The Story of Clare's Wineries

Chapter 5. Clare Wineries boom in the late 20th Century
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Vineyards

"The deregulation of our banking system in the 1980s led to a period of speculative madness by bankers and borrowers, particularly from the small banks of South Australia.

A few poor business decisions by the Hardy's board heralded the end."

"The early 1990s were hard and then transformed into the third golden age of Australian wine" - David Farmer

"The low priced Australian dollar and the world wide acceptance of Australian wine flavours made the future looking sweet."

 

Over 15 new wineries were established in the Clare Valley in those twenty years!

The 1990s showed the world that Australia was adept at blockbuster, full-flavoured, densely packed, powerful red wines from the beating hearts of our historical, warm climate red wine regions.

 

Premier Steven Marshall said “South Australia is indisputably Australia’s wine state, producing 50% of all bottled wine and almost 80% of premium wine.

Wine is massive part of our state’s character, is a significant economic and cultural asset, and a major employer,” he said.

Huon Hooke notes that Clare has 2,000 hectares of producing vines which yield 17,000 tonnes of grapes a year, just 4.7% of South Australia's crush. But it's mostly premium quality, which means the area is much more important than the figures suggest.

The various soils produce quite different grapes and comparing rieslings from the various sub-regions and soils is fascinating, somewhat akin to doing a similar exercise with the rieslings of Alsace.

 

"The top red producers around Clare Valley are:

Wendouree, Tim Adams, Leasingham, Mildara/Annie's Lane, Mitchell, Paulett, Brian Barry, Waninga, Grosset, Mount Horrocks, Sevenhill and Skillogalee.

"Throughout, the wines to look for are straight cabernet sauvignon and shiraz, and blends of cabernet shiraz, cabernet malbec, cabernet merlot and, at Wendouree, a straight malbec.

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

"Pinot noir is not suited to Clare. Grenache is good, but at its best when blended with other grapes, as in Tim Adams' superb The Fergus."

 
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1. Knappstein Enterprise Winery - from 1976

Continued from p.4 Wines post-War Boom

 

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.

Tim and Annie Knappstein sold the winery and the business to Petaluma in 1992, along with the vineyards in 1995 for $2.7 million or around one year's sales.

  • Knappstein was critical to Petaluma's forecast of a doubling of profit in 1994 when it contributed $182,000 to the $910,000 (19c a share) earned by the group.

  • Petaluma dropped the ‘Tim’ from the name, and the winery was then known simply as Knappstein wines, later renamed as Knappstein Enterprise Winery.

  • Accolade bought the winery in 2016, which formed part of its deal to buy Lion’s Australian wine business Fine Wine Partners.

    • Accolade has two remaining Clare Valley vineyards, over which it will retain ownership to ensure supply of prized riesling grapes to its Petaluma, Hardys and Leasingham brands.

  • Knappstein Enterprise Winery produces three core wine ranges, selling 17,000 cases annually.

In 1981 Tim was the first to plant a vineyard in the cool climate Lenswood area of the Adelaide Hills, where he still lives.  

  • As the enormous potential of the Lenswood fruit emerged, Tim sold all his Clare interests in 1995 to concentrate solely on the fruit and wines from this exciting new cool climate region of the Adelaide Hills.

  • Tim has since sold the Lenswood vineyards and works with a range of dedicated growers within the region to produce the Riposte range of wines.

Read more:  Adelaide Hills winemaker Tim Knappstein harvests his 60th consecutive vintage

 
 

Berri Estate Winery

Accolade Wines’ Berri Estate winery is the largest grape processor in the Southern Hemisphere,

  • crushing around 220,000 tonnes of grapes annually;

  • around a third of South Australia’s entire crush.

The facility exports over 100 million litres of wine around the world annually

  • and over six and a half million litres of that wine is delivered to the UK every month.

  • Berri Estates employs 265 permanent staff and up to 415 individuals over the busy harvest period.

Boasting a storage capacity of over 263 million litres,

  • with 1,500 tanks on-site and three automated production lines,

  • Berri can produce up to 85,000 casks a day.

Berri is the largest cask manufacturing facility in Australia and produces approximately 60 million litres per year, almost half of all casks sold in Australia.

Berri is able to produce 1.5L, 2L, 3L, 4L, 5L & 10L casks.

2. Stanley Wine Company under Heinz

by David Farmer

Continued from p.4 Wines post-War Boom

In 1971 the H.J. Heinz Corporation acquired a controlling interest in Stanley Leasingham through BRL Hardy.

 

In the mid 1960's wine merchant Harry Brown was talking to Mick Knappstein of the Stanley Wine Company which at the time was very successful and he mentioned it was for sale.

This information was passed on to Mouton Rothschild but Heinz, which wanted to diversify, moved quickly and grabbed the opportunity.

 

At the time Stanley sold 85% of its wine to the bigger companies and was keen to expand their own range. This range of Bin wines such as Bin 7, Bin 56 and and Bin 49 were on allocation.

Heinz had commissioned John Heine to develop new business ideas and he had convinced them that casks would make up 85% of the wine trade by 1980. Heinz believed they could take a commanding position by buying Stanley.

 

Harry Brown distributed The Stanley Wine products and the fast developing cask market began to dominate the company.

In 1979 Harry Brown sold to Heinz who wished to control their distribution and since Stanley had become such a large part of the Harry Brown business he had little leverage to refuse knowing they would take the agency away and set up their own distribution.

From Harry Brown - Wine Merchant Salesman 1918-1999
Monday, 27th July, 2009  - David Farmer

 

From 1970 Max Schubert [creator of Penfolds Grange] bought wine from Mick Knappstein (Leasingham winemaker) for Grange. Max was fascinated with the area and always needed Clare grapes for Grange, Bin 707 and Bin 389. He thought the wines were very elegant”.

In 1971 the H.J. Heinz Corporation acquired a controlling interest in Leasingham.

  • Winemaker Bob Smith in 1984 went to work for H.J. Heinz and established the Stanley Wine Co. at Buronga N.S.W. (now a 90,000 tonne winery).

  • In 1984 the production of Stanley wine casks was transferred from the Leasingham Clare Valley winery to the New South Wales winery.

  • Smith left the Stanley Wine Co. in December 2000.

  • Since then, the historical wineworks at Leasingham have been free to concentrate on crafting elegant wines.

 

Leasingham claimed the highly prestigious Jimmy Watson Memorial Trophy for its 1994 Shiraz, the first time a Clare Valley producer won the accolade.

Sourced from superior sites, including the distinguished Provis and Schobers properties, Bin 61 speaks profoundly of the elegant spice characters and intense blueberry mint perfumes which are unique to Valley Clare.

 

US private equity company Carlyle bought Accolade for $1 billion in 2018 and the company recently sold the Stanley Winery near Mildura to Adelaide’s Duxton Vineyards.

  • Stanley Wines is best known as a big cask wine brand, with its two-litre and four-litre casks popular among mass-market wine drinkers.

  • Accolade assets in Clare included the Leasingham, Ackland, Knappstein and Hanlin Hill vineyards.

  • The new private equity owner of Accolade Wines has wasted little time in pursuing more cost savings, selling off the historic Stanley winery in the Sunraysia grape-growing region to private vineyard operator Duxton Vineyards Group.

    • Duxton Vineyards is a large scale, vertically integrated wine enterprise, located in the Mildura & Sunraysia region of New South Wales, Australia..

 

United States private equity giant Carlyle Group bought Accolade last year for $1 billion, and will transfer winemaking from the 80,000-tonne Stanley facility at Buronga in NSW to a larger winery at Berri in South Australia's Riverland.

 

The Stanley wine brand is popular among cask wine fans. Accolade will retain the Stanley brand.

  • It pumped $40 million of investment into an expansion of warehousing and storage facilities at the Berri facility.

  • The Stanley winery was running well under capacity.

  • Accolade Wines Executive Chairman Ari Mervis said the sale of the winery was a ''significant milestone'' in the restructuring of the group's Australian operations. The group wouldn't comment on the price tag.

 

Accolade said it had now sold Knappstein to Australian Yinmore Wines, which was part of the China-based Yunnan Yinmore Group, which says on its website it turns over $US50 million a year and employs 500 people.

  • A search of company records shows the group also owns a vineyard at McLaren Flat.

  • Knappstein was established by Tim Knappstein in 1969 and is operated out of a former brewery building dating back to 1878.

Read more: Accolade Wines sells Stanley winery but keeps brand

 

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Who are Duxton Group?

Founded in 2009 Duxton is a spin-out from the Deutsche Bank Complex Assets team.

Duxton focuses on global agricultural land and securities as well as emerging markets.

The net value of assets under Duxton’s management and advice amounts to approx. USD 630m.

Approximately USD $400 million of these assets are agricultural investments.

Duxton currently manages and advises investments in farming operations

  • covering 540,000 hectares,

  • spanning 5 continents,

  • managed by highly specialized, on the ground, senior farmers and

  • supported by over 13,000 farm hands and workers.

Duxton has operating investments in Australia, Argentina, India, Tanzania, Vietnam, Zambia, Jamaica and New Zealand, and is currently working on live projects in Asia, Oceania, Africa, Latin America and Eastern Europe.

  • Duxton employs 27 investment staff members, with offices in Singapore, Australia, and Germany.

 
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3. Clarevale Co-op sold twice

Continued from p.4 Wines post-War Boom

"Cooperatives are not the easiest organisations to manage, particularly if the sales are not able to move all the stock, and grape growers want their money before the stock is realised." - David Obst Interview.

 

1. Kaiser Stuhl had already merged with the Waikerie Co-op and with Clarevale Co-op. Then in 1981 control of the group passed for a while to the Penfolds group.

2. The Clarevale Co-operative business then was sold to BRL Hardy in 1988.

 

The 1992 acquisition by Berri Renmano of the heavily indebted Thomas Hardy, and the subsequent public issue of shares of BRL Hardy Ltd, was one of the more innovative corporate surprises of the year.

To rub it in the new company was called BRL Hardy, the B and R standing for Berri and Renmano.

  • Expected 1992 sales were of $200 million a year

  • Profit for the calendar year 1993 was $11 million, or 11.6c a share.

Constellation merges with BRL Hardy

In 2003 Constellation Brands, which has been aggressively buying other U.S. wine companies over the past few years, offered $1.1 billion for the Australian wine giant BRL Hardy.

The merger of BRL Hardy with Constellation in March 2003 created the world’s biggest wine company, with an annual revenue of around US$3bn. Then winemaking chief Steve Millar promised it would be the ‘Coca-Cola of winemaking’.

In 2008, Constellation Brands has gross sales of more than US$5.2bn annually, with 9,200 employees worldwide.

BRL Hardy brands include Hardys, Banrock Station, Chateau Reynella, Leasingham and Yarra Burn in Australia, along with Nobilo in New Zealand.

Huon Hooke comments that:

"It’s fair to say there is a lot of pessimism in the Australian fine wine community about all of this.

  • Corporate ownership of wine interests does not have a happy record in this country.

  • Brands tends to be trashed and

  • the value built up by hard work over long periods of time is often squandered.

However, any sale must also present opportunities for benevolent owners to become involved in wine, so perhaps we should remain positive."

 
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4. Jim Barry Wines - from 1985

Continued from p.4 Wines post-War Boom

James Halliday reports that Jim Barry Wines has established a second-to-none hold on Clare Valley riesling.

Peter Barry became managing director in 1985 upon Jim’s retirement.

Peter’s relentless drive has been responsible for Jim Barry Wines achieving so much, and his Irish ancestry has endowed him with a great sense of humour, which isn’t lost when times are difficult.

Peter and Sue Barry’s three children, Tom, Sam and Olivia have taken positions of increasing importance; Tom and Sam also have their own business, having purchased Clos Clare in 2008.

Peter and brothers John and Mark made a coup of major significance when they purchased the Florita Vineyard in 1986.

The timing was exquisite, the price (from the Barry point of view) likewise. The one problem was that Leo Buring had registered the trademark ‘The Florita’ in 1946, and the Barrys had to wait until 2004 to obtain ownership of ‘The Little Flower’ (the English translation of the Spanish Florita).

 

Jim Barry Wines has established a second-to-none hold on Clare Valley riesling; it swept all the riesling classes at the 2018 Clare Valley Wine Show.

It also produces cabernet sauvignon from a 13.3ha block in Coonawarra purchased and planted in 1978.

Jim Barry's The Armagh Shiraz is one of the biggest reds of Clare.

  • The vines aren't especially old, but they are struggling low-yielders and the wine they produce a glass-staining concentrated monster.

  • It gave Clare a much needed boost when it made its debut.

  • The 1985 vintage came out in 1987 at a then-audacious price of $40. This was much higher than anything else in the Barry portfolio.

  • But the Barry boys knew what they had and the wine is now considered one of Australia's icons. 

Its most recent move was to go through the tortuous path of importing the first rootlings of assyrtiko, a white variety from the Greek island of Santorini, where it grows on pumice stone soils and withstands winds that blow incessantly every summer.

Assyrtiko shows real promise and will be the last vine standing if the climate Armageddon strikes the Clare Valley.

 

The start of the Wolf Blass Story

In 1961 he accepted an offer from Ian Hickinbotham, who was then the General Manager of Kaiser Stuhl wines. "I received a three year contract to come to Australia to develop sparkling wines.

But it was my job to do all the sparkling wine production and Riesling. And I think we won the first awards with Riesling at the Royal Adelaide Wine Show. That was a highlight."

"I think that what we really brought out was flavour, drinkability, freshness. We added some carbon dioxide, and one thing that was most important, we made sure that the wine didn’t oxidise.

With a little Volkswagen, I was cruising around Basedows, Woodleys, Jim Barry’s place."

"Then the Clare Valley co-operative.

Tolleys winery. Bleasdale. You name it. You know, I was there for a couple of hours, a day, and a half a day.

And it really rattled the wine shows, you know, for these little boys. And Normans. They won their first trophies."

5. Quelltaler becomes Annie's Lane

Continued from p.4 Wines post-War Boom

Annie’s Lane wines were launched in 1996, so-named at the turn of the 20th century when Annie Wayman's[1] horse and cart got bogged along the boundary of a Clare Valley vineyard as she delivered lunch and warm drinks to pruners in the vineyard.

It seemed only reasonable that Annie, a stalwart of Clare Valley folklore, should be remembered for her inimitable services to the vineyard workers of the region.

At the heart of Watervale, in the Clare Valley’s south, the home of Annie’s Lane is the heritage listed Quelltaler Estate dating back to 1863.

With beautiful on-site picnic grounds, visitors can spend a day enjoying the delightful range of Clare Valley wines and fine foods.

In 1977 Wolf Blass developed a new style of riesling which became Australia’s most preferred riesling and also became the riesling benchmark for other winemakers.

In 1984 Wolf decided that, "yes, I would go public. And I think I was the first company to go public. I think I was holding 65% or something like this—65/70% at the time. We were oversubscribed, and I gave the offer to the retail trade."

In 1986 Wolf Blass Wines acquired Quelltaler, one of the Clara Valley’s most famous and historic wineries.

  • Wine has not been produced at the Quelltaler winery for a couple of decades now.

 

In 1989 interest rates reached 20% and Wolf Blass for the first time, were wounded because they didn’t have their own vineyards.

  • Wolf Blass Wines Ltd was purchased by Mildara in 1991, to form Mildara Blass, and

  • was itself bought by Fosters Brewing six years later, which

  • then acquired the Rothbury Group in 1998

Wolf Blass became the major shareholder of the group and Deputy Chairman of the Board.

  • In 1995 Fosters Brewing acquired Mildara Blass,

  • Wolf Blass was retained as statesman for the group, being deeply involved in vintage and winemaking procedures and actively promoting his wines around Australia.

 

Annie’s Lane wines were produced in the Barossa and the brand was managed as its own entity.

  • “The brand has been retained and will continue to operate as normal,” they said. - Northern Argus

 

2017: Purchase by Seppeltsfield’s of the 365-hectare vineyard and 1000-tonne winery at Quelltaler Estate, Watervale -

  • 20 staff retrenched effective as of November 30 2017; Treasury Wine Estates, with vast interests in the South Australian wine industry, said there may be opportunities in close proximity – such as the Barossa – which would suit Annie’s Lane employees.

  • March 14, 2018
    CLARE VALLEY’S Quelltaler Estate is buying a chunk of a well-known local farming property at Auburn to expand its red grape vineyards.

  • Managing director Warren Randall confirmed the company was spending $4.35 million on 312ha of the well-known Kenfield farming property after the entire estate went under the hammer for $5.587 million.

 
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Seppeltsfields winery and Quelltaler man
 
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6. Mitchell Wine

Continued from p.4 Wines post-War Boom

 

Mitchell Wines in Clare has enjoyed success since 1975, steered by Andrew Mitchell’s fastidious winemaking and his wife Jane’s vigorous marketing.

  • With the couple now enjoying retirement, their three children are running the winery – none of them involved in making wine.

  • “I’ve always resisted the cult of the gun winemaker being the sole focus of attention,” says Andrew Mitchell.

  • “I see it as a peculiarly Australian thing – you see the brand or the chateau mentioned first throughout Europe.

  • I’ve always considered that the winemaker is only one cog in the enterprise – and, if anything, the work of the grape grower is probably the most essential contribution.”

 

Andrew is therefore delighted at the decisions son Angus is taking as viticulture manager and winery general manager.

  • The quality of Mitchell’s vineyard sites at Sevenhill, Watervale and Auburn has given the wines a distinctive edge, and Angus’s focus on soil regeneration, eliminating artificial pesticides and herbicides has resulted in improved vine health.

  • Angus is working with his sisters, Edwina and Hilary, taking Mitchell Wines into a new era that speaks clearly to their generation, while continuing to embrace their traditional customers.

  • Part of this is introducing a new range of single vineyard wines, the Kinsfolk range, that embrace bright, modern winemaking.

“Having two ranges allows us to talk about past and present,” says Edwina. “We’ve kept the Mitchell label traditional and consistent, but the Kinsfolk wines show that there’s a new side to what we’re all about.”

Read more:
How family-owned wineries are handing over to the next generation

Visit the Mitchell Website

6. A.P. Birks, Wendouree

Continued from p.4 Wines post-War Boom

The "Wine Decoded" website said:

"AP Birks Wendouree Cellars produce some of the very few wines I’ll buy without tasting!

  • The wines are something special. A celebration of an incredible old vineyard with plantings from the late 1800s.

  • Tony & Lita are custodians of something truly special!

  • Wendouree has no cellar door, no fax, no website, it doesn’t need them. The wines have such an incredible history and pedigree, they speak for themselves.

  • The wines are incredibly long-lived, I’m just starting to drink the wines from the early 00’s."

"In recent times, the wines have been softened a little.

  • Their pleasures can be released a little earlier. They tend to have a deceptive lightness, that gives way to incredible depth and length of fruit.

  • The overt oak found in some of the wines from the late nineties is no longer present.

  • Layers of aromas and flavours can’t be easily dissected, such is their harmony.

  • The grape tannins have an incredible texture and density."

 

"Visiting Wendouree back in 1999 with a couple of French winemakers, it was clear that Tony Brady, custodian of Wendouree with his wife Lita (who unfortunately wasn’t present, her moreish date biscuits were!) was humble, thoughtful, wouldn’t suffer fools, and incredibly generous.'

"Looking at gnarly bush vines over a hundred years old in the Wendouree vineyards is a rare thing indeed. It amazed me that they still offered fruit."

 
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7. Taylors Wines - St Andrews

Continued from p.4 Wines post-War Boom

"As custodians of my father and grandfather's vision, our decisions are made with our eyes firmly fixed upon the future and our long-term goal to make wines that will stand the test of time and that the next generation will be proud of."

Mitchell Taylor, Taylors Wines Managing Director and Third Generation Winemaker

Taylors Wines is family owned winery established in 1969 and which is located in the Clare Valley of South Australia and is one of the founding members of the Australia's First Families of Wine.

 

Taylors’ first wine was the 1973 Taylors Cabernet Sauvignon which was awarded a gold medal at every Australian national wine show it was entered.

Since then Taylors Wines has grown to become the largest holding in the Clare Valley.

The original 178-hectare vineyard was founded in 1969 by Bill Taylor (Snr) and his sons Bill and John and is still run by the family today.

St Andrews is named after the historic property first established in 1892.

  • A true reflection of the terroir, St. Andrews wines exemplify the very best of handcrafted Clare Valley winemaking.

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For forty years St. Andrews was one of the leading wine producers in the Clare Valley but sadly, ceased operating when it was sold in 1934.

  • Bill Taylor quickly recognised the potential of the adjacent St. Andrews property when he was first establishing his vineyards in the Clare Valley, and wanted to make it a part of the family's estate.

  • So in 1995 the family purchased the property and became proud custodians of a piece of Australian wine history.

  • They immediately went about the task of re-creating the glory days by once again planting vines on the rich, fertile soils and in 1999 the first St. Andrews wines from Taylors were released.

  • These wines are particularly special with fruit sourced from the best blocks on the estate and only crafted in the best vintages, they're a true testament to our philosophy of 'respect the fruit'.

 

The hand-crafted approach extends beyond the winemaking too as even the labels are hand applied.

  • This modern version of St. Andrews now has a heritage that spans almost two decades.

  • Over this time, the wines have developed a well-deserved reputation - not only as benchmark Clare Valley styles but also standing tall amongst the best from Australia.

  • The first Taylors St. Andrews wines were released in 1999 and have developed a reputation as benchmark examples of great Clare Valley wine.

 

Taylors pinnacle Pioneer Shiraz is named to celebrate the pioneering spirit of Bill Taylor; who had the conviction to do things differently and who demonstrated the fortitude to stay on a path to greatness.

 

  • In the early days of the Taylors wine business, Bill was astute enough to recognise the emerging popularity of Shiraz.

  • At the time, the plan was to plant most of the Clare Valley vineyard with Cabernet Sauvignon but he insisted that a small block be set aside to also plant Shiraz.

  • Well, as we now know, his foresight proved to be very correct and a generation later, this kind of determination is present in everything we do at Taylors.

  • So the decision to craft an exceptional Shiraz to honour that pioneering spirit was made.

  • With our Clare Valley terroir providing ideal conditions, the intention is that this wine will not only rival the best in Australia, but stand toe to toe with the best in the world.

Read more:  Taylors Wines Website

Taylors Wines From Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia

Kazzit Wines - Taylors Wines

Taylors Wines going strong after 50 year
 
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8. The Wilson Vineyard

255 Stonecutting Road Polish Hill River, Clare Valley SA

Continued from p.4 Wines post-War Boom

 

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.

In 2009 the winery and general operations were passed on to son Daniel Wilson, the second generation.

  • Daniel, a graduate of CSU, spent three years in the Barossa with some of Australia's largest winemakers before returning to Clare in '03.

  • Parents John and Pat Wilson still contribute in a limited way, content to watch developments in the business they created.

  • Daniel continues to follow John's beliefs about keeping quality high, often at the expense of volume, and rather than talk about it, believes the proof is in the bottle.

 

The Wilson Vineyard puts away a small amount of their Polish Hill River sub-regional riesling, as well as a tiny treasure load from a small block in the same district they call the DJW riesling.

The Polish Hill River district is the critical factor in such wines’ age-worthiness.

“It’s the jewel in the Clare crown in terms of aged riesling quality and complexity,” Daniel says.


Winemaker Daniel Wilson produces several single vineyard rieslings and employs traditional techniques such as

  • cold whole bunch pressing,

  • whole bunch fermentations and

  • handplunging.

The Wilson Vineyard has a range of estate grown red varietals and blends including Tempranillo, Shiraz, Primitivo and Cabernet Sauvignon.

Visit the Wilson Vineyard website

 

New Wineries

1. Jaeschkes Hill River Clare Estate - 1980

406 Quarry Road Clare SA 5453

 

The first vine planted here was Shiraz, planted by Max Schubert – a pioneering Australian Winemaker of the Barossa.

  • The vineyard was originally planted predominately with white varieties.

  • At this time, Max Schubert’s view was developing a premium vineyard with the intent to produce a white Grange utilising the Chardonnay grapes.

The original planting in 1980 was approximately 80 hectares.

  • In the very immediate time frame following this, more land purchases were made to continue vineyard development which peaked at approximately 240ha in the late 1990’s.

  • This large scale vineyard operation became viable due to the introduction of mechanical harvesting and pruning.

 

An industry decline and company restructure resulted in the vineyard being offered for sale in 2009 amongst many other vineyards across the state.

  • In 2010 the Jaeschke family purchased Hill River Clare Estate.

  • The family’s first harvest for wine production under the Hill River Clare Estate Label was in 2011.

  • A combination of rain, hail and disease resulted in just a Semillon being produced, marking the beginning of the Hill River Clare Estate Brand.

  • In 2012 a Riesling and Sangiovese were add to the portfolio..  This was the beginning of the Jaeschke family’s involvement and commitment to the South Australian Wine Industry.

  • 2013 was exciting! Jaeschke's wine show success began.

Read more: HILL RIVER CLARE ESTATE: OUR HISTORY

 

Max Schubert

Penfolds first Chief Winemaker Max Schubert dared to revolutionise Australian winemaking.

At fifteen he began working as an odd-jobs boy at the Nuriootpa winery of Penfold’s Wines Pty Ltd,

where his duties included assisting the firm's first chemist, John Farsch.

In 1933 Schubert was transferred to the company’s Magill winery near Adelaide.

Apprenticed to the head winemaker, Alfred Vesey, Schubert learned the complex skills of blending, and studied chemistry at the South Australian School of Mines and Industries.

He was also tutored by the Nuriootpa winemaker and chemist, Ray Beckwith, in adjusting the pH levels in wine with organic acid to prevent bacterial spoilage.

Today, we celebrate his bold and passionate spirit with Penfolds Max’s range of wines.

The New York Times noted that his Grange had won more wine show prizes than any other Australian red wine, and was regarded as the flagship of Australia's wine industry.[5]

 
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2. Grosset Wines - 1981

Cnr Archer St &, Stanley St, Auburn SA 5451

Grosset Wines was established in 1981 when founder Jeffrey Grosset purchased an old milk depot in the historic township of Auburn, Clare Valley.

He gave it all the time and energy he had. Ingenuity was essential. Production was tiny and sold out quickly.

Jeffrey was 15 when his father (an electrician) came home with a bottle of wine and shared it with the family. It was riesling and Jeffrey was gobsmacked. The rest is history.

Jeffrey enrolled at Roseworthy Agricultural College on his 16th birthday and studied three years of agriculture and two years of oenology, finishing at the age of 21.

He cut his winemaking teeth at Seppelt and worked a few vintages at Great Western before gathering more experience in Germany, and Lindemans in Mildura.

He was a senior winemaker by the age of 26 but ultimately wanted to do his own thing. So in 1981, he started Grosset wines, based in Auburn, Clare Valley.

Grosset Polish Hill is produced exclusively from the eight-hectare estate-owned Polish Hill Vineyard  (certified organic) in the Clare Valley.

  • The gently sloping site, selected and planted by Grosset more than two decades ago, is comprised of silt and shallow shales over a thin crust of clay and gravel.

  • This overlays a bed of blue slate, estimated to be around 500-million-years old.

- Visit the Grosset Website

3. Paulett Wines - 1982

752 Jolly Way, Polish Hill River SA 5453

 

An award-winning winery. Paulett Wines came about when the Paulett family relocated from the Hunter Valley in 1982, to the Clare Valley.

  • Neil and Alison Paulette have created a family-orientated business which focuses on making high quality, consistent wine.

  • Very friendly staff with quick service is what you’ll receive when visiting Paulett Wines.

  • They have a fantastic cellar door and restaurant with amazing wines to accompany.

  • Grab a glass (or bottle) of reasonably priced wine and enjoy the stunning views overlooking the vineyards and beyond.

 

Visit Paulett Wines Website

 
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5. Tim Adams Winery - 1984

156 Warenda Road Clare SA 5453

Tim Adams Wines was originally born of a partnership between Tim and Pam and local coopers, Bill and Jill Wray, in 1984.

  • The business was to make wine and small oak casks.

  • This first year fell in the middle of a grape shortage, but fortunately the budding company was able to beg 10 tonnes of Shiraz from a good friend and neighbour.

  • 1986 saw the first release of wine under the 'Adams and Wray' label, but the partnership was later dissolved in 1987, with the young couples choosing to focus on their respective passions. The families are still good friends to this day.

1987 continued to be an eventful year for the newly named Tim Adams Wines, with the purchase of the current winery site and arrival of daughter Frances.

Cellar door was opened and the first grapes crushed on site the following year.

The decades that followed brought with them a natural evolution of the company, the physical site and the wines themselves.

These years of hard work, passion and curiosity have resulted in a progressive family winery that is committed to creating elegant wines, without forgetting its obligation to the Australian wine industry, environment and wider community.

The vineyard from which Tim Adams makes his Aberfeldy Shiraz is antique. These are colossal reds crammed with dark-berry, plum, chocolate and mint flavours and substantial mouth-puckering tannins.

 

Visit Tim Adams Wines website
 

 
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4. Crabtree Watervale Wines - 1984

North Terrace, Watervale SA 5452

 

The estate was founded in 1849 and was originally an orchard growing various seasonal fruits.

Robert Crabtree purchased the property in 1984. He built a small modern winery, renovated the historic homestead and upgraded the vineyard.

Crabtree Wines is a boutique small winery, meaning the wines produced become vintage and are very limited in production. Award-winning, hand-crafted wines are available to try at the cellar door, 7 days a week.

Crabtree Wines pride themselves on unique & delicious wine, friendly staff and intimate, memorable tasting experiences.

Today, the winery is thriving and they are adamant on keeping Robert Crabtree’s initial vision alive.

Visit Crabtree Watervale Wines Website

 
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6. Pikes Wines - 1984

233 Polish Hill Rd, Sevenhill SA 5453

Pikes Beer was first sold in 1886, followed by soft drinks and cordials from 1940, then Pikes wine from 1985 and beer again from 1996.

 

The old Pikes beverage and hotel business continued to deteriorate, eventually ceasing operations in the mid 1960's and all remaining assets were sold off in 1971. The end of an era!

By this stage Edgar Pike was well established in the wine industry and his sons followed in their father's footsteps... Andrew into viticulture and management and Neil into wine production and marketing.

  • In 1984 the Pikes family purchased 27 hectares of prime viticultural land in the heart of the Polish Hill River sub region of the Clare Valley.

  • The family, comprising of Andrew and his wife Cathy, Heather and Neil (together with their parents Edgar and Merle, providing security for a loan) pooled their resources to purchase the property.

  • In 1985 Pikes Wines 'Polish Hill River Estate' was established and Pikes released its first vintage of Polish Hill River Riesling and opened its first cellar door. A new era begins!

  • The first few years after establishment were focused on developing the Estate vineyards and finding a market for our newly released wines.

 

All wine production was initially outsourced to nearby local wineries, however the Pikes dream was always to have our own fully operational winery.

  • So in 1988, the first stage of the Pikes winery was built and is progressively upgraded to allow all facets of wine production to be carried out under the one roof.

 

Concurrently, additional vineyard and new varietals are produced and released under the fledgling Pikes label.

  • In 1992 a new Cellar Door is built into an old shearing shed on the Estate which dates back to the 1860's.

  • Pikes Polish Hill River Estate then grows to approximately 100 hectares of vineyard, home to 20 different grape varieties.

  • Additional adjacent land is purchased and new vineyards are developed progressively from the mid 1990's through to the late 2000's.

The winery is continuously expanded to cater for the increasing demand for Pikes Wines and a large air conditioned warehouse is built to ensure our wine is stored and matured in the very best conditions.

  • 1996 saw the relaunch of Pikes Beer fulfilling a long held dream to see this happen.

  • 1998 produced another milestone, with the formation of a joint venture partnership with the Joyce family, who are relatives of Andrew's wife Cathy, and 6th generation horticulturalists of Lenswood in the Adelaide Hills, to establish Pike & Joyce Wines.

Read more: Pike Wines History at their website

 Wine positivity abounds in Clare - Kylie Nicholls 3 Mar 2018

 
7. Koonowla - from 1985

Koonowla Rd, Auburn SA 5451

From the WWII period  the Koonowla property was converted to grain and wool production.

  • In 1985 the planting of an eight-acre (3.2-hectare) plot of Cabernet Sauvignon restored Koonowla to its wine-making tradition.

 

Andrew Michael and his then wife moved to Koonowla in 1991 and they raised their three children on the property.

  • Almost immediately Andrew embarked on a restoration program, which has seen many of the property’s splendid stone buildings restored to their heyday.

  • He also gradually built up the vineyard and added Riesling, Shiraz, Merlot and Semillon to plantings that now cover about 120 acres (50 hectares).

George Family Winegrowers added an important new chapter to their Clare Valley story in 2019 when they acquired the historic Koonowla property on the eastern side of Auburn.

Adding further vineyards, a heritage gravity winery under restoration, and beautiful grounds for special events and weddings, Koonowla also becomes the sister wine brand to Georges, offering great value and modern, lifestyle focused styling.

Read more: Koonowla Website

 
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8. Mintaro Wines - 1985

Leasingham Road, Mintaro, SA

Mintaro Wines is an award winning boutique winery located in picturesque surroundings adjacent to the oval.

  • The vineyard was planted in 1962 and subsequently incorporated into a functioning winery complex in 1985.

  • The fruit is generally dry grown, hand picked, and the vines are hand pruned. The wines are all hand crafted using traditional methods with meticulous attention to detail.

 

Mintaro wines was established in 1984 by the current owner/wine producer, Peter Houldsworth.

Located in the historic town of Mintaro, the vineyards were originally planted in 1962 and consistently produce award winning wines. 

Mintaro Wines is a small boutique winery with an average production of between 3-4 thousand cases per year. We produce a range of premium red and white table wines.

Mintaro have three reserve labels.

These three series come in a beautifully presented box set of 6 bottles each with its own individual label.

These make an ideal gift for those people who are a little hard to buy for.

  1. Series one Reserve Shiraz is called "Belles Femmes” and features six grand 19th century paintings of beautiful women.

  2. Series two Reserve Cabernet Sauvignon is called the "Leckie Window” and features six stunning Greek Mythological stained glass and leadlight images from a window designed and created by a prominent Australian artist in 1935.

  3. The Flying Doctor series can be purchased with the book "Just What the Doctor Ordered" A guide to the Australian idiom by renowned Broken Hill artist, Howard William Steer and Peter J Nicholson.
    You couldn't find a better Aussie gift.

 

Visit us at  http://www.mintarowines.com.au/

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9. Skillogalee Wines and Restaurant - 1989

23 Trevarrick Rd, Sevenhill SA 5453

Dave Palmer, a management consultant from Canberra, and wife Diana, purchased a winery in the Clare Valley in 1989, when interest rates were running at 19 per cent.

  • Under Dave and Diana Palmer’s guidance, Skillogalee Wines and Restaurant has grown and thrived.

  • Dave had no experience in winemaking, but was determined to learn, employing contract winemakers for the first few years, and working vintages at other wineries, learning the craft from everyone he came across. 

  • Diana had owned a café and catering business in Canberra, and opened the restaurant on the property in 1990, the first winery-based restaurant in the Clare Valley.

 

Skillogalee was established in 1970 by Spencer George, and his son, Stephen.

  • After Stephen went off to do his own thing in the Adelaide Hills with Aston Hills, the business was bought in 1989 by Diana and David Palmer.

  • In 2002 the Palmers bought the adjacent Waninga winery, which allowed the operations to be expanded without compromising the fruit quality associated with Skillogallee wines.
     

It has been serving tourists and locals for seven days a week ever since.

Read more at the Northern Argus July 13 2014

View the Skillogalee Website

 
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10. Jeanneret Wines - 1992

22 Jeanneret Rd Sevenhill SA

Jeanneret Wines was established in 1992 by the Jeanneret family who were led heart first into the regions’ vineyards. A passion for making wines purely for their own enjoyment organically expanded into a business and the Jeanneret cellar door was opened in October 1994.

 

Headed up by self-taught Winemaker, Ben Jeanneret, our ethos is to produce generous wines full of flavour to be enjoyed amongst friends.

Ben has perfected the art and is regarded as one of the leading winemakers of Clare Valley.

Ben was named one of the “Ten Dark Horses” in 2015 by James Halliday and continues to produce premium wines earning Jeanneret the title of a Five Star Winery.

The Jeanneret brand has naturally progressed since the inaugural branding back in 1994.

  • The transition from DJ Jeanneret saw the incorporation of the Nautilus shell representing the Golden Ratio,

  • an inspiration piece behind the work of Le-Corbusier, a Swiss modern architect also known as Charles – Édouard Jeanneret.

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Read more: Jeanneret website

 
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11. Mount Horrocks Wines - 1993

The Old Railway Station, 12 Curling St, Auburn SA 5451

Started in the 1980’s Mount Horrocks Wines was purchased by Stephanie Toole in 1993.

  • In April 1998, Stephanie re-opened the Auburn Railway station following substantial renovation, as Mount Horrocks’ cellar door.

  • It is now open for tastings and sales each Saturday, Sunday and Public Holiday, 10am-5pm.

Stephanie Toole produces outstanding quality grapes from her own vineyards.

  • Her persistence with classic, no-compromise winemaking and a fully integrated organic approach to growing and making sets Mount Horrocks wines apart from the mainstream.

  • The result of her unwavering focus over twenty five years  is an exemplary range of wines, each of the highest quality and classic in style yet unique, due to their single site origins combined with the maker’s sensitive approach.

Mount Horrocks Wines restricts production to approximately 2,500 cases per annum to achieve the highest quality single vineyard wines.

  • All three estate-owned Clare Valley vineyards, totaling ten hectares, are ‘A grade certified’ by Australian Certified Organic (ACO).

 

Stephanie Toole carefully crafts “essentially hand-made food wines with emphasis on structure as well as generous fruit flavours”.

  • Only estate grown grapes are used and these are hand-picked and gently handled under conditions that ensure the varietal and site-specific flavours in the resultant wine, as well as its organic status, are retained.

  • As no finings have been found necessary the wines are all suitable for vegans and vegetarians. Only the finest French oak barriques are used for those wines spending time in barrel.

Mount Horrocks Wines has been widely recognised by experts and wine lovers.

  • James Halliday in his 2019 Australian Wine Companion reaffirmed his Five Star Red Rating (Outstanding winery regularly producing wines of exemplary quality and typicity).

  • In 2004 Mount Horrocks Cordon Cut Riesling was listed as an ‘Australian Icon Wine’ in Wine Spectator magazine (USA) and the 2011 Cordon Cut was awarded both the Decanter (UK) and International Wine Challenge (UK) Trophies for ‘Best Australian Dessert Wine over £10’; a rare achievement.

  • Mount Horrocks Cordon Cut Riesling was also the only Australian wine to be served at the official Lord Mayor of London’s luncheon to celebrate Queen Elizabeth’s 80th birthday at Mansion House.

Read more: Mount Horrocks Wines website

 
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12. Eldredge Wines - 1994

659A Spring Gully Rd, Spring Gully SA 5453

Owner Leigh Eldredge is a graduate from the prestigious Roseworthy College (Adelaide University) in 1991 and

  • with 15 years experience working vintages for Leasingham, Stanley and Annie’s Lane Quelltaler,

  • Leigh Eldredge has been acknowledged with a number of prominent accolades for his wines and has become one of the Clare Valley’s top wine growers.

Following his decision in 1993 to purchase 45 hectares in the Sevenhill Ranges in the heart of the Clare Valley

  • and plant Shiraz and Sangiovese, his ability to produce wines that strongly reflect varietal and regional character

  • have seen his wines challenge some of Australia’s Top producers.

  • As a fifth generation member of a Blyth Plains family which once specialised in mixed farming,

  • Leigh has extensive knowledge of the Clare Valley and its surrounding areas.

In 1997 Leigh was acknowledged for his deeply complex and well structured Cabernet Sauvignon at the Adelaide Wine Show,

  • and awarded the Professor A J Perkins Trophy and Top Gold for his 1995 Eldredge Cabernet Sauvignon.

  • In doing so he left a wealth of Australia’s top Cabernet producers and boutique vineyards envious of his achievement.

 

In 1993 along with Andrew Pike, Leigh planted the first Sangiovese vines in the Clare Valley and in 1998 produced his first commercially available Sangiovese.

  • Leigh Eldredge's appreciation for old world styles and winemaking techniques,

  • coupled with his ability to inject innovation and capitulate the terroir,

  • has carried him through to becoming a top Clare Valley wine grower.

 

Eldredge’s Cellar Door opened in December 1994 with a beautifully restored cellar door cottage.

Eldredge wines are produced from 100% Clare Valley fruit. Their focus is to create high-quality, affordable wines. The aim is to represent the wineries character, but also the Clare Valley as a whole.

Eldredge Wines is a uniquely picturesque venue. It is perfect for weddings, functions, or just to enjoy a glass with a cheese plate to compliment.

Enjoy the stunning views from their newly renovated deck overlooking the dam and more.

Read more: Eldredge Wines website

 
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13. Tim Grant Wines - 1996

Mintaro Rd, Leasingham, Clare Valley 5452

Tim produced his first wine in 1991 — a full-bodied and robust Shiraz — winning a trophy and six gold medals, including a gold medal at the Intervin International wine show in New York City.

The Tim Gramp Shiraz is a three times winner for Champion Dry Red Wine of Australia at the Small Winemakers National Wine Show.

 

Following this success, the next step was to find a suitable base to call headquarters and Tim knew it had to be in the Clare Valley.

Its rich terra rossa and alluvial soils, Mediterranean-style climate paired with cool nights, and select vineyard aspect make the Clare Valley highly prized as one of the most important viticultural regions in Australia.

In 1996, while searching for a good Riesling grape grower, he found the perfect site: a winery for sale in the beautiful hamlet of Leasingham.

Tim completely re-equipped the winery and renovated the adjoining 1860s cottage to create Tim Gramp Wines cellar door.

Tim’s heritage and focused commitment have nurtured and reinforced his winemaking philosophy:

to produce exceptional wine from small parcels of fruit selected from single-site vineyards in the famous wine sub-region of Watervale, Clare Valley.

Time-honoured basket pressing epitomises the definitive regional and varietal characteristics of Tim Gramp Wines.

The Tim Gramp Wines cellar door is housed in an 1860’s stone cottage that was originally used as a “half way house” by the Burra copper miners en route to the Port Wakefield wharves. Tim and Kathy Gramp have renovated the old cottage with the same care and attention to detail that goes into the making of their wines.

Read more: Tim Grant Wines website

 
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14. Claymore Wines - 1997

7145 Horrocks Highway Leasingham South Australia, 5452

 

Claymore wines began back in 1997. An Adelaide medical professional realising the opportunity to indulge his passions for great wine, music and Liverpool FC.

Anura Nitchingham, is a medical professional who imagined this would lead the way to early retirement (which, of course, it did not).

 

The starting date depends on which event you take first:

  1. the purchase of the 4ha vineyard at Leasingham in 1991 (with 70-year-old grenache, riesling and shiraz);

  2. the purchase of a 16ha block at Penwortham in '96, and planted to shiraz, merlot and grenache; making the first wines '97;

  3. or when the first releases came onto the market in '98.

The labels are inspired by U2, Pink Floyd, Prince and Lou Reed. Exports to the UK, Canada, Denmark, Malaysia, Singapore, Taiwan, Hong Kong and China.

  • What was once a passion has now grown into a boutique business.

  • Claymore wines produce in excess of 10,000 cases of premium wine annually.

  • Friendly staff and great wine are what to expect when visiting this smaller winery.

  • If you’re a Liverpool FC fan, they have a whole range of wines inspired by the football.

Claymore Wines were awarded a five-star rating from James Halliday and announced as one of 2016’s Top Ten ‘Dark Horse’ Wineries. 

The 2017 edition of James Halliday’s Wine Companion announced the awards with Claymore one of a number of local wineries featured. 

Read more: Claymore WInes website

 
 
16. Kirrihill Wines - 1998

948 Farrell Flat Road Clare SA 5453

Kirrihill was founded in 1998 by two mates, Sean Edwards and Rob Stanway, with Matt Lawson coming on board as a part-owner in 2011.

Since the very beginning, the winery has lived up to its promise of capturing the essence of the Clare Valley, from vineyard to bottle.

Kirrihill was built on a desire to showcase premium wines from the Clare Valley on the global stage.

Kirrihill Wines is an operating winery and therefore visitation is by appointment only.

Please contact us directly to see if we can accomodate your requests. Otherwise we recommend the Clare Valley Wine Tourism centre to try the wines as well as many other outlets in the beautiful Clare Valley.

Read more: Kirrihill Wines website

In this series:

The Story of Clare's Wineries

Chapter 1: Pioneers of Clare Wine Making

Chapter 2: The Boom in Clare Wine Making

Chapter 3: Clare Wines between the Wars

Chapter 4. Clare Wineries in the post-War Boom

Chapter 5: Clare Wineries boom in the late 20th Century

 

Related:

Joseph Knappstein | Clare Museum

The 1890’s saw a wine boom in Australia.

Riesling Trail - Planning & Building | Clare Museum

Clare Winemakers In October 1992 held a Creative Think Tank intended to find a way to distinguish the region's riesling wine.

Read more:

 

References

15. Kilikanoon - 1997

30 Penna Lane, Penwortham SA 5543

 

Winemaker and proprietor Kevin Mitchell purchased the property of the same name in the hamlet of Penwortham in South Australia's picturesque Clare Valley.

Hailing from a long line of wine grape growers, Kevin now had the opportunity to turn the vision of creating his own wine brand into a reality.

Kevin's father Mort Mitchell has been a defining influence, planting and tending to Kilikanoon's Golden Hillside suite of vineyards including the famed Mort's Block, for over 40 years.

  • Kevin's fascination with terroir is a result of years spent playing and eventually working in these vineyards alongside his father.

  • The first Kilikanoon branded wines from the 1997 vintage were four single vineyard wines, each from Kevin and Mort's vineyards.

  • These were the 'Oracle' Shiraz, 'Prodigal' Grenache, 'Blocks Road' Cabernet and 'Mort's Block' Watervale Riesling.

Their Cellar Door is nestled in the Skilly Valley, in the heart of Penwortham, surrounded by a cottage garden, fruit orchard, vineyards & tall gums, the idyllic setting for a tasting.

Visit their Website

Read more: Kilikanoon Fact Sheet

 
 
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So what does the future hold for the Clare valley then?

Mark Faber suggests that pretty much every winemaker mentioned to him

  • that the weather is definitely getting warmer and the seasons drier,

  • and with neighbours Barossa and McLaren Vale cornering the ‘big, juicy, high-alcohol’ red market,

  • they all know this isn’t the direction they should be heading into.

 

Almost every winery Mark visited was trying new things in an attempt to offset the upcoming weather changes.

  • He had the opportunity to try some wines made from or including ‘alternate varietals’,

  • including a Fiano and a Shiraz/Nero d’Avola blend from Grosset,

  • a Sangiovese at Pike’s, all of which were delicious,

  • and also saw the new plantings of Negroamaro at O’Leary Walker.

  • These are all central/southern Italian varietals already suited to a dry, warm climate,

  • and seem to be doing quite well in the Clare so far!

Who knows - the future may hold a brand new direction for the Clare

and see Fiano or Touriga Nacional overtake Riesling as the most popular variety! 

30 largest Wine Companies in Australia 2