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Thorn Clarke Wines

The name Thorn-Clarke derives literally from the relationship of two long time Barossa families. Founders David and Cheryl Clarke (nee Thorn) work with their son Sam in this family orientated business. The Thorn-Clarke family has a long history in the Barossa – six generations of involvement in the regions world famous wine industry.

Today the Clarke family is one of the Barossa Valleys largest grape growers and winemakers with 270 hectares of vineyard spread across four sites in the Barossa and Eden Valley. Having grown grapes and sold the fruit to other wineries for a number of years the Thorn-Clarke name is relatively young as a winemaker with the release of the first wines in 2001.

Cheryl Clarke’s ancestors settled in the Barossa in the 1870’s and for six generations have been involved in the wine industry. Cheryl’s father Ron Thorn’s property has some of the oldest Shiraz vineyards in Australia and possibly the world on the Thorn family property ‘Clifton’ outside of Angaston. Earliest records show this old vineyard was in existence in 1854.

David Clarke’s family were pioneers in the Barossa as well but most famously in the mining of gold from the Barossa Goldfields. One of his ancestors was James Goddard who was responsible for opening the Lady Alice gold mine in the Barossa goldfields and which was the largest gold mine in South Australia at the time. It has been David’s love of the wine industry that saw the planting of the Kabininge vineyard outside of Tanunda in 1987. The planting of the Kabininge vineyard represented the start of a deeper involvement by the family in the Barossa wine industry.

Meet the Maker

Sam Clarke

Tell me your story – what got you involved in wine making?

I started relatively late in life having spent most of my early career in Finance/Accounting. But then the lucky opportunity came to work with my family on our small winery in the Barossa. Because we were very small to start with I had the opportunity to be hands on and learn from some great old winemakers which taught me a lot.

In our post show visitor survey from 2017’s shows, the Barossa was identified as the visitors favourite wine region / wines.  What do you think makes the Barossa so special?

Bit hard not to sound a bit biased here! There are a lot of really lovely wine regions in Australia which I have enjoyed visiting. I guess the special element of the Barossa is its sense of shared history, heritage mixed with a willingness to try new things. I think you see that in the wines with some lovely rich generous reds from the old vines of the Barossa along with these edgy nouveau styles made from a special varietal from Spain which captures that adventurous spirit.

What’s your favourite wine from your own range that you’d recommend our visitors trying at the Good Food & Wine Show?

Been bit of a Riesling fan recently – mainly because there has just been a great Riesling vintage with 2017 being super cool and making some driven but totally enjoyable wines


Tell us 1 thing that makes your own wines so special?

Well hard to nail it down to one but I tend to see things that are from your own vineyard to the bottle as being something a bit special and that is what we do. Our wines are estate grown so we have put a lot of love into that wine and that is special to me!

If you could only drink one wine for the rest of your life, (hard one, we know!) what would that be and what food would you pair it with?

Good question. When you say this is going to be my only wine for the rest of my life then I instantly go for gold and think I might as well let it all hang out – a rich blue cheese (is that really food?) with a super luscious vintage port from someone like Warres or Croft. Its old school and I would die a diabetic, with serious heart disease but I would be very very happy!

What wine from another Barossa Winery other than your own would you recommend visitors trying? Any hidden gems this year?

Go and see out the Eden Valley high country and find the lovely guys from Fernfield wines. Lovely wines from lovely people in a lovely place 

For visitors planning a trip to the Barossa, what would you recommend them including in their itinerary of what not to miss?

Make sure you allow room to get around to some of the Barossa’s great restaurants like Ferment Asian, Fino, Barossa Vintners or Appellations. You can’t leave the Barossa without having dined at one of these great places. Plus if you wanting to chill out before dinner head out to Musque in the main street of Tanunda, grab a lovely glass of vino.

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