Bimbadgen: A Quality Evolution
One of the Hunter Valley's most respected wineries is showing how like all good wines, it's simply getting better with age.
As the country’s oldest wine region, the Hunter Valley produces less than 3% of Australia’s total output. Despite this relatively small contribution, the profile and importance of the Hunter far outweighs its production for two simple reasons: quality and heritage.
For over 150 years the winemakers of the Hunter have valued quality over quantity, and it’s precisely that foundation that the heritage and reputation of the region is built upon.
A Quiet Evolution
Planted in 1968, Bimbadgen – one of the Valley’s iconic landmarks – has long been a strong contributor to the modern face of Hunter Valley wine and tourism. However, as borders open and people return to the cellar doors and restaurants of the Valley, it’s clear that there has been a quiet evolution going on behind the famous Bimbadgen Bell Tower.
People are talking, enthusiastically, about the overall and dramatic rise in quality of Bimbadgen wines, and the renewed energy and hospitality at the cellar door. Locals are also talking about the elevation of food and service quality at Esca, Bimbadgen’s winery restaurant.
Back in 2020 Belinda Stapleton, Bimbadgen’s General Manager, decided to use the disruption and uncertainty of the pandemic as an opportunity to refresh and rebuild on what she sees as an important part of the Hunter’s past, present and future. She set about focusing on people and the important role that individuals can play in refreshing and energising a business.
“I am excited by the passionate and highly skilled people we have within our team,” explained Belinda. “They all bring new energy to what we do and that helps us bring the history of our vineyards, our iconic winery and our vision of the future together.”
“We see Bimbadgen as one of the Hunter’s most significant premium vineyard and tourism offerings,” she continues, “and we believe we have a responsibility to continue to share the story of the Hunter and Bimbadgen through our wines, our cellar door, and our hospitality venues and experiences.”
Left: Head of Hospitality, Sophie Andrews; Right: Winemaker Richard Done.
One of those figures is winemaker Richard Done, who has been contributing to the modern face of Hunter Valley wines for over 15 years at Scarborough, Andrew Thomas and Hunters Dream. Richard has a deep respect for Bimbadgen’s old vines and understands the importance of crafting wines that not only reflect the Hunter Valley’s wine heritage, but the potential of its future.
“I love being the custodian of these 50-year-old vines and helping them truly showcase their sense of place,” says Richard of his work at Bimbadgen.
“We’ve created a range of Single Vineyard wines to specifically illustrate just how important the soil types of each of our vineyards are. It’s very special; when you taste, you can clearly see them express themselves in the glass.”
Feed the Senses
Food is another important part of the Bimbadgen picture. Executive Chef Mark Marshall and Head of Hospitality Sophie Andrews have worked hard on elevating the dining experience that is delivered at Esca. A long-standing pioneer of the Hunter’s fine dining scene,
Esca is a highly awarded, elegant dining experience that overlooks a glorious vine vista. The evolution at Esca is a subtle move towards simple, uncluttered elegance, brought to life by clean, carefully considered combinations and high quality produce. Needless to say, the wine experience, both at Esca and the cellar door – overseen by Restaurant Manager Aaron Rothe and Head of Wine Experiences & Distribution Rhiannon Hurtz – is one of the best in the valley.
Above: Some of the delectable cuisine on offer at Esca, Bimbadgen.
Warm the heart
Rounding out the hospitality experience is Bimbadgen’s wood-fired pizza courtyard. Tuscan-inspired and covered in a pergola of vines, the scene created here by Mark Marshall presents a relaxed setting in which to sample and enjoy Richard’s great wines. The options are nicely in line with the wine and beverage offering, and range from classic to contemporary, as well as cheese plates and charcuterie.
Like everything else at Bimbadgen, hospitality and quality lead the way. Indeed, don’t be surprised if you see a local crew of winemakers and Hunter identities enjoying the quality evolution that is taking place at Bimbadgen.
Discover Bimbadgen's evolving qualities for yourself.