In 1862, Ebenezer Ward, the most colourful wine critic of his day, described one nearby vineyard as a “gigantic pyramid of verdure, its slopes and summit clothed with luxuriant vines”. These included “Temprana, Shiraz, Malbec, Carbonet, Mataro, Carignan and Grenache”. The Grenache was considered “especially valuable for its erect, self-supporting habit, its fecundity, and the richness of its must”.
A rival wine scribe of the day, Dr. Alex C. Kelly, wrote in 1867 that while “the two excellent white grapes of the Hermitage – Roussanne and Marsanne – have not been introduced into Adelaide, there is much for us to do in this matter, and it ought to be gone about without delay.”
Planting of the Yangarra Estate vineyards commenced in 1946, when the property was called Lalla Rookh – “love nest”. In that year, Bernard Smart, who still lives on Yangarra with his wife, assisted his father plant the High Sands vineyard to unirrigated bush vine Grenache. They planted another vineyard adjacent in 1947, but that was enveloped and killed by drifting sand before it got the chance to properly establish.
For many years the fruit of the ‘46 planting was sought by local winemakers who used it to beef up wines from other smaller holdings across McLaren Vale.
In 2000, Jess Jackson and his wife Barbara Banke (proprietors of Jackson Family Wines) began investigating Australia’s potential for a world-class Shiraz and Grenache vineyard. A year later they purchased
Yangarra Estate, in awe of the priceless old bush vines which they knew would give the reborn Estate its gastronomic heart and soul.
The appointments of local men Peter Fraser, winemaker, and Michael Lane, viticulturer, completed the first stage of Jess Jackson’s visionary plan.
In the decade since, the vineyard has been revived and extended, the water-courses rejuvenated and planted to native vegetation, the state-of-the-art winery built and commissioned, and a cellar sales and tastings room opened.
With this evolution, the wines of Yangarra Estate have steadily gained respect and critical acclaim.