Our Wine Story
The first vines on our property were planted in the 1930s in Clare Valley and produce our superb Byrne Limited Release Grenache. As South Australia is phylloxera free, and didn’t suffer the scourge of this vineyard disease which wiped out most of the world’s vineyards, these are some of the older vines still in commercial use in the world.
In 1963, Eric and Romla Byrne purchased the Devlin's Pound property near Overland Corner in South Australia and planted this limestone based vineyard to a range of grape varieties, most notably Shiraz, Cabernet and Chardonnay which have all received Gold medals for their premium wine quality. We have some prized old white varieties on this vineyard which now are used for our Antiquarian Rare White Blend which is a unique vineyard blend, barrel fermented using wild yeasts.
During the 1970s the Morgan (Scotts Creek) vineyard was established by then owners, Penfold’s, under the guidance of Max Schubert due its close proximity to the Barossa, excellent Limestone soils and ideal climate for premium wine production. The Byrne family acquired this property in 1995. During the decade long drought which ended in 2011, the Byrne family had to make the difficult decision to mothball a large section of the vineyard due to lack of water. Many lessons were learnt during this difficult period which has resulted in adoption of the latest water technology allowing water to be returned to the natural environment, preservation of the Scotts Creek wetlands and replanting the mothballed vines with resilient clones.
Our winemaker, Peter Gajewski, coincidently helped plant these vines at Scotts Creek as a young man; and then as Senior Penfold’s Winemaker, used these grapes for many years producing premium wine; and now has come full circle making these grapes into premium wines for Byrne Vineyards where he first started.
Byrne is the largest grower of Riesling in South Australia with approximately 100 hectares under vine in Scotts Creek and the Clare Valley. We are developing contemporary and innovative Riesling styles to entice consumers back to this high quality varietal.
Originally growing grapes for other major wineries, Byrne Vineyards started producing its own wines from the estate vineyards in 2008 and has gone from strength to strength winning many accolades and awards for its wines and strong demand for its wines around the world. Phil Reedman, Master of Wine, joined Byrne to provide his market and blending expertise in 2010.
To date the crowning achievement has been the Byrne Limited Release Sangiovese winning Trophy for best Sangiovese at the largest officially recognised wine competition in the World (AWC Vienna International Wine Challenge) and our Antiquarian Shiraz (3rd place for World's Best Reserve Red Wine) at the same awards.
Like all good wine, the quality starts from the vineyard, so that is why we take a holistic approach to wine making from grape to glass.
History north of the Murray RiverThe characters of the properties stretch well before the Byrne family came to be the custodians of the land for this past half century.
An ancient seabed from about 15 millons of years ago, is evident where the ocean influence was responsible for the rocky Limestone soils found in our vineyards. A rare oyster shell can sometimes be found in th region from the ostrea sturtiana which Charles Sturt commented on in the 1830s that "summits were covered in oyster shells, in such abundance as to entirely preclude the idea of their having been brought to such a position". The unique qualities created in the wines coming from the limestone vineyards are a concentration of fruit flavours, increased acid levels and fruit intensity from the lower yielding vines. Unlike many inland regions, these vines perform in soils more commonly found in coastal regions and yet have the natural advantage of greater sunshine days and lowered pest and disease.
History of Scotts Creek
The history and ownership of the wetlands between Brenda Park and Scotts Creek dates back to when local aborigines inhabited the area around the wetlands. In the 1850s, German born Hermann Von Rieben settled on the site and built the first Hotel which doubled as a Post Office.
The historical context of the time is still evident with the remnants of what was termed in those days a lovely home of wood, stone and thatched roof of reeds. Licenced in 1855, the Von Rieben Hotel operated continuously until 1875. The Country Eyre Post Office, Hermann was the first Postmaster from 1859. Hermann’s son Otto later became a significant influence in the city of Burnside near Adelaide where the Attunga building sits beside the Burnside Memorial Hospital as a reminder of his legacy. Our Von Rieben wines pay tribute to the German heritage and the old ruins which lay adjacent to our Riesling and Gewurtztraminer vineyards on the property and the pioneering spirit of the Von Rieben family.
Sidney Wilcox became one of the next owners and in 1906 built the Wilcox Homestead named ‘MULYOULPKO’ which means ‘home by the water’ with its French windows and opening out on a wide brick verandah. At that time, pigs, cows, sheep and horses were kept at the station.
Morgan and the settlements to Overland Corner were in the height of the paddle-steamer days and the beginnings of the rail system. The property was filled with produce for what was the “fruit bowl” of South Australia with boats to then be sent to Adelaide and beyond. No 1 Licence to pump water from the Murray was issued to Wilcox in 1915 when an ambitious scheme was carried out to utilise the River flats. By keeping the back the flood waters, about forty men were employed to build and long and high stone wall around the flats and a railway line to carry produce ran along the top. The remains of the water flume and stone walls can be see today from which £22,000 was spent on a somewhat mixed success. By the 1956 floods, a well-engineered irrigation system was functioning. The irrigation system was innovative and ahead of its time, just as this approach to seeking new methods is still encouraged today.The Scotts Creek ‘Woolpunda’ Shearing Shed is part of Australia’s rich wool history when wool was the most important product to the Australian economy and the term phrased for the Australian economy “riding on the sheep’s back.” It was a working shed until the 1970s, purpose built with its innovative design for the day, pipes on the eastern wall improved ventilation on hot summer days and shearers’ accommodation was close by to accommodate the team of the day. Next to the Shearing Shed are the two original tractor ploughs which were used on the farm and close to the river.
History of Morgan
Morgan itself it rich with history and stories of the bygone era. The historic walk of the township a few kilometres away includes the points of interest as listed in the official website http://www.murrayriver.com.au/morgan/morgan-historic-walk/ and interestingly includes much activity that dates after that of the Von Riebens.
History of Glen Devlin
The vineyard was named Glen Devlin in tribute to the local 1800s rogue: Irishman Paddy Devlin. It is also referred to as Glenrun. A run or a pound is simply an area of land enclosed, sometimes for the purpose of animals. Whether wildlife or farm animals, the historical name dates back to before vines were planted.
Byrne Vineyards sell two labels relating to these historical stories. Devlin’s Mount speaks to the sweeping views from the vineyard that are enjoyed over the majestic River Murray. Taking in the clifftops, tree lined banks and the snaking bends of the water.
Thievin’ Devlin is a playful reference to Paddy Devlin himself. A rogue and larrikin, it depicts Devlin running with a cow over his head – let’s say it’s not intended to be taken literally.
Ultimately whether playful or seriously labelled, the vineyards enjoy the best of care.
Located some 15km from Overland Corner, this is the site of where the likes of Cobb & CO coaches, drovers and overlanders operated between NSW and Adelaide. A camp ground for steamers passing through, many a traveller would have made their way from one Hotel to the next north of the river.
The Overland Corner hotel which still operates there was built in 1859 some four years after Hermann Von Rieben established his hotel on the site where Byrne Vineyards Scotts Creek property near Morgan now. We can picture that wine was enjoyed at both properties, along with lodgings and supplies and even the delivery of mail. Imagine a post office selling a glass today?
History of Clare Valley
The Clare Valley wine region is one of Australia's oldest wine regions, best known for Riesling and Shiraz wines. It lies in the Mid North of South Australia, approximately 120 km north of Adelaide. The original inhabitants of the Clare Valley were the Ngadjuri people. It is believed that they had major camping sites at Clare and Auburn. The first European to reportedly explore the region was John Hill, who arrived in South Australia in 1837 followed by his friend and associate, Edward John Eyre and John Horrocks, who set out with his servant, John Green and established himself in the area now known as Penwortham. This became the first permanent settlement in the valley. Jesuits were settling into the place which would become the town of Sevenhill. Settlers from England and Ireland, as well as more diverse places such as Poland and Silesia continued to progress into the region during the 1840s, producing a rich heritage of architecture and villages, which remain largely intact. Vineyards were planted alongside those first villages and winemaking has continued ever since.
Clare to Morgan is just over an hour’s drive.