Clonakilla | Canberra
Clonakilla is one of the leading estates in Australia, with an enviable reputation for the production of Shiraz and Viognier grapes. It was first established by John Kirk in 1971 when he bought a 44 acre farm near the village of Murrumbateman, 40 kilometres north of Canberra. He planted a vineyard and named the property Clonakilla (‘meadow of the church’) after his grandfather’s farm in County Clare, Ireland.
John produced the Canberra District’s first commercial vintage in 1976 – a Riesling Sauvignon Blanc and a Cabernet Shiraz. With the help of his sons, John completed the first winery building in 1977 and a bore-hole was sunk in 1978 enabling larger plantings to become feasible. The Clonakilla vineyard has gradually expanded with Shiraz, Riesling and Viognier making up the bulk of the plantings which now covers 40 acres.
In 1991, Tim Kirk, the fourth of John’s six sons, travelled to the Rhône Valley. There he tasted a number of inspirational wines, including Marcel Guigal’s single vineyard blends. Inspired by these Côte-Rôtie wines, he began including a small amount of Viognier in the Clonakilla Shiraz from 1992. Tim took over full responsibility for winemaking at the 12 hectare family farm in 1997. Clonakilla now produces about 12,000 cases per year, which sell out almost upon release year after year.