Seven Generations


The Stanton & Killeen story began in 1855 when Timothy Stanton (1st Gen) abandoned his occupation as a mechanic in West Suffolk, England and brought his family to Australia in search of gold. Fortunately for us, Timothy Stanton was not much of a gold miner and, subsequently, turned his attention to 'liquid gold' (wine) instead.

Rutherglen in North East Victoria, is a regional town with a current population just shy of 2500 residents. At the peak of the gold rush, Rutherglen was home to more than 50,000 gold miners seeking prosperity - and they were thirsty! Fortified wine was the miners' choice as it was cheap, strong, and kept well for months despite the only available storage options of swags and canvas tents.

In 1864, together with his son John Lewis Stanton (2nd Gen), Timothy purchased land in Rutherglen, getting straight to work establishing a farm and vineyard. By 1875 the Stantons were well established as successful Rutherglen vignerons. The Stanton family persevered through new and challenging conditions to create their first vintages. The original Stanton winery was built using red gum slabs and unsawn Murray Pine timber from the property.

Timothy Stanton passed away in 1896 at the ripe old age of 93. In his obituary, Timothy was described by his friends and family as one of the first [European] settlers to Rutherglen and "there are many who will miss his kind face and words of comfort". Timothy would never know that his legacy would span 147 years and seven generations and counting. 


John Lewis went on to marry the girl-next-door, Lydia Wain, and together they had nine children. By the time John passed away in 1925, he had expanded the Stanton farming and winemaking enterprise to 888 acres. Timothy's grandson, John Richard Stanton (3rd Gen), continued to improve and expand the business and, by the 1920s, had established the magnificent "Park View" vineyard.

John Richard Stanton's son John Charles Stanton, affectionately known as Jack (4th gen), worked with his father in the family vineyards until 1913. His wandering spirit eventually took him to Western Australia to work as a customs officer, and in 1914 he joined the Australian Army and spent the next four years stationed in Egypt and France.

Greatly relieved by Jack's safe return from war, John Richard purchased some land for his son to give him a "good start in life". Jack's wife, Ethel Capper, named the property "Gracerray" to honour her sister Grace and the nearby Murray River. While the current-day winery is now known as Stanton & Killeen, the property on which it is built still goes by this unusual name pronounced "Gra-sair-ray".

Jack built the winery around some existing concrete vats and a red brick building that had been built in the 1880s. This building was once a winery owned by William Hughes called 'Quandong', named after the native peach that covered the Rutherglen region before European settlement. Using second-hand materials from the defunct Great Southern Gold Mine and uprights cut on the property, his pioneering spirit represents the resourceful nature needed to succeed at the time. ,

Stanton & Killeen's famous 'Jack's Block' Shiraz and Muscat vineyards were planted in 1921, and still to this day, produce some of the winery's best fruit.


Jack saw his first vintage in 1925, and a thriving wine business followed. Such was his skill at winemaking and business management, his ledgers from the 1930s show that he also made wine for his brother at Parkview vineyards. From his first vintage through to the 1960s, his production was of fortified wine, catering to an Australian wine market much different from the one we know today. Jack Stanton's winery, from humble beginnings, would later evolve into the Stanton & Killeen winery we know so well today.

His grit and determination enabled him to survive the Great Depression of the early thirties, which sadly was the ruination of many local wineries, including his brother's Parkview vineyard. Jack later bought back the original Stanton property in the late 1940s, although sadly all vines and buildings had been removed.


In 1948 one of Jack's twin daughters, Joan Stanton (5th gen), married Norman Killeen. A young Norman arrived in Rutherglen in 1940 after completing a degree in Agricultural Science at Melbourne University. He worked at the Rutherglen Agricultural Research Station for 13 years, the last five of which he held the role as the General Manager. In 1953, Norman left the Research Station and joined his wife and father-in-law in business.

In the 1950s, the price of wool and crops were sky high, and farming was looking to be a much more promising venture than wine. As a result, Jack and Norman began pulling out vineyards and selling their equipment to focus on agriculture. This could have been where the Stanton & Killeen story ended, or rather never started. Fortunately for us, the 1960s saw a ripple of change spread through the Australian wine industry; Australians suddenly decided they loved wine and wanted plenty of it!

With the help of Jack's experience and scientific background, Norman took over as winemaker in 1967 and the partnership was formalised with the name of the business changing to Stanton & Killeen Wines. By 1970, any thoughts of closing the winery were forgotten in a rush to meet new demands for wine. After 50 years of being a fortified-only winery, Stanton & Killeen began producing red table wine.

During the 1930s Stanton & Killeen's vineyards exceeded 40 hectares but dwindled during the 1940's and 50's to 8 hectares of Muscat and Shiraz (which were used exclusively for the production of fortified wines). With the revival of the Australian wine industry from 1965 onwards two more vineyards were planted. The first of 8 hectares commenced in 1968 and is called Moodemere Vineyard, after the nearby Lake Moodemere, a noted Rutherglen landmark. The second of 6 hectares was commenced in 1978 and is called Quondong, the name by which the Gracerray property was known prior to 1920. Both vineyards are still in production today. The following decades are both exciting and challenging as the Australian wine industry goes through many changes.


By the mid-1980s, Jack Stanton's original winery, better described by many customers as a "tin shed", still stands intact but is scarcely recognisable with new cladding, considerable extension and the addition of a modern cellar door built by the famous architect, John Pizzey, in 1986. Stanton & Killeen was moving forward with the times whilst staying true to their history and roots.

Jack, Norman and his son, Christopher Killeen (6th Gen), worked peacefully alongside each other for many years, sharing ideas and knowledge. Jack never missed a vintage until the last few years of his long life, aged 94 years in 1989.

After ten years of training from his father, Chris Killeen (6th Gen) took over as winemaker in 1981, thus becoming the sixth generation of Stanton & Killeen winemakers in the Rutherglen district.

After retiring as a winemaker, Norman returned to his first love of running the farm, which he continued to do right up until his passing in 2004.


Chris Killeen had a passion for Portuguese port and endeavoured to create his unique Australian style. He planted several Portuguese grape varieties in the 1990s, including Tinta Roriz, Tinta Barocca, Touriga Nacional and Tinto Cão. Chris helped revolutionise vintage fortified (port) production in Australia, transforming the traditional sweet style into something much drier, more fragrant and complex, and ultimately, profound.

In 2006, wine writer Jeni Port described Chris as "the man who almost single-handedly holds the future of Australian vintage port in this country", a legacy that the winery continues to honour.

Chris regarded his 1997 vintage port as among his best. If you ever have the pleasure of drinking it, you will surely agree that it continues to live up to Chris' high expectations. After Chris' passing in 2007 from a short battle with multiple myeloma cancer, Stanton & Killeen created an innovative dry table wine using the Portuguese grapes he traditionally planted for vintage fortified.

It is produced only in the very best vintages and is a unique blend every time. Stanton & Killeen's 'The Prince' is named in honour of Chris, nicknamed 'The Prince of Port' by fellow Rutherglen vignerons.


Looking for suitable white wine varieties as well as tackling Rutherglen's changing climate, Chris' daughter, Natasha Killeen (7th Gen), researched Portuguese varieties extensively and chose three to plant in Rutherglen, Arinto, Alvarinho and Antão Vaz. The first two were planted successfully in 2015 with Antão Vaz planted a few years later in 2020.

Despite being only the second vintage for these two wines, Natasha's gamble of deciding which varieties to plant paid off with the 2019 Arinto and 2019 Alvarinho receiving a trophy each and gold medals at many awards shows. These two crisp, refreshing Portuguese white wines continue to surprise and delight customers seeking interesting and alternative varieties.

As the General Manager, Natasha is focused on stability, water management, and biodiversity. She has developed and implemented S&K's first-ever sustainability plan. Under her stewardship, the business is in the process of becoming certified through Sustainable Winegrowing Australia.

Stanton & Killeen is now heavily investing in renewable energy and is philosophically connected to making a genuine change with a clear roadmap for the future, setting future generations up for success. Still, it's not only the future generations who will benefit; Stanton & Killeen's property and vineyards are looking healthier than ever, which means our customers can look forward to some cracker vintages.

Celebrating 147 years of family winemaking in 2022, mother -daughter duo Wendy & Natasha Killeen continue as custodians of some very precious wine parcels, the oldest fortifieds dating back to Jack's time as winemaker in the early 1960s. They endeavour to continue producing quality wine and promoting fortifieds as some of the rarest and most special wines that Rutherglen has to offer.

Wendy is looking forward to travelling the world once again sharing our story and finding new markets. Her ability to develop and maintain loyal relationships is a testament to her success as Brand Ambassador and Managing Director.

The wonderful origins of S&K's history make this winemaking family so important to the pioneering story of Rutherglen and the development of winemaking in Australia. Here's to another 147+ years of balancing tradition with new ways of thinking and continuing to build on the multi-generational legacy that is Stanton & Killeen wines.