Pokolbin, New South Wales
Cessnock, New South Wales
Sunset over a Pokolbin vineyard
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Pokolbin // is a rural locality in the Hunter Region of New South Wales Australia. It is part of the Singleton Council local government area and the city of Cessnock. The area is the centre of the Lower Hunter Valley wine region. Pokolbin lies within the Hunter Valley Important Bird Area.
The Darkinjung people (specifically the Wonarua tribe) originally inhabited the Pokolbin area for more than 3000 years. They were the major inhabitants at the time of European contact. This contact was disastrous for the Darkinjung people. Many were murdered or died as a result of European diseases. Others were forced onto neighbouring tribal territory and killed. Many lost the will to live and occupied shanty ghettos on the edge of white settlements. Settler pressure on land also constricted traditional tribal and clannish domains, often leading to tribal fighting.
In 1828 the first vineyard was established by the Wilkinsons at Oakdale, in the growing Pokolbin area. In the 1860s, land settlement became extensive between Nulkaba and Pokolbin, with wheat, tobacco and grapes being the principal crops.
The area includes numerous wineries, ranging from large multi-national to small family run operations, which are a popular tourist destination. In addition to long-established names like Drayton, Lindeman, McWilliams Mount Pleasant, Tulloch, Lake's Folly and Tyrrell, newer plantings from the likes of Brokenwood Wines, Don Francois, Allandale, Petersons and Bimbadgen can be found. Much of the rolling countryside around Pokolbin is under vine with the traditional varieties Shiraz and Sémillon still dominating but extensive plantings of Chardonnay, Cabernet Sauvignon and the occasional plot of Pinot noir can be seen.
Despite hot summers and freezing winters with frequent frost presenting a constant challenge to vineyard managers and winemakers, the area is a successful wine growing region thanks to mountains that encircle three sides of the valley, the cloud cover, and afternoon easterly sea breezes which, during summer, help to mitigate the blazing sunshine and keep humidity moderated on the valley floor. Soil types vary from rich red volcanic soil from the long-extinct volcano of Mount View and sandy loam which benefits most white varieties. The red volcanic soil is found mostly on the southern ridges. However, it can be found in patches on the valley floor.
Over the decades, the style of Hunter whites and reds has changed vastly, from robust, muscular reds exhibiting the famous Hunter Valley "sweaty saddle" and extraordinarily long-lived Semillon whites to reds showing more fruit, complexity and delicacy and whites exhibiting fruit-driven characters.
Tourist accommodation in the area is plentiful due to the wine industry and Pokolbin's proximity to Sydney, which is 163 km (101 mi) to the south, reached via the Pacific Motorway. Accommodation includes country resorts, golfing resorts, motels and guest houses and hostels. There are many local restaurants where visitors can try local wines.
Attractions in the Pokolbin area include numerous wineries and Pokolbin village. The Hunter Valley Gardens span over 25 hectares (62 acres) of land in the heart of the Hunter vineyards at the foot of the Brokenback Range, west of Cessnock. Potters Brewery, established in 2002, is the Hunter's first microbrewery located in the heritage listed "Brick Beehive Kilns of Nulkaba". The Great North Walk, a long-distance walking trail between Sydney and Newcastle, has an extension that goes to Pokolbin.
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