Coonawarra toasts new patron

Media release
Subscribe to
Patron of Coonawarra Doug Balnaves with CVA president Sue Hodder

Patron of Coonawarra Doug Balnaves with CVA president Sue Hodder


A 40-year commitment to promoting Coonawarra and viticulture in the Limestone Coast has seen vigneron Doug Balnaves bestowed with the prestigious title ‘Patron of Coonawarra’.

The award was announced recently at the Coonawarra Cabernet Celebrations, which were held in conjunction with the canonisation of Australia's first Catholic saint, Mary MacKillop, attracting thousands of visitors to Penola and Coonawarra.

Coonawarra Vignerons Association (CVA) president Sue Hodder described Doug Balnaves' accolade as 'incredibly well deserved'.

'The Patron of Coonawarra is seen to have greatly contributed to the success and character of the wine industry in our district as well as being an active ambassador through state and/or national linkages, and as one of our most well-known and highly respected vignerons, Doug clearly fits that role,' she says. 'In addition to turning his family-owned business into the multi award-winning 5 star winery Balnaves of Coonawarra, Doug has also achieved great things for the region.'

Doug helped to establish the CVA in 1979, was its inaugural president from 1979-1982, and has been instrumental in the success of the Coonawarra Cabernet Celebrations and Barrel Series Auction, Guinea Pig Racing and Coonawarra Cup days. He was also the inaugural secretary of the Limestone Coast Grape and Wine Council, and was its chair from 1991-2001. He has represented Coonawarra and the Limestone Coast on the SA Wine Industry Association, represented 20 small Coonawarra producers during the Coonawarra GI Boundary process, and was on the board of the company that established the Coonawarra airstrip for spray planes and visitors. He has been a Justice of the Peace for more than 25 years, served as a Penola District Councillor from 1975-1980, and is a life member of the Penola Pipe Band.

'The decision to name Doug a patron recognises this outstanding contribution to the community which goes far beyond an everyday job,' Ms Hodder explains. 'His input has helped to shape a future for all to work within, and the industry as a whole is truly grateful.'

Doug often acts as the spokesperson for the CVA on the history of Coonawarra-Penola and is well qualified for the job; his family association with the district stretches back to 1855, when great-great grandparents, Robert and Jane Balnaves, set up the first Balnaves store in Penola. Another great-great grandfather, William Wilson, was the Penola gardener who advised John Riddoch on the suitability of terra rossa soils for viticulture and horticulture. Doug's introduction to the wine industry came in 1971 when he became the vineyard development manager for Hungerford Hill's Coonawarra holding.

'Having found myself quite unexpectedly in the wine industry, I was really most fortunate to be in Coonawarra; it has a wonderful, established reputation for growing high quality grapes and consequently making wines of outstanding quality that are widely recognised both nationally and internationally,' Doug says. 'We are also very fortunate to be very favourably located on the unique red soils of the terra rossa strip. On top of all of that, it is a great privilege to work within the Coonawarra community with its wealth of experience which is so generously shared.'

Doug and his wife Annette purchased their own property in 1975 and planted a vineyard which supplied Orlando Wines with cabernet sauvignon and shiraz for more than 20 years until the Balnaves winery was built in 1995. In 1990, children Kirsty and Peter joined the business, and today, Balnaves of Coonawarra remains very much a family affair.

'Working daily with my family is a thoroughly fulfilling and enjoyable experience, and I really couldn't think of anywhere that I'd rather be or anything else that I'd rather do,' Doug says.


In 1995, the Coonawarra Vignerons Association first awarded the position of Patron of Coonawarra to Mr Eric Brand. Since then, Mr Colin Ross-Smith (Marketing), Mr Colin Kidd (Viticulture) and the late Mr Ken Ward (Winemaking) have also been inducted as Coonawarra Patrons.



  • Coonawarra (SA)
  • Limestone Coast (SA)
  • Penola (SA)

Our Recommendations

To see our recommendations, ratings and reviews you must be a logged-in subscriber.

To subscribe please enter your email address in the "Subscribe Now - it's Free" box on the right and click the "Join" button, or fill in this form >

November 09th, 2010
Subscribe today - it's free
Subscribe Button

Subscribe now - for news and reviews, our newsletter (optional), to join our forums, and more.

Enter your email address and click the Subscribe button. We respect your privacy.

Log in

Enter your username...

Enter your password...

Log In Button

Forgotten your password?


Kerry's corner - your free benefits