History of Rutherglen Wine Region

A unique climate, commitment, endurance, skill and innovation and have coalesced in Rutherglen to create incredibly complex, unique, world renowned wines and a wine region culture which has a deep soul, a sense of history and purpose, and a dose of good old fashioned bush humour and hospitality.

Over the history of wine production in the Rutherglen region, the winemakers have co-operated on different levels. In recent times, this co-operation has evolved into the Winemakers of Rutherglen forming into a membership based incorporated association in 1992.

20 wineries now make up the Winemakers of Rutherglen. The prime focus of this association has been the promotion of the wineries and their products through co-operative marketing. The Winemakers have developed a number of events within the region to promote tourism and wine sales. These include the Tastes of Rutherglen and Rutherglen Winery Walkabout.

Many of these great winemaking houses which sprang up in the gold rush days of the mid nineteenth century, are still owned and run by fourth, fifth and sixth generations of the original family owners. The legacy of winemaking skills and ancient stocks is being carefully passed on to a younger generation to carve out their own niche - looking to the future while respecting the past.

History of our region

Pre 1820's - Kwat Kwat, a branch of the Bangerang people occupy the land around Rutherglen.

1839 - Foord and Crisp take up the Wahgunyah run of 35,000 acres.

1847 - Lindsay Brown selects Gooramadda run. 'There is more gold to be won from the top six inches of soil than from the depths below it.'

1851- First vines in region were planted by Edwin Sanger at Corowa and John Lindsay Brown at Browns Plains.

1858-1870 - Chambers, St Leonards, Gehrig's,
Campbell's, All Saints and Morris establish first plantings.

1860 - Wahgunyah rush follows discovery of gold on 9th September near Rutherglen to grow to a population of 11,000.

1878 - All Saints Estate wins Australia's first international gold medal at the Paris Exhibition. Wine production exceeds demand but high duties on interstate and foreign wines stimulate the Victorian wine industry.

1875-1896 - Stanton and Killeen vineyards are established, and Mount Prior cellars were built.

1884 - Rutherglen Statistics: 50 vineyards, about 3000 acres and 1870 people employed in the local wine industry.

1899 - Phylloxera hits Rutherglen in the Rhue vineyard (now Jones). Replanting on American
root stock commences. This occurred when Rutherglen was producing one quarter of Australia's wine production.

1906- An estimated 6960 acres of vines are planted in the Rutherglen district.

1908- Durif was bought to Rutherglen by Francois de Castella.

1920-1930 - Bullers was established and Les Jones Snr buys the Rhue vineyard and winery.

1925 - An estimated 7000 acres of vines are planted in the Rutherglen district. Production
of sweet fortified wines is at a high to supply the local market.

1925 - Rutherglen production once again reaches prephylloxera levels. Australia is exporting 750,000 gallons of wine a year to England, most of this was from Rutherglen.

1930 - Rutherglen fortified wine trade in bulk begins and booms for 2 decades.

1960's - Rutherglen vignerons begin widespread table wine planting.

1967 - Rutherglen Wine Festival, an Australian first is held and begins the popular revival of Rutherglen and winery tourism.

1974 - First Rutherglen Winery Walkabout attracts 10,000 people to the various wine related activities that were held.

1984 - Seppelts sell their holdings and Pfeiffer's buy
their old distillery site.

1990's- to today. Vineyards expand again, with new wineries established in the region. Lake Moodemere, Cofields, Anderson, Rutherglen Estates, Warrabilla, Watchbox, Vintara, Valhalla and Scion - new generations of winemakers work with a great collection of diverse varieties, using tried and true traditional methods as well as the latest technology to ensure fine wine production continues for future generations.