About Us - History

In 1979 Christine and Dennis Canute purchased 40 acres of run-down vineyard on the white sand over clay country in the heart of the Barossa. Grapes were not a precious commodity at the time, but the idea of a “hobby farm,” with room for the kids to run, seemed adventurous and was to become a serious labour of love. Dennis continued his profession as a teacher to provide the funds for Chris(tine), a 5th generation Barossa grape grower, to slowly rejuvenate the old vineyard. Thankfully the old Shiraz and Grenache survived the tragic ‘vine pull’ of the early 80’s. At that time the Canute grapes were sold to local wineries. The 70’s and 80’s were tough times. The large companies used the Barossa as a blending ground for fruit from all over South Australia. Grape prices were laughable unless you were crying!

Always believing in the quality of the fruit we grew (and not being able to afford a decent bottle of red) Dennis, with friend Russell, decided to make a barrel of Cabernet Sauvignon. It was good enough for our own consumption and enjoyment. It was good enough to put a label on so we came up with the name RUSDEN (the shortened forms of Russell and Dennis). That was 1992. In 1994 the home-made Shiraz was consumed with relish and the decision was made to carry out some serious ‘research and development.’

The attitude of the larger wineries to Barossa fruit (which was “we’ll grow the quality, you grow the quantity!”) stiffened our resolve to prove that fruit grown on Vine Vale sand could produce wine with an individual style that had the capability of holding its own amongst its peers.

So in 1997 we purchased 5 second-hand barriques and experimented with the varieties Shiraz, Grenache and Cabernet Sauvignon. The pressings and free run from the Cabernet and Shiraz were kept separate to note the different maturation of each wine in different styles of oak. Chris and Dennis’ son Christian, who was working at Rockford Wines at the time, became an essential part of the business during this vintage.

This brought about the inspiration to get stuck into the vineyard; at that time fully mechanized. The arduous but incredibly rewarding process of bringing back vines from their “machine-deathbed” began, starting with the Shiraz planted in 1969. Slowly the old vines were pruned back block by block. Gradually the quantity of wine produced increased, but more importantly, the improvement in the vineyard led to the improving quality of the wine itself. In 1998, 7.5 tonnes were crushed and a white wine was made for the first time out of lowly Chenin Blanc, picked ripe and barrel aged. This was released in mid ’99 and named “Christian” as it was his “baby.” 1999 saw a crush of 10 tonnes, including Zinfandel (from 40 year old grafted vines) and Mataro.

The annual crush is now 80- 100 tonnes for the Rusden label. All fruit is sourced from our own vineyard and all wines are made on-site. Rusden is a family owned and operated vineyard and winery, determined to produce only top quality hand-made wines.

The present range of RUSDEN wines includes: Black Guts Shiraz, Boundaries Cabernet Sauvignon, Chookshed Zinfandel, Full Circle Mataro, Christine’s Vineyard Grenache, Good Shepherd Cabernet/Malbec, Ripper Creek Cabernet/Shiraz and Driftsand, a Grenache/Shiraz. We also make one white wine -a Chenin Blanc, called Christian. New to our range of wines is the SANDSCRUB Shiraz– this wine is aged for 4 years in barrel and a further 4 years in bottle before being released.