Clonakilla Wines

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    Clonakilla Wines, an esteemed winery located in the Canberra District of New South Wales, Australia, has a rich history rooted in family tradition and a passion for winemaking. Founded by John Kirk in 1971, Clonakilla began with a vision to create world-class wines in a region not yet known for its viticulture. John, a scientist by profession, immigrated from Ireland and purchased a 44-hectare farm near the village of Murrumbateman, just north of Canberra. Inspired by his heritage—Clonakilla means "meadow of the church" in Irish—he planted the first vines and embarked on a journey that would transform the region.

    The first vintage, produced in 1976, marked the beginning of Clonakilla's rise to prominence. John's eldest son, Tim Kirk, who had inherited his father’s passion for winemaking, joined the family business in the 1980s. Tim's travels and studies in the renowned wine regions of France, particularly the Rhône Valley, profoundly influenced his approach to winemaking. This led to the creation of Clonakilla's flagship Shiraz Viognier blend, which has become one of Australia's most iconic wines.

    Winemaker Tim Kirk

    Tim Kirk, the chief winemaker and CEO, is the driving force behind Clonakilla’s success. With a deep respect for traditional methods and a keen eye for innovation, Tim has elevated Clonakilla to international acclaim. His expertise and dedication have earned him numerous accolades, including the prestigious title of Australian Winemaker of the Year by Gourmet Traveller Wine in 2013.

    Tim's approach to winemaking is meticulous and hands-on. He believes in minimal intervention, allowing the vineyard and the vintage to express themselves fully. This philosophy is evident in the elegance and purity of Clonakilla’s wines, which reflect the unique characteristics of their terroir.


    The vineyards of Clonakilla are situated at an elevation of 600 meters, benefiting from the cool climate and unique granite and volcanic soils of the Canberra District. These conditions are ideal for producing wines with intense flavor, vibrant acidity, and excellent aging potential.

    The estate vineyards are meticulously maintained, with a focus on sustainable practices. This includes hand-picking grapes, careful canopy management, and minimal use of chemicals. The dedication to quality begins in the vineyard, ensuring that only the best fruit is harvested for winemaking.


    Clonakilla is best known for its Shiraz Viognier, a blend that captures the essence of both varietals. This wine is crafted using traditional Rhône techniques, co-fermenting Shiraz with a small percentage of Viognier to enhance aroma, color, and complexity. The result is a wine that is both elegant and powerful, with rich layers of spice, red fruits, and floral notes.

    In addition to the Shiraz Viognier, Clonakilla produces several other notable wines:

    Hilltops Shiraz: Sourced from vineyards in the Hilltops region, this Shiraz showcases vibrant fruit flavors and fine tannins, with a more accessible profile compared to the flagship blend.

    O’Riada Shiraz: Named after an Irish composer, this wine is a tribute to Tim Kirk's heritage and showcases the unique terroir of the Canberra District with its rich, spicy character and silky texture.

    Canberra District Riesling: A crisp, aromatic white wine with notes of citrus, green apple, and mineral, representing the cooler climate of the region.

    Viognier: A varietal wine that highlights the aromatic and textural qualities of Viognier, with stone fruit, honeysuckle, and a touch of spice.

    Awards and Recognition

    Clonakilla’s wines have received numerous awards and critical acclaim over the years, solidifying its reputation as one of Australia’s premier wineries. The Shiraz Viognier, in particular, has garnered high praise from wine critics and publications worldwide. It has consistently received high scores from reviewers such as James Halliday, who awarded it 99 points in his Australian Wine Companion, and international wine critics like Robert Parker.

    In addition to critical acclaim, Clonakilla has won several prestigious awards:

    • Jimmy Watson Memorial Trophy: Australia's most coveted wine award, which Clonakilla won in 1999 for their 1998 Shiraz Viognier.
    • International Wine & Spirit Competition: Gold medals and trophies in various categories over the years, highlighting the consistent quality and excellence of their wines.
    • Decanter World Wine Awards: Recognized with high honors, including best in show and platinum awards.

    These accolades reflect the commitment to excellence and the artistry that defines Clonakilla Wines.