Established in 1867, the historic grounds that are Tatachilla Estate were once the site of one of Australia’s largest producing wineries.

A brief history of the old

Tatachilla Winery.

The Tatachilla vineyards were planted in 1867 by John George Kelly (son of Dr A.C. Kelly of Tintara), in partnership with H.M. Varley and A.B. Black. In 1888 the total acreage was 306. The grapes from Tatachilla were sold to Hardy’s in McLaren Vale, where Kelly was employed as manager. A run of bumper harvests taxed Hardy’s to the limit and in 1903 they could not accept Tatachilla grapes.

In 1911, Kelly sold out to Stephen Smith and Company of London, wine exporters, who then in 1913, built a limestone and brick winery to replace Kelly’s corrugated iron buildings. This substantial new winery was extremely imposing, although there is no record of who had actually been involved in the design of the buildings.


By 1929 Stephen Smith and Company were considered ‘the largest shippers of burgundy in Australia’. The wine from Tatachilla was marketed in England under the ‘Keystone’ label and was extremely popular. Stephen Smith and Company continued to produce wine for export at Tatachilla until 1962 when the Emu wine company bought out the company’s holdings. Winemaking ceased in 1964 and the Tatachilla buildings were sold to the Lutheran church as a holiday camp. The cellars are still in good condition, but little remains of the winemaking equipment.

Associated with the winery is an imposing residence constructed at much the same time and exhibiting typical Federation period detailing. Also associated with the winery are a large number of storage buildings and the original blacksmithy. There is a row of mature Norfolk Island pines between the winery and the house and also a pair of Norfolk Island pines marking the entrance to the residence.

Source: McDougall and Vines Conservation and Heritage Consultants (1997)

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