Elderton recently commissioned Mike Krips, a leading local historian, to investigate the history of the Nuriootpa estate vineyards and in particular the flagship Command vineyard. Mike trawled archival research in local libraries and information drawn from accounts from the Obst, King and Reusch families (locals to the Nuriootpa region throughout the 20th century) suggests that the history of the Elderton property dates back further than first anticipated.
It is now confirmed that the Tolley family arrived in the Barossa in the 1893, after seeing potential in the region for their spirits business and subsequent suitability for vineyard establishment. Their settlement in Nuriootpa led to the construction of a distillery tower, which is still present today south of the Elderton property, near Penfolds (who eventually absorbed the Tolley distillery business).
Evidence shows that 1890s was a period of great viticultural growth for the Barossa, due largely to the outbreak of phylloxera (a crippling vine root disease) in the wine regions of Victoria. This was coupled with a growing acceptance of Australian wines both domestically and internationally and as a result, large tracts of vineyards were planted between Nuriootpa and Tanunda during this period.
It can then be assumed that at the time of the Tolley family’s arrival in 1893, the current Elderton vineyard would have been established also – more than 10 years earlier than original estimates. This is also based on cross-checking titles and family histories for the owners of the current Command Vineyard. The vineyard’s title was first recorded in 1843 and in 1889 it was sold to Johannes Heinrich Scholz who was recorded as a vine grower and wheelwright of Nuriootpa. It was then sold to Carl Heinrich Scholz in 1902, who was also recorded a vine grower. It was not until 1916, when the Tolley family actually took ownership of the estate vineyard