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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.

1901 - 1960

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.

1960 - 1990

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.

1990 - 1998

A new chapter

Michael Shiraz is Wynns Coonawarra Estate’s best-of-vintage Shiraz. Named after David Wynn’s young son, the fruit used for this wine comes from the best vineyard sites in Coonawarra. And in 1990, this wine was relaunched. It is a truly remarkable wine, only made in exceptional years.

In 1993, Winemaker Sue Hodder works her first vintage at Wynns, alongside then Senior Winemaker Peter Douglas. 1998 marks Sue being appointed Wynns Senior Winemaker and also the year that Sarah Pidgeon was welcomed to the team.

1998 - 2015

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 - 2020

Award Producing

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 is made, and subsequently released in 2017 to rave reviews – a significant milestone in the wine’s celebrated history.

The accolades continue, with Sue and Sarah jointly named ‘Winemaker of the Year’ at the 2016 ASVO Awards for excellence; Sue is awarded ‘Women of Inspiration’ at the 2017 Women in Wine awards; and in 2016 John Riddoch Cabernet Sauvignon becomes one of the first Australian wines to launch through La Place de Bordeaux and be distributed by some of Bordeaux’s most influential negociant houses, marking a new chapter for Australian wine in the international market.

2021 - Beyond

A bright future

2021 sees the retirement of longstanding viticulturist Allen Jenkins, a much-admired member of the Wynns team who leaves a profound contribution and massive legacy through his viticultural efforts. Ben Harris steps into his shoes to lead the Wynns viticulture team and is awarded ‘Viticulturist of the Year’ at the 2021 ASVO awards for Excellence, while on the same night, Sue Hodder becomes a ‘Fellow of the ASVO’ for her outstanding and meritorious contribution to Australian wine. Chris Plummer joins as a winemaker.

In 2022, Sue Hodder celebrates her 30th vintage at Wynns, bringing valuable experience and passion to her work locally and internationally. The Reframed tier is also launched, representing a creative renaissance of Wynns’ early pioneering years.

Each year, Wynns’ luxury wines are released as part of the Wynnsday Collection – showcasing the history and signature style for which the Wynns label has become synonymous.