A pioneering estate with vines first planted in 1896, the lovingly restored property just five kilometres east of Auburn lives and breathes the region’s winemaking traditions, embracing a new generation of custodianship under the watchful eye of father and son Nick and Alexander George. Deeply respectful of Koonowla’s extraordinary history, the George family have worked tirelessly to restore the original landmark buildings, rehabilitate the delightful grounds and reawaken the heritage-rich gravity winery as well as the surrounding vineyards.
Koonowla’s story has always been one of resilience and hope, shooting to prominence in the early 1900s with founder John Tothill overseeing the production of up to 250,000 litres of wine annually with a booming export business. But a disastrous fire in 1926 damaged the winery and much of the vineyard, prompting a conversion to grain and wool. As the modern Australian wine industry came to life in the 1980s, the vineyards were replanted, and from 1991 under then owners, the Michael family, grew to 50 hectares of highly regarded estate-grown shiraz, cabernet sauvignon, riesling, merlot and semillon.
After falling in love with the property at a concert in the grounds in 2017, finally the moment came in 2019 for Nick to acquire Koonowla and further establish his roots in the Clare Valley with revered vineyards from Armagh in the north of the region to Auburn in the south. As Nick and son Alex proceed to write the next chapter in the property’s rich history, they wish to showcase the estate not just as a centre for great wine but as a welcoming venue for special occasions – weddings, anniversaries, community functions, corporate lunches – the opportunities are endless.
Just like the Koonowla story. A place where respect for the past inspires a future of hope and well-being.
Koonowla is one of the Clare Valley’s most iconic and picturesque properties with beautiful historic stone buildings and rolling broad acre hills. Located just east of Auburn in the Clare Valley of South Australia, the property was ﬁrst planted with vines in the 1890s. By the early 1900’s Koonowla was producing from its own winery and cellars 250,000 litres of wine annually before a disastrous ﬁre in 1926 burnt the winery and reduced the vineyard size, and with changing times saw land use convert mostly to grain and wool production.
In 1985 a vineyard replanting program was started and by 2001 plantings had grown to 240 acres. Rationalization some years later saw Koonowla’s vineyard area reduce to 120 acres. Today the Koonowla vineyard comprises blocks of meticulously selected terroir most suited to producing the highest quality classic Clare Valley varietals of Cabernet Sauvignon, Shiraz and Riesling, as well as a small block of both Merlot and Semillon. Koonowla is a leader in the ﬁeld of high-quality sustainable viticulture.
Koonowla has been the source of regionally expressive Clare Valley wines for more than a century, and with re-invigorated vineyards and a new winemaking team the commitment to offer premium quality wines has never been stronger.
George Family Winegrowers added an important new chapter to their Clare Valley story in 2019 when they acquired the historic Koonowla property on the eastern side of Auburn. Adding further vineyards, a heritage gravity winery under restoration, and beautiful grounds for special events and weddings, Koonowla also becomes the sister wine brand to Georges, offering great value and modern, lifestyle focused styling.
George Family Winegrowers follow a set of simple yet impassioned mantras. Grow nothing but premium fruit. Make nothing but quality wine. Georges vineyards stretch the whole length of the Clare Valley wine region, from the historic hamlet of Armagh in the north-west to the southern gateway of Auburn, bringing together a complete range of fruit qualities essential for the premium wine styles the family wishes to produce.