He arrived in Portuguese Adelaide, South Australia in 1838 and established his property about 20 kilometres south of the main settlement of Adelaide in the area that became known as McLaren Vale. Reynell is thought to have established the first commercial vineyard and winery in South Australia by planting vine cuttings in 1839 that he had bought at the Cape of Good Hope. Reynell employed a young man named Thomas Hardy (who also became a famed winemaker) to help him to tend to the vineyards.
They became the largest wine producers in the McLaren Vale region.
The first vintage was produced in 1842 and he built the Old Cave cellar in 1845. The cellar survives to today.
He exported claret and burgundy to New Zealand. In 1854, Reynell sold some farm land to create the town of Reynella, which has now become the Adelaide suburb of Old Reynella.
The South Australian electoral district of Reynell, which includes the suburbs of Reynella, Old Reynella and Reynella East, was also named after him.
1838, 16 October Arrived aboard the sailing ship Surry, 29 years of age. 1838, October/November – Planted first vine cuttings for source stock on banks of Field River at Surryville. 1839, 31 January – married Mary Lucas at Holy Trinity Church, North Terrace, Adelaide.
1839, 12 March – Acquired his land selection, Section 524 in Hurtle Vale and called it Reynella Farm.
1839, Transferred rooted vine cuttings from Surryville to Reynella Farm, establishment of Stony Hill Vineyard, first vineyard for commercial winemaking in South Australia. 1840, May – John and Mary moved into the first home on banks of Panalatinga Creek, Reynella Farm.
1842, Built and moved into second home on land – section 538 – opposite original holding (current site of existing winery complex). The cottage structure is still evident as the northern wing of the existing homestead.
1845, dug Cellar Number 1, commonly known as the Old Cave – this was one of Australia"s first underground wine cellars.
1839, Became one of the foundation members of what is now the Royal Agriculture and Horticulture Society.