Clare Valley, South Australia
The Sevenhill Cellars were established by Jesuits priests who came to Australia from Austria to minister to German catholics who were leaving persecution in Silesia. They established Sevenhill, named in honour of Rome (the city of the Seven hills) and even called the creek that flowed through the property, the Tiber.
St. Aloysius Church at Sevenhill Cellars. The church was built in different stages but the final version was finished in June 1871, there is a crypt under the church which contains the remains of Jesuits who died at Sevenhill. The last one was interred in 1998.
The two pioneer Jesuits who founded Sevenhill arrived in 1848 (only 11 years after the founding of the South Australian colony). It took them 6 days to travel to the area from Adelaide (it's now about a 2 hour drive!)
As well as establishing the vineyard and winery that is there now, the founding Jesuits also established a school. It was a boarding school for boys who came from the local area as well as further afield.
The 'College' building, it was obviously built to extend at a later date and never was. The school was called St Aloysius College and it operated from 1856 to 1886 and during those 30 years it educated around 450 boys. It eventually closed as there was no longer a need for the school, St Xavier College in Melbourne opened as did Christian Brothers College in Adelaide, so parents didn't have to send their sons so far away to educate them.
The College building, it's now used for spiritual retreats.
The pioneer Jesuits planted vines so they could make sacramental wine. Now 20% of the wine produced is sacramental, the rest is table wine.
The oldest buildings in the Sevenhill Cellars, where tourists can come and buy the wines produced at Sevenhill at the cellar door building on the right.
The old cellars, very atmospheric and smelled great!
The oak barrels used to age the wine in the cellars.
Much of the historical information I got for this post comes from a small book I bought at the cellars about the history of Sevenhill. I did find it interesting that those pioneer Jesuits also had practical skills, one was a carpenter who made the wooden parts of the new buildings. Another was a stone mason and worked on the walls.
Sevenhill Cellars is lovely and a tranquil place to walk around in, there's wine tasting for those interested in the wine produced there and cellar sales. Or it's just nice to wander around the church and the crypt and enjoy the garden around the college.