Great wines from happy vines

Join us on a visit to Sweetwater Estate, one of the Hunter’s most significant and exclusive vineyard properties.

The Hunter is well known for its medium-bodied reds. But try a Shiraz or Cabernet from Sweetwater Estate in Lower Belford and you are in for a real treat. A distinct, elevated fruit character, strong aromatics and rich textural tannins set these single vineyard wines apart.

General Manager and Senior Winemaker Bryan Currie explains, “at Sweetwater, we have a rather unique combination of factors that makes for more perfumed, pretty wines of the highest quality. There is the rich Terra Rossa soil over limestone which acts like a sponge, soaking up excess rain while keeping the ground moist in drier periods.

“The vineyards on Sweetwater Ridge face east, so the gentler morning sun dries the grapes early in the day, preventing rot. A steady breeze from the valley also helps keep the fruit safe and sound. “Last but not least, we do a lot of careful pruning and vineyard management, for happy, healthy vines that grow quickly for an early harvest. But with the very best wines, there is always an element of mystery, something that’s hard to explain. The seductive fruit character of the Sweetwater wines is a good example.”

It’s just one of the intriguing mysteries that add to the appeal of this property. There is the magnificent European-style mansion overlooking 50 hectares of orchards, olive groves and paddocks, ponds and vines.

Described by some as Australia’s Italianate answer to Downton Abbey, and built over a decade by property developer Duncan Hardie and his wife Lyn, it’s now home to Sam Arnaout, who bought the Estate in 2016 and has no intention to open his home to the public.

Sweetwater’s Mediterranean-inspired cellar door offers at least a tantalizing glimpse. An antique enthusiast, Hardie had it built with historic materials imported from Southern Europe. Bryan and his team throw open the uniquely rustic doors for just two highly anticipated lunches in May and September of every year. Be quick – they sell out at lightning speed.

Read the full story in the Winter Edition of Hunter & Coastal Lifestyle Magazine or subscribe here.

Story by Cornelia Schulze, photography courtesy of Sweetwater Estate