Article by: Hari Yellina
As the Drayton family’s nearly 170-year career in Hunter winemaking draws to a close, a remarkable storey of backbreaking labour, initiative, and fortitude in the face of adversity and tragedy emerges. Drayton’s, which, like Tyrrell’s, has remained in the hands of its founding family, startled the Hunter wine industry by announcing its closure in July of last year. The Hunter wine dynasty began when Lincolnshire farm hand Joseph Drayton, the fourth son in a family of eleven children, decided to leave England with his wife Hannah and three children and go to Australia.
Despite Sydney buyers’ temporary exclusion from the Hunter Valley property market, veteran agent Alan Jurd has quietly resumed marketing Drayton’s, one of the region’s oldest vineyards. Mr Jurd said he planned to generate more than $21 million in sales for Drayton’s, which is being torn up and sold piecemeal, while working from his blue-tooth enabled tractor, where his phone constantly ringing.
There are 520 acres (210 hectares) of property with 125 acres (51 hectares) of vineyard, which the family is selling as six farms. They believe that it’s logical to split it up. There are three road frontages as well as large amounts of land. The Drayton’s 1000-tonne winery and restaurant, which is set on 14 hectares, will be one of the parcels, along with a couple of 28-hectare vineyard blocks. “We’re already dealing with a couple of shipments,” Mr Jurd said.
Drayton’s is the Hunter’s second-oldest winery, after Wyndham Estate (now called the Dalwood Estate). It has been owned by the Drayton family for six generations, dating back to 1853, when English migrant Joseph Drayton arrived in Pokolbin with his son Frederick and purchased 32 hectares of property. The Draytons planted their first grapes in the late 1850s, after first planting grain and constructing the family homestead “Bellevue.”
The sale of Drayton’s Wines follows the listings of a number of major vineyards and wineries in the Hunter Valley. Firstly, there is the Two Rivers Vineyard on the outskirts of Denman, home to the 67-hectare Inglewood vineyard and cellar door. This is going to auction on July 30 and could sell for more than $11 million. Also up for sale and asking more than $10 million is Tulloch Wines in Pokolbin, which receives much of its grape supply from the Inglewood vineyard at Two Rivers. Both Two Rivers and Tulloch Wines are majority owned by retiring Sydney businessman Ross Pitts. Two Rivers is being marketed by Chris Malone of Ray White Rural NSW and Jay Shepherdson of JTS Realty, while Tulloch Wines is being sold by Toby Langley of Langley & Co.
Therefore, it seems that the legacy is truly coming to an end!