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Rutherglen township was born during the great gold rushes of the mid nineteenth century. People flocked to the North East of Victoria when the call of “Gold” was heard - people of all nationalities came to mine. Some struck it rich, some did not.
Those who did not make their fortune with gold soon looked to the land and the various forms of agriculture for their livelihood. They found the soils and climate of the Rutherglen district were ideal for cropping, raising livestock and for vines.
One such gold miner, John Campbell, a Scottish immigrant heeded the words of Rutherglen's first winegrower who said 'dig gentleman, dig, but not deeper than six inches for there is more gold in the first six inches than there is lower down.'
John called his selection “Bobbie Burns” after the nearby gold mine he had worked and by 1870 he had planted the Bobbie Burns Vineyard and established Campbells Rutherglen Wines.
Construction of the cellar was completed in 1885. Succeeding generations of the family have added to and built around the original cellar but the old building still stands as a monument to the founder of Campbells.
Disaster struck at the turn of the century when the enormous vineyard plantings of the Rutherglen area were wiped out by the root-sucking aphid, phylloxera.
John's son David Campbell was the first to commence replanting to the west of Rutherglen by grafting European wine grape varieties onto phylloxera resistant American rootstocks. Some of these vines were shipped under cool storage through the tropics from France.
In 1933, David's son Allen Campbell assumed control of the winery and together with his wife Isabel, built the winery sale by sale to a flourishing concern. Until then wine was sold in bulk lots and Allen commenced selling to wine retailers and private customers in lots as small as two gallons.
During the wool boom, sheep became a major part of the family business, which is still a diverse farming enterprise consisting of sheep and cropping as well as the family vineyards and winery.
In 1961 Allen's older son Malcolm Campbell returned home to manage the pastoral and vineyard side of the property.
Younger son Colin returned home in 1968 after gaining the Dookie Diploma of Agriculture and then the Roseworthy Diploma of Oenology, to take his place as winemaker thus becoming the fourth generation Campbell to do so.
Malcolm and Colin undertook an extensive vineyard replanting program. They introduced sophisticated cooling and fermentation equipment to enable delicate white wines to be made, a first for Rutherglen which was better known for its robust reds and fortified wines.
The Campbell family today specialise in producing the distinctive wines of the Rutherglen region.
For detailed history, click the 'Milestone' links on the top of the page to find out more...