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2020 Vintage: A Statement from Bruce Tyrrell

Tyrrell’s has made the decision to have a severely reduced 2020 vintage.

We have not been directly impacted by fire damage however the continued presence of smoke in the Hunter Valley since late October 2019 means that many of our vineyards have been affected by smoke taint. Tyrrell’s has been working closely with the Australian Wine Research Institute (AWRI), and Dr Ian Porter of La Trobe University, who have been testing our vineyards’ grapes across the region for smoke taint. We have also been conducting micro ferments in our own laboratory which has led us to the decision that most of our vineyards will not be harvested for wine production.

If tainted grapes are made into wine they will have unpredictable levels of undesirable characters and this will normally get worse over time. We, as a family, have decided to have a significantly reduced vintage compared to previous years. We are estimating a total crop loss of 80%.

The impact of smoke taint is not universal across the region. The Hunter Valley is a large geographical area and there were many factors to consider when making this decision including proximity to the fires, elevation of vineyards, and days in contact with fresh smoke.

This decision has been our own and reinforces our premium quality standing in the world of fine wine. As with any other year, any wine that we do bottle from the 2020 vintage will only be of a standard that the family deem befitting of our 162 year legacy.

As the drought continues, the grapes from these affected vineyards will not go to waste and will be utilised as mulch and feed for the cattle on our property.

This will have some impact on your 2020 Private Bin wine allocation. However, to fulfil your membership commitment we will have some aged release and limited edition wines we have been saving for a year like this. Further details of which we will share with you in the near future.

Complete 2019 Vintage Report from Bruce Tyrrell

With the 2019 Hunter vintage coming to a close, please enjoy reading Bruce’s diary entries written throughout vintage, reporting on the day-to-day happenings out in the vineyard and in the winery.

Monday, 14 January

The 2019 Vintage will commence at sun up tomorrow morning, with hand picking Chardonnay at Penfold Vale for the 2019 Blanc de Blancs Sparkling.  We were lucky enough to get 25mm of rain on Friday night with another spectacular light show put on by God.  Not as good as New Year’s Eve but nearly.  The moisture after the hot weather has got the vines working again and the fruit has considerably changed from last Friday morning to this morning.

Wednesday night and Thursday night we will pick the Chardonnay Pinot Noir Brut using two harvesters at once.  The pHs are a little higher than expected but the flavours and acids are still fine.  I expect next week to be a big Chardonnay week with Pinot Noir after that, and hopefully after two or three hot days coming up we get another storm at the end of the week.

Monday, 21 January

Well we all have survived the first week and a bit of Vintage 2019.  Monday through to Saturday last week were a run of hot to very hot days, but with some relief at night that allowed us to get some machine harvesting done.  After a bit of mucking around with the machines they have picked quickly and provided us with a very clean lot of fruit.  I suppose last week should be hot because it is right in the middle of summer, and after Monday we were looking for the southerly change that was due Saturday night and hope that we might get some rain to refresh the vines and to cool the air.  We got the cold change on Saturday night, and 6mm of rain this morning.  The worry at the beginning of the week was how much damage the heat might cause to the chemistry or the general condition of the leaves (I got sun burnt on Monday filming the 7.30 Report and we certainly do not want the vines to peel as badly as I did).

We have started with as good picking team as I think we have ever had. The only Australians are grey nomads and the rest are from about 12 different countries with the biggest numbers from France, UK and the USA.  Tuesday, 15 January we tested all of the Chardonnay and Verdelho to get a picking plan into place. We handpicked 9.75 tonnes from Penfold Vale to get started and this is for our yet to be replaced Blanc de Blancs sparkling, which came in spot on 10 baume which is perfect for this wine. The Chardonnay test showed everything basically the same in good condition and with the flavours arriving earlier than last year.  We will probably start on Friday, and probably will not stop until all the Chardonnay is off.

On the 17 and 18 January we went back with the mechanical harvester to Penfold Vale to pick the Chardonnay Pinot Noir Brut and still had 13 tonnes of Chardonnay there to pick Saturday night for Hunter Valley.  Penfold Vale was down 20 tonnes on last year, which was all accounted for by reduced berry size from the drought.

All the Verdelho was picked on Friday night / Saturday morning.  The crop was approximately half of last years, and this confirmed my belief that this Vintage “the good vineyards that have been well looked after will perform well, but the ordinary vineyards that have lacked attention will be a mess”.  We did a full test of all remaining Chardonnay and Pinot Noir on Sunday morning the 20 January, and again they all tested the same but there were no signs of any greenness but the sugars are still a bit lower than we would like.  I do not think we will have any high alcohol Chardonnay this year.  We picked NVC and the Road Block Chardonnay this morning, and whilst they were OK they came in less than they tested.  We will pull the pin now and leave picking for one or two days, but will also start testing Semillon to see if we can find something to keep the crusher working ie. Stevens or Pokolbin Hills later in the week.

No great worries for the rest of this week except a couple of hot days, and perhaps a lack of patience.


Tuesday, 29 January 

This seems like a month ago.  We are sitting quietly waiting for something to happen.  We have done a full test on all of the remaining Chardonnay, Pinot Noir and Semillon and nothing much has changed since the last test and nothing is really ripe.  Picking delayed until Thursday, and we will then take the first Semillon of the year.

We picked Pokolbin Hills Semillon by hand on Thursday, 24 January, and the Chardonnay and Hill block by machine that night.  The Semillon is first rate, and by the look of the Chardonnay there certainly will be a Vat 63 out of 2019. Extreme heat has backed off for the next few days so we will get going pretty much continuously until all of the white is off.  The heat expected over this last weekend “Saturday got to 42 degrees” is starting to knock the vines about, but on the other side of that the acid still remain quite good and the sugars are not rising at any great rate.  I doubt if there will be any white of the alcohol levels of 2018, but the flavours are more advanced.  Had my first look at Gamay at “Loggerheads” this morning, which we ended up picking on Monday with almost perfect chemistry, and a bit more than last year so there should be around 140 dozen.  Also on Thursday we got our second young Australian on the picking team.

On Friday, 25 January we moved the picking team into the Pinot Noir here at Ashman’s and got the lot so it leaves only the Pinot Noir and HVD to pick, and it is three or four days work.  Like all Pinot Noir we will wait until its cleaned up after ferment to see how good it is.  Started Stevens Semillon tonight, which we hoped to clean up in two shifts which we did with a bit of help from one of our harvesters.  Typical Stevens fine, elegant and certainly up there with the Pokolbin Hills quality wise.  Had our first really big night on the 25 January with the Stevens Semillon “the steroids block” on HVD, plus 35 tonnes of contract winemaking (Semillon).  It was well into the next day by the time it was all processed.

On the 26th made a start on the flat for Vat 47 picking the Old Vines, the Well block and the Three Wires before the heat chased us out at 11.30am.  This was all basket pressed and all things being equal we will finish all of 47 on Tuesday and Wednesday.  We had Sunday off from picking so went for a drink at Andrew Thomas’ to celebrate Australia Day.  Monday morning we tested Semillon and Pinot Noir from HVD and decided where to start picking midnight Monday night.  Today we have got two nights of machine picking left, and about another 7 or 8 days of hand picking white.  We will test everything during the day today, but from the vineyard side Johnno’s Semillon and Belford look like coming off first.  This week looks a little cooler than last the difference between 35 or 36 degrees and 40+ degrees.  We have been held up in picking by having to get the pickers out before midday because of the heat and so we are losing 1 ½ to 2 hours picking time every day.  Pending on the results of today’s test we may have to look at a third picking team to get across the country quick enough.

No real rain on the horizon perhaps a storm later in the week and as long as we only get 4 or 5 mls it will have little impact on the fruit except to freshen the vines up.  A bit over a week and the white is done.  I almost forgot, Saturday morning we picked 5 ½ tonnes of Tempranillo from Deasys Road, which is being made into high end Rose as the vines are a bit too young for red.

Tuesday, 5 February

Just finished picking half of Lost Block Semillon on HVD, as well as the HVD Pinot Noir.  Might be the best of the Pinot Noir for the Vintage at 13.5 to 14 baume and loads of colour, and should go straight to Shiraz Pinot Noir.  Semillons maintained the 10% to 10.5% alcohol like the rest of Vintage so far, and we will finish Lost Block Wednesday night.  The hand pickers went into the Short Flat of Vat 47 and will stay there until they finish it.

Chardonnay crop is up on the Short Flat by about 20% and this has been the same for all of the Chardonnay this year except Penfold Vale.  Fruit was in perfect condition and will be between 12.5% and 13% alcohol.  The pickers have had two big days with 6.00am starts and 1.30pm finishes.  Last night was the last night of machine picking white, and there is only five or six days left by hand.  It has still been pretty hot but not as bad as last week.  We have been blessed with a bit of breeze and a bit of cloud, which makes the pickers’ life a bit easier.

We picked the mulch trials on Andrew’s Chardonnay.  The introduction of mulch has increased the crop level and given slightly better chemistry.  The two parts will be fermented separately and then we can really see if there are flavour differences.  Interestingly, the soil temperature under the mulched rows was a couple of degrees lower than the unmulched area.  We also picked some of Mary-Ann’s Chardonnay into smaller bins, and these were kept overnight in the cold room and crushed and pressed the next morning.  Again we will make two batches from Mary-Ann’s and see what will be the impact on the final wine.

Finished all of the Chardonnay on the Flat on the 30th and despite the hot dry year it averaged 3.5 tonnes to the acre. The best block picking 4.9 tonnes per acre.  Saturday was Belford, started picking the Semillon, which we planned to finish on Monday with the Chardonnay.  We tested all of the remaining Semillon, which all basically tested the same so we will pick based on the condition of the vines.  So next HVD, then Johnno’s and Debeyers, then the Semillon on the Flat Tuesday and finish by about 10am on Wednesday.  The Semillon, we picked on the Flat today, has yielded a bit over 4 tonnes to the acre, and I reckon it is the best Semillon of the year.

On Sunday morning we tested all the reds to be picked by machine, and as a result of that we picked the Shiraz on the Baulkham Monday night and unfortunately we were down on budget by about 25%.  This is an exposed block so we will not make any calls on what the Shiraz crop will be until we get a couple of more normal blocks off.  Looked at all of the hand picking Shiraz today, and really it is like the start of the Semillons.  Whilst we would like to start there is nothing ready so we will look again on Thursday and see if we can find something.  I would suspect that we will have five or six pretty busy days next week and pick all of the Shiraz.  There is no sign of rain, or significant rain, for the next 10 days so the only problem we have got to face is our own impatience.

So far so good.

Tuesday, 12 February

This is the start of the running to the end of the whites with only the Short Flat Semillon left to pick.  It has been the greenest of the Semillons all the way through and the blocks are a little uneven, but I think this should get us as good Vat 1 as we have had for a while.  Finished that the next day.  The Semillon crop on the Flat is up about 15% – 20% on last year, and the total Semillon crop is up 5% on last year.  So white wise we are pretty much spot on what we expected.

We started testing some red and basically nothing except the Baulkham was ready and we picked it in the early morning of the 6 February.  This is a hard exposed piece of country and the crop was down significantly, which I hope is not going to follow through the rest of the red vintage.  Friday night we had 15mm of rain, and by Sunday morning the Shiraz had kicked in and things were starting to move.  We started hand picking Monday morning with Johnno’s, the House block and Matthews. The later will be part of Vat 9.  Picked for a couple of our grape growers last night and today we have picked the 4 Acres and just finishing part of Weinkeller, which is for Vat 9.  We have got the hot day today supposedly getting to 39 degrees by 4.00pm or 5.00pm, but then we come into ten days of relatively cool weather and more importantly nights down to 15, 16 and 17 degrees.

There will not be much Shiraz left to pick by Saturday night. The skins on all of the Shiraz are very thick and so they have stood up to the tougher weather. There is plenty of colour and plenty of flavour so touch wood there are no fears now of anything but a good red Vintage.

I have tasted a few of the early Semillons, which have just come off ferment. The Belford, HVD and Stevens all look very good and Vat 1 is still fermenting so it is a bit early.  Most of the Chardonnays are in wood.

Still remains, apart from some harvester problem early, one of the calmer and easier Vintages.

Tuesday, 19 February

The 15mm of rain two Fridays ago has had a huge impact on the Shiraz kicking the vines back into life producing both sugar and flavour.  Rarely do we say that rain fall is a major impact on Vintage, but this 15mm certainly was. To offset that however, last Tuesday got to 39 degrees and that offset some of the gain from the rainfall.  The berries dehydrated and the leaves, and the top of the bunches, got some sunburn.  All of the good vineyard was sprayed last year with sunscreen and we would have liked to have had a second application but there was none available to purchase in Australia.  If these conditions continue our fungicide spray will be negligible but we will spend that money on sunscreen.

From the 12th through to the 16th we did not stop, and today there is only 4 tonnes of Sangiovese and 2 tonnes of Cabernet left to pick in the Hunter.  We finally got our second harvester working properly, and with a full hand picking crew and two harvesters getting the fruit in on time was no problem.  The reds in general look to have plenty of colour and flavour, and basically they have all had clean ferments.  It is a nice position to be in to have enough fermentation space to hold the whole Hunter red vintage and so just about everything will spend some time on skins once ferment is over.

Tonnages were about on budget with the best crops, and some of the best fruit, coming off the irrigated vineyards.  The best fruit I saw picked was the 4 Acres, and these old vines never cease to amaze me as to how well they perform.  We tasted nearly all of the Semillon yesterday morning. The Single Vineyards all have their own distinct characters and at this stage it is hard to pick, with my two favourites being Stevens and Belford, but Vat 1 might pip them both with a bit of age.

This week is cleaning bins and putting away tractors getting the harvester ready to go to Heathcote, which will probably start in about two weeks.

All in all an easy and calm Vintage.

Tuesday, 26 February

Monday last week was largely the end of our own Vintage.  We have done a little bit of contract work mostly for the Bishops at Coolangatta Estate, and then on Friday morning we picked the Sangiovese and made Rose from it.  It really could have done with another week on the vine but last Wednesday night the fruit bats ate about a third of the crop, and we knew if we left them out any longer that the whole crop would be eaten.  This left the only grapes in the Hunter, the Cabernet at Pokolbin Hills, which normally goes into Vat 8.  I walked through it on Saturday afternoon and the fruit was in almost immaculate condition and at least a week away from being ready to pick.  Hopefully the fruit bats do not find it.

We are just starting to take off some of the 2019 Shiraz and they all look to have great colour and good depth of flavour.  I still think the 4 Acres will be the best.  We started seriously testing at Heathcote and with some hot days to come the mechanical harvester will go down on the truck on Thursday, and I suspect we will start on Sunday night and go through for five nights. There will be 7 to 10 tonnes to hand pick at the end, and these vines have been regenerated after contracting dead arm.  All of the Heathcote fruit is transported back to Pokolbin in three tonne bins at about 32 tonnes per load. This takes about 15 hours and then they are unloaded straight into our big fermenters that were specifically designed for this fruit. The sugar acid pH balance in the samples for Heathcote is exactly where we like it.

We did our first tasting of the 2019 Semillons last week.  They are quite traditional in style, not as big and forward as last year and they all have strong vineyard character.

Monday, 4 March

We finished the last of the Hunter grapes on Friday morning with the Pokolbin Hills Cabernet for Vat 8.  Unfortunately, the fruit bats took about a third of the crop two nights before, and I was not prepared to risk any more of the fruit.  So the Hunter was finished, and I refer to this as a really good solid Vintage.  We have come in spot on our crop expectations.

With the Hunter finished we start tonight at Heathcote. All the tests so far are showing us 13.5%– 13.8% alcohol, with good balance, acid and pH.  We will have some hand picking to do on Wednesday for Lunatiq, and there will be about 15 tonnes towards the middle end of next week from vines that have been reconstructed because of dead arm.  This means we have had to cut the vine off about a foot up from the ground, and then take the strongest sucker that the vine has thrown out, take it up to the wire and start the vine a new.  So the end is very much in sight.

At Heathcote, we have got irrigation as it has been much hotter and drier than here in the Hunter.  Our only harvesting problem is that later in the week the night time minimum gets down between 4 and 7 degrees, which will be too cold to be able to machine harvest at night.  This happened last year, and you really cannot get started until about 7.00am in the morning.  If the fruit is either too cold or too hot the harvester has to beat the vines a lot harder than normal to get the fruit to come off, and then you start to do serious damage to the vines and the potential for next year’s crop.

Thankfully we have no fire close to us.

Tuesday, 12 March


We crushed our last grapes for 2019 on Monday, 11 March.  On Monday, 4 March we started picking at Heathcote after two days of extreme heat, which pushed the sugars up a little quicker than we had anticipated.  We always knew the heat was coming and that it would have an impact, but that impact was about half a baume more than we would have liked.

We picked our vineyard in four nights with a machine and a couple of short shifts by hand to give us some whole fruit to go into the fermenters.  We finished the fruit we buy from our next door neighbour at Heathcote Monday morning.  His crop was down by about 20% on expectation, but we picked almost the identical crop to last year.  The alcohol will be mid 14s but they have very good acid and pHs, but if the fruit is any indication the 2019 Heathcote will be very good.

Yesterday we finished our last contract winemaking crush so in about ten days all of the red ferments will be off skins, and then we can clean up and return to looking after the wine.  All in all this has been an easy Vintage with breaks between each variety and area, no rain of any consequence so no bad tempers and swearing at God for making us wet.

It will be good to taste through everything in a couple of months to properly see what we have got.  By the time we finished at Heathcote we finally seemed to have chased the devils out of the mechanical harvester, and it picked perfectly the last two nights.


Bruce Tyrrell


Tyrrell’s Wines launches monthly Hunter Valley Fine Foods Markets​

Saturday 10th June 2017 heralds the start of a new tradition for one of the Hunter Valley’s oldest and most prestigious wineries, Tyrrell’s Wines. Partnering with farmers’ markets experts, Hunter Valley Fine Food Markets, Tyrrell’s historic and picturesque vineyards will play host to a monthly high-end produce market.

Tyrrell’s Wines is renowned for consistency, excellence and tradition which has positioned them be at the forefront of Australian and International winemaking for 160 years.

Of the markets partnership, Managing Director, Bruce Tyrrell states, “We are excited to be involved with this programme as it represents another great reason to support local business and to entice people to enjoy the spoils of the Hunter Valley.”   

The inaugural launch of the Hunter Valley Fine Food Markets at Tyrrell’s will take place on Saturday 10th June 2017, coinciding with the Queen’s Birthday weekend.  From July onwards, it will be held on the 1st Saturday of the month.


Tyrrell’s vineyard will come alive with hand-made and locally produced fare, including farm fresh produce, boutique cheese, fresh baked bread, jam, preserves, chutney, olive oil, eggs, salami, pate, terrines and sweet treats; offering locals and visitors to the Hunter Valley a plethora of gourmet delights! Tyrrell’s delectable wines serve as the perfect complement to these fine foods, and will be available for purchase from the Tyrrell’s stall.

The markets open at 8.30am; just follow the heady scent of freshly brewed hand roasted coffee. Enjoy a delicious gourmet breakfast, meander around the array of stalls, and stay for some well-deserved brunch or lunch at one of the most picturesque locations in Hunter Valley wine country.



Tyrrell’s Vineyard Update – Autumn 2015  Mon, May 4th 2015

Hunter Valley

With the harvest over and done with, and the Hunter Valley having received more than 312mm of rain since the start of January, the region is looking quite lush and green. What an amazing effort our hand pickers have put in this season. They picked 333 tonnes of fruit by hand, in four weeks, compared to previous years averages of around 250-260 tonnes. This number also factors in a considerable amount of hand sorting in the vineyard, which we do to get rid of any questionable grapes and ensure that our winemakers only get the best fruit quality. Our total crush from the entire Tyrrell’s property in the Hunter was 633 tonnes.


This time of year is usually a quiet time for the vineyard, but not this year. We are busy preparing for a new planting of Pinot Noir in a small patch of reworked ground on the 4 & 8 Acres Pinot Noir block. We have also been carrying out plenty of trellis maintenance, which includes replacing end posts, fixing broken wires and dropping the catch wires for easy pruning starting mid may. And if that wasn’t enough to keep us busy, soil works are ongoing as well. These include deep ripping, cultivation and one of our most important tasks at this time of year, where the boys need to get their eye and hand co-ordination into rhythm – using the cut off ploughs.

As always, Adam has done an amazing job with running our Heathcote vineyard for the 14/15 growing season. This year has been somewhat trying, with the dry season requiring considerable amounts of irrigation and on ground work. We assisted for harvest by sending down a Hunter crew to take some pressure off, this year being a light crop and the region being quite dry, the vintage was over very quickly. With only 144 tonnes of top quality fruit picked the vintage was short but awesome. Great job, Adam.


Pengalls (Andrew Pengilly, Tyrrell’s Vineyard Manager)

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"Nothing is great unless it is good" is the mission statement that has guided Tyrrell's Wines for over 150 years; and since Edward Tyrrell established the winery in 1858, we have continued to produce premium wine from what are now some of the oldest vineyards in the world.

Headed by fourth generation family member Bruce Tyrrell, Tyrrell's is one of Australia’s oldest family owned wineries. We produce some of the country’s most renowned wines, including the iconic Vat 1 Semillon, and since 1971 our wines have been awarded over 5,500 trophies and medals. Tyrrell's Wines is a proud member of Australia's First Families of Wine and along with our original, historic vineyard in Hunter Valley, we have expanded into other premium Australian wine regions like Heathcote, VIC and the Limestone Coast, SA.


My great grandfather arrived in Pokolbin in 1858 and took up a concessional allotment of 320 acres.  This marks the start of over 150 years of the Tyrrell’s being a constant in both the Hunter Valley and Australian wine industries.  The motto he brought with him from England “nothing is great unless it is good”, remains as a guiding beacon of what we have been, what we are and what we will be in the future.

The past 50 years has been an era of growth and innovation. We have purchased, or leased many of the great vineyard blocks of the Hunter, introduced chardonnay and pinot noir to the modern Australian wine industry and have been lucky enough to work with Hunter semillon – one of the truly unique wines of the world. Hunter semillon has been the obsession of my generation and it is wonderful to now see international acceptance of the greatness and unique quality of this wine.


When I joined the business full time in 1974, we were a small winery with 95% of the business being at Cellar Door and having made about three export sales; one each to the USA, UK and Sweden.  Today, we are a medium sized family business with vineyards in the Hunter Valley, Limestone Coast and Heathcote, and export to more than 50 countries around the world.

The two great developments of the last 20 years have been the selection of the land for our vineyard in Heathcote in Victoria; an area which, I believe, will join the front rank of great quality region in Australia.  In the past four years, we have identified the six vineyard blocks that we have which are greater than 100 years old and when the quality was good enough, produced and bottled them as stand alone wines. These are amongst the rarest vineyards in the world.

It is the wish of the current generation that the family goes on for at least another 150 years.  Without family business our economy would lack length of vision for the future and the long term commitment to quality and innovation.

We are proud to be a member of the Australia’s First Families of Wine as we all share the same long term vision of the Australian wine industry.

M. Bruce Tyrrell AM

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Hunter Valley, NSW

This wine region is made up of the upper Hunter and lower Hunter, and is linked by the Hunter River. Settlement commenced in the Hunter Valley region in 1826. In the 20th century, expansion occurred slowly until the boom period of the 1960s and 1970s. The majority of the vineyards in the lower Hunter are situated on the extreme southern side of what is a broad and relatively flat valley nestled into the foothills of the Brokenback Range.


The terrain is gently to markedly undulating, bordered to the north, west and south-west by the Great Dividing Range. The summer climate in the Hunter is humid, with high cloud cover and high rainfall. A break in the Great Dividing Range allows summer sea breezes to penetrate the valley. Rainfall is often highest just prior to and during harvest in February.


The vintage period is one of the earliest and shortest in Australia with harvest commencing in late January in the lower Hunter. Yields are generally low so grape quality is good, and there is an inexplicable affinity between the terroir and the semillon and shiraz grapes for which the area is justly renowned.

With our first plantings in 1879, Pokolbin remains the home of Tyrrell’s vineyards and has become recognised as some of the Hunter Valley’s finest vineyard land and the basis for development of our premium wines.


Hunter Valley “Our Sacred Sites”

Having been spared the phylloxera epidemic that wiped out the great vineyards of Europe in the 19th century, the Hunter Valley is home to some of the oldest vineyards in the world. Within the boundaries of the region, it boasts some of the most unique pockets of vineyard land in Australia. Bruce Tyrrell has identified a selection of these “sacred sites” for their ability to produce fruit that is “so good and so different” they warrant individual bottling.


These “sacred sites” consist of six blocks (one chardonnay, two semillon, and three shiraz) that are over 100 years old, and still producing and growing on their own roots. These represent some of the rarest vines in the world and they most probably have their origins in the Busby Collection - a selection of some 433 grapevine cuttings from Europe that were originally planted in the Hunter Valley in the 1800s.


Heathcote, VIC

Rich in gold mining history, Heathcote developed into a wine production area in the 1950s with expansion taking place in the 1980s. The Heathcote region is nestled between Bendigo, the Macedon Ranges and Goulburn Valley and is 120km north-west of Melbourne.

The landscape comprises undulating rises and narrow alluvial floodplains providing the climate and soil for shiraz vines to thrive. The climate is temperate, ideally suited to full-bodied, rich and textured shiraz and cabernet sauvignon. Full ripeness is always achieved, but the climate is not so warm as to diminish varietal character.


The Heathcote region has established a reputation for high quality red table wines. Shiraz wines of unimaginable depth of colour and extreme weight of fruit are now the hallmarks of this relatively new region. Harvest commences in mid March.

The Tyrrell’s Heathcote vineyard was put to vine in 1994 and was fully planted out in 1997 with its first release in the same year. Our Heathcote vineyard sits in the deep Cambrian soil giving it a unique ability to produce extraordinary wines. The vineyard is high enough on the eastern slope of the Mt Camel range to be out of the frost zone and is protected from the hot sun in the late afternoon.


Penola, SA

The history of this region is shared with that of the Coonawarra region, which it adjoins for most of its boundary from south-east to north-west. The first vines in the region were planted in the 1890s and became more prominent in the 1950s. One of mainland Australia’s most southerly wine producing regions, it is located 360km south-east of Adelaide.

The region spans several distinctive landscape features, all remnants of an ancient coastal dune/back-swamp system. The region is flat, at an elevation of 60m. On the eastern side is the Naracoorte Range, an undulating range formed on the cemented sands of an old dune. To the west of the range is a very gently undulating plain underlain by clay sediments.


The climate is characterised by moderate, winter-dominant rainfall, moderate temperatures during the growing season, and moderate solar radiation. Rainfall is high during the vintage month of April. Maturity is in April when conditions are close to optimal for both shiraz and cabernet sauvignon. The total production from the Limestone Coast of South Australia is used almost exclusively for the production of table wine.

Fruit from the Tyrrell’s Limestone Coast vineyard is machine harvested and partially machine pruned. Must juice is then transported back to Tyrrell’s winery in the Hunter to complete its transformation into wine.

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My great grandfather arrived in Pokolbin in 1858 and took up a concessional allotment of 320 acres.  This marks the start of over 150 years of the Tyrrell’s being a constant in both the Hunter Valley and Australian wine industries.  The motto he brought with him from England “nothing is great unless it is good”, remains as a guiding beacon of what we have been, what we are and what we will be in the future.

The past 50 years has been an era of growth and innovation. We have purchased, or leased many of the great vineyard blocks of the Hunter, introduced chardonnay and pinot noir to the modern Australian wine industry and have been lucky enough to work with Hunter semillon - one of the truly unique wines of the world. Hunter semillon has been the obsession of my generation and it is wonderful to now see international acceptance of the greatness and unique quality of this wine.


When I joined the business full time in 1974, we were a small winery with 95% of the business being at Cellar Door and having made about three export sales; one each to the USA, UK and Sweden.  Today, we are a medium sized family business with vineyards in the Hunter Valley, Limestone Coast and Heathcote, and export to more than 50 countries around the world. 

The two great developments of the last 20 years have been the selection of the land for our vineyard in Heathcote in Victoria; an area which, I believe, will join the front rank of great quality region in Australia.  In the past four years, we have identified the six vineyard blocks that we have which are greater than 100 years old and when the quality was good enough, produced and bottled them as stand alone wines. These are amongst the rarest vineyards in the world.


It is the wish of the current generation that the family goes on for at least another 150 years.  Without family business our economy would lack length of vision for the future and the long term commitment to quality and innovation.

We are proud to be a member of the Australia’s First Families of Wine as we all share the same long term vision of the Australian wine industry.

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Inside information

“For the first century and a bit, winemaking at Tyrrell’s was an inside job and it wasn’t until Ralph Fowler arrived in 1971 that anyone outside the family took on a winemaking role, with Mike DeGaris and Andrew Spinaze the only other non-family members to subsequently hold the post of chief winemaker.” Nick Ryan, Australian Gourmet Traveller, November 2008.


The Tyrrell’s winemaker alumni is a roll call of great names including: Ralph Fowler, Mike DeGaris, John Cassegrain, Andrew Margan, David Hook, Andrew Thomas, Trevor Jones, Andrew Noon, Gordon Gebbie, Chris Archer, Nick Paterson, Dave Mavor, Phil Leggett and three members of the Glaetzer family: Colin, Ben and John.

Today, Andrew Spinaze, Mark Richardson and Chris Tyrrell form the Tyrrell’s winemaking team, responsible for crafting some of Australia’s most iconic wines, consistently ensuring that Tyrrell’s obsession with quality and tradition is upheld.


Early 1000’s Walter Tyrrell arrives in England with William the Conqueror.

1100AD King William (Rufus) II (son of William the Conqueror) allegedly killed by an arrow shot by Sir Walter Tyrrell. Sir Walter flees to England to live in exile in Normandy. He is later pardoned by the new king.

1500 The Tyrrell line descends from Robert Tyrrold and his wife, Agnes, of Hagbourne, England. He died in Hagbourne, 1545.

1584 Avery Terrold, son of Robert and Agnes, dies.

1605 William (The Elder) Tyrrold, son of Avery Terrold and his wife Alis, die. They have a son William Terril.

1630 William Terrall, son of William Terril and his wife Elizabeth Witney, is born.

1652 William Terril, son of William (The Elder) Tyrrold and his wife Elinor Tirolde die.

1667 Timothy Terrell, son of William Terrill and his wife Martha, is born in West Hagbourne.

1686 William Terrall dies about 26th January.

1692 Timothy Terrell marries Elizabeth West on 18th September.

1693 Timothy Tyrrell, son of Timothy Terrell and Elizabeth West is born about 9th November.

1754 Timothy Tyrrell marries Elizabeth Tyrell on 15th April in St. Mary, Reading.

1755 Timothy, son of Timothy and Elizabeth is born about February 5th. His father dies in 1766 and his mother in 1787. Timothy becomes the Remembrancer of the city of London. His son Edward also becomes the Remembrancer.

1789 Timothy Tyrrell marries Elizabeth Dollond at St. Faith London on 24th January. They have 15 children.

1793 Frederick Tyrrell – son of Timothy and Elizabeth is born 30th December at the Guildhall, London.

1807 William Tyrrell, son of Timothy and Elizabeth, is born 31st January. He later becomes the 1st Bishop of Newcastle in Australia.

1816 Frederick has completed his medical studies and is admitted as a member of the College of Surgeons. He goes on to become a Professor of Anatomy and Surgery at the Royal College of Surgeons and remains on the staff of the Royal London Ophthalmic Hospital for 26 years until his death.

1823 Frederick married Frances (Fanny) Susanna Cooper on 5th June in London, at St. Martin in the Fields. They have 9 children over the next 17 years; Fanny, Frederick, Lovick, Timothy, Walter, Astley, Edward and Mary.

1827 Lovick Tyrrell born.

1832 Timothy Tyrrell dies 9th July.

1835 Elizabeth Tyrrell dies 11th July. Edward Tyrrell is born on 24th October in Broadstairs, Kent, England.

1843 Dr. Frederick Tyrrell dies as a result of a fall, 23rd May in London, aged 49.

1848 William Tyrrell, Frederick Tyrrell’s younger brother is appointed as first Anglican Bishop of the diocese of Newcastle – so begins the Tyrrell family’s association with the region. On the 26th January he is installed in St. Andrew’s Cathedral and on the 31st at the Newcastle Pro-Cathedral. He lives at Closebourne, renamed Bishopscourt in Morpeth, near Maitland on the Hunter River.

1854 Edward and Lovick arrive in Sydney on the 20th July. Frances Tyrrell, the widow of Frederick and mother of Edward and Lovick, remarries 2nd August. Her new husband is Sir Charles George Young (1795 – 1869).

1857 Lovick becomes a priest (eventually becoming an Archdeacon) and works closely with his uncle Bishop Tyrrell. Lovick also marries Emma Hungerford. It is her sister, Susan, who marries Edward Tyrrell in 1869.

1858 Edward takes up a selection of 320 acres of prime Hunter Valley land (one of the last available properties – basically limestone country abutting the Brokenback Range). He names the property “Ashmans” after his maternal grandmother’s ancestral home “Ashmans Hall” in Beccles, Suffolk. The first residence iron bark slab hut is built (still standing today).

1863 Winery is built.

1864 Tyrrell’s first vintage.

1869 Edward marries Susan Hungerford on the 7th June in Maitland. They have 10 children. Susan (Molly), Edward (Dan), Amy, Frederick, Robert (Timothy), Elizabeth (Rose), Ellen (May), Daisy, Florence (Flo) and Avery.

1870 Emma Hungerford the wife of Lovick Tyrrell dies on Christmas Day. She and Lovick had 8 children. Total of 30 acres of semillon, shiraz and aucerot (the ‘prince of white wine’) established.

1871 Edward (known as Dan) George Young Tyrrell is born 9th July at his mother’s parents home “Owlpen” in Maitland.

1876 Frances Young – mother of Edward Tyrrell, dies on 21st November 1876 in England.

1879 Bishop Tyrrell dies on 24th March at Morpeth, aged 72.

1889 ‘Dan’ Tyrrell starts his first vintage.

1891 Avery Edal Tyrrell is born 22nd April at Pokolbin.

1905 Lovick Tyrrell, brother of Edward, dies in Sydney on 6th June, aged 81.

1909 Edward dies on the 6th December in Pokolbin.

1916 Avery Tyrrell leaves Australia to fight in World War I, where he is injured. On his return he takes over the responsibility of looking after the family vineyards.

1920 Avery marries Dorothy Davey on 19th April. They have three sons, Murray, Astley (1922 – 2005) and Ian (1924).

1921 Murray Davey Tyrrell is born 10th February in Cessnock.

1929 Susan Tyrrell, the wife of Edward, dies on 20th June, Pokolbin.

1941 On 17th November, Murray enlists for service in World War II. His time in the army is spent in Australia and New Guinea. In the same year, his brother Astley enlists with the Australian Air Force, and then later Ian, also with the Air Force.

1944 Murray marries Ruth Church on 3rd November in Sydney.

1947 Vineyard area was worked entirely by horses; it took seven weeks to plough the vineyards.

1948 Ann Tyrrell, daughter of Murray and Ruth is born 15th June in Cessnock. Ann is no longer involved with the company as she and her husband John Ellis own and run the Hanging Rock Winery in Victoria.

1951 Murray Bruce Tyrrell (known as Bruce) born on 17th October in Cessnock.

1956 Avery Tyrrell dies on 4th June at his home in Pokolbin, aged 64.

1959 ‘Dan’ Tyrrell dies on 13th April at Pokolbin, aged 88. He never married. Murray Tyrrell, the 3rd generation takes over as head of the family, aged 38.

1961 The “Vat” system is born, reds Vat 5, 7 & 9 released.

1963 Vat 1 Hunter Semillon, arguably the world’s finest semillon is first produced from semillon grapes grown on the Short Flat Vineyard.

1966 The hugely successful Long Flat Red is released.

1968 Tyrrell’s first plant chardonnay vines. Murray Tyrrell co-founds The Rothbury Estate with Len Evans and eight others.

1971 Tyrrell’s first release Vat 47 Chardonnay. Sparkling Moselle finally out sells special sweet sherry – Tyrrell’s biggest volume sellers.

1972 First export to USA – a container of 1,000 cases.

1974 Bruce Tyrrell, son of Murray, is the 4th generation to join the company, aged 23.

1977 Bruce marries Pauline Buckley on 22nd October in Pokolbin. Tyrrell’s lease the Weinkeller Vineyard in Pokolbin.

1979 Ruth Tyrrell, wife of Murray dies on 2nd April in Cessnock. Tyrrell’s win the prestigious Gault-Millau Olympics of Wine in France for the 1976 Vat 6 Pinot Noir – acclaimed as best in the world. The Old Winery range is released.

1980 Jane Elizabeth Tyrrell, daughter of Bruce and Pauline is born 27th February, the fifth generation. Dorothy ‘Dolly’ Tyrrell, wife of Avery, dies on 9th August in Cessnock.

1981 John Murray Edward Tyrrell, son of Bruce and Pauline, is born 17th November.

1982 Christopher George Avery Tyrrell, son of Bruce and Pauline, is born 11th December. Tyrrell’s purchase She-oak vineyard.

1983 Tyrrell’s purchase the HVD vineyard from Penfolds.

1984 Long Flat White is released following request from North American market.

1986 Murray Tyrrell is appointed a Member of the Order of Australia (AM). He receives the award on 26th January.

1988 Tyrrell’s purchase the Glenbawn Estate winery in the Upper Hunter Valley after having leased it since 1979. Approximately 1,500 to 2,000 tonnes is crushed here annually. Also purchased is the Brokenback Vineyard from The Rothbury Estate.


1993 Famous Lost Block incident (portion of HVD vineyard was lost leading to the development of this well known brand and style).

1994 Tyrrell’s purchase a vineyard in McLaren Vale, growing mainly chardonnay and cabernet. Heathcote property in Victoria is purchased and first shiraz vines are planted.

1995 Share of St. Mary’s Vineyard is purchased in Limestone Coast, South Australia, growing primarily red varieties: cabernet sauvignon, merlot and shiraz. Tyrrell’s voted “Australia’s Best Winery” by Tim White, Australian Financial Review.

1996 Moon Mountain and Rufus Stone wines released for the first time.

1998 Release of new Long Flat Chardonnay. Tyrrell’s 140th anniversary.

2000 Murray Tyrrell dies on 2nd October in Sydney, aged 79.

2002 Fifth generation, Jane, John and Christopher all involved and working in the business. One third of all production is exported. Approximately 800 acres under vine.

2003 The Long Flat brand is sold to Cheviot Bridge. Bruce Tyrrell named Hunter Valley’s “Business Person of the Year” on 14th November.

2004 Andrew Spinaze, Tyrrell’s chief winemaker, wins both Gourmet Traveller WINE and Winestate magazines “Winemaker of the Year”. Vat 1 wins Best Wine of Adelaide Show for second year running.

2005 Vat 1 wins Best Wine of Sydney Show and Best Show Wine of the Year. Tyrrell’s exports to 30 countries worldwide. Tyrrell’s produces 500,000 cases per year.

2006 Bruce Tyrrell appointed a Member of the Order of Australia (AM) on 12th June, for his contribution to the Australian wine industry, improving grape quality, research, tourism and export opportunities.

2008 Tyrrell’s celebrates its 150 year anniversary. Tyrrell’s Wines receives 14 trophies at the Hunter Valley Wine Show, from the 19 presented.

2009 Vat 1 Semillon 1998 is awarded the Best Semillon at the international Decanter 2009 Wine Awards.. Red winemaker, Mark Richardson is awarded “Winemaker of the Year” by Campbell Mattinson and Gary Walsh in The Big Red Wine Book 2009/10.

2010 Tyrrell’s Wines is awarded “Winery of the Year” in the 2010 James Halliday Australian Wine Companion. Vat 47 Chardonnay celebrates its 40th vintage.

2012 Chris Tyrrell wins “Rising Star of the Year” Award at the Hunter Valley Wine Industry Awards. Glenbawn Estate and McLaren Vale vineyards are sold. Vat 1 and Vat 9 awarded Wines of Provenance trophies at 2012 Hunter Valley Wine Show,  along with four other trophies and thirteen gold medals.

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19 different wines with 47 vintages


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 Tyrrell's Wines  has news

2020 Vintage: A Statement from Bruce Tyrrell Tyrrell’s has made the decision to have a seve  more ...

6m 28d ago

 Ken Gargett, Wine Writer (Australia)  tasted  1 wines  from  Tyrrell's Wines . In a tasting of  7 wines 

Pol Roger ‘Sir Winston Churchill 2006 is the 16th release of this wine (A$360), following on from 2002 and 2004. It is a blend of Chardonnay and Pinot Noir, though Pol don’t provide the percentages, from Grand Cru vineyards, no doubt the Côte des Blancs and Montagne de Reims featuring heavily. Fermentation is in stainless steel at a temperature which is not permitted to exceed 18°C. There is a full malolactic fermentation, with the second alcoholic fermentation occurring in the deepest cellars that Pol have – 33 metres below ground level. Here the temperature is a consistent, and chilly, 9°C.

The 2006 is a superb champagne, though still so youthful. Indeed, if you can, lay it away for a couple of years. The nose has an immediate marzipan note with brioche and biscuits. Hints of honeysuckle. The palate is more grilled nuts, nougat and honeycomb. Lean and long, the structure is tight but everything is finely balanced, although the power and richness of the excellent 2006 vintage cannot remain hidden. Fresh acidity backs up the lingering intensity. Such a long finish. A champagne that will age magnificently. If you want a score, 97.

1y 5m ago

 Andrew Graham, Wine Writer (Australia)  tasted  1 wines  from  Tyrrell's Wines . In a tasting of  21 wines 

Thomas Wines Elenay Shiraz 2017 / Famously the ‘lips and assholes’ leftover barrels blend for Andrew Thomas, but doesn’t look inferior. It tends towards the bigger end – more Kiss than Belford – but with a chocolatey bite. It’s just a little bit warm, and the alcohol sticks out a little too. Quality, if not the cohesion of the single vineyard wines. Best drinking: now to fifteen years. 17.7/20, 92/100. 14.5%, $55. Would I buy it? There’s others in the range I’d open first.

1y 8m ago

 Julia Harding MW, Wine Writer (United Kingdom)  tasted  1 wines  from  Tyrrell's Wines . In a tasting of  25 wines 

Henschke Hill of Grace 2004 / 100% Shiraz grapes from pre-phylloxera material brought from Europe by the early settlers in the mid-1800s and grown in the Eden Valley wine region. Matured in 100% new French (50%) and American (50%) hogsheads for 18 months prior to blending and bottling.
Slightly greyish but deep garnet. Intensely sweet dark cassis fruit plus some cedary leafy notes. Rich and smooth and really plush, generous and silky but also very moreish and juicy. pH 3.6, TA 5.7 g/l,

1y 8m ago

 Jamie Goode, Wine Writer (United Kingdom)  tasted  2 wines  from  Tyrrell's Wines . In a tasting of  21 wines 

Seppeltsfield Para Tawny 1884 Barossa, Australia. Seppeltsfield have an unbroken line of tawny ports in bottle from 1878-2012. Amazingly intense nose of treacle, spice, raisin, balsamic vinegar. Viscous and amazingly concentrated. Powerful, spicy flavours with treacle, molasses, raisins and stunning acidity. Some crème brulee too.  A remarkable experience. 98/100

1y 10m ago

 Heikki Ahdekivi, Wine Collector (Finland)  tasted  1 wines  from  Tyrrell's Wines . In a tasting of  25 wines 

The 1980's tasting - flight III with Margaug 1985, Cheval Blanc 1982, Dominus 1988, Grange 1986 etc,

1y 10m ago

 Mika Junnila, Pro (Finland)  tasted  1 wines  from  Tyrrell's Wines . In a tasting of  24 wines 

The 1980's tasting with Grange, Latour, Margaux, Insignia, Dominus, Cheval Blanc, Krug, Yquem etc.

2y 6m ago

 Colin Gaetjens, Wine Merchant (Australia)  tasted  1 wines  from  Tyrrell's Wines . In a tasting of  23 wines 

The Best Australian wines from 21st Century tasting.

3y 6m ago

 Ken Gargett, Wine Writer (Australia)  tasted  2 wines  from  Tyrrell's Wines . In a tasting of  33 wines 

De Bortoli ‘Riorret’ ‘Lusatia Park’ Pinot Noir 2016 / This exciting Yarra Valley vineyard does Pinot Noir as well as it does Chardonnay, perhaps even more so. This is a cracker. Plums, earth, slightly sappy notes with some animal skin complexity. Licorice and dark fruits. Satiny tannins and excellent length. This is no simple Pinot; this is seriously good. Should age well for a decade or more. 

Score: 95/100

3y 10m ago

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