Our History


John & Faye Parker established Parker Estate in 1985, planting the Abbey Vineyard with Reynell Selection Cabernet vines. These are original vines sourced from Bordeaux in the 1800’s, before they were lost to France forever due to phylloxera.

Over the journey of four decades of ‘winemaking without compromise’, Parker Estate has achieved numerous wine show medals, trophies and accolade, including the top Five Red Star rating by James Halliday.

History, Cool Climate and Sacred Geology

Considered the founder of Coonawarra as a wine-growing region, John Riddoch began planting Shiraz, Cabernet and Pinot Noir vines in 1891, based on the recommendation of his friend and renowned viticulturist Thomas Hardy, great-great-grandfather of Parker Estate Chief Winemaker Andrew Hardy.

One of Australia’s first and finest cool-climate wine growing regions, the maritime influence of the Southern Ocean exposes the district to even greater cooling due to the seasonal upwelling of dark blue water streams from Antarctica.

At 1492 Growing Degree Days (GDD) Coonawarra is slightly cooler than Bordeaux, and significantly more so than the Napa Valley and Margaret River regions. Above all, Coonawarra is know for it’s 27km long and 2km wide cigar-shaped outcrop of ancient Terra Rossa soils which rest over a hard limestone cap. Below this lies an aquifer which was once an ancient seabed. Today the combination of the aquifer, cool climate and free draining Terra Rossa soils make this unique location ideal for the highest standards of wine-growing.

Parker, First Growth Cabernet in vineyard at Coonawarra Parker, First Growth Cabernet in vineyard at Coonawarra

First Growth

When John Parker released the inaugural 1988 of First Growth, people sat up and took notice.

Winning the Penfold Hyland Trophy in Perth, it was also judged the 6th highest rated Bordeaux-Style in the 1991 International Wine Challenge in London.

This release was the first step in establishing Parker Estate’s reputation for producing wines of outstanding quality and longevity.

In 2001, the purpose-built maturation facility and cellar door building was completed. Made strikingly from Mt Gambier limestone and steel girders, the temperature-controlled facility stands tall amongst the Abbey vineyard and reflects John Parker’s creative and uncompromising approach to grape growing and winemaking.

Over the course of nearly four decades, Parker Estate has achieved numerous wine show medals, trophies and accolades, including a Five Star rating by James Halliday.

In 2010, Parker's 'First Growth' entered the Langton’s Classification of Australian Wine as 'Excellent', enshrining the marque in the top tier of Australian wine.