Land and Property

South Australia

St Agnes Estate, Freedom Village

A History of the St Agnes Winery...

Dr William Thomas Angove was born in 1854.  He graduated from Long Hospital and in 1875 he married Miss Emma Carlyon in 1880.  

The winery has a fascinating history.  Founder, Cornish born William Thomas Angove, left England for Australia with his wife and young family and arrived here in 1886.  Having studied medicine in London, he practiced as a Doctor in Tea Tree Gully, where he also grew interested in wine making, like other Doctors before him such as Dr Christopher Rawson Penfold and Dr Alexander Kelly.  As wine was highly recommended by other Doctors, for medicinal purposes, he decided to begin producing his own.  The  hobby, which had begun around the year 1880, as a means of providing wine for himself, his friends and his patients, soon became the business enterprise of Angove and Sons.  

Grapes had been grown in the district since the 1860's.

St Agnes is a suburb of the 1970's but its name has a well-matured history.  The St Agnes name dates back to a two storey stone cellar deep in a gully along from Tea Tree Gully.  "Brightlands' cellar was built in 1874 by Anglican Archdeacon George Farr, who came to Adelaide to become Headmaster of St Peter's College.  His summer house a little further down the creek predates the cellar.  The Archdeacon leased his wine cellar to a friend and neighbour Dr William Angove who had bought a medical practice in Tea Tree Gully.  His passion was wine making and he named a brandy he distilled after his home in Cornwall - St Agnes.  Dr Angove's hobby turned into a serious industry - the St Agnes Winery on North East Road gave its name to the suburb. 

In about 1889 Dr Angove planted some ten acres on the home property, known as St Agnes, Tea Tree Gully, later expanding nearby.

by 1893, Dr Angove had almost 50 acres of vineyards surround the St Agnes Winery.  He was very proud of his Cabernet wine, of which he produced 2,000 gallons in 1903.  In that same year Dr Angove had over 10 acres of vines and following a good vintage, he produced 10,000 gallons of wine in his own cellars.

He made his first wine at the Brightlands Cellars, north of Tea Tree Guly, until he built his own winery on the St Agnes site in 1904-05.  Dr Angove's son, Thomas Carlyon 'Skipper' Angove, built his first South Australian winery and distillery on the River Murray at Renmark in 1910.  The landmark in his day was the release in 1925 of the first St Agnes Brandy, which today is believed to have the distinction of being Australia's longest-living spirits brand.

In 1947 Thomas Angove's son, Thomas William Carlyon, usually known as Tom, became Managing Director, and saw the business develop considerably.  Particularly notable was the release in 1965 of the world's first "bag-inbox" or wine cask.  But there were problems with the innovation, and Angove's withdrew from the field.  The same year saw the company register what became a famous export label, Chateau Downunda, a dry red which sold well overseas.  In 1968 Tom began planting the 480-hectare Nanya vineyard at Murtho, east of Renmark, which at the time was the largest single vineyard in the southern hemisphere: by 1972, 142,000 vines had been planted, mostly from Tea Tree Gully cuttings.

But changes were afoot, in 1974 the South Australian Land Commission compulsorily acquired many vineyards in the suburbs for housing development.  Angove's was among them.  The last vintage on the St Agnes Winery site at Tea Tree Gully was in 1982, when the remaining vines were destroyed.  In 1983 John Carlyon Angove took over as Managing Director.  The old cellars were renovated to cater for tourists and to house the company's cellar door.  The heritage listed distillery tower and wine cellars are being preserved, as has been a patch of original Adelaide Plains vegetation set aside by 'Skipper' Angove.

Today the heritage listed building remains as a piece of history and shall be retained for its local community value as the last of the original wineries in the St Agnes area.

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