Wine History of the Clare Valley

The South Australian wine industry started very soon after proclamation in 1836 by the largely Protestant British free settlers and the Lutheran Germans from Silesia and Prussia who immigrated three years later. It did not take the Germans very long to find the Barossa Valley and begin to plant vines. The first Europeans to settle in the Clare Valley in around 1840 planted vines - John Horrocks at his 'Hope Farm', Penwortham, the Hawker Brothers at Bungaree and at Inchiquin by Clare founder Edmund Gleeson. Austrian Jesuit priests who came to Sevenhill to build a Monastery planted vineyards using cuttings from Bungaree and in 1852 built the first winery in the region to make sacramental wine. Construction of St Aloysius’ Church started in 1864 and was substantially completed in 1875. The Catholic influence had a major impact on the cultural diversity of the Clare Valley and its wine industry. Catholic Polish and Irish were also drawn to Clare partly through this influence - hence the Polish Hill River region, and the village of Armagh to the north west. Soon after the Jesuits started making wine at Sevenhill, grapes were planted in Watervale, by Rosenburg Cellars, and by Cornishman Francis Treloar who founded Springvale in 1853. In 1862 Springvale was acquired by Sir Walter Hughes who made his fortune in Copper and a home in the Skillogalee Valley. In the 1860's Carl Sobels was appointed winemaker, bought the property with his brother in law Hermann Buring and renamed it Quelltaler. The Geisenheim clone Riesling was planted in Watervale. The mining in Burra, Kapunda and the Copper Coasts had a huge impact on the Clare Valley which became a…

Continue Reading Wine History of the Clare Valley

Five Classic Wine Varieties of the Clare Valley

Most wine regions of the world are defined as appellations due to the geological and geographical homogeneity that makes them ideal for one or just a few varieties. The Clare Valley is very different. The vineyard diversity of soil structures, altitudes, aspects and rainfall provides ideal conditions for a number of different varieties. It is all about site selection and also celebrating the diversity of styles. We are the "appellation of a thousand terroir".  Five varieties have dominated the Clare Valley for over 100 years. They ripen ideally in almost every year and they define the regional reputation. Note that they do NOT align with any one European region. The reds are aligned to Bordeaux and the Rhone that share a 44 degree latitude.  There is truly a surprise around every corner when you visit the Clare Valley Cellar Doors.  Riesling. The Clare Valley is world renowned for Riesling. Our warm days in Autumn ensure Riesling develops ripe fruit character whilst cool nights provides long natural acid structure. Riesling is a variety that talks to you about its source vineyard from the glass. Watervale vineyards are terra rossa red clay over limestone and the Riesling has a definite lime character. We stock many of these but our best sellers are Crabtree Hilltop, O'Leary Walker, Vickery and Clos Clare. Riesling from the Polish Hill River region  has mineral character from the slate beneath. Treat yourself to a Grosset from Polish Hill, or the Pikes Merle to see this characteristic. Riesling from the cooler Skilly Valley are approachable and can be more textural. The Penna Lane is a great example. Riesling from the northern parts of the Valley Riesling can…

Continue Reading Five Classic Wine Varieties of the Clare Valley