A geologist walks into a winery. He purchases it, adding to his current collection of vineyards, and begins to craft some of the country’s finest drops, all under the name Pepper Tree Wines.
Dr John Davis is said geologist. Over the last 20 years, he has acquired, nurtured and grown vineyards across the Hunter Valley, Orange, Wrattonbully and Coonawarra, developing a portfolio of grapes from which to make beautiful wines. All he needed to complete his endeavour was a winery.
In 2001, he found the perfect spot in Pepper Tree Wines. Founded 10 years earlier, the Hunter Valley staple had already developed a reputation for producing fantastic wines that accurately reflected their unique place of origin. However, with John’s input and unprecedented access to different grapes, it has grown to become one of the Valley’s most visited spots.
Pepper Tree’s reputation is also due to the deft touch of the winemaker. Gwyneth Olsen has recently taken over as the Head Winemaker, following three years at nearby Briar Ridge Vineyard. Previous to this, she developed her knowledge and experience by working at a number of wineries around the world, including three vintages in France at Languedoc, St Emillion and Burgundy. From there, Gwyn ventured to New Zealand, where she rose through the ranks at Villa Maria, one of New Zealand’s most awarded wineries.
At Pepper Tree, Gwyn injects her experience and passion into every bottle, overseeing the growing, pressing and barrelling of a number of varietals. In the Hunter, the team grows semillon, chardonnay, verdelho and shiraz, while in Orange, there is sauvignon blanc, riesling, pinot gris, chardonnay, cabernet sauvignon and merlot.
In Coonawarra and Wrattonbully, pinot gris, chardonnay, cabernet sauvignon, shiraz, merlot and tempranillo are the favoured fruits, but the team has also started to experiment with Italian varieties such as verduzzo and vermentino. Each vineyard has a unique terroir, resulting in distinctive drops that accurately reflect where they were grown.
You can try the full range at Pepper Tree’s Cellar Door in the Hunter Valley. Set amongst beautiful gardens and a picturesque landscape, it’s home to a team of friendly expert staff who can lead you through the winery’s complete collection of premium wines.
Whatever you do, don’t miss the Pepper Tree Single Vineyard ‘Coquun’ Shiraz, considered to be the winery’s flagship. A fruit-driven drop, it has aromas of raspberry, spices, mulberry and dried herbs, with an intense but lively palate.
However, wine isn’t the only drink on offer at Pepper Tree. The Cellar Door is also home to an on-site coffee house, Contango Espresso Roasters. Here, the magic begins with the roasting of the coffee beans, which are then blended in-house. Just like wine, John and the team believe that coffee flavours are influenced by their growing region and aim to highlight these synergies through the entire process.
Pepper Tree Wines is not a one-trick pony. A collection of wines, each with varying tastes and textures, sits by a boutique coffee roaster, creating a fantastic hospitality venture that’s sure to impress.