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The New England area is unlike any other grape growing region in Australia, and much of this is due to the region’s diversity. Ranging from high altitude (1,000m ASL), cool climate vineyards along the spine of the Great Dividing Range, to the lower and warmer sites on the western edges of the New England Tablelands; the region offers up dramatic and unique conditions for viticulture.
While little is known about New England and it's ranging micro-climates, Jilly Wines is putting it back on everyone's map. Managing our own vineyard at Black Mountain - the highest vineyard in Australia at 1360m - and sourcing fruit from Troppers Mountain Tingha and Kurrajong Downs, the wines that come about from these regions are “out of this world.” They could go head-to-head with any of the most premium wine growing regions around the world, which they previous had, as history writes.
Situated 35km south of Tenterfield, the farm is nestled amongst grazing properties and spectacular granite outcrops of the Bolivia district of Northern NSW. The rich granite soil and cold winters, warm summers and summer rainfall produces a wonderful example of cool climate wines.
Emu Swamp, Orange, NSW
The Emu Swamp Wine District includes Bathurst Road and the areas the historic gold mining town of Lucknow. Gold was discovered at Lucknow shortly after the Ophir gold discovery that triggered a major gold rush to the area. Gold mining continued at Lucknow on for over 100 years and so did wine.
Toppers Mountain Tingha, NSW
Toppers vineyard is just north of Tingha (between Armidale & Inverell) on the spine of the Great Dividing Range in northern NSW. It sits on the western edge of the New England Tablelands at an altitude of 900m ASL, high above the valleys of the McIntyre and Gwydir Rivers on deep, red volcanic soils called Krasnozems.
The unique story behind this vineyard starts with the owner/viticulturist Mark Kirkby, was flying over the region in a chopper with his brother. From the corner of his eye, he saw a mass of red dirt. They both immediately decided that regardless of what they planted on this unique piece of agricultural dirt, something special would come of it. In 1997, in a moment of inspiration, Kirkby planted a vineyard with some 27 varieties before grafting over the varieties that were the most suited; leaving the 14 that remain to this day.
The foundation of Jilly wines was built of the fruit that comes from this incredible piece of dirt.
Black Mountain, NSW
Black Mountain is a tiny little town south-west of Guyra on top of the great divide. The vineyard was planted to Pinot Noir in 2000. The vines sit on grey basalt soil at an altitude of 1306m ASL making it the highest piece of agricultural dirt in this country. This vineyard is run by Jilly using organic practices.
The New England Australia wine producing area, although widely thought of as a new wine producing region is actually a re-emerging wine region with an interesting history that 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 centres. The most famous of these was Mr George Wyndham, founder of award-winning Wyndham Estate winery. George established a 100,000-acre property “Bukkulla”, near Inverell the 1850’s.
Between 1870 & 1920 wines from the area won many awards at international wine shows. 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”.
As the New England area continues to prove itself as an ‘undiscovered gem,’ we begin a new chapter in History here in Clunes with an experimental patch. To be Continued.