Brandy production, as well as ‘Rhine Rieslings’ and ‘Hock’ under the ownership of H. Buring & Sobels.

  • Trading as Buring and Sobels, the war years saw sales to English and American troops, as well as in India, Canada, and the Pacific Islands.

 

In 1965 Qhelltaler celebrated a century of history from the founding of the vineyards. However the 1960's saw a decline in sales.

A centenary book was released in 1967: A history of H. Buring & Sobels Ltd. Also titled: Quelltaler. 45 pages : illustrations, facsimiles ; 25 cm. Limited ed. of 1000 copies.

 

  • In 1969 Vignerons Distillers and Vintners Ltd of Melbourne acquired H Buring & Sobels Limited.

  • From 1980 it was owned by French company Remy Martin, before being sold to Wolf Blass in 1987

 

From the ownership by Wolf Blass,

  • It was also merged into Southcorp, Foster’s and then

  • Treasury Wine Estates (including Penfolds) who

  • in 2017 sold QuelltaLer to Seppeltsfield for an undisclosed sum, not including the brand name Annie's Lane.

 

Read More: P.5. Quelltaler in the late 20th Century

 
5. Taylors Wines - 1969

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Their interest in wine saw the Taylor Family, Bill senior, and sons John and Bill, invest in the Clare Valley near Auburn in 1969, and in the ensuing five decades, three generations have built Taylor’s wines into the biggest wine operation in Clare.

  • On July 20, 1969, the Taylor family of Sydney found a site by the Wakefield River in South Australia's Clare Valley.

  • The planting of Cabernet Sauvignon vines - gifted by the famous Wynn family of Coonawarra - commenced on the estate in 1969.

  • 178 hectares of vines were planted, 149 to cabernet, the rest to shiraz.


Construction of the new winery is completed just in time for the first vintage in 1973. The chateau-style façade of the main building is a unique feature.
 

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After working for 22 years as winemaker at the Clarevale Co-operative, Jim Barry then went on to establish Taylors Wines in 1969 for the Taylor family.

The first wines were

  • the 1973 Taylors Estate Cabernet Sauvignon and

  • the 1973 Taylors Estate Shiraz (Hermitage).

  • The Cabernet Sauvignon wins the Montgomery Trophy at the Adelaide Wine Show for Best Red Wine of the Show, and six gold medals altogether.


In order for the business to survive, the family bent to the will of the general public, who still prefer fortified and sweet white wines.

  • Bill Taylor weeps as in 1977 large sections of the vineyard planted to Cabernet Sauvignon are grafted over to white varieties.

  • However, his original vision remains and they continue to craft red wines to national acclaim.

  • In 1981 further grafting of cabernet sauvignon over to white varieties took place.

  • Then they had 156 hectares of red grape vines and 131 hectares of white wine vines.

After an agreement with their neighbour, the Taylor family purchase an adjacent property and the vineyard expansion commences.

  • The new acquisition is named the 'Promised Land'.

Read more: P.5. Taylor's Winery in the late 20th Century

 
Jim Barry logo est 1959
6. Jim Barry Wines - from 1974

 

In 1959 Jim and Nancy purchased their first property and vineyards on the northern outskirts of Clare.

  • The property was part of the original estate of Edward Burton Gleeson, founder of Clare, and known as Burton Cottage.

 

In 1964 they purchased 70 acres of prime river flats from Duncan McRae Wood in the Armagh area of Clare.

  • This property would go on to be the foundation of their red wine production.

  • In 1969, after guiding Clarevale for 22 years, Jim took on the challenge of helping to establish Taylor’s new winery and vineyards at Auburn (originally known as Chateau Clare Estate).

 

Jim Barry Wines produce all of their own fruit from 17 locations in the Clare Valley totalling more than 320 hectares, along with a 14 hectare property at Coonawarra.

  • This access to high-quality, estate-grown fruit has been instrumental in the development of a number of prominent brands, including

    • The Armagh Shiraz, and

    • The Florita Riesling.

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 Jim Barry

Jim started in oenology in 1944 at Roseworthy Agricultural College.

 

  • Jim Barry graduated from Roseworthy Agricultural College in 1947 and, having previously undertaken work experience for Clarevale, was offered a permanent post at the cooperative

  • He was the first qualified winemaker to work in the Clare Valley.

  • Also the first winemaker in Clare Valley to use a pH meter

  • Barry first started acquiring his personal vineyards in 1959.

  • The family now owns properties totalling over 200ha.

  • In 1985 Barry released the first Armagh Shiraz made from the low-yielding vines he planted in 1969 and used until 1985 in his Sentimental Bloke port blend.

  • Jim Barry Wines now makes around 70,000 cases annually.

  • Jim Barry is survived by his wife, Nancy, and six children, four of which are in the wine business.

 

Read more:

 

In 1974 the first “home-made” wines were produced at a new winery built on a hill, with a spectacular outlook over the picturesque northern Clare Valley.

  • In 1977 they purchased the 329 acre (133ha) Lodge Hill property, historically known as Wolta Wolta.

  • Jim and Nancy with the help of their sons purchased further sites including Clare River (1989), Jacka’s (1995) and John Knox Oval (1998) in Coonawarra, which help in contributing to their various wines today.

 

 

Read more: P.5. Jim Barry Wineries in the late 20th Century

 

 

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7. Wilson Vineyard - from 1974

Founders: Pat and John Wilson

 

Wilson is unashamedly small. But it doesn't take many people to make great wine.

"A little bit of a railway theme happening on the property but the real interest is the wines."

This small family owned & operated winery produce a small but excellent range of both white & red wines, led as you would expect, given the location, by their Riesling.

  • Located on Polish Hill River Road north-west of Mintaro this small, family-owned vineyard and winery was established in 1974 and specialises in red and white table wines and fortified wines derived from cabernet sauvignon, riesling, shiraz, zinfandel, semillon, chardonnay, Malbec and traminer grapes.

  • Wilson Vineyard makes a rare, late-picked zinfandel, the only Clare zin and one of the very few in the entire country.

  • Production is limited by the windy conditions, infertile clay soil and generally inhospitable environment that is found in the highest reaches of the Valley. 

 

All wines produced under The Wilson Vineyard label are made on site in their own winery, giving the assurance of single vineyard, single site wines reflecting both the microclimate of Polish Hill River and the skills of the Wilson family.

  • The winery believes in low tech, small batch winemaking with minimal usage of preservatives.

  • The grapes for Wilson Vineyard wines are hand-plunged, whole-bunch pressed, and hand-picked.

  • The wines are unfiltered and went through minimal handling which is reflected in each and every bottle coming from Wilson Vineyard.

Read more:  P.5. Wilson Vineyard in the late 20th Century

 
Peter McNicol Mitchell (Grandpa & Grandma)
Mitchell homestead at Sevenhill
Hilary, Angus and Edwina Mitchell
8. Mitchell Wines - 1975

 

In 1975 Andrew Mitchell took over the family farm near Clare, establishing Mitchell Wines and continuing in his father’s legacy.

  • Andrew grasped the traditional methods implemented by his father while throwing himself into learning the ins and outs of both traditional and modern winemaking.

  • His studies took him around the world, learning about different techniques, styles and approaches, feeding his insatiable appetite for knowledge.

  • He implemented his newfound learnings to Mitchell wines and with his wife, Jane, by his side; they became a recognised and highly respected duo in the South Australian wine industry.

 

The Sevenhill Vineyard is where it all began back in 1949 when Peter McNicol Mitchell purchased the family farm.

  • The land, formerly an orchard, has been used to grow fruit for more than 100 years

  • In 1982 the vineyard was established, high up in the western hills of the Clare Valley, rolling hills that provide elevation of 430m – 480m with the surrounding stony quartzite hillside covered by native bush land.

  • The Sevenhill Vineyard surrounds our winery, cellar door and homestead and is made up of Cabernet Sauvignon and Gruner Veltliner vines as well as being home to the McNicol Shiraz and McNicol Riesling vines.

 

Established in 1960, the Growers Vineyard sits on red loam over limestone in the Watervale region, where growing conditions for Riesling is near-on textbook style.

  • Our Growers Vineyard is made up of 9 hectares of Riesling vines and a smaller 1.5 hectares of Semillon vines with an elevation between 345m – 380m. 

 

The Alcatraz Vineyard was planted in 1962 by Peter McNicol Mitchell and is made up of 10 hectares of Riesling, 7 hectares of Shiraz and 1.5 hectares of Semillon.

  • These old vines are grown on red loam over limestone soils with an east-facing slope that receives the gentle morning sun and is sheltered from the direct sun in the heat of the afternoon.

  • These vines sit at an elevation between 390m – 410m and have always been dry grown, hand pruned and hand-picked.

  • No artificial fertilisers, pesticides or herbicides have ever been used in growing these grapes, largely contributing to why this vineyard produces award-winning quality wines year-on-year. 

Under Andrew and Jane Mitchell’s watchful eyes, the business has grown to include 80 hectares under vine, a winery and a bottling facility.

  • With their three children, Hilary, Angus and Edwina learning the ropes, they bring new and innovative ideas to the table, ensuring Mitchell Wines continues to grow and flourish under a new era of management.

Read more: P. 5 Mitchell Vines in the late 20th Century

 
9. Enterprise Wines - 1976

Tim Knappstein's father A.J. Knappstein had died in 1960

  • From 1962-1976 Tim worked at the Stanley Winery, but took two years off for study:

  • He attended Roseworthy College and graduated as dux of the College in 1965.

  • Towards the end of 1966 Tim Knappstein was appointed winemaker at Stanley winery.

  • In his work at Stanley he won more than 500 awards, 115 gold medals, and 25 trophies.

  • He won gold medals for every class of wine which he had entered for the premium quality Leasingham range, through a period when new technology was revolutionising both winemaking and the wines themselves.

1969 Northern Enterprise Vineyard Planted

Further north on a slightly warmer site, located on the Clare Valley’s famous Terra Rosa soils over limestone, is Knappstein’s Enterprise Vineyard.

  • The low-yielding Cabernet vines of this vineyard bear fruit with incredibly bold concentration of flavour, distinctive olive leaf flavours with fine natural tannins and striking acidity derived from the iron rich soils and the limestone geology.

 

1972 Southern Enterprise Vineyard

With the sale of Stanley to H.J. Heinz, Tim Knappstein, as Joseph's grandson, with his inheritance, in 1972 bought 167 acres south-east of Clare, with the help of an investment from his mother. These acres were planted with vineyards, and became Enterprise Wines in 1976.

The first Enterprise vintages were made at another winery:

  • a 1974 red wine

  • a 1975 rhine riesling

 

Tim Knappstein also bought the old Christison "Enterprise" brewery building (most recently used to make soft drinks) in the north of Clare, close to the Main northern road and the Hutt River, (now Knappstein Enterprise Winery).

Halliday reports that the first vintage made by Tim Knappstein at the heritage premises was a 1977 rhine riesling, which won numerous gold medals and even a trophy.

 

Tim Knappstein is one of the wine industry’s great survivors.

The Cool Customer
Jan 21, 2014 Huon Hooke

 

He started out in the Clare Valley in the late 1960s where his uncle Mick Knappstein was a wine-making legend at the Stanley Wine Company.

 

After serving his ‘apprenticeship’ there Tim started his own company Tim Knappstein Enterprise Wines, in the old Enterprise brewery in Clare which he converted into a winery.

It still bears his name today although he hasn’t owned it for many years.

That’s because Tim discovered cool climate. It happened on a trip to the Yarra Valley around 1978.

“I was impressed by some of the wines I saw, with their bright fruit flavours. I was soon sold on cool-climate.”

He bought land at Lenswood high in the Adelaide Hills the same year the Henschkes bought their land, and one year before Geoff Weaver.

All were in the same Lenswood locality.

“I bought and planted in 1981 and moved there in ’85,” he says.

He wasn’t permitted to use his own name as he’d sold that along with the Clare winery to its new owner.

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The initial Enterprise wine crush was 80 tonnes. This was later raised to 400 tonnes with two more vineyard projects. This necessitated the erection of a steel shed at the Knappstein site, which is still there, of course.

The first red wine, a Cabernet Sauvignon, was almost as well received as the award-winning rhine riesling.

 

Tim Knappstein, Halliday points out, had shown his complete mastery of the wine varieties he made.

  • Knappstein also pointed out that more rhine riesling was produced and bottled than all the other premium white varieties together.

Read more: P.5. Enterprise Winery in the late 20th Century

 

Enterprise Winery History

1878 Enterprise Brewery Built

  • Fanny Filgate was an entrepreneurial businesswomen. 

  • She constructed the Enterprise Brewery in August 1878 and was completed early in 1880.

  • As the copper mining industry took off, so did Fanny’s beer sales.

 

1905 Brewery renamed to Clare Brewery

  • In 1905 the name was changed to Clare Brewery and during that time, the brewery owned no less than fifteen hotels in Clare and the surrounding district. 

  • Beer was delivered over a wider area including being transported to Broken Hill by rail. 

  • The brewery was enlarged, the roof of the building lifted, the tower reconstructed, and an elevator fitted in 1913, which enabled 1,000 gallons of beer to be produced daily, 200 hogsheads per week.

  • Shorter hotel trading hours were introduced in 1916 that led to a drop in sales, and within one year the brewery was closed.

 

1917 Clare Mineral Waters

  • In 1917, the brewery was leased and commenced trading as the Clare Mineral Waters Company, producing a range of soft drinks and cordials until 1976. 

  • It was led by Frank Bulfield who had visited Clare in 1910 on a sporting trip and liked it so much he returned to take up the role as brewery secretary in 1912.

  • By 1960, Clare Mineral Waters had nine staff and an annual wages bill of £6000.
     

1976 Enterprise Winery
established

  • The Enterprise brewery building was established as a winery by the Knappstein family in 1976 and was known as Clare Enterprise Winery.

  • It later became known as The Knappstein Enterprise Winery.