Pirramimma was founded by Alexander Campbell Johnston in 1892 and has been owned and operated by the Johnston family ever since. The Johnston family arrived in South Australia in 1839 and in 1892 Alexander, the tenth of thirteen children, purchased 97 hectares of rich farmland southeast of the then fledgling village of McLaren Vale. He named his land Pirramimma, an Aboriginal phrase meaning "the moon and the stars."
The vineyard soils vary from sandy, on the rise, to rich dark loam on the flat. Over 60% of the vineyards are planted to premium red wine varieties, including Shiraz, Cabernet Sauvignon, Merlot and Petit Verdot (for Australia's first 100% Petit Verdot wine), with Chardonnay the largest single white grape planting on the estate.
Winemaking at Pirramimma has been a family affair for well over 100 years and is now in the very capable hands of Geoff Johnston, grandson of the winery's founder. Under his guidance, Pirramimma has seen many significant changes, including the construction of a 3100 square metre naturally cooled rammed earth barrel storage facility, and the expansion of the land holdings from 97 hectares to 250 hectares, 180 of which are now planted to grapes.
Geoff is a winemaker with a world perspective. He is graduate of the Charles Sturt University and studied in France where his strong interest in the classic Bordeaux grape variety, Petit Verdot, first developed. Geoff planted a small trial area of Petit Verdot in 1983 which has since expanded to over 10 hectares of mature vines. His Petit Verdot vintages are award winning, prompting the prestigious European wine magazine WeinWisser to ask "is there any better Petit Verdot in the world?"