The Koonowla property, just east of Auburn in the Clare Valley of South Australia, was first planted with vines in the 1890s and by the early 1900’s was producing from its winery and cellars 60,000 gallons 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.

Koonowla has remained one of the districts most iconic properties with its beautiful historic stone buildings and rolling broad acre hills and in 1985 the vineyard began to be replanted until 2001 when the vineyard had grown to 240 acres. A rationalization a few years ago has seen the vineyard area reduced to 120 acres owned by Koonowla. The vineyard, comprising of blocks of carefully selected terroir planted with the three best Clare Valley varietals of Cabernet Sauvignon, Shiraz and Riesling as well as a small block of both Merlot and Semillon, is today one of the best examples of high quality and sustainable viticulture.



Koonowla firmly believe that its wines and fruit must produce a distinct regional and varietal character and that brands such as Koonowla can always have a strong presence on retail shelves and restaurant lists around Australia and overseas by delivering consistent and high quality wines at affordable value.

The Koonowla winemakers, David O’Leary and Nick Walker share with Andrew Michael the principal of Koonowla the passion for producing high quality Estate grown regional wines. The wine styles being pursued by Koonowla and their team are a blend of unashamed Clare tradition with modern wine making practices.

The vineyards

The Koonowla vineyards of 120 acres are in the geographical region of the Clare Valley, lying Latitude 1380 43’ 02.01” East and Longitude 340 03’ 15.28” South, at approximately 1000ft above sea level.

The climate is described as Mediterranean with four distinct seasons of Summer, Autumn, Winter and Spring with an annual rainfall of 21 inches (535mm) falling mainly between May and November. The winter temperatures can drop to 0 degrees C on the low alluvial flats and in summer will sometimes rise up to 40 degrees C but often with cool nights and cooling Valley breezes slowing the ripening fruit, giving the fruit it’s Clare flavour profile.

The vineyard has been planted on undulating hillsides with terra-rossa soils, planted in 19 different blocks with interconnecting and surrounding compacted roads for improved management and fire protection.

All blocks that find themselves subject to frost have had wind-fans installed that are automatically controlled by temperature sensors ensuring Koonowla has frost protection to provide continuity of fruit in both yield and quality.

Koonowla has a significant aquifer of underground water that it uses to supplement a catchment dam collecting runoff from Koonowla’s higher grazing country. The Vineyard is equipped with drip irrigation using computer controlled systems to ensure that no water is wasted and is targeted to the vine only. We only irrigate to maintain canopy health and to protect the fruit from sunburn and to aid ripening.

The principal Clones used are:

  • Cabernet Sauvignon 125, CW44, LC10, LC14 and LYNNS
  • Shiraz 1654, BVRC12, NSW15
  • Riesling 140, D2V2

Koonowla practices sustainable agricultural practices and where possible uses straw and composted mulch to help retain moisture and add nutrients and build organic carbon into the soils.