Broke fordwich region
The historic Hunter Valley, NSW is regarded as the birthplace of the Australian wine industry. It is a warm maritime wine region around 65 km from the coast (directly). It is influenced by the cooling effects of the Pacific Ocean which create a distinct diurnal temperature difference, important for ripening grapes in a warm climate. It has global recognition due to the unique styles of wines it produces, especially Semillon and Shiraz.
The Hunter Valley is an ancient one and 230 million years ago it was a large sea. Over time it was silted up by the weathering of surrounding land, then covered in vegetation, forming swamps which ultimately degraded and added layers on top of the marine sediments. This all happened again and over millennia the top layers were compressed into rock, shale and coal. Wind and rain eroded these layers and what we have today are soils that reflect their geological heritage.
The Wonnarua ‘people of the hills and plains’ were the first inhabitants of this Valley and their history dates around 30,000 years ago. The Baiame cave at the end of Milbrodale Rd has a 10,000-year-old cave painting of Baiame ‘the creator of all’. In respect to the First Nation people who were here before us, we see ourselves as custodians of this land and strive to look after it for future generations.
Vineyards were first planted here in the 1830’s qualifying the Hunter Valley as Australia’s oldest (continuous) wine region. Vines were brought to Australia by new settlers including James Busby who collected cuttings from many of Europe’s finest vineyard regions on behalf of the new colony. They made their way to the Hunter with Semillon and Shiraz widely planted. By the end of the century four families had established wine businesses being the Tyrrell, Tulloch, Wilkinson, and Drayton’s as well as Dr Henry Lindeman.
Broke Village was established in 1824 and was an important village on the old convict trail from Sydney passing through Wollombi. Vineyards in the area were planted soon afterwards and plantings expanded again with soldiers returning after the war. In the early 1990’s there was another significant vineyard expansion in Broke with up to 35 growers and a combined 500 hectares under vine. The main producers of the area were established at this time including Margan, Poole’s Rock and Krinklewood. Many new varieties were pioneered at this time to grow alongside the traditional Hunter varieties.
The Hunter has several sub-regions and Broke Fordwich is one of them. It was designated, registered and protected as a GI (Geographic Indication) region in 2003, the second in Australia to do so.
More A GI is the Australian version of the European ‘appellation system’ which defines borders of wine regions and controls production and labelling rules. Broke was granted its own GI based on its unique geology and meso climate created by various local waterways and the sheltering hills to the west. The Broke Fordwich GI incorporates the township of Broke as well as the historic ‘parish region’ of Fordwich, west of Broke Village. The Fordwich Sill runs through this area and is a plug of red volcanic clay, the weathered product of ancient subterranean volcanic eruptions. Lindeman’s and Saxonvale planted vineyards here in the late 1960’s. We feel fortunate to be the custodians of most of these old vineyards now and they are the cornerstone for the unique wines we make.
Other sub-regions in the Hunter include the Upper Hunter and Pokolbin while Mount View, Lovedale, Hermitage and Belford are regarded as sub regions but have not yet been registered as a GI to date.
Today there are over 150 wineries in the Hunter and Margan is recognised as one of the leading wine producers. The region has some of the oldest grape vines in Australia and they are also pre-phylloxera as the Hunter has been blessed to not be wiped out by this insect as was the case in most of Europe and many wine regions in the world including some of Australia.
“So, it is an historic wine region in an ancient landscape making modern and acclaimed wines. Come and visit!”
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