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In 1973, Dr. John Wilson set out with soil map and sampling auger in search of a plot for his vines. The chosen land was some of the grazing slopes east of Sevenhill, Clare Valley, where he established 10 acres of vineyard between 1974 and 1976. The locals were bemused by this venture and were firm but kind with their advice about the unsuitability of the area for grapes. To that same handful of locals the little valley was known as Polish Hill River, a quaint tribute to its early pioneers.
In 1980 the vineyard produced its first commercial wine and with that Shiraz-Cabernet, wine consumers were introduced to this hitherto unknown corner of Clare. By then no-one had any doubts about the ability of Polish Hill River to produce fine wine. The Wilson family has been content to expand its operation slowly and steadily and is unfazed that most who followed them now cultivate larger tracts.
In 2000 John was one of the handful of Clare winemakers who led the screwcap revolution. Whilst many were hedging their bets John decided to dedicate his entire production, reds and whites, to the screwcap closure in 2001 and never looked back.
The Wilson Vineyard wines are produced entirely from estate-grown fruit. More than half of the production is Riesling, a variety with which both the Wilson name and Polish Hill River have become synonymous. Other varieties include Zinfandel, Tempranillo, Gewurztraminer, Shiraz, Cabernet Sauvignon and Merlot. The Wilson Vineyard Rieslings are powerful wines that take more than five years in the bottle to show their best.
Every year since 1988 The Wilson Vineyard has commissioned a local artist to produce a piece to adorn the Polish Hill River Riesling label. The exterior artwork compliments the art within.