Award-winning SA winery makes new play for the luxury market

Eat & Drink

Since its acquisition by Endeavour Group, Krondorf Wines has had a significant facelift. Now, it’s launching its 2023 collection – and making a statement about the exceptional quality of its wines. 

South Australia’s Barossa Valley has a history as rich as the full-bodied Shiraz, which comes from the vineyards that call it home. One of the older winemakers in the region is Krondorf.  

It can trace its history to 1847 when a group of families from Silesia – a region of central Europe that’s now part of Germany, Poland and the Czech Republic – settled in the Valley in a place they named Krondorf (German for ‘Crown Village’), which still exists today.  

But Krondorf Wines did not officially stamp its label on bottles until more than a century later, in the 1960s. By 1980, the winery had won the prestigious Jimmy Watson Memorial Trophy at the Royal Melbourne Wine Awards for its 1979 Dry Red Burgundy Cabernet Sauvignon.   

Endeavour has taken the view that the full potential of Krondorf should be realised.”

– Nick Bradice, head winemaker, Krondorf

In the newly-built Krondorf Wines cellar door on the main street in Tanunda, the 1979 bottle is on display – along with every other Jimmy Watson Trophy-winning wine (bar three) since 1961.  

Those, along with the actual heritage building that the cellar door sits in (which used to be an old bookstore), are about the only ‘old’ bits left. A floating fireplace greets you as you enter the cosy venue. “We’ve pulled out all the stops,” Krondorf’s cellar door manager says. “Certainly, no expense was spared.”  

But Krondorf hasn’t just experienced a physical makeover – the brand is undergoing serious strategic reconstruction.  

“The brand lost its way a little,” head winemaker, Nick Bradice, says. In 2011, the $12 billion Australian alcoholic drinks retailer and hotel operator Endeavour Group purchased Cellarmasters, and Krondorf Wines was part of the acquisition. Krondorf joined Endeavor’s collection of premium and regional wine brands like Isabel Estate and Riddoch.  

In 2019, Endeavour acquired McLaren Vale winery Chapel Hill and launched a new division to house its premium wines: Paragon Wine Estates.   

Today, Bradice feels Krondorf is finally back on track.  

Nick Bradice, head winemaker at Krondorf. Image source: Supplied

“Endeavour has taken the view that the full potential of Krondorf should be realised,” he says.  

“This has taken shape through securing vineyard ownership and investment and supporting the opening of our cellar door and tasting room in Tanunda in 2021.   

“The breadth of what I do now has more of a focus on seeing excellence transpire from an end-to-end process – from grape cultivation to presenting the finished product before the consumer.”  

There’s new packaging (the bottle caps now feature Krondorf’s ethos – the symbol for love, faith and hope), an extended range and a whole new direction: Krondorf is making a play for the luxury market.  

Launched in early May, the winemaker’s 2023 collection features five new varieties, all stemming from the Barossa’s 2021 vintage, one Bradice refers to as the Valley’s best in a decade.   

“Wines produced from the exceptional fruit of 2021 exhibit great depth of colour with intense, concentrated varietal fruit flavours, whilst robust reds will have firm tannins which will mellow and soften with careful cellaring.”  

But the icon wine of the collection is the velvety 2019 King’s Mantle – and Krondorf is making a statement with its $160 price point.  

Named after the imperial robe that signifies the authority of the Crown and worn at coronations and other state occasions, the King’s Mantle is made from 25-year-old vines in the northern Barossa and Ebenezer Koonunga district.  

The Shiraz features a mix of dark forest fruits, plum, liquorice and dark chocolate and has been matured in French oak barrels for 18 months.  

The move is the result of Krondorf investing in its vineyards. And while it might seem sudden, Bradice says there was a lot of work in the background to get Krondorf to this point.   

“At Krondorf, we believe we can craft some of the Barossa’s finest wines. We have access to fruit from our own vineyards and key grower vineyards, which are of the most outstanding quality.”  

Today, Krondorf has been awarded over 300 wine show medals, numerous 90+ James Halliday ratings, an International Wine Challenge trophy, and a rare Platinum medal for the 2016 Symmetry Barossa Shiraz at the 2019 Decanter World Wine Awards (UK).  

It also recently received coveted accolades for the 2020 Krondorf Founder’s View Grenache, including a trophy at the National Wine Show in 2020 and being named winner of the James Halliday Grenache challenge the following year.   

“It’s not so much a luxury strategy as it is a premiumisation of the brand,” Master of Wine, Andrew Caillard, says. “[King’s Mantle] is priced to let the market decide.”  

Caillard likens the strategy to allow customers to pull Krondorf into the luxury market instead of slapping a higher price tag on the bottle and forcing the move.  

Nick Bradice’s top 3 Australian wine picks  
  • Tolpuddle Coal River Tasmania Chardonnay  
  • Bass Phillip Reserve Gippsland Pinot Noir  
  • Standish The Lamell Eden Valley Shiraz  

Look back on the week that was with hand-picked articles from Australia and around the world. Sign up to the Forbes Australia newsletter here or become a member here.

More from Forbes Australia