Hamilton's Ewell Vineyards


The Hamilton name is inextricably linked to the early colonisation of South Australia as well as the history of the State's wine production - ever since Richard Hamilton made South Australia's first wine in 1841.

Please enjoy the wealth of historical information as well as charming family stories about our unique wine dynasty that we have proudly gathered to form a 'composite book' of chapters, stories and articles in approximate chronological order.

"The Hamiltons 1762 - 1862" by Douglas Wilkie. Second Edition 2009

James Hamilton was born around 1740. He married twice and had several children including John Hamilton, and Richard Hamilton.

John Hamilton went to sea and became involved in the Battle of Camperdown in 1797 then later in charge of the Dover to Calais ferry, with his regular passengers including British and Belgian Royalty. He was knighted for his services during the 1840s.
Richard Hamilton became an apprentice tailor and set up business in the same street as his older brother John, a solicitor, in Dover.

Both John and Richard had children of their own. This book follows the story of Richard's children - in particular Richard Hamilton the Second who, after following his father's trade as a tailor for some years eventually decided to emigrate with his family to South Australia .

The British Government was keen to establish a colony in South Australia to discourage the French from doing the same. There was nothing there and the Hamilton family and their fellow travellers became true pioneers in a new land.

This book is available at www.blurb.com/bookstore/detail/791538

Extract (page 140) of Vineyard of the Empire – Early Barossa Vignerons 1842-1939 by Annely Aeuckens et al

Details the owners and development of Hamilton's Springton vineyards and winery from 1858 through to the purchase of the winery in 1946 by Hamilton's Ewell Vineyards Pty Ltd and its development of the winery during the 1940s.


Description of the actions of Eric Hamilton’s battery of the 11th Field Artillery Brigade during World War 1 including the circumstances of Eric’s wounding at Bapaume, France in April 1917.


Mark Hamilton

Robert Hamilton’s birth notice in The Chronicle, Saturday 5 June 1926

"Plane Crashes. Accident Near Glenelg. Aviator Escapes." Article and picture in The Advertiser 16 November 1929

Mark Hamilton

Shortly after takeoff from Ewell Vineyards the engine failed in Syd Hamilton's Gypsy Moth plane. Endeavouring to land on a large vacant piece of land south of the vineyards, he crash landed in the vineyards.


Mark Hamilton

Wedding notice and photo of Nancy Hamilton (daughter of Mr & Mrs Frank Hamilton), 28 November 1930, The Register.

"Men of Achievement – Eric Hamilton" an article in the Sydney Sunday Mirror March 4, 1962

Mark Hamilton

Sydney’s Sunday Mirror newspaper profiles Frank (Eric) Hamilton in its series on “Men of Achievement” March 4, 1962.

Historical notes of Eden Valley Cellars prior to Hamilton Ewell's ownership. A letter from A.J. Bateup, of Penfolds Wines to Robert Hamilton, 18 November 1966.

A.J. Bateup of Penfolds, the previous owner of Eden Valley Cellars, details some of the history of the Cellars prior to Hamilton's Ewell Vineyards buying the property in 1929, including the interesting note that the first commercial production of Flor Sherry in Australia was at the Cellars in 1941.

"Hamilton's – South Australia's first Vineyards" by Geoff Mitton. From The Journal of Industry May 1968

Mitton details the role the Hamilton family played (in conjunction with Hamilton Ewell’s winemakers Russian John Seeck and Frenchman Maurice Ou winemakers) in several important ‘firsts’ of the Australian wine industry including the first fermentation of white wine in 500 gallon closed wooden vats, the first production of flor sherry and temperature controlling refrigeration for the wine making process.

History notes of the original house "Ewell" at Morphett Road from Ian Hamilton in a letter to Robert Hamilton, 7 May 1971

Ian Hamilton sheds light on the history of the house built circa 1842 including renovations, rebuilding and its inhabitants including personal anecdotes on family life at the home and the vineyards, in a letter to Robert Hamilton 7 May 1971.

"The Ayliffe Family" by Dr Ian Hamilton 1977

Third son of Frank and Ann Hamilton, (the 'Mater') Ian Hamilton traces his family tree back to the late 18th century and the Duke of Hamilton. This extensive document includes his reflective life story growing up at Hamilton's Ewell Vineyards, his schooling and medical study, country practice and post graduate studies in Paris, and his commission into the Australian army as a Captain. It also includes extensive details and legal documents, memoirs and letters of the Ayliffe family that settled in Australia: the descendants of Dr Thomas Senior, Dr George, Thomas, Dr Henry and their ancestors' life stories.

"Ewell Vineyards and the Development of Viticulture" Chapter 5 of Marion by Alison Dolling

Dolling describes the history of viticulture and winemaking in the Sturt-Marion district of South Australia, where Hamilton’s Ewell Vineyards had the largest area under cultivation. Half the chapter is devoted to the history of the Hamilton’s early settlement and their advancement of the South Australian wine industry.

"The Urbanisation of Family Vineyards with Particular Reference to Hamilton's Ewell Vineyards Marion" by A.K. (Anne) Hamilton 1984

Up to the middle of the 20th century the Marion area was predominantly rural but the city was encroaching at an ever-increasing rate at a rime when Hamilton’s were attaining great success.

In Anne’s thesis for her Honours Degree in History in 1984, she follows the early history and development of Hamilton’s Ewell Vineyard until most of the remaining acreage was sold off in 1977 and when the winery finally passed out of family hands in 1979

"My years at Ewell" A story by Nancy Burton (nee Hamilton) August 1996

The daughter of Frank and Ann Hamilton, Ann Ellen Hamilton (1908-1998), known as Nancy, was sister to Eric, Syd, Burt and Ian Hamilton. In her delightful story she chronicles her upbringing at Hamilton's Ewell Vineyards including her friendships, her schooling, her pony Dot, her first boyfriend as well as the colourful adventures and fiery sibling rivalries of brothers Eric and Syd.

"Tenacious dynasty among the vines" An article by James Halliday in The Weekend Australian January 2001

Wine doyen James Halliday provides a potted history of the Hamilton dynasty from the establishment of Hamilton’s Ewell Vineyards in 1837 until present day with emphasis on the tenacity of the family to build, then re-build their winemaking successes. Halliday also critiques the then current vintage 1998 wines.

"Ewell be Praised" by Jeremy Oliver, Qantas The Australian Way, Feb 2001

Wine journalist Jeremy Oliver reports that ever since Richard Hamilton made South Australia’s first wine in 1841, the Hamilton name has been entwined with the history of South Australia. Oliver also critiques the current vintage (1998) of Hamilton’s Ewell wines.

"Name of the Game" An article by Max Allen in The Weekend Australian Magazine April 13-14 2002

Allen brings historical perspective to the Hamilton name for younger readers, positioning the wine brand along side the high profile wine dynasties of Penfolds, Orlando and Lindemans. Allen also critiques Stonegarden’s 1999 wines.

"John Seeck" An article by Robert Hamilton. September 2004

Robert Hamilton's brief precise of the career and extraordinary technological advancements made by Russian John Seeck while winemaker at Hamilton's Ewell Vineyards. Seeck, backed by Syd Hamilton's engineering prowess in building a refrigeration plant, and the use of closed wooden vats, revolutionised white wine making in Australia between the late 1920s through to the 40s. As a sidenote, John Seek was grandfather of Mrs Tammie Fraser, wife of the former Australian Prime Minister, the Right Honorable Malcolm Fraser AC.

"My Story" by Suzanne McTaggart (nee Hamilton) 2008

The daughter of Eric and Doreen Hamilton, Suzanne McTaggart, nee Hamilton (1930- ) is sister of Robert Hamilton. Born at Hamilton’s Ewell Vineyards at Glenelg, this is Suzanne’s charming, yet poignant reminiscence of the ups and downs of her childhood, her love of horses, family Christmas holidays, her diverse schooling and nursing study.

"Colony" by Reg Hamilton. Colloquial Press 2010

Reg Hamilton, a grandson of Syd Hamilton and a fifth generation descendant of Richard and Ann Hamilton, delves into the strange origins of one of the earliest modern democracies. In 1856 the remote colony of South Australia had the secret ballot, votes for all adult men, and religious freedom, and in 1857 self-government by an elected parliament. The basic framework of a modern democracy was suddenly established. How did South Australia become so modern, so early? Available through Wakefield Press. Read an extract.


In his blog, Douglas Wilkie, a Hamilton family descendent, details the naval exploits of Sir John Hamilton, one of the sea warriors of the 18th Century. He Commanded the Active on Oct.11th 1797 when Admiral Duncan, with sixteen sail of the line, attacked and captured the Dutch Fleet under Admiral de Winter off Camperdown. For that victory, Duncan was elevated to the Peerage and Hamilton was knighted.


Mark Hamilton’s article in the Pioneers Association of SA journal The Pioneer, Summer 2016, details the history of the Hamilton family in Australia.


The Kangaroo Island Pioneers Association brings to the attention of Mark Hamilton "historical inaccuracies" in his article in the Summer 2016 edition of The Pioneer. Includes their Positioning Statements 002 (When did William Holmes Hamilton arrive in SA?) and 003 (Where was William Holmes Hamilton buried?) and an article from The Advertiser January 24, 1934 detailing SA’s current population.


The Kangaroo Island Pioneers Association brings to the attention of Mark Hamilton "historical inaccuracies" in his article in the Summer 2016 edition of The Pioneer. Includes their Positioning Statements 002 (When did William Holmes Hamilton arrive in SA?) and 003 (Where was William Holmes Hamilton buried?) and an article from The Advertiser January 24, 1934 detailing SA's current population.