The New England area, recognised as an exciting new wine producing region, is in fact a re-emerging wine region with an interesting history. Grape growing in the region dates back as far as the first settlers. Squatters and settlers planted vineyards and made their own wine due to the difficulty in transporting alcohol from other major centers. The most famous of these was Mr. George Wyndham, of Wyndham Estate in the Hunter Valley. George established a 100,000 acre property, “Bukkulla”, near Inverell in the 1850s. By 1870 George had 10ha of vines bearing fruit which contributed to the total 11,000 gallons of Wyndham Estate wines being produced each year.
The New England area is unlike any other grape growing region in Australia. This is due the region’s high altitude (with a good number of vineyards above 1000m), cool climate and soils and topography highly suited to premium wine (grape) production.
By about 1905 after the arrival of the railway, wine production from the Inverell area of New England was 227,000 litres from seven or eight larger vineyards and a number of smaller vineyards, totalling about 45Ha. Between 1870 & 1920 wines from the area won many awards at wine shows in Sydney, Amsterdam, London, San Francisco, Chicago & France. A prominent English wine judge of the time wrote of the Bukkulla wines, “(They) have a character and quality above the average of most wine-producing countries. The lowest quality is better than a large proportion of the ordinary wines of Europe, while the best would not suffer in comparison to the finest known growths”.