Stanton and Killeen Wines has a long history in Rutherglen as one of the first wineries of the region and a pioneer of the Australian wine industry.
Seven generations have poured their enthusiasm, dreams and hard work into Stanton and Killeen and every wine speaks to a part of our story.
The Stanton family, originally from Suffolk in England, worked hard to establish a vineyard with many setbacks such as phylloxera, drought and the Depression. Norman Killeen married Jack Stanton’s daughter, Joan and in 1954 gave birth to 6th generation winemaker Chris Killeen. In 1968 the business name was changed to ‘Stanton and Killeen Wines’ and thus started a new phase in the history of the winery. Today the business is owned and managed by Chris Killeen’s wife Wendy and their children Simon and Natasha. Simon has studied a Bachelor of Wine Science at Charles Sturt University in Wagga Wagga and Natasha is studying a Master of Wine Business through the University of Adelaide.
1864 - Establishment
After trying their luck during the Victorian ‘Gold Rush’, Timothy Stanton (1803-1896) and his son John Lewis Stanton (1845-1925) purchase land in Rutherglen establishing a farm and vineyard, making a living from supplying the local miners with fortified wine.
1875 - First Vintage
First official vintage for ’Stanton Wines’ made in a red-gum slab winery at Bank Hill, on property still owned by the family.
1920 - Gracerray
Greatly relieved by his son’s safe return from war, John Richard Stanton (1872-1955) buys a parcel of productive farming land for his son John Charles “Jack” Stanton (1895-1989) to give him a “good start in life”. Jack’s wife Ethel Capper, devised the name “Gracerray” for the property to honour her sister Grace and the nearby Murray River. This unusual name is pronounced with the emphasis on the “e”.
1925 - Jack builds his winery
Using second hand materials from the defunct Great Southern Gold Mine, Jack builds his winery around some existing concrete vats and tanks built in the 1890s. His first vintage and every other one up until the 1960s were of fortified wine, catering to the Australian wine market much different to one which we know today.
1948 - Marriage
The manager of the Rutherglen Research Institute, Norman Killeen (1919-2004) marries one of Jack’s twin daughters, Joan Stanton.
1953 - Focus on agriculture
Norman leaves the Research Institute to join his father-in-law as a business partner but due to booming wool and food prices, Jack and Norman begin pulling out vineyards and selling equipment to focus on agriculture.
1960 - Ripple of change
A ripple of change spreads though the Australian wine industry and with the help of Jack’s scientific background, Norman takes over as winemaker in 1967. By 1970 any thoughts of closing the winery were forgotten in the rush to meet new demands for wine. Production of red table wine begins.
1968 - Stanton and Killeen Wines
The business name is changed to Stanton and Killeen Wines
1986 - New cellar door
A new cellar door is built, a far cry from the tiny room in a tin shed where Jack would greet visitors.
1990 - A passion for Portuguese style port
Chris Killeen (1954-2007) develops his passion for Portuguese style port and starts planting Portuguese grape varieties like tinta roriz, tinta barocca, touriga and tinta cao. He moves away from the traditional Australian style of port and is one of the first to produce this new style. In 2006, wine writer Jeni Port describes Chris as “the man who almost single-handedly holds the future of Australian vintage port in this country”, a legacy that the winery continues to honour.
2008 - The Prince
Stanton and Killeen make an innovative dry table wine made using Portuguese grapes traditionally used for vintage port. It is named the ‘The Prince’ to honour Chris Killeen who was nicknamed ‘The Prince of Port’ by fellow Rutherglen vignerons.
2015 - The journey continues
CEO Wendy Killeen and her daughter Natasha Killeen (b1988) continue as custodians of some very precious wine parcels, the oldest dating back to Jack’s time as winemaker in the early 1960s. They endeavour to continue producing quality wine and promoting fortifieds as some of the most rare and special wines that Rutherglen has to offer.