A new cellar door, a new distillery next door and a restaurant upgrade … Pokolbin wine country has taken on a new look in recent weeks.
The new cellar door, known as Vamp, is the brainchild of Lisa McGuigan who has moved back to the Hunter after more than 30 years in Sydney.
It sits right in Pokolbin’s ‘golden mile’ – about as central as you can get on Broke Road.
“I gave it a name because it’s more than just a cellar door,” Ms McGuigan said. “It’s open now but not fully functioning yet – the private tasting room and the oyster bar will open in the first week of February.”
It is certainly not your typical cellar door – and that’s just how she wants it.
“I wanted up-market glamorous, a bit gothic, a lot of shiny black … because that’s me. I didn’t want to copy anyone,” she said. “I think it has a feel and a look all of its own.
“I also want to be there, at the cellar door, to talk to people, build the brand,” she said. “I think that’s very important for the next couple of years.
“We’ll carry a new range called the Velvet Collection that will only be available at the cellar door, as well as our regular silver and platinum ranges.
“I also want to do private tastings – we’re planning a special pinot noir tasting with wines from Australia and New Zealand, as well as Europe and the United States.
“And we’ll have champagne as well.”
The Lisa McGuigan range will vary in price at the cellar door from $20 to $50.
“I want it to be classy but still affordable,” she said.
To maintain the quality of fruit she’s looking for – she has no vines of her own – she is busily rebuilding connections with growers that her family have used.
“I’ve been fortunate that our family have been making wine for so long that I know a lot of the growers, so I’ve reached out to them.
“We’ve got some good fruit, both from the Hunter and from outside.
“I’m excited by some gruner veltliner we have coming through – it’s a white grape variety best known in Austria and a lovely drink for a hot day.
“With the Hunter Valley Distillery next door and Blaxlands restaurant right here too, it’s a great spot for people to pull up and explore.”