Tunkalilla Vineyard

Eola-Amity Hills


Our American Story

Brian and Ann Croser have long considered the west coast of the United States as “home away from home” since their 18-month stay at the Davis campus of the University of California in the early 1970's where Brian studied in the Masters of Enology program and Ann worked as a research biochemist. 

Brian's classmates at Davis became some of California's most successful winery entrepreneurs while he and Ann returned to the Piccadilly Valley in South Australia to found the Petaluma wine company in 1976, the highly successful, terroir focused Australian fine wine company.

Ann and Brian named their Australian wine company Petaluma after the Sonoma township to the north of San Francisco in recognition of the life defining time they had spent in California.  

In the late 1970's Brian returned to California to make wine for an Australian venture headed by the legendary Len Evans, sourcing fruit in the Napa and Alexander Valleys and winemaking at the Souverain winery. He did this while still running the company and winemaking for Petaluma in Australia thus initiating the description of “flying winemaker”.

Then in 1986 Brian and Ann joined with Rollin Soles, some other Australian and American investors and eventually Cal Knudsen formerly of Knudsen Erath, to found and grow the Argyle winery in Dundee Oregon.

Argyle still today specialises in making fine sparkling and table wines from Chardonnay and Pinot Noir grown in the Willamette Valley.

In 1999 the founders of Argyle sold their interests to Petaluma in Australia thus closing the ownership loop for Brian and Ann. Since 1986 the travel loop between the Piccadilly Valley in Australia and Oregon had become a working life habit as Brian was involved in running wine businesses and vintages in both hemispheres of the globe.

Petaluma with the Croser family and Champagne Bollinger as major shareholders had become a public company in 1992. In 2001 the major Australian brewery Lion Nathan took over Petaluma, the public wine company and its portfolio of wineries including Argyle.

The Croser family retained their pioneering vineyard interests in the Piccadilly Valley and eventually purchased back the Petaluma winery facility adjacent to the family home and their distinguished Tiers Chardonnay vineyard.

Together with their old partners Bollinger and the Cazes family of Lynch Bages in Bordeaux, in 2002 Brian and Ann began a new Australian terroir focused fine wine company called Tapanappa.

To maintain the working lifetime association with the west coast of America, in 2002 Ann and Brian also purchased the 50-acre Christmas tree farm in the southern end of the Eola Hills that was eventually to become Tunkalilla Vineyard.

Tunkalilla Vineyard - pre planting

In a reverse of the 1976 Petaluma naming decision, Brian and Ann chose to name their Oregon vineyard Tunkalilla Vineyard after the beach adjacent to the farms on the Southern Fleurieu Peninsula in South Australia where they grow prime lamb (Maylands Farm lamb) and Tapanappa Foggy Hill Pinot Noir.

Tunkalilla has the local aboriginal Kaurna dialect meaning of “place of many smells” due to the whale carcasses that used to wash up on the beach's 7 kilometre sandy shore. Fortunately that is a rare occurrence today.  

Tunkalilla Vineyard is on the western boundary of Cristom winery's distinguished Pinot Noir vineyard sites and a strong relationship between the Croser family and the Gerrie family of Cristom has developed allowing Brian and Ann to make their initial Tunkalilla Vineyard Rieslings at the Cristom winery.

Tunkalilla Vineyard with Cristom's Vineyards to the right