McLaren Vale History
Indigenous Australians, the Kaurna people lived in and travelled through the land of what is now McLaren Vae for thousands of generations.
The right honourable John, Earl of St Vincent, was the first Lord of the Admiralty who supported Matthew Flinders 1801 journey to chart Australia’s South Coast. The Gulf of St Vincent is named in his honour.
McLaren Vale was named after David McLaren, the Colonial Manager of the South Australia Company, who arrived in the colony in 1837. He surveyed the area in 1839.
John Reynell is credited as being the first to establish a vineyard in the southern areas of Adelaide. He commenced vine planting in 1838 at 'Reynella'.
The township of Willunga was established in 1839 and was first used as resting place for travellers between Adelaide and the South.
A period of rapid vineyard growth occurred in 1845 in the McLaren Vale area. A selection of prominent Adelaide practitioners, including Dr Rawson Penfold, established vineyards during this time.
English immigrant Thomas Hardy planted his first vines in 1853.
Thomas Hardy created history and shipped his first vintage to England in 1857.
Dr Alexander C Kelly formed Tintara Vineyard Company in 1861 on 280ha of land at what is now McLaren Vale.
In 1876 Thomas Hardy purchased Dr Kelly’s Tintara Winery and Vineyard. Famously joining Hardy and Tintara Vineyards.
In 1890, Herbert and Frederick Kay purchased the 133ha Amery Property. In just 4 years the Kay Brothers has planted 100 acres of vines, built a winery and produced their first 9100 litres of wine.
In 1892 Alexander C Johnston began planting vines on the 98ha Pirramimma property. He named his land Pirramimma, an Aboriginal phrase meaning “the moon and the stars”. After developing the ‘Johnson Prolific’ strain of almond, which began the commonly used variety in Adelaide, he gradually used more of the land as vineyard.
By 1911 there were 123acres of vineyards at the Amery Property and the Kay Brothers bought additional grapes from local growers, vintaging 230 000 litres. Kay’s is the oldest McLaren Vale winery still in founding family hands with third generation Colin Kay continuing the family tradition.
The d’Arenberg winery was established by the Milton family in the 1890’s and purchased by Joseph Osborn in 1912.
In 1943 Joseph Osborn’s grandson Francis d’Arenberg, universally known as ‘d’Arry’ returned from school aged 16 to help his ill father run the business. He eventually assumed full management of d’Arenberg in 1957.
D’Arry labelled the first of the famous diagonal red stripe labelled wines at d’Arenberg.
Coriole was founded by the Lloyd family in 1967.
Pertaringa Vineyard was established. It was purchased in 1980 by owners Geoff Hardy and Ian Leask.
Professor Tom Nelson established the winery Chapel Hill and restored the Chapel. The Retreat was later built in 2004.
The Scarpantoni Estate winery was built on the old school site in McLaren Flat.
Geoff Merrill purchased heritage listed Mount Hurtle Winery. It took only 2 years to restore the rundown winery to its former state.
Tony & Susie Parkinson purchased 32ha of land in McLaren Vale and named the vineyard ‘Penny’s Hill’ as it sits at the base of Penny’s Hill.
Hugh Hamilton, a 5th generation Hamilton winemaker went out on his own to establish Hugh Hamilton Wines
Rosemount Estate purchases a 100 year-old winery in McLaren Vale.
Australian family owned Tyrrell’s Wines purchased an 85 acre vineyard at the Willunga foothills in 1994, after producing wine from McLaren Vale grapes for over 20 years.
The original d’Arenberg homestead is renovated and extended to include a restaurant, aptly named ‘d’Arry’s Verandah’
Sabella Vineyards were established.
Ben Riggs launched the brand Mr. Riggs in association with Penny’s Hill.
d’Arry, of d’Arenberg is awarded the Queen’s Medal of the Order of Australia for his contribution to the wine industry and McLaren Vale region.
Mollydooker was founded by well-known local winemakers Sarah and Sparky Markwis.
At the age of 70, and after a life time of winemaking within the district, Graham Stevens and daughter Carolyn opened Graham Stevens Wines at McLaren Flat.