Our charming 1889 circa sandstone cellar door was originally built by a Scotsman named Allan on a property adjoining the old ‘Kirkton’ Vineyard at Lower Belford. The old ‘Kirkton’ was the Hunter Valley’s first vineyard and was planted by James Busby in 1831.
The MacDougall family, then owners of Pokolbin Estate Vineyard, were anxious to preserve such a historic part of the Hunter’s heritage. In 1978, the MacDougall’s purchased the cottage and moved it to its present site. The reconstruction was painstakingly carried out by a master stonemason, who molded the bricks and appointed every stone to reproduce it to its original design.
The floor is made from the original internal walls, while all doors and window frames have been copied from the sole surviving original doorway, located at the front of the building.
It is perhaps appropriate that a significant aspect of the Hunter’s early settlement is now located in the midst of one of Australia’s premium wine growing areas – the Pokolbin district in the Hunter Valley.
In 1987, John Hindman and Richard Friend purchased Pokolbin Estate Vineyard. Since then, the grounds have been progressively landscaped and the current wine range developed.
The vines were originally planted on this site in the 1850’s, however by the 1930’s these had been removed.
In 1970, David and Margaret Ellsworth planted the current vineyard at McDonalds Road with the aim of producing true varietal wines, which has continued to the present day. Original planting’s included Cabernet Sauvignon, Shiraz, Semillon and Riesling. Of these varieties, Shiraz, Semillon and Riesling remain.
The soils vary from heavy red clay, which struggles to produce any form of plant life, to a more fertile brown alluvial soil on the lower part of the property along Middle Creek. Shiraz is planted on the clay, while Semillon and Riesling are planted on the alluvial soils.
The vines are not grafted and are trained on the ‘Aussie Sprawl’ trellis on spacing of 1.5m by 3.3m. All vines are cane pruned to the cordon, while canopy management is practiced to increase bunch exposure on the western side of the North-South oriented Shiraz vines.
Belebula Vineyard, located on Old North Road in Pokolbin, was planted in 1999 to Tempranillo, Sangiovese and Nebbiolo, on a geographical formation known as the Belford Dome of Limestone. This is an elevated, exposed site and slopes away steeply towards the West.
The soils are light clay with a large amount of rocks over a shallow limestone base, which naturally provides excellent drainage. This particular site has less rainfall than the surrounding area and combined with the free draining soils, drip irrigation helps the vines develop.
The vines are grafted onto Phylloxera-resistant rootstocks, with a spacing of 1.7 m by 3m. The trellising has moveable foliage wires and all vines are can pruned, while exposure of bunches o the western side of the North-South oriented rows is limited to prevent sunburn.
Olive varieties including Kalamata, Nevadillo Blanco, Frantoio and Manzanilla were also planted at Belebula, with the aim of making fine extra virgin olive oil and table olives. The 450 trees are nearing full maturity and supply The Hunter Olive Centre with the ‘Belebula’ brand of olives and olive oil.