Our Story

Our History

The name Thorn-Clarke derives literally from the relationship of two long time Barossa families. Founders David and Cheryl Clarke (nee Thorn) work with their son Sam in this family orientated business. The Thorn-Clarke family has a long history in the Barossa – six generations of involvement in the regions world famous wine industry.

Today the Clarke family is one of the Barossa Valleys largest grape growers and winemakers with 270 hectares of vineyard spread across four sites in the Barossa and Eden Valley. Having grown grapes and sold the fruit to other wineries for a number of years the Thorn-Clarke name is relatively young as a winemaker with the release of the first wines in 2001.

Cheryl Clarke’s ancestors settled in the Barossa in the 1870’s and for six generations have been involved in the wine industry. Cheryl’s father Ron Thorn’s property has some of the oldest Shiraz vineyards in Australia and possibly the world on the Thorn family property ‘Clifton’ outside of Angaston. Earliest records show this old vineyard was in existence in 1854.

David Clarke’s family were pioneers in the Barossa as well but most famously in the mining of gold from the Barossa Goldfields. One of his ancestors was James Goddard who was responsible for opening the Lady Alice gold mine in the Barossa goldfields and which was the largest gold mine in South Australia at the time. It has been David’s love of the wine industry that saw the planting of the Kabininge vineyard outside of Tanunda in 1987. The planting of the Kabininge vineyard represented the start of a deeper involvement by the family in the Barossa wine industry.

Our People

David Clarke, Owner

David is a vigneron and geologist which has proved a winning combination. He was formerly the Chairman of Australian Vintage Limited which, until its takeover by Simeon Wines Limited, was Australia’s second largest listed wine company.

When not working and spending time with the family, chances are you will find David playing, watching or talking about his favourite sport – Cricket.


Cheryl Clarke, Owner

Cheryl’s family (The Thorn’s) have been involved in the wine industry for six generations. Cheryl was instrumental in establishing the Mt Crawford vineyard and in the late 1990’s succeeded in convincing all that Pinot Gris was the varietal of the future. The Pinot Gris has worked at so well at Mt Crawford so we can’t keep up!


Sam Clarke, Owner

Sam is a member of our sixth Barossa generation to be involved in the Barossa wine industry. After having spent several years in various mining towns across the country working as an accountant, it was time to come home and help manage the family winery.

On weekends Sam can be found spending time with his wife Helen and two daughters, or during the week having a very competitive hit of squash.


Nicole Clarke, Owner

David and Cheryl’s daughter Nicole is busy raising her three children with husband Ken. But she still finds time to keep up her Mandarin skills which she enjoys using whenever possible.


Ben Chapman, CEO

Ben has a strong background in the wine business having previously worked for several South Australian wineries in Sales & Marketing roles. Ben has a love of wine and the Barossa, he enjoys the challenge of overseeing all aspects of the business with great support from the skilled administration, vineyard and winery teams.

Married and with three young children he likes nothing more than fishing, kicking a football or riding a bike with the family in spare time.


Peter Kelly, Senior Winemaker/Winery Manager

Peter returns to Thorn-Clarke with a wealth of knowledge after working with us as an assistant winemaker up until 2010. Since graduating from the University of Adelaide with a winemaking degree Peter has worked for wineries of all sizes including; Haselgrove, d’Arenberg, Rolf-Binder and Peter Lehmann. In 2009 whilst working with Thorn-Clarke Peter won the Wine Society ‘Young Winemaker of the Year’ award, then in 2010 he was awarded Dux of the Australian Wine Research Institute’s Advanced Wine Assessment Course. More recently Peter has been a regular judge on the wine show circuit.


Cale Otto, Winemaker

Cale has come to Thorn-Clarke with a varied range of experiences, with a previous career in Human Resources. Cale then “had his mid-life crisis 20 years early”, and studied a degree in Winemaking through Adelaide University whilst working at Chapel Hill Winery in Mclaren Vale. He then went on to complete 2 vintages as a Contract Winemaker for Pernod-Ricard as well as a harvest in New York State, USA, before joining Thorn-Clarke.


Steve Fiebiger, ViticulturistSteve-Fiebiger

Steve completed studies in Viticulture at Roseworthy Agriculture College and has worked in various roles in the industry for the past 20 years, including Viticulture roles in the South Australian Riverland, Barossa Valley, Eden Valley, Adelaide Hills and the Adelaide Plains. Steve has a keen interest in the natural environment and sustainable viticulture practices.


Chris Walsh, Australasian Market Manager

Chris comes to us after most recently working with Negociants in Adelaide as an area manager for six years. At Negociants Chris was awarded SA Area Manager of the year in 2012 and 2015, he was a state ‘Working with Wine’ finalist in 2014 and has a Wine Marketing Degree from the Adelaide University. Prior to Negociants Chris managed Adelaide fine wine store Goodwood Cellars, has worked with the ‘Booze Brothers’ and in front of house roles with both the Hyatt and Lenzerheide Restaurant.