Celebrating seven generations and 145 years of family winemaking, our glass is always half full at S&K. Today the business is owned and managed by mother-daughter team Wendy and Natasha Killeen with a focus on Portuguese varieties, flavoursome Rutherglen red wine and continuing the long tradition of award-winning Muscats, Topaques, Tawnys and Vintage Fortifieds.
It all began in the 1850s when the Stanton family travelled from England to try their luck on the Victorian gold fields. It wasn’t long before they turned their attention to the liquid gold that came from vines and the Stantons worked hard to establish a vineyard and winery that endured many setbacks such as phylloxera, drought and the Great Depression.
The two families came together when Norman Killeen married Jack Stanton’s daughter, Joan and in 1954 she gave birth to 6th generation winemaker Chris Killeen. In 1968 the business name was changed to ‘Stanton & Killeen Wines’ and thus started a new phase in the history of the winery.
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1864 - ESTABLISHMENT

After trying their luck during the Victorian gold rush, Timothy Stanton (1803-1896, 1st Gen) and his son John Lewis Stanton (1845-1925, 2nd Gen) purchased land in Rutherglen establishing a farm and vineyard. In Timothy’s death notice in 1896 aged 93 years, he was described as one of the first [European] settlers to Rutherglen and “there are many who will miss his kind face and words of comfort”.

1864

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1875 – BANK HILL

The first vintages were made in somewhat primitive conditions with Stanton winery built using red gum slabs and unsawn Murray Pine timber from nearby. The property was called Bank Hill as the original home moved there had once been a bank. John Lewis married the girl-next-door, Lydia Wain, and together they had 9 children. By the time John Lewis passed away in 1925, he had built up his farming and winemaking enterprise to 888 acres.

1875

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1902 – PARK VIEW

Their son John Richard Stanton (1872-1955, 3rd Gen) acquired the adjoining Wain property and built a fine brick home and a modern winery for the times. He and his wife Eliza Wallwork called this property Park View.

1902

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1920 - GRACERRAY

Greatly relieved by his son’s safe return from war, John Richard bought land for his son John Charles “Jack” Stanton (1895-1989, 4th Gen) to give him a “good start in life”. Jack’s wife Ethel Capper, created the name “Gracerray” for the property to honour her sister Grace and the nearby Murray River. This unusual name is pronounced “Gra-sair-ray”.

1920

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1921 – JACK’S BLOCK

Using second-hand materials from the defunct Great Southern Gold Mine and uprights cut on the property, Jack builds his winery around some existing concrete vats and a red brick building built in the 1880s. It was once a winery owned by William Hughes called ‘Quandong’, named after the native peach that had covered the Rutherglen region before European settlement. The ‘Jack’s Block’ Shiraz and Muscat vineyards were planted in 1921, and still produces some of S&K’s best fruit.

1921

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1948 – MARRIAGE

The manager of the Rutherglen Research Institute, Norman Killeen (1919-2004, 5th Gen) married one of Jack’s twin daughters, Joan Stanton.

1948

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1953 – WORKING TOGETHER

Norman leaves the Research Institute to join his father-in-law as a business partner but due to booming wool and food prices, Jack and Norman slowly reduce the amount of vineyards to focus on agriculture.

1953

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1960 - RIPPLE OF CHANGE

A ripple of change spreads though the Australian wine industry and with the help of Jack’s scientific background and many years of experience, Norman takes over as winemaker in 1967. By 1970 any thoughts of closing the winery were forgotten in the rush to meet new demands for wine, especially flavoursome red table wine from Rutherglen.

1960

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1968 - STANTON & KILLEEN WINES

The business name is changed to Stanton & Killeen Wines. The decades that follow are both exciting and challenging as the Australian wine industry goes through many changes.

1968

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1986 - NEW CELLAR DOOR

A new cellar door is built, a far cry from the tiny room in a tin shed where Jack would greet visitors. Jack, Norman and his son, Christopher Killeen (1954-2007, 6th Gen) work peacefully alongside each other for many years, sharing ideas and knowledge. Chris officially took over winemaking in 1980, however, Jack never missed a vintage until the last few years of his long life, aged 94 years in 1989.

1986

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1990 - A PASSION FOR PORT

Chris Killeen had a passion for Portuguese port and endeavoured to create his own unique Australian style. He planted several Portuguese grape varieties in the 1990s including Tinta Roriz, Tinta Barocca, Touriga Nacional and Tinto Cão. He moved away from the traditional sweet Australian style of port and is one of the first to produce this new style by blending the Portuguese varieties with Shiraz and Durif, creating a very savoury and age-worthy fortified wine. In 2006, wine writer Jeni Port described Chris as “the man who almost single-handedly holds the future of Australian vintage port in this country”, a legacy that the winery continues to honour.

1990

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2008 - THE PRINCE

After Chris’ passing in 2007 from a short battle with multiple myeloma cancer, Stanton & Killeen make an innovative dry table wine using the Portuguese grapes he traditionally planted for vintage port. It is called the ‘The Prince’ to honour Chris who was nicknamed ‘The Prince of Port’ by fellow Rutherglen vignerons. It is produced only in the very best vintages and is a unique blend every time.

2008

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2015 – ARINTO AND ALVARINHO

Looking for suitable white wine varieties as well as tackling Rutherglen’s changing climate, Natasha Killeen (1988, 7th Gen) researched Portuguese varieties extensively and chose three to plant in Rutherglen, Arinto, Alvarinho and Antão Vaz. The first two were planted successfully with Antão Vaz still in the nursery, due to be planted in 2020.

2015

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2019 – TROPHY SUCCESS

The gamble of deciding which varieties to plant paid off with the 2019 Arinto and 2019 Alvarinho both receiving trophies, only the second release of these two wines. The quality of S&K’s red table wine was highlighted with a trophy for the 2018 Reserve Tinta Roriz, and fortified wines continue to remain an important part of S&K with the Rare Muscat and Classic Topaque each winning trophies in 2019 as well. Stanton & Killeen was been named one of The Real Review’s 2019 Top Wineries of Australia, a Lonely Planet 2020 featured winery and consistently awarded the highest category five red star James Halliday rating. Overall, it was one of S&K’s most successful years.

2019

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2020 – THE JOURNEY CONTINUES

Celebrating 145 years of family winemaking in 2020, CEO Wendy Killeen (1962) and her daughter Natasha Killeen continue as custodians of some very precious wine parcels, the oldest fortifieds dating back to Jack’s time as winemaker in the early 1960s. They endeavour to continue producing quality wine and promoting fortifieds as some of the most rare and special wines that Rutherglen has to offer.

2020