About the Parish of Pokolbin
The Pokolbin Parish was created in the 1880s and the original survey took place via the Robertson Land Act 1861 from the Brokenback Range across the foothills. This state legislation addressed the issues of the squattocracy and made land available to those settlers with less financial resource.
Wine has been produced in the region since the 1830s and tourism has been a feature since the 1860s.
Julie McIntyre, in her book First Vintage, tells us that in 1858 Edward Tyrell arrived in the Hunter, built a slab hut and planted vines. He had obtained cuttings from William Kelman who, with his wife Catherine, managed James Busby’s Kirkton Farm near Branxton. Kelman had planted vines likely from cuttings from his brother in law Busby, who had brought them to Australia from Europe and South Africa.
The first vineyard association in the colony, the Hunter River Vignerons Association, was inaugurated in 1847 and the regulations amended in 1853 with the purpose of ‘promoting the culture of the vine and turning its products to the most profitable account.’ It is noteworthy that, established in 2010, the POP Association today has a similar aim!
New winemakers took up land and right through the late 1800s produced wine. In 1901 they saw the inauguration of the Pokolbin District Vignerons Association which became very active on behalf of its members. It provided an important resource for winemakers regarding soil, climate, vine management and styles of winemaking.
Electricity did not come to Pokolbin until 1955, so a pioneering spirit was a natural part of life. The Hunter also suffered from serious floods in 1955 and severe and destructive bushfires in 1968.
Despite some climatic setbacks, tourism grew, winemakers perfected their craft and domestic and international markets developed for quality table wine. This was a big change from the fortified wines of the previous century, made in that style to survive long sea journeys.
Legendary raconteur, bon vivant and wine ambassador, Len Evans, came onto the wine scene via the Chevron Hotel in Sydney and was responsible for setting up Rothbury Estate in the 1970s and inspiring people to learn more about and experience fine wine. His legacy is still very apparent in the Hunter Valley and beyond.
James Halliday in his Wine Atlas of Australia refers to the Pokolbin and lower Hunter regions as “a place where it is truly remarkable that so many excellent wines (notably Semillon and Shiraz) are produced to such a high standard with such regularity.”
The Hunter, and Pokolbin especially, has always been known for its Shiraz, Semillon and Chardonnay.
To quote famous British wine critic Jancis Robinson, “Hunter Semillons are one of Australia’s great gifts to the wine world. Lean and screeching of citrus when young, they develop into ample and toasty wines after a decade or more, despite being often picked at under 11 percent alcohol and receiving no oak treatment.”
Hunter Shiraz is generally lighter bodied and lower alcohol than its South Australian cousin and its supporters would say, more refined and elegant. Chardonnay ages beautifully and benefits from a little oak.
Today the range has extended significantly. Verdelho, Fiano, Tempranillo, Grenache, Vermentino, and Nebbiolo sit alongside Cabernet Sauvignon and Muscat. The single varietals and blends offer a wide choice to everyone who likes wine.
Pokolbin remains one of the most important wine growing districts in the Hunter Valley, and in Australia.
Parish of Pokolbin (POP) has successfully established a fully integrated wine tourism business model. Working with stakeholders in the wine and tourism sector and with the Hunter Valley Wine & Tourism Association (HVWTA) it offers inspiration, guidance and marketing, strategically focused towards an economically sound and sustainable future.
Where is Parish of Pokolbin?
Pokolbin is an original land grant that now comprises wineries, vineyards, accommodation, restaurants and agricultural activity. Located between 3 and 10 kilometres from Cessnock it is a major source of economic activity.