Tulloch Wines: Generations of Generosity
As the Tulloch family of the Hunter Valley celebrate their 125th anniversary, we look at how their long history of hospitality has shaped a unique contemporary cellar door experience.
Generous hospitality and Tulloch Wines have gone hand in hand for generations. Christina Tulloch CEO fondly recalls the famous long lunches her family would put on in the 1980s in their old barrel hall for bottleshop owners and reps. She and her siblings would help set the table, serve food and wash up. Today’s incarnation of this tradition comes in the form of tailored experiences catering to the tastes of different guests.
When Tulloch opened its beautiful new Pokolbin cellar door in 2004, Christina quickly realised there was a lot of under-utilised space. “The first thing we did was create the members lounge downstairs because our members are such an important part of what we do,” she describes. Designed to feel like their home in the Hunter, it is filled with couches, lots of homely touches and bits of history. “It’s got the old Tulloch truck in there, it feels like you are walking into our living room,” Christina explains.
They began serving gourmet foods downstairs and once they saw how much members were enjoying it, they decided to roll it out across the cellar door as well. “We made upstairs feel really different. We wanted to make sure that people had the opportunity to sit down and linger a little longer if they wanted to,” she says.
Christina also realised many customers wanted to learn about wine, but not at a granular level. “They don’t want to talk about the fermentation methods and the pH levels and that sort of stuff,” she says. “They have a thirst for education more on a practical level and actually identifying their own wine preferences.”
CHOOSE YOUR TASTING ADVENTURE
This saw the birth of Tulloch’s cellar door food and wine experiences. These range from matching wines with locally produced artisan chocolate, to a mystery wine tour where customers have to figure out what they’re tasting from a series of clues.
A vertical Pokolbin Dry Red Wine flight gives customers the chance to look at the history of the wine and how it matures over the years, while the Museum Experience allows guests to sample Tulloch’s finest vintage wines. Younger visitors and those who don’t drink wine are also catered for through a junior tasting experience which matches different food and drink flavour profiles and a kombucha tasting.
Those who want to combine food and wine are invited to take part in a Global Flavours tasting experience. This is aimed particularly at teaching international travellers how to match Australian wines with foods.There is also an Aussie BBQ experience where local company Hungerford Meats Co teaches guests how to barbecue before sitting down for lunch, wines and a dessert tasting.
All visitors to Tulloch are welcome to do things the old school way as well by walking up to the bar for a complimentary tasting. Tastings can be matched with artisan charcuterie boards, which are made to order and feature a delicious range of locally made products.
CATERING FOR EVERYONE
Tulloch’s range of experiences fits perfectly with their philosophy of Wine Your Way. “You come in and decide how you want to taste our wines and the wine experience you want to have and the wine journey you’re going to go on with Tulloch,” Christina describes. “We also recognise people might be drinking wine for the first time or they might be a wine connoisseur and you’ve got to cater for all those people and we are quite unashamedly proud of that. “A lot of people would say ‘no you’re in the Hunter, you’ve got to drink dry Semillon and medium bodied Shiraz and if you don’t like those two wines, then there is something wrong with you,’” Christina observes.
“We get a lot of customers, certainly from overseas and here in Australia, who haven’t really had any experience of drinking wine before and what we know about those people is that they’re going to start with sweeter wines. As their palate develops, they’re going to move through to drier wines or more sophisticated styles, so that’s why we’ve got such a large range of products – we’ve got something for everyone.”
Christina’s ultimate goal is to take back the narrative. “To me, the narrative about wine should be good times with friends and family, good food and a few drinks. That’s what wine is to me. That’s what it has always been in my family, it’s a social thing and it’s an opportunity to come together and have great times.”
Christina wants people to feel that they can ask questions in her cellar door, even if they think they’re silly. “I want people to feel like they can pronounce things incorrectly and nobody is going to laugh at them because that means they’re interested and they want to learn. But I also love equally when someone comes in knowing what they like.” Wherever you’re at in your journey, Tulloch is happy to accommodate your tasting desires.
Wine Selectors & Tulloch will be hosting a series of 125th birthday Long Lunches in Brisbane (August 29th), Newcastle (September 12th) and Sydney (November 7th). To purchase tickets or find out more information visit the Wine Selectors events page HERE.
Tulloch Wines cellar door is located at 638 De Beyers Rd, Pokolbin, NSW, 2320. For more information visit Tulloch wines website HERE.