Situated in the Limestone Coast region of South Australia, close to the Victorian border, 380 kilometres south east of Adelaide and 420 kilometres west of Melbourne, this cigar-shaped patch of ground is only a few kilometres long and a couple of kilometres wide, making it ahighly coveted and zealously guarded premium grape growing region.
What makes this area so special is one of the most famous terroirs in the southern hemisphere: the combination of a thin layer of unique rich, red top soil (‘terra rossa’ or ‘red earth’) over an ancient limestone mantle encasing a pure, underground aquifer. Add to that a long, cool ripening season for the grapes and you have the makings of an excellent reputation as one of the world's finest wine regions, especially for our red wines and, in particular, Cabernet Sauvignon and Shiraz.
History of Coonawarra
From time immemorial, the local indigenous people had called this country Coonawarra, which means honeysuckle. The first European settlers were more interested sheep grazing, including a man named John Riddoch who, upon discovering the terra rossa soils on a part of his property, he decided to plant the first vines as part of the Penola Fruit Company venture in 1890.
It’s fair to say these early plantings were not greatly successful, mostly because of the remoteness from fruit and wine markets and refrigeration
and transportation being what they were at the time. As fruit production declined, small-scale dairying increased. Wine-grape production fell
away markedly and the majority of what was left was distilled into brandy spirit, which was easier to move, in every sense.
In 1951, David Wynn (son of Melbourne wine merchant Samuel Wynn) purchased the cellars built by John Riddoch and started making table wines that re-established the region and started it on its successful ‘second life’, which really took off in earnest in the 1970s: about the time when Grant Wood arrived. As a result, today, Coonawarra is home to around 5,000 hectares of vineyards, with production volumes ranging from the modest, family-owned operations to the large-scale corporate wineries. We proudly belong to the first description of modest family-owned operations - starting in 1970, our first vineyard was established by Tim Kidman's grandfather, Grant Wood, and is now owned and managed by Tim Kidman in his 3rd generation capacity - and our very young 4th generation 'assistant managers' love 'helping' in our vineyard. This makes us the third oldest family planted, managed and continuously owned vineyard in Coonawarra.