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From our terra rossa soil, a tradition of wine-making excellence was born.

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Our Heritage

Since the first vineyards were planted by visionary Scottish pioneer John Riddoch in 1891, Wynns Coonawarra Estate has built a reputation as the Coonawarra region’s pre-eminent wine producer.

With the longest-established vineyards in the region, Wynns’ history is deeply intertwined with Coonawarra. Over the past two decades, our vineyards have been meticulously rejuvenated, resulting in wines which capture the true essence of the region.

Read on to discover more about the fascinating story of Wynns. To find out more about John Riddoch, you can read Imagining Coonawarra by Andrew Caillard.

1861 – 1901

'The Squire of Penola'

John Riddoch, 'the Squire of Penola' and figurehead of Wynns Coonawarra Estate, moves to the Coonawarra region in 1861. In 1890, John Riddoch divides 800 hectares of terra rossa soil on his land and calls it the Coonawarra Fruit Colony. He offers four-hectare allotments at €100 each, and 26 colonists begin planting in 1891; 95,000 vines and 10,000 fruit trees were planted in the first year. By 1897, 89 hectares of vines were being cultivated by the 'blockers', 52 hectares by Riddoch. In 1891, the famous triple-gabled winery and surrounding vineyards were built and named Chateau Comaum. After a promising start, the Coonawarra Fruit Colony fails to prosper due to is distance from major markets and poor economic conditions. John Riddoch dies at Yallum Park on July 15, 1901 at the age of 73.


Coonawarra Claret

As a wine-producing area, Coonawarra was at its lowest ebb. While 'Coonawarra Claret' was recognised in Australia, the red wine market was small as most Australians consumed fortified wines. The winery was destined to become a wool shed and sheep run until it was purchased by Melbourne-based wine makers Samuel Wynn and son David in 1951. The pair had no expectation of making a profit. David took over the winery operations in 1953, and was Australia's first wine producer to use the word 'estate' to the wine’s regionality. David commissioned Melbourne artist Richard Beck to produce a woodcut of the winery facade. This illustration has appeared on every Wynns Coonawarra Estate label since, making it one of Australia's most recognised wine symbols. Michael Shiraz (then called Hermitage) was a one-off from the 1955 vintage. The outstanding quality of the shiraz in one particular 2,300 litre vat was recognised for its quality, and bottled separately as Michael, named after David’s first son. The name and the concept were revived with the 1990 vintage.


Outstanding Wine

Australians began to develop a taste for dry red table wine, a trend which gathered pace. Wynns consistently marketed Coonawarra Estate wines based on their variety and place of origin, building awareness of the Coonawarra district as a region of outstanding wines. Wynns increased its holdings in Coonawarra over the next two decades. By 1981, it was the largest grower in the district with 440 hectares under vine. This decade would see the first wine bearing John Riddoch's name produced in 1982, followed by the second release of Michael Shiraz in 1990.


Sue Hodder

In 1998 Sue Hodder is appointed Wynns Coonawarra Estate senior winemaker – a position she holds to this day. Sue oversees the release of Wynns’ first single vineyard wines, starting with the 2001 Harold Cabernet Sauvignon, and major vineyard rejuvenation projects across 300 hectares of vines, starting in 2002. In 2004, Wynns Coonawarra Estate celebrated the 50th vintage of the iconic Wynns Coonawarra wine, Black Label Cabernet Sauvignon. To mark the occasion, Wynns hosted many of the world’s most influential wine tasters in Coonawarra for a special tasting of 50 vintages of Wynns Coonawarra Estate Black Label. In 2008, Wynns Coonawarra Estate makes the first wines for the V&A Lane range and installed new open fermenters to keep small batches of single vineyard fruit separate. Three years later, another vineyard replanting project began with new rootstocks, international vine clones and selections from older top-quality Wynns vineyards.

2015 & Beyond

Black Label Cabernet

Wynns vineyards are now consolidated around the Gables winery in the prime terra rossa vineyard sites of the region. Ongoing research and investigation is underway to ensure the best winemaking and viticultural practices are engaged for the future. In 2015, the 60th vintage of the Wynns Black Label Cabernet was made – a significant milestone in the wine’s celebrated history. Each year, Wynns’ leading wines continue to be released as part of the annual Wynnsday Collection – showcasing the history and signature style for which the Wynns label has become synonymous.