A Food & Travel Blog

Kay Brothers Wines – A McLaren Vale Icon Preserving the History of a Region

21/12/2018 | By

The oldest winery in McLaren Vale, Kay Brothers Wines also holds the documented history of the region in a daily record going back to 1890.

Doorway, kay brothers wines

It’s only four sleeps until the fat man visits – and only four sleeps to a welcome break for some. This is the time of the year when many of us hope to get lots of down time by the pool, or on a sofa with a selection of holiday reading. Some head off on holidays, but for others it’s the ideal time to explore a little of our own back yard.

Speaking of which – last week I had the total pleasure of being a guest at Kay Brothers Wines, one of the historic and genuinely iconic wineries in the McLaren Vale.

Built in the late 19th century, this is the oldest winery in the region and is still in the hands of the original family owners, some of whom still live on the property. It wears it’s history proudly, having resisted the urge for too many bells and whistles at the cellar door and focusing instead on their story, a solid reputation for rich, full-bodied red wines and some seductively luscious fortifieds.

kay brothers wines, old building window

Just as they have maintained the historic charm of their cellar door, Kay Brothers Wines has seen no need to change much of the historic equipment used to hand-make these authentic wines, continuing the tradition which has so consistently produced the depth of flavour they are noted for. They continue to use the original basket press which was produced in Provence nearly 100 years ago, augmented with home-woven mats and a hydraulically driven vertical lift press, and the original open fermenting vats in the original stone buildings.

kay brother wines basket press


kay brothers wines hand made mats for the basket press

Mats used in the basket press.

The cellar door is housed in what was a 1920’s storage building and extends to a lawned area outside which boasts breathtaking panoramic views of the surrounding hills and valleys. Here they offer visitors the opportunity to get a first hand look at their wines and the history of this family winery.

views from kay brothers wines

Kay Brothers are unique in the region for their documented historical record. Every single day since 1890 (with the exception of a short period after World War Two) a diary has been kept of the events here. The diary includes births, deaths, marriages – even how many eggs were collected from the hens. This continues to be diligently maintained on a daily basis today and constitutes an important and exceptional historical resource for both Kay Brothers Wines and the McLaren Vale region.

In addition, they also have an unbroken record of their monthly rainfall since 1890, a resource which has been accessed at times by the Bureau of Meteorology.

wine flight, kay brothers wines

Every Sunday Kay Brothers Wines hosts tours of their heritage buildings, where guests can get an up-close-and-personal look at this family business and the traditional techniques used to produce the wine.

They offer museum wine flight tastings and fortified wine tastings. The latter guides the visitor through the blending components that go to make up these lush fortifieds, allowing guests to taste the changes as the wines age.

extracting the fortified wine at kay brothers wines

tastings of kay brothers wines fortified range

And if you are still looking for a genuinely unique Christmas gift, Kay Brothers Wines also offer an exclusive private tasting experience. Catering for up to eight people and hosted in the beautiful board room gallery, this very special offering includes a guided flight of reserve and museum vintages – a wonderful first-hand experience of a significant part of McLaren Vale history.

I’ll be taking a short break over the holiday period. I wish all of my readers a happy and safe holiday season – see you later in January!

winemaking equipment, kay brothers wines

Resting, for now.

Lambs’ Ears and Honey was a guest of Kay Brothers wines for her visit.

Subscribe to Lambs' Ears and Honey

Enter your Email
  1. Lorraine @ Not Quite Nigella

    Hope you’re having an enjoyable break Amanda. This looks like a wonderful experience. I must get back to SA soon! It has been ages.