Tenterfield District – Uncorked!

21st February 2014

“Wine is constant proof that God loves us and loves to see us happy.”

–       Benjamin Franklin

German immigrant Joe Nicholl thought, “This is the perfect place to plan a vineyard”’ when he arrived on foot in Tenterfield at the turn of the 19th Century, before planting a small vineyard on his property Deetswood, Tenterfield.

‘Vinelands’ on Tenterfield Station were reported to have been planted in the late 1800s for an early settler’s private use.  While Tenterfield is relatively new at making commercial wines, it has a long heritage of winemakers and grape growers. 

There is evidence that tin mining millionaire John Holmes Reid, Mayor of Tenterfield for three terms and original owner of Stannum House, was a great lover of wine and planted his own personal vineyard close to his home near Stannum.  Of the most recent history, Reedy Creek Estate was the first winery to make wines available on a commercial basis – and others have followed.  With wines of this area winning awards and people learning of the region’s great climatic situation for grape growing all the right ingredients are there for a wonderful wine-tasting experience in Tenterfield!

Following are descriptions of our vineyards as written by James Halliday on www.winecompanion.com.au.  We have included our five local wineries and also two from the Granite Belt wine region who are proud supporters of Tenterfield Tourism.

Deetswood Wines, Tenterfield

Barb and Perry Condrick along with daughter Deanne Eaton (chief winemaker) established their micro-vineyard in 1996, planting semillon, chardonnay, pinot noir, shiraz, merlot, viognier and cabernet sauvignon. At the end of the 19th century, German immigrant Joe Nicoll planted vines here and made wines for family use, and there is still one vine surviving on the site from those original plantings. The wines are normally consistent both in quality and style, offering further proof that this is a very interesting area.

Kurrajong Downs, Tenterfield.

K. Jonus Rhodes arrived at Tenterfield in 1858, lured by the gold he mined for the next 40 years, until his death in 1898. He was evidently successful, for the family now runs a 2800ha cattle-grazing property on which Lynton and Sue Rhodes began the development of their vineyard, at an altitude of 850m, in 1996. Plantings include pinot noir, shiraz, cabernet sauvignon, chardonnay, semillon, gewurztraminer and tempranillo.

Reedy Creek Wines, Tenterfield

Like so many Italian settlers in the Australian countryside, the De Stefani family has been growing grapes and making wine for its own consumption for over 30 years at its Reedy Creek property in the far north of NSW. What is more, like their compatriots in the King Valley, the family’s principal activity until 1993 was growing tobacco, but the continued rationalisation of the tobacco industry prompted the De Stefani’s to turn a hobby into a commercial exercise. The vineyard has now been expanded to 8 ha, and an onsite winery has been completed.

Spliiters Swamp Vineyard, Bolivia

Ken Hutchison has planted a small vineyard equally to shiraz, cabernet sauvignon and merlot. As his knowledge of the region grows, and as his experience as a vigneron increases, he intends to increase the size of the vineyard and plant additional varieties. In the meantime Ken is producing Shiraz, Cabernet Merlot and Merlot, which have won several bronze medals.

Zappa Wines, Dumaresq Valley Vineyard

Three generations of the Zappa family have been involved in the establishment of what is now a very large mixed farming property on 1600 ha, all beginning when the first generation arrived from Italy in the late 1940s to work as cane-cutters in Qld. Today, Martin and Amelia, with three of their sons and their wives, have a property sustaining 120 cattle, 5000 superfine wool Merino sheep, 140ha of fresh produce, 250ha of cereal crops and a 20ha vineyard. The vineyard was progressively established between 1997 and 2000, with plantings of chardonnay, semillon, sauvignon blanc, shiraz, merlot, cabernet sauvignon, barbera and tempranillo. Exports to Japan.

Hidden Creek Winery & Café,  Ballandean

A beautifully located vineyard and winery at 1000m on a ridge overlooking the Ballandean township and the Severn River Valley. The granite boulder strewn hills mean that the 70ha property only provides 2ha of vineyard, in turn divided into six different blocks planted to shiraz and merlot. The business is owned by a group of Brisbane wine enthusiasts and Jim Barnes, who runs a contract winemaking business as well as making the Hidden Creek wines.

Lucas Estate

Louise Samuel and her late husband Colin Sellers purchased Lucas Estate in 2003. The wines are made from the estate vineyard (at an altitude of 825m), which is planted to chardonnay, cabernet sauvignon, muscat hamburg, merlot, verdelho and shiraz, and also from purchased grapes. A new winery was completed in time for the 2008 vintage, with a pneumatic press for the white wines, leaving the basket press for reds. Later that year Colin succumbed to cancer; after it had been diagnosed 18 months earlier, he and Louise agreed that Lucas Estate should continue, and that is what she is doing.