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The History of the Horndale Winery & Distillery

The Horndale  Distillery Company has its headquarters in the Happy Valley district, about 22 kilometers south of Adelaide. The old building, clinging to the hillside like a medieval castle, was started in 1896 by the Horne Bros. From 1898 it was under the control of Bernard Basedow who purchased the property in 1909. Under Basedow, the company soon became known for dry reds and brandy. The property was then 130 hectares of mainly Cabernet Sauvignon and Shiraz. However, the present company has no land under vines. The Basedow company sold to Swift & Moore in the late 1940's and during the 1950's the vineyards were sold again: this time to Gilbeys Australia Ltd. Horndale then concentrated on brandy for Gilbeys subsidiaries in Australia and manufacturing fortified wines for the United Kingdom market. Since then Horndale has established large markets for its brandy in Malaysia and Canada; and for its fortified sweet red wines, in Canada, Jamaica and Trinidad.

In 1968 Southern Vales Co-operative Winery Limited purchased the Horndale Cellars and distillery to increase the company's facility to produce brandy and fortified wines and to gain access to the overseas markets already created.

With the centralising of modern processing equipment at the McLaren Vale Cellars, crushing at Horndale ceased in 1971. The excellent storage cellars are used for small wood maturation of fortified wines and brandy. The pot and column stills are still used, but with wine brought by tanker from McLaren Vale.

The cellars and other structures are built into the side of a hill in terraces. Tonnes of rock were blasted out for the purpose. Stone for building was quarried on the property. The walls, 60 centimetres thick and 7.5 metres high, provide ideal cool cellaring conditions. At it's peak, winery storage capacity was about 750,000 litres of brandy in wood and 700,000 litres of wine in wood and concrete.

In recent years Horndale has made aperitif Dubonnet under license. This wine is a blend of red and white mistelle infused with ingredients from France.

Ted Albrecht, purchased the distillery and cellars in 1984. Of the 310 acres of vines that once made up Horndale there remains only one and a half acres which are planted to Red Frontignac grapes. These grapes are used to make Horndale's feature wine Old Horndale Brandy Wood Frontignac Tawny Port. Apart from this small crush, the other wines are made off premises.

MAAN makes it's wine at the top part of the winery now known as Arrugius which is separate from Horndale. It is built into the side of the hill so that production of wine can be gravity-fed, meaning no pumps or anything was needed until the 1970's. Arrugius was founded by AJ who worked at the winery in the 60's as a teenager and is now the owner of his old stomping ground.


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