Hunter Valley Iconic Wineries

The Iconic Wineries


One of the Hunter’s most famous names, Brokenwood is a mere pup when compared to Tyrrell’s, Lindeman’s and the like. The first sod was turned in 1970 in the foothills of the Brokenback Ranges, with the first harvest coming in 1970. Of the trio of solicitors that founded Brokenwood, the name James Halliday would stand out most prominently. If the photo record is representative, it took quite a bit of beer to get the vineyard and winery up and running, and as legend has it, the grapes from that first harvest were transported to the rudimentary winery in the back of Len Evans’ Bentley. Different times. Iain Riggs was engaged in 1982 as the winemaker, and he took them to the very elite ranks of Australian wine as their managing Director. The ‘Graveyard Vineyard’ Shiraz and ‘ILR’ Semillon have become icons of Australian wine, but Brokenwood’s scope has been broad, with notable and sustained forays into Beechworth and McLaren Vale, too.

A: 401-427 McDonalds Rd, Pokolbin NSW 2320
Ph: (02) 4998 7559
W: brokenwood.com.au

Lake’s Folly

The Hunter is the cradle of wine history, both for early pioneers and the renaissance makers of the latter half of the 20th century. Dr Max lake is preeminent amongst them, and his ‘folly’ of focusing on cabernet and chardonnay has proven to be the work of a visionary. Lake’s Folly is one of Australia’s greatest wineries, today owned by the Fogarty family, who are primarily based in Western Australia, owning Deep Woods, Millbrook and Evans & Tate, as well as Victorian icon Dalwhinnie. Inspired by a 1930 cabernet blend, Lake planted a greenfield site opposite Mount Pleasant’s Rosehill property in Pokolbin. And though Lake passed away in 2009, and the estate was sold, not much has changed at Lake’s Folly. The estate still produces just two wines, a cabernets blend and a chardonnay, and both are fashioned by Chief Winemaker Rodney Kempe (since 2000) and Assistant Winemaker Peter Payard (since 1984) with a faithfulness to the philosophies of Lake.

A: 2320–2416 Broke Rd, Pokolbin NSW 2320
Ph: (02) 4998 7507
W: lakesfolly.wine


Lindeman’s has changed much over the years, passing through different hands many times, before being bought by Penfolds, which is where it still resides, in the Treasury Wine Estates portfolio. Founded in 1843 by Dr John Lindeman, Lindeman’s is Australia’s oldest continuous wine producer. That continuity is nothing like that of Tyrrell’s, where the family legacy has been passed from generation to generation, rather it is somewhat like the parable of the axe that has had two new handles and two new heads over its life. Is it the same axe? Well, no. Lindeman’s became a brand, with Hunter production becoming a minor part of the operation. It’s important to not forget the history, however, with legendary and long-serving winemaker Karl Stockhausen making some of the Hunter’s greatest wines, including the legendary pair of 1965 shirazes, ‘Bin 3100’ and ‘Bin 3110’. Today, the historic Lindeman’s winery, Ben Ean, is owned by the McGuigan and Peterson families, and the best of Lindeman’s wines (many not from the Hunter, mind you) are still available for tasting and purchase.

A: 119 McDonalds Rd, Pokolbin NSW 2320
Ph: (02) 4993 3700
W: lindemans.com

Tulloch Wines

The Tulloch name is a regal one in the Hunter, with generations of the family working in the wine industry. The original Tulloch estate, founded in 1895, has not always been under family control, with it originally sold in 1969 and changing hands a couple of time before ending up in the Southcorp portfolio (now Treasury Wine Estates). Like many iconic brands in corporate clutches, the Tulloch name was tarnished somewhat. Although Jay Tulloch chaired the company for two decades, he resigned in 1996, but then was offered the chance to buy back the family holdings in 2001. The rest as they say… Jay revived the historic ‘Pokolbin Dry Red’ label in 2003 as well as introducing new ones, a statement of intent about both past and future. Today, Italian and Iberian varieties nestle comfortably alongside the Hunter classics.

A: 447 McDonalds Rd, Pokolbin NSW 2320
Ph: (02) 4998 4111
W: tullochwines.com

Mount Pleasant

There are few more iconic addresses than this in the Hunter. Mount Pleasant is where the great Maurice O’Shea spent his entire career, planting some of the most important vineyards and developing styles that would influence the regions and Australian winemakers for many generations to come. Starting as partners, McWilliams’s Wines assumed full ownership in 1941, but gave O’Shea full rein to develop his table wines, both at odds with the times and McWilliam’s own status as a one of the preeminent makers of fortified wines. Today, Adrian Sparks is the Chief Winemaker, taking over from Jim Chatto, who underlined O’Shea’s legacy by diversifying the offering to mirror the individual sites and wines that he had championed in the early 20th century. That connection to the past is enhanced by traditional winemaking and a preference for old large-format oak. Unsurprisingly, shiraz and semillon are key, though O’Shea’s legendary blend of pinot noir and shiraz, ‘Mount Henry’, has taken its rightful place once again.

A: 401 Marrowbone Rd, Pokolbin NSW 2320
Ph: (02) 4998 7505
W: mountpleasantwines.com.au

Tyrrell’s Wines

If Mount Pleasant is the talisman for early innovation, Tyrrell’s is the bastion of long-held tradition. Now that’s not to say the Tyrrell’s is inflexible, far from it, with a very progressive approach directed by fifth-generation winemaker Chris Tyrrell. That approach is not about wholesale change, but rather one of informing tradition with modern knowledge, making wines of great purity with minimal intervention in the winery. Oak, when it is used, is almost always of significantly large format, and overwhelmingly neutral.
Tyrrell’s have long been famous for their ‘Vat’ wines, with the ‘Vat 1’ Semillon, ‘Vat 9’ Shiraz and ‘Vat 47’ Chardonnay some of the country’s most famous wines, but Chris Tyrrell has recently championed individual block and vineyard wines. Alongside all the classics, Tyrrell’s now make a dizzying selection of these, which change somewhat from year to year.

A: 1838 Broke Road, Pokolbin NSW 2320
Ph: (02) 4993 7000
W: tyrrells.com.au

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