Located thirty kilometres west of the main Hunter vineyard region, the original 32 hectare property is named after the monolith on its southern boundary, which in turn takes its name from a prominent local character who lived in the area over 100 years ago. Four prime hectares were planted solely to chardonnay vines, an endeavour described by legendary Australian winemaker, Murray Tyrrell, as the viticultural showpiece of Hunter Valley. David Clarke spent two years in search of this ideal site, one that would provide a suitable microclimate and alluvial soils conducive to the production of premium chardonnay. He engaged viticultural consultant Di Davidson to assist with the vineyard’s design. Development and planting commenced in spring 1988. They took meticulous care in establishing the vineyard, which is fully irrigated. The vines are now fully mature and producing remarkable quality fruit.
The first vintage was released in 1990, with subsequent high quality releases securing Poole’s Rock Chardonnay’s outstanding reputation. Made entirely from estate grown grapes, Poole’s Rock Chardonnay is an elegant wine with a richly textured palate. It is crafted from grapes grown on the estate vineyard and fermented in Vosges oak barriques from several of France’s premier cooperages. The wine undergoes partial malolactic fermentation, while components of the overall blend are kept on yeast lees. This adds an appealing creamy complexity to the wine which is of medium weight and typically exhibits restrained, ripe tropical fruit and citrus aromas. A full, rich and voluptuous style, Poole’s Rock Chardonnay gained its reputation at Sydney’s finest restaurants and now boasts an enthusiastic following around the world.
In 1994 Poole’s Rock acquired a 13 hectare property on the banks of the Wollombi Brook near Broke, which he named Cockfighter’s Ghost. The name dates back to when Governor Macquarie detailed explorers to establish an overland route to Hunter Valley. One wild, windy night as the intrepid travellers were crossing Wollombi Brook, misfortune struck. The lead horse, Cockfighter became bogged in river quicksand and drowned despite all efforts. A fateful night that gave birth to the legend of Cockfighter’s Ghost.
The Cockfighter’s Ghost range is intended as a no compromise niche quality label, producing single varietal wines. The original vineyard is planted to chardonnay, semillon and viognier, and a small block of old vine shiraz dating back 50 years. These estate vines are the foundation of the range, which currently includes Chardonnay, Semillon, Verdelho, a Victoria Pinot Gris, Adelaide Hills Sauvignon Blanc, Clare Valley Riesling and red varietals from South Australia, McLaren Vale Merlot, Shiraz and a Langhorne Creek Cabernet Sauvignon.
In 1998, a Premium Reserve Cockfighter’s Ghost label was added, featuring an award winning Cabernet Sauvignon, sourced from the famed terra rossa soils of Coonawarra. The Premium Reserve range is intended as the epitome of regional expression of a single variety and is only released in exceptional vintages. The range includes a Tasmania Pinot Noir and Orange Pinot Noir Chardonnay Sparkling.
Early in 2001 Poole’s Rock Wines acquired the neighbouring Wollombi Brook Vineyard, developed in the seventies and known then as the Simon Whitlam vineyard, which was planted to Semillon and Chardonnay. The site, which has similar soils and microclimate, effectively doubled the total vineyard area. Today there is a total of fourteen hectares under vine on this vineyard planted to chardonnay and verdelho. In February 2002, Poole’s Rock Wines purchased one of Southcorp Wines largest regional wineries, the extensively refurbished operations at Pokolbin, in the heart of Hunter Valley. This considerable facility sits proudly on the historic 73 hectare Glen Elgin estate, founded in 1895. A ten hectare mature, drip irrigated Shiraz vineyard, some vines dating back to 1900, was added to Poole’s Rock Wines estate. This historic vineyard has been re-named Post Office Vineyard in recognition of the original Pokolbin Post Office, which was once located on this site.
The estate flagship and namesake, Poole’s Rock Chardonnay is the foundation stone of this award winning signature range. However there is ample room for future volume expansion to accommodate the increasing demand for Poole’s Rock, Cockfighter’s Ghost and Firestick wines. The winery also features a state of the art air conditioned barrel store and the historic original winery. In recent years the winery has carried out contract work for numerous other operations including Brokenwood, McGuigan, Spring Mountain and Mayfield.