From 1858 to 2018: Five generations of family celebrate Tyrrell’s 160 years of winemaking history | photos, video

HISTORIC: Established in 1858, Tyrrell’s is one of Australia’s oldest family-owned wineries with vineyards extending from their historic home in the Hunter Valley to Heathcote.
HISTORIC: Established in 1858, Tyrrell’s is one of Australia’s oldest family-owned wineries with vineyards extending from their historic home in the Hunter Valley to Heathcote.

Tyrrell’s Wines have been operating in the Hunter Valley since its foundation in 1858, and in those long 160 years it’s always been a family affair.

Currently helmed by the family’s fourth and fifth generations in the form of Bruce and Chris Tyrrell respectively, their ‘wine empire’ now boasts vineyards stretching from their original plantings all the way to Heathcote.

To celebrate their notable milestone, Tyrrell’s Wine released two commemorative wines at a massive 250 member celebration, with Chris describing the family’s longevity as simply “amazing”.

“We are lucky enough to make wine from vines planted by our great, great grandfathers,” he said. “[They worked] in a time when they had no electricity or any of the luxuries we have today. It is an honour to work with these wonderful assets.”

The commemorative museum wines were announced as the family’s award-winning 2005 Vat 1 Hunter Semillon, and the 2007 Vat 9 Hunter Shiraz.

Although those two were selected as the stand-out vintages to mark the historic occasion, managing director Bruce Tyrrell – a member of the family’s fourth generation – pointed out a number of “monumental moments” that put the Tyrrells and the Hunter Valley on the “world win map”.

As well as the 1963 release of the family’s iconic Vat 1 Hunter Semillon, one of the country’s most prestigious white wines, Mr Tyrrell also recollected the “controversial” maturing of Cardonnay in French oak in 1973, which they then entered into a wine show.

“The Tyrrells have been through many phases of change over the last 160 years, adapting to changes in the industry and economy and the family members of the time,” the fourth generation director said.

“The consistent factor throughout time has been our love of the Hunter Valley and the wines that make it – it runs through the veins of the family. We have been among the very few people lucky enough to work with something truly unique in the world of wine: Hunter Semillon.

“In another 160 years my wish is that the family is still here on our original land making wines that are of great quality and distinctive to the Hunter Valley.”

The anniversary also coincides with another historic milestone for the family – the Old Patch vineyard produced its 150th vintage this year, and continues to hold the mantle of the oldest producing vines in the state. It also marked the 47th vintage of Vat 47 Hunter Chardonnay.

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