They are the father-and-daughter team restoring glory to an icon of the wine world.

Wine entrepreneurs John and Michelle Gerber deserve their own chapter in the book of Australian wine after pouring millions of dollars – and 25 years of devotion that can’t be calculated in currency – into saving a Barossan treasure. Their passion play is called Chateau Tanunda, a majestic estate built in 1890, just after the grand wine chateaux of Europe had seen their vineyards decimated by the phylloxera plague.

The remarkable revival of what has been described as Australia’s own “first growth” estate is worth recounting, as The Australian Wine Club this week includes the Chateau Tanunda Grand Barossa Cabernet Sauvignon 2021 in a cabernet-focused mixed dozen deal.

Along with the Grand Barossa cabernet, you’ll find two 95-point cabernet blends and a cabernet sauvignon crafted by a renowned Clare Valley winery that continues to win global awards regularly.

“Good Barossa cabernet should be plush, with fleshy fruit-forward flavours and beautiful acidity and balance – herbaciousness is there but it’s not overpowering,’’ says Michelle, who has managed Chateau Tanunda’s rise over the past six years. “Our house style is about having a brightness to the wine and an elegance where oak is complementary to the fruit. And we strive for a spectacular long-lasting finish to our wines.”

Michelle took over as managing director at Chateau Tanunda in 2018 after building a wine career internationally, which included vintages in Champagne and Chateauneuf-du-Pape, specialised training in wine assessment and serious marketing experience in the US.

She was ideally placed to build on the vision that has fuelled her father since he fell under the spell of Chateau Tanunda after glimpsing the spectacular peaks of an imposing bluestone building while cycling past in 1998.

“I saw this unbelievable building,” John has said. “I saw grandeur, I saw history and the Barossa’s first vines and knew we had the ingredients to rival the five recognised First Growth Chateaux in the world.”

But as he looked more closely, he also saw the ruin of shattered windows, broken roofs and nesting pigeons.

The chateau – built by another pair of ambitious wine entrepreneurs, GF Cleland and William Jacob, to take advantage of Europe’s phylloxera-induced wine shortage – had begun operations with almost instant global fame, winning the World Intercolonial World Wine Competition in London only three years after its first vintage. The chateau survived two World Wars and the Great Depression, attracting a who’s who of Australian winemakers to work among its century-old vines: names such as Bill Seppelt, Geoff Merrill, Grant Burge, Rockford’s Robert O’Callaghan and Yalumba’s Kevin Glastonbury.

But by the time John cycled past, the glories were well and truly in the past, with the estate being left to fall into disrepair in the 1990s under the ownership of then wine goliath Southcorp.

John Gerber was in the right place at the right time: he was just finalising the sale of his mass-market wine export brand, Kangaroo Ridge, and used his profits to snap up the estate.

“Dad saw what the original founders saw: an opportunity to bring Australia’s very best wines to the world,’’ Michelle says. “We strongly believe that Australia’s premium wines, especially those from the Barossa, are worthy of space at the very top of the wine world.’’

‘Good Barossa cabernet should be plush’: Michelle Gerber with father John Gerber on the estate.

Chateau Tanunda is now selling its wines in 40 countries and the talents of its winemakers, Neville Rowe and Jeremy Ottawa, have been acknowledged internationally in The Drinks Business’s Top 100 winemakers in the world list.

And just like in the early days, its wines are winning big awards again – the chateau’s 100-Year-Old Vines Shiraz and 100-Year-Old Vines Grenache have both won “best in the world” awards at the International Wine and Spirits Competition in London.

In 2020, the chateau, for the eighth time in nine years, was awarded Best Australian Producer at the prestigious Berlin Wine Trophy, making it one of Australia’s most recognised wine estates. What a comeback.


Chateau Tanunda Grand Barossa Cabernet Sauvignon 2021

From an excellent Barossa vintage comes this captivating cabernet. Lifted aromas of blackberry, blackcurrant, bramble and vanilla lead to vibrant dark fruits on the palate. The tannins have matured, structural but soft, carrying through to a super-long finish. 93 points by Ken Gargett at Wine Pilot. 14.5% alc; RRP $25 a bottle.

SPECIALS $19.99 a bottle in any dozen; $22.99 a bottle in Cabernet mixed dozen.

Tahbilk Estate Old Vines Cabernet Shiraz 2018

Established in 1860 and regarded as one of Victoria’s best producers. You’ll find a delicious blend of blackberries, blueberries and vanilla, with touches of baked earth, eucalypt and spice. Drinking brilliantly now. 95 points from Team Halliday. 14.5% alc; RRP $47 a bottle.

SPECIALS $40.45 a bottle in any dozen; $22.99 a bottle in Cabernet mixed dozen.

Taylors Heritage Release Clare Valley Limestone Coast Cabernet 2019

The Taylor family have elevated their winemaking into a global success story, being voted one of the top five wineries in the world four years in a row. Mulberries, blackcurrant, cassis and milk chocolate flavours define a generous fruit-rich palate, supported by soft tannins and herbal notes. 14% alc; RRP $35 a bottle.

SPECIALS $19.99 a bottle in any dozen; $22.99 a bottle in Cabernet mixed dozen.

Gaelic Cemetery McAskill Cabernet Malbec 2020

The dark fruit and spicy notes of Clare Valley cabernet combine beautifully with lifted violet aromas of malbec. Powerful, precise and super enjoyable. 95 points from Halliday Wine Companion. 14.5% alc; RRP $55 a bottle.

SPECIALS $50 a bottle in any dozen; $22.99 a bottle in Cabernet mixed dozen.

CABERNET MIXED DOZEN Three of each of the above for $22.99 a bottle. SAVE $210 a dozen.

Order by simply clicking the links to our online store or telephone 1300 765 359 Monday to Friday, from 9am to 5pm AEST. Deals are available only while stocks last. The Australian Wine Club is a commercial partnership with Laithwaites Wine, LIQP770016550. Stockhead is partnering with The Australian Wine Club on this offer.