History & Heritage

With more than 160 years of winemaking tradition, Rutherglen is one of the oldest wine regions in Australia and largely owned by families.

The wine industry began in the 1850s around the time of the gold rush, and just 30 years later, Rutherglen was a thriving wine centre, home to some of the largest estates in the world.

It was also the first Australian region to win a gold medal at the Vienna Exhibition and London International Exhibition.

The Evolution of Rutherglen


The first vines are planted by John Lindsay Brown at Browns Plains and Edwin Sanger at Corowa.


Gold is discovered in the region and people flock to the area, including many Chinese.


More plantings are established and the region grows.


Rutherglen hits the world stage, winning medals and awards at the Vienna Exhibition, London International Exhibition and International Exhibition in Melbourne.


There are around 3,000 acres under vine across 50 vineyards and 1,870 people working in the local wine industry. Rutherglen is producing around one-third of all Australian wine.


Morris Wines becomes the largest wine producer in the Southern Hemisphere.


Mount Ophir Estate is established and builds the largest state-of-the-art winemaking facility in the Southern Hemisphere in 1893. Their wine has the royal seal of England and is transported via steamships to ‘the mother country’ for the aristocracy.


Phylloxera hits, starting in the Rhue (now Jones) vineyard. Replanting on American rootstock commences and the industry is saved.


Durif is first planted by Francois de Castella.


There are around 7,000 acres of vines and Rutherglen’s fortified wines and red table wines are in high demand. Australia is exporting approximately 750,000 gallons (around 2,840,000 litres) of wine a year to England, most of it from Rutherglen.


Trading fortified wine in bulk begins and the region booms.


Consumer demand for table wine grows so local vignerons plant new vines.


Rutherglen Wine Festival, an Australian first, sparks the revival of Rutherglen and winery tourism. This event later morphs into the modern-day Rutherglen Winery Walkabout.


A new generation of winemakers are bringing fresh ideas while relying on knowledge passed through the generations. Rutherglen’s reputation is again on the rise.