Our History

A long association.

When in 1985 John Parker initiated ‘The Abbey’ vineyard in Coonawarra, it was anything but his initial foray into the wine industry.

After becoming one of the first Australians to operate a commercial cotton business, he established the visionary Hungerford Hill Wines in the Hunter Valley in 1968.

Furthermore, in 1970 he was part of the purchase of Reynella, in which he had a stake until 1976, and was also involved in the establishment of the Buronga winery near the Victoria-NSW border.


The Abbey Vineyard.

In the mid 1980s, John Parker and Doug Balnaves identified the best locations on Coonawarra’s Terra Rossa strip to establish a vineyard and winery to follow the clear mandate of "quality without compromise".

Doug & John had worked together from the inception of Hungerford Hill's Coonawarra vineyards, a project that reinvigorated the region and renewed focus on the potential for ultra-premium wine growing.

In 1985 they planted their first vines on the 50ha property purchased from the Abbey family on the northern edge of Penola township. This material was sourced from the 19th Century-planted vines at Reynella and probably derives from the first 1837 imports of cabernet sauvignon from Bordeaux.

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 Coonawarra 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.


'Quality without compromise'

Despite the passing of John Parker in 2002, the privately owned estate continues with a vision for paramount quality and expression of place under the watchful eye of head winemaker Andrew Hardy, head viticulturist Brett Williams and a team of passionate vignerons and winemakers.

“It’s the close-knit community here that makes a difference for me,” says Brett. “It’s a supportive community and you can always get help if you want it. We grow the best Cabernet in the world so I get really excited about that.”

"My motivation is to achieve excellence,” says Brett. “I want to be as good as I can at what I do. And I’m pretty proud of some of the fruit I’m growing, for sure.”

"Coonawarra, given that it's so close to the southern ocean it's like a giant refrigerator 80 kilometers to the west and it makes a beautiful Cabernet" say's head winemaker Andrew Hardy.

"I think that's the defining thing about Coonawarra , Cabernet is king and I think it's one of the great varieties of the world. It's got beautiful tannin and I think the region, and Parker, really shows that with originality."