Proprietor/ winemakers Doug and Emma Bowen, graduated from Roseworthy College in 1971 and Charles Sturt University in 1996, respectively. Starting with bare paddocks that had until then been part of a dairy farm, the vineyard area was originally 12 hectares. Established in 1972 on prime Terra Rossa soil, the first vintage from Bowen Estate was 1975. The Cellar Door tasting and sales facility was opened to the public in 1977. The South Block, originally a sheep farm was purchased in 1986. In 1996 a property with some established vines, was purchased directly on their northern boundary.
The property now consists of three blocks, South, Home and North and the total vineyard area is 34 hectares. Bowen Estate vineyard is planted to Cabernet Sauvignon and Shiraz with smaller plantings of Chardonnay, Cabernet Franc and Petit Verdot. After several vintages of wine produced under the stars, a Mount Gambier limestone winery was built. The Honourable David Tonkin Premier of South Australia officially opened this building on 2nd November 1980.
In the vineyard at Bowen Estate, all vines are individually pruned by hand to ensure each vine produces maximum quality. Hand pruning enables the winemakers to restrict the crop size that results in wines that are full in body and have great depth of colour and longevity. The pruning and trellising of the vines is done with specific consideration being given to the growing habits of each variety of grapes in the vineyard.
This has allowed the production of a very open crop of grapes that is well ripened in the cool Coonawarra climate. Crop levels are restricted to approximately 6 tonnes per hectare for red varieties and 8.5 tonnes for Chardonnay. At this cropping level Doug Bowen feels maximum quality is ensured.
The grapes are harvested and crushed within an hour of picking. In the winery, the grapes are fermented at cool temperatures and after fermentation the Cabernet Sauvignon and Cabernet Franc are aged in French and Russian oak and Shiraz in American Oak barriques. Approximately one third new oak is used each year and after 22-24 months in wood the wine is bottled ready for release.
Much of the philosophy for the style of wine produced begins with the vineyard. Firstly, the location of is on the traditional prime terra rossa soil of Coonawarra. This is of the utmost importance. Secondly, there is a very strong belief in the traditional hand pruning of vines, combined with an arch cane trellis system. This improves the evenness of budburst, bunch exposure and ripeness, but more importantly, this method of pruning ensures a balanced vine. Therefore the vine will produce fruit of optimum quality. It is this optimum fruit that makes bench mark wines which reflect the true characteristics of Coonawarra - strong varietal aromas, big flavours and soft balanced tannins.
Bowen Estate expresses the winemaking and viticultural skills of Doug and Emma Bowen and have become, over the years, Classic Coonawarra benchmarks. The wines produced consistently reflect the true characteristics of the Coonawarra area, exhibiting strong varietal aroma, big flavour and soft balanced tannin.