Stop, sip and savour at Winmark: Cellar door opening on 19 June
Since taking the reins at the former Pooles Rock estate, Karin Adcock has been creating even more reasons to linger longer in Broke.
Karin Adcock always wanted a visit to Winmark Wines to feel like an experience. She wanted guests to go away with more than just a bottle of wine or a comfortable night’s sleep – to create memories they would cherish long after leaving the tranquil Broke property far behind. This vision has been Karin’s driving force since 2016 as she helped transform the former Pooles Rock estate into the rebranded and refreshed destination of Winmark Wines.
“It is really important for me that we are trying to create something which people will remember, something which they take with them,” she said. “It is very much about creating an overall experience that people walk away from and say, ‘Oh wow, that was really nice. I really loved that,’ and hopefully want to talk about and share with other people.”
Nurturing a new future
The process of injecting new life into the 113-acre property has been meticulously planned over a number of stages, and began by addressing the health of the 28 acres of vines that had been sorely neglected over a five-year period. Renovating and refreshing the property’s three luxury accommodation offerings followed, with the revitalisation finally set to come full circle this month with the completion of Winmark’s new cellar door, giving guests another reason to stop, sip and savour all that is on offer.
Pooles Rock had a celebrated history producing awardwinning wines, but when the estate changed hands in 2016 the existing vines were in desperate need of attention. While Karin has a long and successful background in business, this was her first foray into the wine industry, a fact she was conscious of when a team was assembled to support the restoration of the vineyard and the development of the wine label. This team included 2017 Viticulturist of the Year, Liz Riley, and vineyard manager Dave Grosser.
Assembling a dream team
“Because we have started late in life (in the industry), we’ve got to just make sure we have a stellar team around us to make sure that they get the right result,” Karin said.
“Liz Riley is an award-winning viticulturist and Dave Grosser is our vineyard manager who literally grew up amongst the vines because his father Neil Grosser planted some of the vineyard. We have also engaged an international wine consultant, John Belsham from New Zealand, who is coming in to help us and is working very closely with Xanthe Hatcher in the winery at the Agnew Group who is making our wine.
” In the early days of the restoration a decision was made to remove 10 acres of ailing Verdelho vines from Block 5, which had been planted by former estate owner David Clarke in 1988. These were replaced in September 2017 by a new Chardonnay clone from Burgundy as part of an overall plan for the wine label to only produce Chardonnays, giving an exclusive and interesting point of difference to other vineyards in the district.
“It will be a bit unusual in that we only will have Chardonnay, but we know historically that the former Pooles Rock company made award-winning, highly appreciated Chardonnay,” Karin said.
“Our winemaker John Belsham calls Chardonnay ‘the queen of white wines’. One of the wonderful things is that Chardonnay is not just a variety, it’s an expression of where she’s grown and of the philosophy and strategy of those who make her. So consequently she can have many personalities while still having balance and harmony.
“We’re hoping that we will attract a lot of people who want to really explore what is it we are doing with this Chardonnay out here.”
After years of careful nurturing and several harvests of increasing yield, Winmark Wines has now produced its first two Chardonnays: Rusty’s Run and the Winmark Single Vineyard Reserve. Karin said each had its own distinctive characteristics, with Rusty’s Run going through an initial oak fermentation before it was transferred to stainless steel tanks until it was ready for release. With notes of peach and citrus, it has a crisp finish brought on by less oak and more emphasis on elegance and balance.
The Single Vineyard Reserve Chardonnay was meticulously crafted using the best fruit from the vineyard blocks, picked at night to ensure absolute freshness. Post fermentation it was carefully introduced to the finest French oak for a period of 12 months before release, where it expressed notes of almonds and butterscotch, with a creamy texture of lemon, apple and honey flavours.
With both wines receiving positive feedback, Karin said she was looking forward to sharing them with a wider pool of wine lovers once Winmark’s new cellar door officially opens.
“It is very encouraging because obviously I don’t have any background in wine, this is all very new for me,” she said. “But with a team of very talented people we have achieved a fantastic wine so far and everyone who has tried it has given us great feedback on it.”
The opening of the cellar door represents the start of a new chapter in the Winmark story, allowing them to expand their onsite experience while introducing their wines to an even wider market. An existing building overlooking the vineyard has been repurposed as the cellar door, clad in a dark grey Colorbond to allow it to sit comfortably within the surrounding landscape.
At the heart of the Winmark experience
Long windows and bi-fold doors have been added along the side and at the rear of the building to make the most of the picturesque outlook over the vineyard and beyond to the magnificent Broken Back Ranges. The doors will also provide a seamless flow out to the stunning plateau of sandstone blocks that have been placed around the cellar door, creating a landscape that is both beautiful and practical by offering guests an alfresco option to sit and enjoy their wine.
Karin said the cellar door’s positioning at the heart of the site would ensure it is fully integrated into the overall Winmark experience, allowing guests to extend their visit by exploring some of the other key landmarks. A new walking trail, aptly named the “Wintrack”, has been created, offering guests a gentle half-hour walk within the property that takes in stunning views over Winmark and the surrounding Broke Fordwich region.
Guests will also be encouraged to explore and enjoy other areas around the estate, such as Karin’s Koppie, a formal stand of 40 deciduous trees overlooked by the ancient Yellow Rock escarpment, and the gorgeous perennial and rose garden created by one of Australia’s most outstanding landscape architects, Paul Bangay, which features everything from hedges and topiary borders to lavender, roses and Russian sage.
The sandstone fire pit entertaining area makes the most of a natural vantage point next to the dam, which is ideal for watching the sun go down, while ‘Pooles Rock’ is one of the estate’s most iconic landmarks. The giant, sculptural-looking stone, for which the estate was originally named, contains a large hollow that was reportedly used as a sleeping place by former English convict Richard Poole in the colony’s early days.
There is a strong emphasis on artistic expression across the estate, such as the commanding 1.5 tonne rusted steel sculpture ‘Biosis’ by prize-winning sculptor David Ball, perched in an open grassy field overlooking the vines. An art gallery space showcasing works by multi award finalist Rebecca Pierce has also been created within one of Winmark’s luxury accommodation offerings, Monte Mio, for the enjoyment of guests and visitors by private appointment.
“We see our cellar door as being very integrated with the rest of the property, so we would like to encourage our guests to get a bottle of our wine and a little cheese hamper and go for a walk and enjoy the beautiful gardens, the sculptures, sit down next to the majestic Pooles Rock and really spend some time on the property,” Karin said.
“What we are trying to do is to create something that is about more than just ‘come and try a glass of wine’. I want them to stay with us for a little while, take it all in and feel that they are taking something unexpected with them, which they didn’t perhaps set out looking for in the first
Cellar door opening hours: Friday, Saturday and Sunday 10am – 5pm or by appointment (call 0417 100 824). Due to current Covid19 restrictions please book your tasting time.
Story by Michelle Meehan, photography courtesy of Winmark Wines
Read more in the Winter issue of Hunter&Coastal Lifestyle Magazine or subscribe here.