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Clonakilla was established in 1971 by John Kirk, a Canberra based research scientist of Irish descent. He bought a 44-acre farm near the village of Murrumbateman in New South Wales, 40 kilometres north of Canberra.He named the property Clonakilla (`meadow of the church') after his grandfather's farm in County Clare. He proceeded to plant 1.2 acres each of Cabernet Sauvignon and Riesling. and a further 1.2 acres of Shiraz, Chardonnay and Pinot Noir in 1972.
In 1996 John's son Tim left a career in school teaching to work full time in the family business as winemaker and general manager. In 1998 Tim and his wife Lara bought the 50-acre property next door and planted Shiraz and Viognier as well as a small olive grove on the warm north-east facing slope.
Clonakilla's speciality is their Northern Rhône blend of Shiraz with a touch of Viognier. This exquisite blend is most famously put to use in Côte Rôtie. The Hilltops Shiraz is a recent addition and is produced from fruit selected from three vineyards around the town of Young in New South Wales and displays all the character you would expect from a top Australian Shiraz with this producer.