Daniel and Jane Maroulis are poised to add a new arm to their wine business - one that will also pay homage to one of the Hunter's great agricultural pioneers.
Owners of the boutique vineyard Boydell's at East Gresford, the couple will soon open a cellar door at Morpeth, a stone's throw from where their vineyard's founder is believed to have grown grapes in the early 1800s.
The cellar door, at No. 2 Green Street, will operate from an old slab building made from timber cut in the forest once surrounding the Hunter Valley.
Dan and Jane chose that building because they felt it had something to do with the history of their farm and its founder Charles Boydell who settled the East Gresford property in 1826. "He had a lot of interactions with businesses in Morpeth and this building, while he did not own it, fits into the timeline when he was in that area - providing a significant link," he said.
Dan believes Duckenfield was once a popular area for growing grapes with Dr Henry Lindeman also harvesting from the site before moving to Pokolbin.
Boydell's at East Gresford produce premium estate wines from the grapes grown on the picturesque property on the banks of the Allyn River.
The have about 15 acres under vine including varieties such as verdelho, chardonnay, merlot, pinot noir and shiraz.
"The idea for the cellar door came about because we wanted to develop the brand and make sure it had an interaction with the public through a tasting experience," Dan said. "It will enable us to talk directly to our customers and hopefully increase sales," he said. The long term plan is to also establish a restaurant on site.
Dan said Morpeth's point of difference for a cellar door is that it not only draws a big tourist crowd, it is also in the centre of a large residential area - something Pokolbin can't lay claim to.
No stranger to agriculture, Dan, originally from Bourke in the state's north west, has spent most of his working life in broad acre cropping. "I was sick of growing commodity crops - doing the same thing each year, taking it to the receiver and told what price I'd get whereas with the grapes you have more control over the quality of the product you make and control over who you sell as well," he said.
The drought has had little if any impact on crops with vines irrigated from the nearby Allyn River. "We've had three vintages over the past three summers which were all hot and dry - something grapes love so we've been pretty successful the past three seasons. Boydell's produce between 3000 and 4000 cases a year.
The cellar door is expected to open in September.
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