Coonawarra is Australia's greatest red wine district and one of the producers of great reds of the world. Len Evans, 'The Complete Book of Australian Wine'

The story of

Coonawarra Wine

The key to the quality of Coonawarra wine lies in the famous red Terra Rossa soil which sits over a ridge of ancient limestone covering an area of approximately 27km long and 2km wide.

The combination of Terra Rossa soils, limestone, a pure underground aquifer and a long cool ripening season make Coonawarra a perfect location for premium wine production.

The name Coonawarra comes from a local Aboriginal word meaning ‘honeysuckle’.

Coonawarra is situated in South East South Australia in an area known as the Limestone Coast. Situated only 60km from the coast, Coonawarra is close to the South Australian and Victorian borders with Adelaide (375km) & Melbourne (650km) the closest major cities.

Map coordinates
37° 17'S, 140° 49'E
57m (185 feet)
Soil Types
Terra Rossa, Brown Rendzina, Black Rendzina


Located in the South East corner of South Australia, Coonawarra is located in the cool Limestone Coast geographical region, 370km south east of Adelaide and 450km west of Melbourne. The nearest city, Mount Gambier, is to the south.


Coonawarra is famous for its red earth or Terra Rossa soil, a rare combination of a top layer of rich, friable red loam over deep layer of limestones. The unique soil influences vine vigour, ripeness and wine flavour.


60 metres above sea level, Coonawarra has a maritime climate with long, cool hours of sunshine during the ripening period and cold nights. Grapes develop intense flavours, with impressive levels of acidity.

Terra Rossa

The Most Famous Vineyard Soil in Australia

Nearly a million years in the making, the Coonawarra Terra Rossa was formed by a receding inland sea and the remnants of an ancient shore line.

The combined decay of ancient shellfish and fine grained sands created the limestone layer with prevailing winds adding further ingredients including finer clay, organic material and minerals to the shallow surface soil.

Amongst these were iron which on this well drained ridge became highly oxidised to a rich rusty red, thus providing the new Terra Rossa with its unique colour.

The Penola Fruit Colony

History of Coonawarra


Founding of the Fruit Colony

John Riddoch founded the 'Penola Fruit Colony' in the area known as the 'Limestone Ridge'.



Planting Vines & Fruit Trees

During the winter the first major planting, of over 90,000 vines and 10,000 fruit trees, was made by the original colonists.



Coonawarra is Named

The Penola Fruit Colonists Association changed its name to the Coonawarra Fruit and Vine Growers Association, also adopted the name Coonawarra for the new township.



The Father of Coonawarra Emerges

A fourteen year old Bill Redman (later to be recognised as 'the father' of Coonawarra) began working in John Riddoch Cellar, now known as Wynns Coonawarra Estate.



A Baker Gets Married

Eric Brand, a former baker, marries Nancy Redman and purchases the Stentiford block and surrounding Laira property .



Coonawarra is Defined

The boundary of Coonawarra was legally defined and Geographic Indication entered into the register of protected names.


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