A Scotsman by the name of Allan originally built the famous Pokolbin Estate Cottage in 1889, on a property adjoining the old ‘Kirkton’ Vineyard at Lower Belford. In 1978, the MacDougall brothers, then owners of Pokolbin Estate Vineyard, purchased the cottage, and commissioned a local stonemason to rebuild the Cottage on its present site, anxious to preserve such an historic part of the Hunters heritage.
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.
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.
On the 21st August 2011, a devastating fire gutted Pokolbin Estates elegant sandstone cellar door and office. It is a new era for Pokolbin Estate now; the sandstone cellar door has been rebuilt to its former glory, with the exception of a sleek modern interior, state of the art technology and beautifully landscaped surrounds.
David and Margaret Ellsworth planted the current vineyard at McDonalds Road in 1970, 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, the Shiraz, Semillon and Riesling survive.
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.
In 1999, we planted our popular Mediterranean varieties including Tempranillo, Sangiovese and Nebbiolo on our Belebula Vineyard, located on Old North Road in Pokolbin. This is an elevated, exposed site and slopes away steeply towards the West at the base of the Brokenback Mountain Range.
The soils are light clay with a large amount of rocks over a shallow limestone base, which naturally provides excellent drainage. Fossilized seashells can be collected from the surface, with many examples of larger creatures also found.
Wine Varieties & Philosophy
Pokolbin Estate originally concentrated on Semillon and Shiraz and these varieties have stood apart from others in their consistency, flavour and ability to age. We are the only vineyard in the Hunter Valley to grow the traditional Riesling variety, which on fully mature vines can produce world-class wine. Our Riesling vines are now close to 50 years old.
Our Belebula Vineyard is located on Old North Rd about 10 minutes from our cellar door. Here we produce our Mediterranean style reds including Sangiovese, Tempranillo & Nebbiolo. At the time of planting in 1999, there was little to no experience with these varieties elsewhere in Australia. Now, these styles are extremely popular due to their ability to complement many contemporary Australian & European foods and age exceptionally well.
Additionally, we produce numerous dessert and fortified wines including an Autumn Harvest Riesling, Riesling Solera, Muscat, fortified Shiraz and a 40-year-old Tawny.
The style of Pokolbin Estate Vineyard wines is of elegance yet are powerfully structured. These wines are capable of maturing, rather than just getting old. Our wines will not bludgeon your taste buds with high alcohol, short chain oak-derived tannin, port-like flavours or overt fruitiness as found in some. They are vinous, with carefully balanced acid, tannin and fruit. They will improve at least until they are five years old, and in most cases, far longer.
In the vineyard, we make a concerted effort to match the practice to the terroir. All vines are hand pruned; handpicked and carefully tended to ensure the best quality fruit is obtained. Yields are kept low, and irrigation, while installed, is used purely as a tool to ensure optimum quality.
Finally, we choose the finest winemakers in the Hunter Valley to craft our wines. The black art of making wine combines a high level of scientific skill, technical ability, sensory perception and most of all an indefinable quality that brings these traits together to make a drink that is more than the sum of its parts. Andrew Thomas made all of our current vintages up until 2015, with Jeff Byrne our current winemaker. We expect both gentlemen will be recognised among Australia’s finest winemakers.
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