Tucked behind the Brokenback Ranges is where you'll discover this charming little vineyard
Tucked behind the Brokenback Ranges in the Hunter Valley is where you'll discover a charming little vineyard that goes by the name of Greenway Wines. Anne and John Greenway have been working away to create their perfect little pocket of land, with its signature big red barn and bespoke vineyard, and invite you to take a drive to explore this magical area of Broke.
This is a stunning piece of land you have Anne, how long have you had the property for?
John and I bought the property back in 2009, and we opened the cellar door in 2017. It’s been a busy decade, and we’re constantly improving and working the property – turning our humble dreams into a reality - getting the cellar door operating, landscaping its gardens and our next big project is the bush house and vegie garden. Which just makes sense, as we have the opportunity to grow all the produce we need for our Cellar Door platters, after all we have this land why not put it to good use?
I love the Barn style cellar door, and that red, whose idea was the red?
The barn was a tin shed when we purchased the property- although one can’t mistake the iconic ‘American barn’ form. These barns are traditionally always ‘red’ – so it just had to be – if you like, you could say the barn told us it had to be red. And then I ‘decorated the shed’ – inside and out in an ‘old world country style’ – it’s a really peaceful place to be, tucked away in the corner of our property.
And we’ve taken the agriculture theming of the barn to the courtyard – with the planting of an orchard of some 30 fruit trees. We also have, beehives on the property and in time will make all of this produce available at the cellar door.
Have you always lived in the Hunter Valley?
I am originally from North Queensland and spent much of my impressionable youth on the family pineapple farm; we grew all kinds of tropical fruit. So when we found this little vineyard I thought, it’s simply a fruit farm for adults really [laughs]. It’s the same concept, you still grow it and you sell it.
So has your career always been based around agriculture?
No, we've been living in Sydney for quite some time now, I am an architect and I have a little residential practice on the northern beaches. Our children are still in school so we divide our time between the two places, and until the kids finish school we’ll continue to live this dual life. As I see it we have the best of both worlds.
Is the plan to resettle here permanently one day?
Definitely we love this part of the world – its relaxed and populated with such great people. Even just getting here – is a delight. I drove up this morning and as always so appreciate the unfolding vistas as you descend from Peats Ridge into the Hunter Valley, you’re always reminded how breathtakingly beautiful this is. The Vineyard is our escape from the Sydney pace. It offers a real relaxing lifestyle, and for me there has always been something magical about a vineyard.
So how did you find the transition from architecture to the world of selling and producing grapes?
This is a really good question as it took a while to understand my change in role, as while there is much design involved in the operating of a cellar door, designing our wines, our logos, the cellar door itself and growing and nurturing grapes was almost a natural progression - I realised that we are selling an experience – a Greenway Wines Experience – and that is our story, and our vineyard and our beautiful cellar door – and as such our wines then sell themselves.
That's why we like to offer a little more than just a wine tasting experience here, guests can order one of our antipasto platters perhaps buy a bottle of wine, take a seat in the gardens around the barn, relax and just enjoy this beautiful area.
What variety of wines can we expect to taste at Greenway
When we bought the property it was pretty much a merlot only vineyard, with a thin sliver of Shiraz and Gewürztraminer grapes, and at that stage we were selling our fruit to other winemakers, but after a couple of bad vintages in 2012 and 2013, we decided to graft in varieties that would service a cellar door. I’ve always wanted to own a cellar door and finding this little vineyard was a tap on the shoulder that said ‘here’s your opportunity’, so it wasn’t a hard decision.
When we started researching what varieties to plant we were looking for something different. I never wanted to set Greenway Wines up to compete with the bigger vineyards, we wanted a point of difference and….. one too many trips to Italy inspired a fondness for Italian varietals. Our journey unearthed Fiano and Pinot Grigio.
Fiano (palate wise sits between a Chardonnay and a Sauvignon Blanc) loves our little vineyard and grows really well so we’ve explored a few styles, a Methode, a Sparkling, a Still Fiano and a magnificent field blend of Fiano and Gewürztraminer. The other grape planted was a Pinot Grigio. It’s always been that alternate ‘Doc Martin’ wine for white wine drinkers. It’s like those in the know, know about Pinot Grigio [laughs].
We have five different grape varieties altogether and with this we make a lot of wine styles from one tiny vineyard, which is always exciting.
Do you have any plans to expand on this?
All we ever wanted to do with this vineyard is to have it service and support the cellar door, our wines are only found here, we don’t sell to restaurants and don’t sell to bottle shops. We produce around 750 cases in a year, and we don’t plan on getting any bigger. That’s our philosophy, we want to play in the small ‘vineyard arena’ and carve a little niche out for ourselves.
Our dream is to become a members-only vineyard, so we can open to members and their friends, grow on a referral basis and in turn become more of a micro-boutique vineyard which is the true category that we fit into. And in this way we can focus on members events.
Is the cellar door open all the time?
We open 10am – 4.30pm every Saturday and Sunday, we also open for twilight tastings on Friday evenings in Spring through to Autumn and outside that by appointment.
I've seen photos of some beautiful lunches here in the alfresco area, are they events that you hold?
Yes with the wine club memberships, in addition to ‘members only’ pricing we also offer annual members events which are beautiful long lunches here in the vineyard. In October we celebrate our new release wines with a members and friends long table lunch. We’re passionate about pairing wine with food and our key focus is around this. We have live music, beautiful food, great wine, vineyard tours and a vineyard treasure hunt - of course, they're a lot of fun.
Next year we plan to host a series of ‘Pruning, Pizza and Pavarotti Lunches. This will be an interactive day where club members and friends can learn about the vineyard, viticulture and understand how wine making begins in the vineyard.
That sounds like so much fun, sign me up! Sounds more like a gathering of friends than a members event though?
Yes, it is, I really do see our members more as friends. It’s the mindset of our members and those who visit us that I love, we are all so passionate about our wines and that is what unites us.
It’s also about the opportunity to experience our wines paired with our menu – and when you get that right – it’s heavenly! We have a great chef who is always excited to design each menu around our new release wines.
It’s such a great day that by the end of it your taste buds are thanking you for the experience and you may have already booked to do it all again!