While the origins of Sevenhill Cellars date back to the mid-nineteenth century, its roots run much deeper, going back to the 16th century when a young Spanish courtier called Inigo swapped a life of violence for one dedicated to helping others - co-founding the religious order we know today as the Jesuits. He mistakenly thought the Latin translation of his name was Ignatius and hundreds of years later, the more well-known St Ignatius has stuck fast.

Religious denominations fell out of favour at various times across history, with the first Fathers and Brothers of the Society of Jesus to enter Australia fleeing Central Europe in the mid 1800's to be relieved of the religious persecutions facing their order. Facing a four-month voyage to Australia, the Jesuits joined many emigrants in searching for a new life in the Great Southern Land, arriving on South Australian soil in 1848.

After landing, one of the priests, Father Kranewitter, was sent North with a group of over 100 German and Silesian migrants, travelling 120km to the Clare village. Having arrived in December of 1848, he was soon joined by Brothers Georg Sadler and Joannes Schreiner, and amid the beautiful rolling hills of the Clare Valley is where they decided to establish their Mission. Purchasing 100 acres of land in 1849, the young priest named the property Sevenhill in honour of the seven hills of Rome.

The creation of gardens and orchards were prioritised, along with the building of basic accommodation. The first grapevines were planted in 1851 to alleviate the costly need to purchase wine from Europe. Local production would begin 5 years later, with a focus on providing Sacramental Wine for faith communities to celebrate the Eucharist. In time, some 34 churches and 27 schools were established, and a college was founded at Sevenhill alongside a ministry for day and boarding boys. It operated as a novitiate and scholasticate for young men entering the Jesuit order.

In 1858, a decade after Father Kranewitter set foot in the Clare Valley, Sevenhill Cellars entered their inaugural wine competition, going on to win first prize at the Auburn Agricultural Exhibition.

The first of many firsts, for Clare Valley’s first winery.