Briar Ridge, Hunter Valley

Who: Briar Ridge 438BRR Hunter Valley Mag Qtr Pge Ad FAP

Where: Hunter Valley, NSW

What: One of the Hunter’s iconic wineries – now with new rock star winemaker & all gal viticultural team!

Why: Because we love that they’re embracing everything that’s fabulous about the Hunter


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The Hunter Valley is Australia’s oldest and most internationally recognised wine region. Nestled only two hours from Sydney, it’s a hub of wine production and busy cellar doors.

Gwyn in vineyard

However, it has become increasingly common in recent years for Hunter wineries to bring in fruit from outside the area to create non-Hunter based wines. Excitingly, Briar Ridge – one of the most iconic and established wineries in the Hunter – have decided to embrace their Hunter origins and in the last year or two, they’ve been on a quest to return Briar Ridge to be completely 100% Hunter Valley.

All their Hunter vineyards are estate owned (they don’t buy in other fruit) and so they have full control over the vineyards. That’s something that their recently appointed new winemaker Gwyn Olsen says is hugely important to her winemaking philosophy. “A focus on vineyards and vineyard resources is of number one importance,” says Gwyn. “Managing your own vineyards means we can influence the viticultural practices used to produce exactly the fruit we want and pick it when we want. We can really let the Hunter – all the things that make this place special – shine through.”

Gwyn Olsen
Gwyn Olsen – winemaker extraordinaire at Briar Ridge

Gwyn came on board as winemaker in 2013 and was tasked with shifting the focus back to 100% Hunter. She’s working with an all-gal viticultural team of Belinda Kelly and Liz Riley to achieve just that.

An all-gal team in the notoriously blokey Hunter wine region? That’s gotta be a first! “Probably!” agreed Gwyn. “It’s certainly not the norm!”

Gwyn is widely considered to be a bit of a rising star in the wine industry. She’s young. She’s talented. And she’s a bit of a clever clogs too, having nabbed the prestigious title of ‘Dux’ of  the Australian Wine Research Institute, Advanced Wine Assessment Course in November 2012. (That’ll learn the nay-sayers.)

What wines do Briar Ridge make?

Briar Ridge focus on what the Hunter Valley does best, producing several ranges of Semillon, Chardonnay and Shiraz, as well as Verdhelo and Merlot. bottles The wines have been awarded numerous accolades on both the National and International Wine Show Circuit, and Briar Ridge have  had a 5 star rating awarded by Monsieur Eyebrows himself, James Halliday, for five consecutive years: 2011 – 2015 (yep, 2015 was announced this week!)

Briar Ridge is predominantly a cellar door and online sales operation, but you can sometimes also find them at independent retailers and on good wine lists. (Jump online to their website now to take a peek of what’s on offer.)

And make sure if you’re visiting the Hunter Valley, Briar Ridge are on your must-visit list.

Try their wines in the online wine club with FREE delivery!

WineClub3We’re featuring Briar Ridge as our winery of the month for August 2014 in the online wine club! This is your chance to try two of our favourites from their range – the incredible 2014 The Dam Verdelho and 2011 Karl Stockhausen Shiraz – delivered to your door as a twin pack, a six pack or a dozen. All with FREE delivery! –> CHECK IT OUT RIGHT NOW

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