The Hunter Valley’s enviable heritage of trailblazing viticulturists, winemaking dynasties and iconic wines, is where great Australian grape growing and winemaking all began. The valley’s first small vineyard plots of about 20 acres were planted on the Northern banks of the Hunter River trade route in the early 1820’s. Australia’s first families of wine soon branched out into the surrounding hill country with more than 500 acres of vines and by the roaring ‘20s, had become the bastion of premium wine production.

James Busby, introduced to the Hunter region around 500 vine cuttings sourced from collections and private plantings in South America and Europe, including several cuttings of Syrah from the Hermitage hill in the Rhône region of South France. Upon his initial arrival in the Colony, Busby was accompanied by his sister, Catherine, who later wed William Kelman—a fellow passenger. They became pioneers, securing one of the earliest official land grants at Kirkton on the Hunter River, near present-day Morpeth. 

By 1840, the registered vineyard area in the Hunter Valley had expanded to over 500 acres.

Dr. Henry Lindeman emigrated to Australia and quickly earned a reputation for making exceptional wines. He was joined by four prominent wine families, namely the Drayton's, Tulloch's, Tyrrell's, and Wilkinson's, who together helped establish vineyards in the region through the mid to late 1800’s. 

By the year 1930, the collective efforts of these pioneering wine families, coupled with the contributions of a young Maurice O'Shea, had propelled the Pokolbin area in the Hunter Valley into the spotlight for crafting high-quality table wines. This revolution in wine styles stemmed from new vineyard plantings such as the Tyrrell's HVD Chardonnay vineyard followed by the Mount Pleasant Lovedale Semillon Vineyard. This recognition was particularly noteworthy in a time when fortified wines held widespread popularity.

Nearly 200 years down that winding country road and the pioneering spirit of Hunter Valley Wine Country lives on in an unrivalled class of skilled viticulturists and their winemaking counterparts who are unafraid of pushing boundaries to achieve distinctive wines that are rich in character and regional authenticity, vintage after vintage.

To this day, a handful of Hunter Valley estates are privileged to still produce sublime wines from 11 historic blocks of the original plantings, on ancient European root stocks that came over with the First Fleet. These vineyards are all the more rare for having remained unscathed by an outbreak of phylloxera in the late 1800’s which decimated 70% of Europe’s vineyards, making the vines some of the oldest in the world. You can get your hands on coveted, old vine Hunter Valley Shiraz, Semillon and Chardonnay wines, straight from the source, at Drayton’s Wines, Mount Pleasant, Poole’s Rock and Tyrrell’s.

The more you discover about Hunter Valley wine, the more you’ll appreciate our torchbearers’ legacy of great Australian winemaking, in every satisfying glass of Hunter Valley wine.


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