The Potawurutj Aborigines named this place Padthaway meaning, ‘good water’. In the mid 1800’s this land was covered by freshwater for much of the year and referred to by white settlers as ‘Mosquito Plains’. Robert Lawson, a Scottish immigrant, took out a pastoral lease in 1847 which covered an area of 47 square miles and he named his new home, ‘Padthaway Station’. The original stone cottage of Robert and Eliza Lawson is still in use today.
In 1872 the government reclaimed parts of the Lawson’s run, and offered blocks of land for sale at the ‘Village of Cockatoo Lake’ which was later renamed ‘Keppoch’. This land was gradually cleared for cropping and grazing with sawmills and timber workers processing the huge red gums in the area for use as sleepers to support railway lines. Another large group of farming blocks was taken up in the Hundred of Glenroy in 1936 and, following World War 2, soldier settlement blocks were allocated closer to the Padthaway Station homestead.
The regions of Keppoch and Padthaway were recommended for horticulture by the CSIRO in 1944. This was due to the rich soils, underground water supply and Mediterranean climate with coastal influences. The first vineyards were established in Padthaway by Seppelt in 1964 and were quickly followed by Lindemans, Hardys (1968) and Wynns. Today, Padthaway is a versatile agricultural region with outstanding production achieved in both dryland and irrigated agriculture.
The variety of commodities produced includes grapes, onions, cereals, pulses, pasture seeds, vegetables, sheep and cattle. The Padthaway wine region was gazetted for GIC status on 29th September 1999. The region is represented by most of the major wine companies and numerous private producers, totalling 22.
The Padthaway wine region has a large portfolio of regionally branded wines and a reputation for consistently producing premium quality wines across a spectrum of varieties and wine styles. Historically Padthaway was a grape growing area only and fruit was transported outside of the region for processing. Hardys established a crushing plant at Padthaway during the 1980’s which grew to approximately 7000 tonne capacity. However, the juice, or must, was transported outside the region to complete the winemaking process. In 1990 the Padthaway Estate winery, located in the Lawson’s Padthaway Woolshed (built in the 1880s), was set up specifically for the production of sparkling wine. It houses the only custom made Champagne basket press in Australia. In 1998 the Stonehaven Winery, with a capacity approaching 15,000 tonnes, was opened in Padthaway, processing fruit from throughout the Limestone Coast.