Wybong Estate Vineyard, which lies to the north west of Hollydeen on Yarraman Road, Wybong, was established by the Hordern and McGuigan families and was also the foundation for Hordern Family Wines.
The Estate was later taken over and developed by Jon and Jane Reynolds who for two decades produced their award winning Reynolds Yarraman Estate wines.Wybong vineyard and its historic winery is the oldest in the Upper Hunter uniquely located in the Wybong Valley neighbouring the Monabali National Park, with an ideal micro climate for producing low-yielding, high quality Chardonnay, Semillon, Shiraz, Tempranillo, Sangiovese, Verdelho and Gewürztraminer.
In all the grape vines comprise 35 acres and there are plans afoot to plant a further five acres to Tempranillo.
The vineyard began with eight acres of Shiraz cuttings planted by David Hordern, the owner of ‘Brogheda’, Wybong, in partnership with a young Brian McGuigan in 1965.
Two years later, Sydney Orthopaedic surgeon Bob Smith established Wybong Estate nearby.
By 1969 the three had formed an association and had 50 acres of vines at Wybong Estate and 28 acres at Brogheda.
The two also organised to shift the old stone prison at Bengalla to Wybong Estate which was transformed into a winery in the 1970s.
The massive ironbark supports, bearers and joists were sourced from the old Dalgety Woolstores in Darling Harbour, Sydney, and rafters from Resch’s brewery.
It was noted in 1978 the vineyard produced 36,000 litres of red wine and 54,000 litres of white wine.
The Wybong vineyards hosted an annual festival over the long weekend in October that ran from the late 70s through until the early 90s.
Hordern’s Wybong Estate winemaker John Hordern, nephew of David Hordern, remembers the three-day festivals as ‘quite amazing events’ with huge dinners and many, many people in attendance.
Mr Hordern said Wybong Estate supplied a lot of wine to HG Brown for a ‘Seafood dry white’
The winery and vineyard were purchased by Jon and Jane Reynolds in 1989.
The Reynolds’ label ‘Reynolds Yarraman’ was highly successful with the first trophy won in 1991 at the Hunter Valley Wine Show for their 1991 Semillon.
Mr Reynolds said the vines included Gewürztraminer and Semillon as well as Shiraz.
“The Semillon was our most successful wine but the Shiraz was also quite successful,” Mr Reynolds said.
The Reynolds produced a Cabernet Merlot, with fruit sourced from Orange, which also won numerous awards for the family.
“The Traminer was from very old vines and we made a sticky dessert wine with it,” Mr Reynolds said.
At the beginning a major replanting was undertaken with better clones and good rootstocks, as well as trellises and a 20 megalitre dam which improved the vineyard enormously.
The Reynolds were also responsible for planting the Italian variety Sangiovese and the Spanish Tempranillo in 1998 but left the property before they saw the grapes turned into wine.
“They were something new, something different,” he said. “You need to be doing different things in the wine industry.”
The Reynolds had about 1000 people on their wine list and a bustling property with ‘Café Limbo’ running as well.
“It was very popular, the food was so good and it was such a beautiful spot,” Mr Reynolds said.
“We had 12 good years and the kids all grew up there.”
The Williams family purchased Wybong vineyard in 2006 and have since supplied grapes to Arrowfield Winery until producing their own wines under the Hollydene labels.