All Saints Estate is a family owned winery established in 1864 and located on the banks of the Murray River in Wahgunyah, North East Victoria. Original owners George Sutherland Smith, and John Banks, arrived from Caithness, Scotland in 1852. They were just 23 and 20 years of age. Choosing to settle in the Wahgunyah area, they used their training as engineers from the Edinburgh Railway Institute to build a bridge over the Edwards River at Deniliquin. They were also involved in the construction of several buildings in Beechworth including the Presbyterian Church, part of the Gaol and the original hospital of which the granite facade still remains today.
Smith and Banks began growing vines at ‘Sunday Creek’ closer to Wahgunyah than the present All Saints Estate winery, before relocating to build the 'All Saints castle' just three miles north of Wahgunyah, in 1864. The partners took up 100 acres and proceeded with planting vines in earnest whilst also constructing pise cellars made from the estate soil.
The All Saints Estate castle was based on the design of ‘The Castle of Mey’, including turrets and a tower. The castle was constructed mainly of handmade bricks that were fired in the All Saints Estate Brick Kiln (classified on the Victorian Heritage Register) on the property. However, only the battement parapets of the lower wall and a turrets were copied, not the main castle style. The Castle of Mey, most recently owned by the late Queen Mother, was where George Sutherland-Smiths’ father was a carpenter and joiner.
The All Saints Estate castle is classified by the Victorian Heritage Register and National Trust, including two other buildings on the Estate: the (former) bottling hall and cellar which now houses the Indigo Food Co. (est. December 2005) and the Chinese Dormitory.
The main wine storage area, The Great Hall, is lined with huge 100-year-old oak casks, filled with rare Tokays and Muscats. When originally built, this hall was considered to be the largest wine storage facility in the Southern Hemisphere. All Saints Estate won the first gold medal for Australian wine in 1873 at the London International Exhibition. George Sutherland Smith was the first Australian winemaker to win an award at an overseas wine show.
All Saints Estate wines awarded were:
• Gold Medal, London, 1873
• Diploma of Honour, Vienna, 1873
• Highest Award, Philadelphia, 1876
• Gold Medal, Paris, 1878
• Gold Medal, Amsterdam, 1882
• Gold Medal, Calcutta, 1883
The wines being produced at that time were: Constantia, Frontignac, Muscat, Shiraz, Verdelho, Roussillon (old generic term for wines made with grape varieties originating from Languedoc-Roussillon in France), Sherry, Cabernet, Hock (old English term for German wine), Sauternes, Burgundy, Claret (old English term for red wine from the Bordeaux region) and Chablis.
The total footprint of the castle is 4,500 square meters and houses the original cellar, winery, Terrace Restaurant, The Great Hall and The Cask Hall.
THE TOWER AND THE KEEP
Part of the distinguishing feature of the All Saints castle is the impressive and beautiful tower and George Sutherland Smith's original winemakers’ office underneath. The office of the winemaker still houses the original office desk as well as stamp markings from financial work over the past 100 years. The top of the tower offers a 360-degree view of the vast hectares of land and a bird’s eye view of the beautifully manicured gardens at All Saints Estate.
Lining the walls of the expansive ‘Great Hall’ are magnificent O’Sullivan wine foudres coopered back in the early 1900’s. Renowned far and wide for his craft, Mr Peter O’Sullivan lived in Barnawartha and his barrels can still be found in many wineries in the North East, including ‘The Barn’ at Brown Brothers in Milawa. These barrels, our foudres, as they are also known, hold up to 5000 litres of Muscat and Muscadelle (Tokay) and have been part of the modified solera system which makes the distinctive internationally lauded wines of the Rutherglen region some of the oldest fortified wines in the world.
THE STEAM ENGINE
Over the years the large steam engine which originally supplied power to the winery and the rest of the property has been refurbished and can be seen on our weekend tours at 11am Saturday and Sunday. The steam boiler provided power before electricity was supplied in the 1937.
THE STILL ROOM
A still was acquired in December 1875 and distilling began in 1876. This still is housed in the ‘The Still Room’ which has a heavy metal door due to strict regulations during the day. The still is in it’s original condition and somehow escaped being destroyed or confiscated during the temperance movement in the 1880s and 1890s (to stop the production of spirits).
The coolest area in the All Saints Estate winery, this dirt floored cellar was the original footprint for the All Saints Estate winery and houses some of the wineries finest table wines. If you’re lucky enough to enjoy a tour you may see this historic room.
INDIGO FOOD CO.
The building was designed and constructed in 1968 by now eminent architect Phillip Cox using earth beams to insulate the cellar, with brick ventilation chimneys. The composite tension roof structure is used later in works of Philip Cox, including the national athletics stadium and the national indoor sports and training centre in the ACT.
This building was originally built to be a bottling hall with a cellar underneath when table wines were gaining in popularity. It is now used to house our large range of local and international cheeses and local artisan produce, a wonderful selection of momentos from your visit to All Saints Estate.
THE FAMILY CELLAR
The ‘Family Cellar’ is located under the Indigo Food Co. building and houses our prized Family Cellar range of wines maturing in barrel. This space was created to give our guests and Wine Club members an exclusive space to be entertained in an intimate atmosphere. Non Wine Club members can book a tutored tasting in the ‘Family Cellar’ for small fee for up to 8 people. We guide you through a range of our premium wines based on your preferences and tailor the tasting to your knowledge. Our tasting in the Family Cellar are accompanied by a specially selected cheese platter from Indigo Food Co.
The Chinese Workers
The Chinese history in the North East Victorian region is of huge significance to both our culture and industry. The Chinese came to find their fortune in the gold fields of Rutherglen, Chiltern and Beechworth and settled in the region. Many Chinese had been employed in the district in large gangs of twenty to forty men clearing the land at Barooga, Collendina, Coreen and Daysdale. When the gold mining eased George Sutherland Smith and John Banks engaged Chinese labour, housing them in huts on the property.
All Saints Estate’s Chinese Dormitory was built over 100 years ago and is the last remaining example of its type in Australia. Chinese labourers were hard-working and were employed as vineyard hands on the estate in the 1860’s and 1870’s. Considerable investment has been made in the dormitory to maintain its authenticity; it is one of the most significantly historical buildings in Victoria. Many of the wineries in the region were able to expand extensively due to the availability, tenacity and sober labour of the Chinese people.
The wage sheets for 1878 All Saints Estate vintage lists Charley Ah Lee, Ah Sung, Ah Tung, Ah Cue, Ah Poy, Ah Lock, Sam Seen, Chow ong, ah Hang, Tong Gey, Ah Son, Ah Sing, Ah Leay, Willy, Ah You, Ah Lung, Ah Wan, Ah Sing, Ah Cheque, Ah Puw, ah Puw, Ah Pu, Ah Chong, ah King, ah Quig, Ah Jack, Tin Tang, Ah Yent, and Ah Sue.
The gardens were established in 1992 by Robert Boyle from Eltham in Victoria. Many of the original trees were used in the design. The English style gardens have many areas to relax, including ponds with resident ducks, a formal rose garden and lush green lawns.
THE ELM TREES
Lining the impressive entrance to All Saints Estate is a majestic 300 metre avenue of English Elm trees (Ulmus Procera). Numbering 87, they were first planted around 1880 and are some of the oldest in Australia’s history. There are 42 elms on the north side of the magnificent driveway and 45 on the south side of the driveway, seven metres apart and approximately 25 metres tall, the spread of the Elms are 15-18 metres. The elms have an annual maintenance schedule and are lovingly cared for to prolong their lifespan.
The original private residence was built in 1870 - 1875. Minor alterations have been added over the years. The ‘Victorian Regency’ style residence had a tower on the top of the homestead but it was removed in 1954 due to an infestation of white ants. The original staircase to the tower still remains. The original urns and veranda from the turn of the century are still in place. The double flue from the original stove and bakers oven are also still in place.
THE COOL STORE
Built by David B. Smith in 1897 with brick walls (as per the main cellars), high walls and was reportedly insulated with seaweed in the roof. It was originally used as a spirits store but today houses many of the fine table wines produced at All Saints Estate.
The stables originally housed the horses which worked on the vineyard. It still has the original feed troughs and flooring. The date of construction is thought to be around 1869/1870. The design looks like it had some Spanish influence. Over the years it was used as a blacksmiths workshop and cooperage. It now houses the staff room.
THE BRICK KILN
Unfortunately there is little information known about the kiln. It is not known when the kiln ceased operation. It is likely that the bricks were made c.1869 for use in the construction of the first buildings at All Saints Estate.
The Custodians Today
Eliza, Angela and Nicholas Brown own All Saints Estate and neighbouring property, St Leonards Vineyard in Wahgunyah. Eliza is the CEO with sister Angela as Sales and Marketing Director and brother Nicholas as Winemaker and General Manager. Each brings a wealth of experience gained both in and outside the wine industry. Eliza’s expertise lies in business management, sales and marketing, while Angela's background includes brand development, graphic design and managing export markets. Nicholas is following his father’s passion for viticulture and winemaking.
Their father, Peter R. Brown, who previously owned the property, passed away suddenly in November 2005. Peter was one of the Brown Brothers at Milawa. Eliza, Angela and Nicholas continue to play a role at Brown Brothers, with part ownership of the business, in addition to their independent ownership of All Saints Estate and St Leonards Vineyard.
The family’s vision for both properties is to continue growing, making and selling fine wine, and to make a mark on the future landscape of Australian winemaking domestically and overseas.
To read the historical timeline click here
To read further history on the region click here
For further information or to arrange a tour,
please contact Customer Service;
Phone: 1800 021 621