The name Shanahans Wines is a tribute to John Harris’ family, in particular his late grandfather James (Jim) Shanahan, who established a broadacre farm in the early 1900’s at Magdala. John spent so much of his childhood years by his grandfather’s side, exploring and helping him on his beloved property.
For John, his fondest memories are of spending time in the old shearing shed with the shearers and seasonal workers. And, it was in this very shed on the outskirts of North Western Barossa where John turned one tonne of fruit that had been gifted to him into the first 60 cases of Shanahan’s Wines to share with his family and friends.
The sheer enjoyment of hand-crafting such a small parcel of premium Barossa fruit and having a label to honour his family with was reason enough to begin this tradition.
Shanahan’s Wines has grown from its humble beginnings to now being a significant operation but is still 100% family owned and operated from vineyard to bottle ensuring the quality of every single drop.
Each vintage is hand-crafted with care using small parcels of premium fruit that are sourced predominantly from Western Barossa sub regions of Greenock and Marananga, as well as from selected growers from Eden Valley, Ebenezer and Tanunda. To represent the true individual characters of the vineyard and varieties, much of the fruit is hand-picked from old vineyards, and the fruit is fermented in small batches on skins in open top fermenters to retain as much fleshy fruit as possible and the use of predominantly older French oak ensures that the fruit is the stand out feature of each wine.
Each wine in the Shanahan’s portfolio tells a unique story which is close to John’s heart, and also reflects its own individuality and charisma. Just like John’s grandfather Jim, the entire collection has loads of character and over delivers to bring you something truly outstanding.
John has worked for more than two decades in the wine industry, for companies both big and small, and has travelled extensively around the globe. He worked his way up from being a cellar hand, to owning and running his own wine company and working as a winemaker, as well as in sales, marketing and senior management roles.
But, the love for his family farm in the iconic Barossa Valley area brought him back to where he has strong ancestral ties and an enduring love for the region itself and its people.
Over the past decade, John has won numerous trophies and medals and has received recognition from wine writers all over the world, although you would be hard pressed to guess that from his outwardly relaxed and fun loving nature.
It brings him the greatest joy to be at home in the Barossa, having a drink at his local The Greenock Creek Tavern, and being introduced to visitors who have bought a bottle of his wine. You’ll see his eyes light up as he shares a story to give them an insight into his life, the life of the wine they are drinking and why the patchwork of vineyards around the Western ridge is where he believes the best fruit in the Barossa grows.
Today, John and his wife Gemma feel blessed to be raising their two boys in amongst their vines, on the border of Greenock and Marananga, with 80 acres of land split between beautiful scrubland, Shiraz, Grenache and Mataro vines. The oldest Shiraz vines were planted more than a century ago in 1900 and their oldest bush vine Grenache dates back to 1964.
Gemma is a seventh generation Barossan and comes from a long line of vignerons. Growing up in the small village of Krondorf, she spent her early childhood years playing in the vineyards, exploring and helping her late father tend to 30 acres of Shiraz, Cabernet, Grenache, Semillon and Riesling.
Gemma has always had a love for the land, vineyards and wine industry. Together, both Gemma and John count their lucky stars that they can bring their kids up amongst the vines, so they too can enjoy a wonderful lifestyle, with a strong connection to the beautiful region they call home and the earth that’s beneath their tiny feet.