When English immigrant Edward Tyrrell arrived in Pokolbin in 1858, he brought the motto ‘nothing is great unless it is good’ with him.
Over 150 years later, this same philosophy guides the practice of the winery he created, now one of the Hunter Valley’s most prestigious.
Innovation, character and creativity remain at the forefront of everything Tyrrell’s Wines does. Now five generations and 150 years deep, it continues to preserve its individuality and commitment to quality.
This longevity means the Tyrrell family has been part of the Australian wine landscape for more than two thirds of modern history. Current Managing Director, Bruce Tyrrell, identifies third generation owner, Murray Tyrrell, as the father of wine tourism. Murray also introduced the private bin system in 1961, which revolutionised the way that wine is bought and sold in Australia. In this system, a selection of wines are released with an excellent starting age, but the acid structure, length of avour and age of the vineyards mean that these wines have the potential to develop further in the bottle over many years if desired.
Bruce and Pauline’s three children – Jane, John and Christopher – spent their childhoods milling around the winery, earning pocket money here and there. Today, all three are instrumental in the operations of the wine company and as Bruce said, ‘wine is forever in our blood and in our dreams’.
Andrew Spinaze joined the business in 1980, and saw the winery become a serious industry player. Ambitious and passionate, he was named Winemaker of the Year in 2004 by Australian Gourmet Traveller Wine, and Winestate.
In 1994 Mark Richardson became an integral part of the company and saw it through its red wine expansion in McLaren Vale and Heathcote. As a born and bred Hunter Valley man, he currently runs all red wine production at Tyrrell’s. Today, Chris, Andrew and Mark form the Chief Winemaking team.
The long history of Tyrrell winemaking in the Hunter Valley results in vines that have been around for centuries. This includes the semillon, of which two blocks are more than 100 years old. These days, the grapes are fermented in temperature-controlled stainless steels tanks, before being set to rest for five years. Once known as the ‘prince of white wines’, the Hunter Valley Semillon varietal continues to be a shining star of Tyrrell’s. Approachable yet elegant, this wine is delicately balanced by fresh citrus and a crisp acid structure. With a clean, tastebud tingling finish, the Vat 1 Semillon of the Hunter Valley is the most awarded white wine of the Australian show circuit.
Stepping into the winery, Tyrrell’s is one-part museum and one-part art gallery, with a healthy dose of laboratory. The original, hard earth floors remain an integral part of the company, and the rows of oak and steel caskets standing over two-metres tall frame the interiors. This ode to times gone by is combined with an active attempt to reduce any damage to the environment: in 2009, an Environmental Management System was launched.
Tyrrell’s is a name worth remembering. Between its exceptional and extensive collection of wines, historic Cellar Door and five generations of winemaking experience, it’s a Hunter Valley legend that’s sure to continue for 150 years more.