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The history of Elderton Wines

The vineyard was first planted on the banks of the North Para River in Nuriootpa in 1894 by early German settlers, the Scholz family. In 1916, it was purchased by Samuel Elderton Tolley who named the Estate ‘Elderton’. He built himself a sprawling homestead on the Estate and sold the fruit to his family’s winery. It was run successfully for many years, but became derelict in the early years of the vine pull (circa 1975).

“If you buy the house, I will give you the surrounding 72 acres of old vines for nothing”. This was the proposal offered to Lorraine and Neil Ashmead in 1980. The rambling old homestead looked ideal for a growing family and the Ashmead’s worked tirelessly to salvage and restore a phenomenal treasure of a vineyard.

In 1982 the first wine was made under the Elderton Label. Tough times prevailed, but ultimately the vision of the founders shone through and Elderton is today celebrated as a major reason for the rejuvenation of the Barossa Valley. In 1993 Elderton shot to national prominence after winning the Jimmy Watson Trophy.

Neil and Lorraine Ashmead with the Jimmy Watson Trophy 1993 history of Elderton Wines Barossa winery

Neil and Lorraine Ashmead with the Jimmy Watson Trophy 1993


International success ensued. The wines of the Elderton Nuriootpa vineyard are enjoyed globally for their richness, vibrancy and uniqueness. They are celebrated for being traditional examples of the best of the Barossa’s wines.

The second generation took the reins of the business in 2003. Brothers Cameron and Allister believe very strongly in continuing the traditions that began a generation earlier, on the Nuriootpa vineyard. Wanting to take the family company to the next level, they together devised a plan to buy great vineyards in other significant sub appellations of the Barossa.

Ashmead family, owners of Elderton Wines Barossa Valley winery

Through using sustainable practices, the hope is that the next generation of the Ashmead family have a lot to work with when they are at the helm. In 2007 a great little vineyard in Craneford (Eden Valley) was purchased and this was followed in 2010 by the purchase of a vineyard on the northeast corner of Greenock. In 2023, the family purchased a fourth vineyard at Mengler Hill.

In 2017 the Cellar Door moved from the small cottage (previously the home of Tolley’s Vineyard Manager) on Tanunda Rd to the Elderton Homestead, which was the drawcard of the property for the Ashmead family back in 1979. This evolution has given a beautiful space for visitors to enjoy Elderton wines, with a main tasting room for a more casual style tasting, along with rooms for hosted private tastings, Commander experiences and more. Nestled in the middle of the Nuriootpa vineyard, the Barossa Cellar Door provides unforgettable experiences for Elderton’s visitors.

Elderton's Barossa Cellar Door from above

The timeline of Elderton Wines

  • 1894 Scholz family plants vineyard on banks of North Para River
  • 1916 Tolley family purchases Elderton property
  • 1980 Ashmead family purchases Elderton property and vineyard restoration begins
  • 1982 First wine produced under Elderton label with the help of Peter Lehmann
  • 1983 Severe floods occur; Jim Irvine hired as contract winemaker
  • 1984 First vintage of Command Shiraz produced
  • 1993 Elderton wins Jimmy Watson Memorial Trophy at Royal Melbourne Wine Awards
  • 1997 Neil Ashmead passed away
  • 1998 First vintage of Ashmead Cabernet Sauvignon produced
  • 1999 Allister Ashmead returns to Elderton
  • 2000 Elderton 1995 Command Shiraz named in Top 100 Wines, Wine Spectator; Elderton 1996 Command Shiraz wins World’s Best Shiraz trophy at the International Wine & Spirits Competition (IWSC)
  • 2002 Elderton purchases Citrus Cellars and builds its own winemaking facility
  • 2003 Cameron Ashmead returns to Elderton; Richard Langford recruited as winemaker
  • 2005 Elderton named in Top 100 Wineries, Wine & Spirits
  • 2007 Craneford vineyard purchased
  • 2008 Elderton named in Top Wines of the Year, Decanter; Elderton named in Top 100 Wines, Wine Spectator
  • 2010 Greenock vineyard purchased
  • 2011 30 vintages of Elderton Wines
  • 2013 Launch of range of wines from Greenock vineyard
  • 2017 Cellar Door in family homestead opens
  • 2019 Julie Ashmead takes on role of Head of Production; Brock Harrison recruited as Winemaker
  • 2021 40 vintages of Elderton Wines
  • 2023 Mengler Hill vineyard purchased

Elderton's Mengler Hill vineyard, drone photo by Dragan Radocaj

Elderton’s Mengler Hill vineyard, drone photo by Dragan Radocaj