Broke Fordwich was first planted to grape vines back in the early 1900’s by first world war soldier settlers. Vineyard plantings boomed in the late 1980’s and 1990’s with significant expansion occurring throughout the region with over 475 hectares growing and over 35 grape growers. The main producers in the area established themselves during that period include Margan, Pooles Rock and the biodynamic Krinklewood. It was during this period of expansion that many new varieties were introduced to grow alongside the traditional Semillon, Chardonnay and Shiraz.
The sub-region was granted its own GI in 2003 on the basis of its particular soil makeup, and the mesoclimate created by various local waterways and the sheltering hills to the west. It was the first sub-region declared for the Hunter Valley and the second in Australia. Not only is there less rain here than further east in Pokolbin, but the increased distance from the Pacific coast means a higher diurnal temperature variation allowing for quicker ripening whilst still maintaining the natural acidity of the grape. Annual average rainfall at 640 mm is lower than neighbouring Pokolbin with less summer storms hitting the area.
The Fordwich Sill, a plug of red volcanic clay which runs through the area, is the weathered product of ancient volcanic eruptions. While being free-draining, its cell structure absorbs moisture quickly and releases it slowly – an important bonus for inland, high-latitude (32.5 degrees south) regions such as Broke Fordwich. The vineyards planted on the Fordwich Sill were planted by Lindemans and Saxonvale back in the late 1960’s and early 70’s are still producing grapes and making excellent styles of varietal Hunter Valley wines.
In addition to the red soils, local vineyards are also planted on free-draining alluvial soils and sandy loams which produce particularly fine Semillon – the variety for which the Hunter Valley is best known.
The wines of Broke Fordwich are recognised for their slightly richer, softer style (particularly those grown on the Fordwich Sill) whilst still maintaining their unique Hunter Valley characteristics.