The Arrowfield Estate Vineyard was established in 1969 with predominantly white varieties. Of the original plantings a few blocks of Chardonnay remain. Other varieties planted are Semillon, Verdelho and Shiraz - all eminently suitable to the unique Hunter Valley climate and soils. Fruit from the Arrowfield vineyard primarily goes into our 100% Estate grown Show Reserve wines.
The topography of the vineyard is a combination of eroded ridge lines and alluvial flats each with its own unique soil structure.
Soils on the ridges are shallow decomposed granite and sandstone over a sandstone base and are predominantly planted to Shiraz and Semillon, both vigorous varieties. This soil type helps control their growth and naturally regulates cropping levels.
On the flats the soils are mainly red/brown crumbly friable clay loams over tighter clay and at depth we have a base of sandstone and white shale. This is planted with Chardonnay which prefers the heavier soil.
The unique terroir of the Hunter Valley consistently produces premium quality Semillon, Chardonnay, Verdelho and Shiraz. However for other varieties we need to go elsewhere to produce the same consistent premium quality fruit we demand. The exciting new region of Orange in the Central Tablelands of NSW is a high altitude, cool climate region that produces premium quality Sauvignon Blanc, Riesling, Chardonnay, Shiraz, Cabernet Sauvignon and Merlot. The cool climate Shiraz and Chardonnay has completely different flavour profiles to Hunter Valley Shiraz and Chardonnay giving the winemakers excellent blending components.
Arrowfield is a historically significant site with ties as far back as the settlement of NSW. The Upper Hunter Valley was unexplored until 1819 when George Bowman and John Howe reached the present site of Singleton.
By 1824, George Bowman was squatting on Arrowfield and was eventually granted several tracts of land by Governor Macquarie, namely Arrowfield, Bowfield and Archerfield, which he purchased in instalments between 1834 and 1841.
In the meantime the first Arrowfield farm was established and the stone homestead was constructed by convict labour in 1832. The original convict cells still comprise the homestead’s cellars, and convict irons are still anchored to the stone walls.
Bowman was an early grape grower in the region with vines at ‘Archerfield’, Singleton. Archerfield was named after George Bowman’s father’s property.
His father, free settler John Bowman, established his property ‘Archerfield’ at Richmond, which subsequently became one of the most successful farms in the Hawkesbury Valley.
George Bowman died in 1868 and his son, also Arrowfield’s manager, John Woodward Bowman, inherited ‘Arrowfield’.
However, John died the following year and his wife Jane held the property until 1882. It then passed through various hands including the Ellis family who by 1903 had implemented an irrigation system as well as a steam tractor to replace the 14 Clydesdale horses used to plough paddocks.
‘Arrowfield’ was again sold in 1908 and changed hands several times until the Moses brothers operated their
Thoroughbred stud from 1914 to 1926 and reportedly produced some of the country’s finest racehorses including Poitrel, regarded as Australia’s greatest stayer, as well as Radnor and Heroic.
In the late 1920s the Moses partnership was dissolved which gave the Bowmans the opportunity to bring the beautiful ‘Arrowfield’ back into the family fold in 1928.
They held it until 1945 when the Lawson family purchased ‘Arrowfield’ from Tristan Bowman.
Just prior to ‘Arrowfield’ changing hands to become a wine venture the property was operated as a dairy and Lucerne business. Currently Hollydene Estate at Arrowfield Vineyard is nestled between prominent vineyards and international horse studs of the Upper Hunter Valley.
In 1969 WR Carpenter Ltd began establishing a huge vineyard and winery at ‘Arrowfield’ and the vineyard grew to over 500 hectares – approx 1,450,790
vines - complete with trickle irrigation.
The first stage of the winery was started in 74-75 and construction was still in progress while the first vintage occurred in 1975.
The scale of the operation was such that the company owned four mechanical harvesters which picked about half a hectare an hour. In comparison the hand-pickers each picked about a tonne per day.
The vineyard was known as the largest in production in Australia in 1977.
That same year the vines were also mechanically pruned, with the vineyard one of the first in the Hunter to experiment and persevere with the method.
However, by the late 70s the vineyard was severely rationalised and in 1983 the property was taken over by the West Australian Griffin Holdings group, which in 1986 sold out to John Messara's Australian Racing and Breeding Stable.
That company set up what is now Coolmore Thoroughbred stud but opted out of the wine side of the business in 1989 selling to the Whitlam-Simon group.
The following year that group sold to the Inagaki family of Toyama, Japan, which in turn appointed the Inwine Australia Group to manage the vineyard and winery.
After 20 years the property was again put up for sale and in late 2011 Karen and Gary Williams purchased ‘Arrowfield’, minus its wine label, to complement their existing two vineyards and wine labels.
Over the years the 500 hectares of vines have been reduced to 40 acres with the remaining varieties Chardonnay, Semillon, Verdelho and Shiraz.
The grapes are mechanically harvested and the wine is made in Pokolbin.