Ever wondered what it’s like to work as a winemaker for a living? With a 150 year long legacy kickstarted by the stubbornness and sheer determination of a 15 year old, Audrey decided to take over the family business. And thanks to head winemaker Xanthe, we learnt about the history of the legendary Audrey Wilkinson Estate and the inside scoop on what it’s like to work at the renowned winery in our latest of the Q and A with a winemaker series.
Can you tell us about Audrey and the history behind the winery?
The Audrey Wilkinson Vineyard was planted in March 1866 by Frederick Wilkinson, and is widely regarded as one of the first sites of a wine vineyard in the Pokolbin area. As land was cleared the Wilkinson family lived in tents until a simple Ironbark slab hut was built. With the death of Frederick Wilkinson in 1883, the task of developing the vineyard was left to his young sons Audrey and Garth. It was not long before Audrey, aged only 15, stepped into his father’s shoes and took responsibility for the running of the vineyard and the winemaking.
Audrey Wilkinson passed away in 1962. He had reached the age of 8 and at this time there remained some vine stocks from the original plantings by Audrey’s father. These vines were nearly a hundred years old and marked the era of the Wilkinson family at Pokolbin. It is estimated that the Wilkinson family had won over 290 prizes on the show circuit during their time as winemakers.
What is your favourite part of being a winemaker?
No day is ever the same. I may be in the winery, in the vineyard, in the laboratory or tasting room or hosting a wine dinner. Each day brings something new.
Do you have a favourite wine?
I love Chardonnay, both to make it and to drink it!
As a winemaker there is so much you can do with Chardonnay, whether you ferment in stainless steel or oak barrels, what type, size or toast of oak barrel. What type of yeast you use, if it goes through Malo-Lactic Fermentation etc.
What can visitors expect during a picnic winery tour?
Visitors are welcomed to the cellar door with a glass of sparkling wine to enjoy while they take a visit to the vines and hear about the history of our cellar door. Following this, we host a premium masterclass on our alfresco deck overlooking our famous view. The masterclass is led by our in house wine expert and explores our premium wine range. To finish we provide a gourmet and locally sourced picnic hamper with a bottle of estate wine to enjoy on the spacious grounds.
Throughout the tour, you’ll get to visit the museum on-site housing memorabilia and historical winemaking equipment in addition to a fascinating audiovisual display. True wine buffs will love watching the inside story.
What are your secret tips for pairing the best food and wine together?
Choose a wine that doesn’t dominate the flavours of the food but works with them instead.
Audrey Wilkinson is a must visit cellar door in the Hunter Valley because…
We have the best view in the Hunter Valley!