A benchmark Australian winery founded in 1970 by Sydney trio Tony Albert, John Beeston and Australia's leading wine critic, James Halliday, Brokenwood evolved from a weekend venture for these self-professed hobby winemakers into one of Australia's most reputable wine labels. These enthusiastic partners knew little about viticulture, thus the early vintages were a labor of love for them and the family and friends they roped in to help. In spite of this, the distinct reds received praise from the earliest vintages, and with the appointment of winemaker, Iain Riggs, in 1982, the company extended its range to include the jewel of the Hunter Valley, semillon. Thirty-five years later, Brokenwood is known for producing some of Australia's most long-lived Semillons, and one of the nation's most iconic single vineyard wines, the Graveyard Shiraz, which Australia's leading auction house, Langton's, lists among the top twenty-five in the country. While the size of the company has grown, the operation remains deliberately labor intensive with the intent of retaining individuality and quality.
"Brokenwood is one of the Hunter Valley's top wineries, led for the past 35 years by Iain Riggs...While Riggs crafted some terrific wines over the years, I think his most important contribution was making Brokenwood something of an incubator for Australia's best young winemaking talent."
Robert Parker's The Wine Advocate (2020)
- Founded: 1970
- Winemaker: Iain Riggs
- Size: 35.5 acres in the Hunter Valley
- Climate: Warm/hot, summer-dominant rainfall
- Key Varieties: Shiraz, Semillon
Iain Riggs, Managing Director, Chief Winemaker and part owner of Brokenwood, has helped transition this estate from a small, hobby winery into an international icon in the nearly 30 years he has been with the company. Graduating from Roseworthy College in 1975 with honors, Riggs went on to become an inaugural Winemaker’s Federation of Australia board member, Chairman of the Cowra, McLaren and Hunter Valley Wine Shows, and Nominee for Gourmet Traveller WINE Magazine’s 2001 Winemaker of the Year. Not surprisingly, quality is paramount for this icon label.
Low yields, hands-off processing and top quality French oak are the norm. In producing these regional benchmarks, the winemaking team adheres to tradition while remaining innovative in their approach, keeping a watchful eye on alcohol levels, tannin and oak to ensure these wines are balanced, yet structured for longevity. These are modern classics that exhibit a true sense of place.
In a region considered relatively warm and subtropical, the presence of summer dominant rainfall, afternoon cloud cover and weak sea breezes temper what could otherwise be a challenging climate for the production of quality table wine. In spite of this, the Hunter Valley has an impressive grape-growing history, with the first vineyards being planted in 1825 by one of pioneers of the Australian wine industry, James Busby. The jewel in Brokenwood’s crown is a vineyard planted a century later: the Graveyard Vineyard. Responsible for the flagship red, its heavy clay soils produce low yields and intense flavors in the Shiraz planted. Riggs’ passion for exploring premium regions to produce single vineyard wines has also seen fruit sourced from outside the Hunter Valley. This fruit complements the Hunter’s Shiraz and Semillon with aromatic complexity and style diversity, namely Sauvignon Blanc, Cabernet Sauvignon and Pinot Noir.
- THE ICONSILR Semillon2013 2011 2009The Graveyard Shiraz2017 2014 2013
- SINGLE VINEYARDOakey Creek Semillon2016 2013 2011
- REGIONALHunter Valley Semillon2019 2018 2017Area Blend Shiraz2015 2014 2013Beechworth Pinot Noir2014 2013 2012