Clonakilla was founded in 1971 by Irishman John Kirk in Murrumbateman, a small town in the Southern Tablelands, which is now part of the Canberra wine-growing region of New South Wales. The Kirk family arrived in Australia in 1968, where John took up a research position with the CSIRO Division of Plant Industry in Canberra. He bought a 44 acre estate and named it Clonakilla, meaning “meadow of the church”, after his grandfather's farm in County Clare. John planted some vines, but wine was originally a weekend distraction for him. However, he produced Canberra District's first commercial vintage in 1976 with a Sauvignon Blanc, Riesling and a Cabernet Shiraz. In 1986 John added Viognier to the vineyard. Now 40 acres are under vine, planted on sandy clay loams over a decomposed granite base. These days Clonakilla is run by John's son Tim, the winemaker, assisted in the business by his five brothers. Although Pinot Noir, Semillon, and Chardonnay have been added to their portfolio, Clonakilla specialise in the Rhône varietals Shiraz [Syrah] and Viognier, and their wines are considered to be amongst the best Australian wines in the world. Their flagship Shiraz Côte Rotie style wine, inspired by a trip Tim made to the Rhône in 1991, is multi-awarded and is widely celebrated as one of Australia's greatest red wines. Clonakilla's wines are simply outstanding!