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Re-established in 1993 Connor Park Winery produces handcrafted premium boutique wines
Nestled among the gum trees on the banks of Bullock Creek is one of Bendigos oldest blocks of Shiraz. Planted in the mid 1960s by the late Tom Connor who was renown for his development of Australian farming machinery through his company Connor Shea Machinery. Tom had invented the worlds first pick up baler and post hole digger had visions of perfecting the automatic grape harvester and so set about planting the vineyard in preparation for his retirement . Unfortunately a demanding business followed by ill health prevented his dreams from coming to fruition. Tom passed away and the vines at Connor Park were left to run wild. In September 1985 Toms nephew, Ross Lougoon and his wife Robyn purchased the property to run as a farming enterprise.
Knowing little about grapevines and nothing about wine production Ross and Robyn set about resurrecting the dilapidated vineyard. The old Shiraz vines were deep rooted and produced high quality fruit which was keenly sought after by well known wineries. In 1992 Ross and Robyn decided to extend the vineyard, new plantings of Shiraz, Cabernet Sauvignon and Merlot were added to the existing block. 1993 saw a slump in fruit sales and this encouraged Ross and Robyn to process some of their crop themselves. The 1993 Shiraz was followed by a Cabernet, a Semillon and a Riesling and in early 1995 Connor Park Winery was born.
Today Connor Park crushes all of their own fruit together with a range of wines from selected vineyards and although the continuing drought has had some effect on the volume of production Connor Park continues to produce a diverse range of outstanding wines.
Connor Park is now a 165 hectare rural property, only 25 minutes from Bendigo and a comfortable 2 hour drive from Melbourne. Visitors are invited to enjoy the fine wines, peace and tranquility that can be found at Connor Park. The belief is that quality fruit produces quality wine so the vines are tended with the same consumate care and diligence as the annual wheat harvest.
Ross & Robyn Lougoon divide their time between growing premium dryland grapes and turning them into award winning wines and tending a flock of 1800 merino sheep which are running in dry and dusty paddocks, daily feeding is part of the winemaking estate's routine.
Connor Park is a diverse business, with the fruit being grown on the property, picked by hand and then crushed and fermented in the winery next to the sheep yards. If the grape harvest is late finishing or the Autumn break comes early it is not unusual to find Ross in the winery by day and on the tractor sowing the wheat crop by night. Connor Park crushes all of their own fruit together with fruit from a number of contract growers, their range has grown to include a number of new varieties including marsanne, durif, mourvedre. Sangiovese and Barbera. The wines are handcrafted with the emphasis being on the quality of the fruit being delivered from the vineyard. Never afraid to take a chance Ross has worked with these new varieties with astounding results with numerous medals including a number of gold and silver at shows around Australia.
With the domestic market slowing the spirit at Connor Park would not be dampened, so Ross & Robyn decided the export market was their next target and so in 2002 they commenced exporting to the USA, UK and Malaysia. The winery is currently producing around 8000 cases with the large percentage of this still being premium Shiraz. Connor Park love breaking with tradition, trying something new and experimenting with styles. In 1998 they released their first Sparkling Shiraz, in 2001 they released a Seanne (blend of Marsanne and Semillon) and in 2003 the first Durif and Mourvedre.
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