Coonawarra did not happen by chance. Nor did it evolve by trial and error. It was founded a century ago, and was based on sound scientific principles after the assessment of extensive feasibility studies. The founder was John Riddoch. He had come to Australia from Scotland during the Gold Rush and subsequently acquired an extensive pastoral run in the South East of South Australia. His motives for establishing Coonawarra were primarily humanitarian. As he said at the time, he aimed to provide employment, to encourage immigration and to stimulate closer settlement by sub-dividing his large estate.
Since then, Coonawarra has passed through three historical periods. The first was early settlement, when the early settlers accepted the challenge of Riddoch's vision, established the district, and generally prospered until the time of the First World War. They were led by Joseph Darwent. Then came the dark age of the Great Depression and the two World Wars. During this period Riddoch's original Cellars were converted into a distillery, and the Redman family alone were able to maintain a continuous tradition of table wine production.
Samuel Wynn eventually recognised the quality of these wines, and initiated the renaissance of the district by purchasing the old Riddoch Cellars in 1951. This third historical period witnessed the appreciation by many other investors of the truly great attributes of this small, yet magic, tract of terra rossa soil. During the half century since then, the combined efforts of many outstanding grapegrowers and talented winemakers have ensured that Coonawarra has produced wine of a truly unique style and quality. These wines are now generally recognised as Australia's best, and amongst the greatest in the world.