Dr John Kirk planted the Clonakilla vineyard at Murrumbateman, 40 kilometres north of Canberra, in 1971 after his scientific curiosity led him to question why vines were not being grown in this area. His research showed that the soil and climate seemed suited to certain varieties. Clonakilla means 'meadow of the church' and is the name of Dr Kirk's grandfather's farm in County Clare, Ireland. In 1997 Tim Kirk, the fourth of John's six sons, took over responsibility for winemaking. Today, Clonakilla is recognised as one of the leading estates in Australia. Tim was named Gourmet Traveller Winemaker of the Year in 2013.
Clonakilla is without doubt the leading estate in Canberra and, in a rather short space of time, their Shiraz Viognier has come to be seen as the best example of this Cote Rotie blend in Australia. The cooler climate gives gentle spices and berry flavours to the Canberra District Shiraz, softened by the addition of up to 6% Viognier which also adds an aromatic dimension to the blend. This is an Australian icon.