Our story

Bourke & Travers is a small winery in the Emu Flat area of the Clare Valley, nestled in the hills north west of Sevenhill and located on the Armagh Creek.  Our vineyards are on Siostra Springs, a farming property owned and operated by David Travers and his family.   David’s great, great grandfather, Edward Travers, first turned his hand to grapes in the Clare Valley in the 1870s, owning a small block in the south of the valley, between Leasingham and Auburn.   The ‘Bourke’ in our brand comes from David’s mother, Kathleen Bourke (now nee) who was born and bred in Spalding, just north of Clare.

We have been farming continuously in Australia for 160 years.  Our ancestors had been at it – farming that is – for several hundred years earlier in Normandy (France) and then Kilkenny (Ireland).   Edward Travers, 21, arrived in Adelaide, on the Storm Cloud on 28 April, 1858, the family having ‘Anglophiled’ its Catholic Gallic ‘Traverse’ after leaving France earlier in the 19th century.  Edward, although a labourer, got a start working as a shepherd at Mintaro Sheep Station, near Clare.  He promptly met and married Ellen Doran at St Michael’s in Clare and they had 11 children (it’s that Catholic thing again).  Their first child, a son, was born in Clare on 1 March 1860.   Travers tradition dictates the name of the first born boy in each generation was to alternate between Edward and Nicholas.

So he was called Nicholas.

Having eventually saved enough money, Edward and Nicholas, planted the family’s first vineyard just south of Leasingham, no doubt supporting the establishment of the nearby Sevenhill Cellars.  None of us knows exactly when it was planted, we’re not sure if this is the Celtic love of Guinness, the Franco fondness of vino or the Catholic devotion to Sevenhill.  Nicholas married Margaret Barrett and they had 15 children and eventually they were forced to choose between a small vineyard and larger agricultural options for their sons.  As the former British colony of South Australia was now starting to open up west, he obtained land near Cleve, on Eyre Peninsula, in 1913, and promptly sent his second son Paul (the Travers tradition dictated that the second son could be called whatever the bloody hell his parents decided) to Kielpa.

Most probably against his will.

The Second Sons

  • Gerald, Nicholas and Claire Travers
    Gerald, Nicholas and Claire Travers

Just as Nicholas had despatched his second son Paul to conquer this new wild frontier west of Cleve during the Great War (farming being an essential occupation) so too Paul insisted that his second son, Gerald, continued that farming tradition through the 20th century.  Definitely against his will.  Gerald’s second son, David (who has never done anything against his will) finally restored some common sense to the pre-ordained destiny of the Second Sons having to farm on Eyre Peninsula and the family name was taken back to the Clare Valley in 1995.

The First Son Returns

  • Mackenzie
  • Nicholas, Gerald and David
    Nicholas, Gerald and David

Unfortunately (or is that fortunately?) a plethora of priests, nuns and first born sisters (it’s that Catholic thing again) saw the Travers tradition of alternating the first born names between Nicholas and Edward die out in the 20th century.  Ancestral harmony was restored in 2004 when David’s son Nicholas was born. He’s 16 now and ‘owns’ a mourvèdre vineyard, when he’s not stalking foxes and deer.

His big sister, Mackenzie, 19, has joined the wine business and prides herself on being somewhat of a vineyard yield estimating specialist. She’s studying biotechnology (hons) at UNSW – despite COVID-19 – but spends her summers honing her red winemaking skills at Pernod Ricard’s Richmond Grove.