Kelman is a well established boutique vineyard nestled in a quiet corner of the Parish of Pokolbin below Mount View. Focusing on classic Hunter varietals, Kelman planted Semillon in 1996 and enjoyed the first harvest in 1999. Chardonnay and Shiraz soon followed, and the first awards came along in the year 2000.
Hundreds of medals and awards later, the vineyard is recognised as a boutique winery that consistently makes classic Hunter varietals with skill and a fine touch. The product range has expanded to include an award winning Blanc de Blanc Sparkling Chardonnay, Tempranillo and Rose plus some interesting blends and Muscat based wines. Kelman Vineyard has been recognised as a 4 1/2 star winery in the 2019 James Halliday Wine Companion.
Kelman is also a unique community. Its 100 acres feature approximately 23 acres of vines in rich soil snaking their way around 80 residential dwellings. The interaction of residential and farming is unique and charming. The owners of these houses and cottages form a close community that owns the wine operation and the infrastructure that makes up Kelman Vineyard. The wine operation is run by community members who bring skills and experience from a variety of business and professional backgrounds.
The Kelman philosophy is to produce quality wines in classic styles and to concentrate on what the fruit can deliver each year according to the soil and climate. Minimum intervention by the winemaker guarantees a genuinely local product. From this successful base, Kelman also produces some exciting blends and new varietals.
Kelman has developed a reputation for the quality of its wines and professionalism in the wine making and marketing operation through small winemaker awards, community and public support. The vision of Kelman Vineyard is to be recognised for making great wines from our own fruit while providing a rural lifestyle experience for its owners and residents.
Kelman Vineyard offers a wonderful and relaxing personal wine experience to the independent wine tourist, from millennials to baby boomers.
The first vines at Kelman Vineyard were planted in 1996, one of the hottest and driest years on record. The dams were dug and water flowed the next year. Planting of olive trees and the orchard areas started in 1997.
In 1999 the first Semillon fruit was picked and in 2000 the first awards came, with five silver and bronze medals for the chardonnay.
The Cellar Door was opened in 2001 by Len Evans AO OBE, champion of Australian wine, renowned wine judge and gifted wine writer. Len believed implicitly in the concept of Kelman and supported its vision to produce premium wines from fruit grown on the estate saying at the launch that he was a “big supporter of boutique producers.”
The winery is named in honour of William Dalrymple Kelman who, in the mid 1800s, was one of the founding fathers of the Australian wine industry. Kelman married James Busby’s sister, Catherine, whom he met on the Triton on his way to Van Diemen’s Land, now known as Tasmania. Eventually, after a long distance romance, Kelman moved from Tasmania to Sydney, married and then settled in the Hunter. He managed a mixed farming property called Kirkton which belonged to John Busby, his father in law. James Busby is credited with bringing many vines to Australia, some of which were probably used at Kirkton by Kelman, making it one of the very first Hunter Valley wineries. Semillon dates from this time as does ‘Red Hermitage’.
The Kelman development grew from a clear plan in the late 1990s to provide a unique residential community in a tranquil vineyard setting. The wide cross section of owners and residents now enjoy the benefits of that vision from community facilities to the benefits of living among the vines.
Approximately 23 acres of the estate are planted to vines. These include the original blocks – Orchard Block Semillon, Mount View Block Shiraz and Old Block Shiraz, together with blocks for Chardonnay, Tempranillo and Muscat.
The vines stretch around the estate and the dams and provide a unique view for residents through the seasons. An olive grove plus lemons and oranges
The vineyard is cared for by long term viticulturist, Terry Roughan and Tim Maslen, our resident estate manager, with contract help when required.
Some owners also get involved in grape picking at vintage time – forming a close connection with the end product – and rose pruning in the winter months.
Kelman has also found itself to be something of a Hunter bird sanctuary, both a blessing and curse depending on your point of view about the vines. Certainly, the loud and brightly plumaged lorikeets get their share of grapes as they ripen!
Kelman Vineyard is home to a wide range of people who enjoy the relaxed rural lifestyle. Many are active in the Kelman community including the winery operation. Some are retired while others work or manage their own business interests in the Hunter and beyond.
Kelman is also home to the acclaimed B&B The Cooperage.
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