The Coonawarra

The Coonawarra Vineyards

Renowned for its rich, terra rossa soil, the Coonawarra is one of Australia's - and the world's - great wine regions.

A million years in the making this long, narrow, celebrated ridge of earth, is the oldest and most fertile of its kind in the Limestone Coast comprising of a surface layer of permeable clay like soil, rich in iron, silica and nutrients, upon ancient limestone bedrock. The soils are predominantly terra rossa – rich red-brown loam topsoil laid over a thin layer of calcrete, sitting on top of a base of the region’s abundance of white limestone. Combined with the cool maritime climate, the soils make for excellent wine making conditions. The abundance of terra rossa soil sets it apart from any other wine region in Australia.

Undoubtedly, Coonawarra produces Australia’s greatest Cabernet Sauvignon. The concentrated fruit flavours cover the spectrum from blackcurrant to plum to red cherry to prunes, with a unique Coonawarra earthiness. The wines are renowned for their depth of fruit flavour, complexity, elegance, extraordinary length and their cellaring performance. As well as Cabernet Sauvignon, Coonawarra is renowned for its stylish Shiraz and Merlot. Riesling and Chardonnay are the two predominant white varieties, with the region producing some of the nation’s finest examples of these styles.


The Coonawarra Estate is comprised of three vineyards – Winery Block, Glenroy Siding and Hamilton Block. The oldest vines are Cabernet Sauvignon planted by Sydney Hamilton in 1974. 

Renowned for its rich, terra rossa soil – red-brown loam topsoil laid over a thin layer of calcrete, sitting on top of a base of white limestone, Coonawarra has a predominately maritime climate, with dry and moderately cool summer days and cool to cold nights, similar to that of Bordeaux in France.


The first Cabernet Sauvignon vines were planted at Leconfield on the best terra rossa ground on September 28, 1974 by Sydney Hamilton, uncle of Dr Richard Hamilton. Dr Richard Hamilton purchased the vineyards and winery from his uncle Sydney in 1981 and added to the landholding and plantings from 1982. The total vineyard size now stands at 43.7 Hectares. 

The rich terra rossa soils run through the vineyard, layered over a crust of calcrete and limestone. Subterranean water is a valuable insurance policy, and can be applied at critical growing periods in years when the rainfall is insufficient.

The Coonawarra Estate is carefully managed by Bendt Rasmussen. After three decades of involvement in the wine industry, Bendt has gained through his hands on approach, invaluable experience in all facets of vineyard management and winery operations. Before joining Leconfield in 1990, Bendt has worked for some of Coonawarra’s biggest names – Mildara Blass (Jamiesons Run) and Rymill’s in the vineyards as well as the winery.