Drayton's Family Wines

Draytons' Winery Draytons' Winery Draytons' Winery Draytons' Winery

A Brief History

Harry Drayton

The Drayton’s are one of the Hunter Valley’s pioneering winemaking families and it is one of the few companies that are still family owned and operated.

It has been over one hundred and fifty years since the first Drayton trod on rich Hunter Valley soil. That Drayton was Joseph Drayton. Joseph was born in 1825 at Lincolnshire in England and at the age of twenty seven set sail for Sydney with his wife, Anna, and their two small boys. Tragically Joseph lost a son, a new born daughter and his wife during the voyage.

In 1853 he and son Frederick journeyed to Lochinvar and after several years moved to Pokolbin where Joseph acquired 80 acres of land. This was cleared and Joseph built the “Bellevue” homestead. In the late 1850’s, Joseph turned from growing grain to plant his first vines in the rich virgin loam of “Bellevue”.

Joseph married Mary Ann Chick and they had eight children. Joseph’s remaining son from his first marriage, Frederick, became a blacksmith. William son of the second marriage bought land and planted his vines on the 40 acres adjoining his father’s land. In 1885 he married Susan Lambkin and they had ten children, nine boys and one girl. It was William who eventually took over “Bellevue” from his father. In his sixties, William “retired” and split his assets among his 10 children - Harry, Walter, George, Leonard took over control of “Bellevue”, Ernest and Wesley took over the “Homestead” block, known as “Happy Valley”, William and Lewis were given the “Crows Nest” block (now McWilliams).

In 1947 the company, W. Drayton & Sons was formed. Eventually, the “Bellevue” property passed into the hands of the children of Harry, Walter, George and Len. The company was then run by Max, Bill, Reg, Jock and Ron (fourth generation descendants of Joseph) who were later joined by some of their children in the running of the business. By this time the company was actively marketing itself as Drayton’s Family Wines.

In early 1989, Max Drayton and three of his four sons (John, Trevor & Greg) purchased the company from other family members. Jock and the late Ron retired to Cessnock, Bill settled at his “Cedarside Vineyard” at Mount View where his interest in growing grapes still continues, and tragically Reg and his wife Pam lost their lives in a plane crash in 1995.

In 2008, another tragic chapter was added to the Drayton’s story. A winery fire and explosion resulted in the death of winemaker, Trevor Drayton and severe burning of his assistant William Rikard-Bell. The Australian and Hunter Valley winemaking community still mourn Trevor, while William returned to Drayton's for the 2009 & 2010 vintages but has since left to join another winery in the Orange region.

The family enterprise, originally started by Joseph Drayton, more than 150 years ago is now in the hands of Max Drayton and his two sons John, and Greg. Max’s 60 plus years of experience in the wine industry makes him an invaluable source of advice, not only for his sons, but also for other growers in the district. Greg has devoted his entire working life to the family company while John joined the company in 1989 after 13 years of teaching.

The Drayton family is very proud of its history over six generations and the part it has played in the development of the region that is now known as “Hunter Valley Wine Country”.

Our Wines

2009 Vineyard Reserve Chardonnay

Oakey Creek

Oakey Creek

The now range - for your immediate enjoyment and at great value pricing. There is a wine in this range to suit the most discerning palate.

Semillon Chardonnay
An Australian Chablis style made from a blend of the two great Australian white varieties. The wine has an attractive green-gold colour, with an aroma of fresh tropical fruits. The flavours are rich with a soft palate and a crisp clean finish.
Traminer Riesling
This wine is straw yellow in colour with a slight green tinge. The aroma is complex and full of spicy, rose garden and lychee characters. The palate is silky, subtle and sweet with a herbal, tangy fruit flavour balanced by a touch of acid.
Heritage Red
This wine is medium bodied with rich blackcurrant and fruit flavours. It is ideal for immediate drinking, yet will continue to improve with 2 to 3 years bottle age.
Shiraz Cabernet
A medium bodied table wine exhibiting strong, spicy, herbaceous and capsicum aromas. The wine has plenty of body and soft round tannins with a good length of blueberry and blackberry fruit flavours.

New Generation

New Generation

A range based on two great varieties then a twist. The noble varieties of Chardonnay & Shiraz are great on their own but when you add Verdelho and Merlot, indulge in the results.

A non-wooded Chardonnay that has been bottled early so as to retain all the fruit freshness of the Chardonnay grape. The wine has a fresh aroma of green apples and grapefruit with an abundance of flavour and a refreshing finish.
Chardonnay Verdelho
This is a consummate blend of two grand Hunter Valley white varieties. The resulting wine is medium to light straw in colour with a fresh and youthful green tinge. The aromas are intense with lifted figs, gooseberries and green apples. The front palate is soft and round with layers of concentrated citrus flavours, and a long lasting finish.
This Shiraz is bright cherry-red in colour with an attractive fruit aroma of ripe plums, blackberries and a touch of oak. The palate is medium bodied, yet exhibits full spicy, peppery flavours with a soft, round tannin finish.
Shiraz Merlot
This blend is medium to deep ruby red in colour with a dark centre. The wine has herbaceous, plum and blackberry aromas with a subtle hint of dusty oak. The palate is full, soft and round with attractive berry flavours, and a soft tannin structure with an excellent length.

Hunter Valley

Hunter Valley

The Hunter Valley region is famous the world over for producing wine styles unique and distinctive. The 7 wines in this range are full bodied and fruit driven wines that are vibrant, juicy and to be enjoyed now or after a few years bottle maturation.

This Semillon is made in the traditional Hunter style. The wine has a citrus-like aroma with a soft, full, clean and fresh flavoured palate. With 5 to 7 years bottle maturation the wine will develop into a rich, toasty and smoky, full-bodied wine, a style for which the Hunter Valley has become famous.
Made from 100% Chardonnay grapes carefully chosen from premium vineyards in the Pokolbin Region of the Hunter Valley. The wine has rich, fresh fruit flavours complexed with oak. The palate is delicate but full flavoured.
The Drayton’s Verdelho has a great intensity of fruit flavour and lasting freshness. It is medium to light straw in colour with a fresh and youthful green tinge. The wine exhibits an aroma brimming with lemon, lime and hints of herbaceousness. The palate is soft and round with tropical fruit flavours throughout and a crisp, clean, acidic finish.
Semillon Sauvignon Blanc
This wine contains Hunter Valley Semillon from our vineyards combined with premium Sauvignon Blanc. These two varieties complement each other to produce a wine which displays a rich floral aroma and tropical fruit characters balanced with fresh citrus flavours and great length.
Bin 5555 Shiraz
A rich, full bodied red wine made in the traditional Hunter style, being deep cherry red in colour with a peppery, fruit aroma. The wine has extremely soft tannins and rich, spicy flavours, complexed with aged oak. This wine will continue to improve with 8 to 10 years bottle ageing.
Cabernet Merlot
A rich, full-bodied wine, with a deep, crimson-red colour. The wine has a great intensity of lifted, fruit flavour, complexed with oak and with a soft tannin finish. As with previous vintages of the Cabernet Merlot, this wine will continue to soften and improve with bottle ageing.
Cabernet Sauvignon
The Drayton’s Cabernet is ruby to violet in colour with herbaceous, blackcurrant grassy and capsicum aromas and a background hint of smoky oak. The palate is full bodied with lasting layers of flavour and a long and silky tannin structure.

Vineyard Reserve

Vineyard Reserve

A range true to the Parish of Pokolbin region and to five grand grape varietals. The Terroir of Pokolbin, that interaction of vine, soil & weather, forges these varietals to produce wines of distinction and regional character. A classic representation of the region and the grape variety.

Made from 100% Chardonnay grapes grown on the Drayton family Mangerton Estate vineyard, planted in 1976. The wine is light, golden yellow in colour with a slight green tinge. The aromas are tropical; fig fruits with obvious and well integrated French oak and yeast complexity. A soft, full, round palate with layers of flavour and a perfectly structured mouth feel.
Made from 100% Semillon grapes from the original Bellevue vineyard, first planted during the 1860’s. The wine is light, straw yellow in colour with a youthful green tinge. A lifted aroma of herbaceous lemongrass with subtle hints of lemon and limes complexed with a fine, yeasty character. The palate is soft and smooth from front to finish with excellent consistency.
Made from 100% Verdelho grapes grown on the Drayton family vineyards in the Hunter Valley. This Verdelho displays orange blossom and lime aromas on the nose, integrating nicely with a plate of sweet tropical fruits and honey. The wine is balanced by lively acidity and has a long and refreshing finish.
Made from 100% Shiraz grapes carefully selected from our Bellevue vineyards adjacent to the winery. The wine being deep, crimson red in colour with a dark centre. The aroma is a montage of white pepper, spicy turmeric notes, subtle American oak and traditional leather like Hunter Valley regional characters. The tannin structure is round and full with well-balanced and consistent flavours from start to finish.
Made from 100% Merlot, the wine is crimson red in colour with a dark centre. The aroma likens to mocha coffee with herbaceous, forest floor characters complemented by well-integrated American oak. The Merlot has a very consistent palate with a pleasant and firm tannin structure and a lingering aftertaste.

Limited Release

Limited Release

In years when growing conditions and rainfall have been perfect, Drayton's oldest vines (100+ years) produce fruit of such intensity and quality that the Drayton Family bottle and label these ultra premium iconic wines.

Susanne Semillon
Made in the traditional Hunter Semillon style, the Susanne Semillon was produced with no oak maturation. The wine has an attractive honey bouquet with a soft, full-bodied, fruit flavour finishing with a crisp dry acidity.
William Shiraz
Since first released in 1988, our William Shiraz has become recognised as one of the Hunter’s classic Shiraz wines. The William Shiraz is made only in limited quantities from the highest quality grapes selected from some of the valley’s oldest vineyards planted over 100 years ago. The wine is deep crimson in colour with intense berry fruit aromas complexed with oak. The palate is full flavoured with a firm tannin finish. This Shiraz will continue to improve with 10 to 15 years bottle maturation.
Joseph Shiraz
Joseph Shiraz is a wine only produced in those years when the fruit is of exceptional intensity and flavour and has the potential to develop in the bottle for many years. The wine has been carefully cellared for ten years and released at a stage of development that shows classic traditional Hunter Shiraz at it best. Joseph Shiraz will continue to develop with a further 5 – 7 years of correct cellaring. The wine is named after Joseph Drayton who first established vines in Pokolbin in the 1850’s.


Wine Barrels

Café Under New Management

Mark Wiseman 11th November, 2011

Drayton's Family Wines is pleased to announce the arrival of Georgina Grine & her team to the Log Press Café.

Georgina brings a lifetime of experience in hospitality resulting in fantastic coffee and fastidious preparation and presentation of the finest local produce.

There is an extensive range of food treats & gift ideas and you will be surprised by the new furnishings and relaxed layout.

The Log Press Café, a must stop when in the Hunter Valley.

2011 Vintage Report

Andrew Leembruggen 28th April, 2011

The 2010/2011 growing season was ideal and led up to a dry harvest period that contained only one significant heat spell.

The months August through to November temperatures were mild, with cool nights and timely rainfall events.These growing conditions meant that the vines had significant vegetative growth which produced large robust canopies that required trimming in December and early January.Cool weather continued through the critical month of December.Relieving easterly breezes and cool nights established ideal conditions for both red and white wines as acid levels held up during ripening.

The kind weather continued through January as harvest commenced however a week of significantly hot weather accelerated the ripening of red varieties as flavour maturity raced in the warm conditions.

In the winery whites are zesty with natural acidity and rich in fruit flavour.Winemaking techniques have been employed to delivery fresh, bright and fruity wines with vibrancy, texture and length.Red wines are dark purple in colour with black fruit aromas and flavours with balanced, moderate, alcohol levels.Reminiscent of the wines of the mid 60’s they are of great depth, superb tannin balance and will age like the great Hunter “Burgundies” of old.

Vintage Fair 2011

Mark Wiseman 23rd March, 2011

What a great day!!

Once again the weather was kind to us, warm but cloudy at times with just a couple of spots of rain.

Many of our members took advantage on the day of the excellent buys at out Bin End Sale. Members with current email addresses had been contacted letting them know of the bargains from $48 a carton.

This year we had amusements for the teenagers with the “waterballs” being a favorite.

Face painting is ever popular with the young ones as was the Animal Nursery. The carriage rides through the vineyards was another popular attraction, the large but placid Clydesdales working all day.

Sam Drayton showed his skills cutting fence posts from a huge log. Imagine doing it with an axe and saw as Joseph Drayton would have done 158 years ago, so much easier with a chainsaw!

There were many craft stalls for the adults to enjoy and of course, plenty of food stalls. The plant stall drew many customers impressed with the variety of tube stock.

Another great Fair Day with Westpac Rescue Helicopter Service receiving an always welcome donation from the proceeds of the day.

New Chief Winemaker

Mark Wiseman 11th January, 2011

Drayton’s Family Wines has a new chief winemaker, Andrew Leembruggen, he comes to us after 13 years with McWilliams Mount Pleasant.

His attention to detail, his wine philosophy, his wine intellect and his palate are all first class, as is his desire to produce iconic Hunter Valley wines.

Winemaker William Rikard-Bell has left Drayton's to pursue business interests in Orange with his wife Kimberley. An exciting time for them both, we will miss Will and wish them both the best for their future.

The Drayton family is very positive about vintage 2011, and look forward to the wine that Andrew and his team will produce.

Winemaker Update

William Rikard-Bell 18th November, 2010

Ah, springtime. What a beautiful time of year! The flowers are out, the vines are shooting and everything is green and bursting with new life. It’s also a nice time in the winery – certainly the most relaxing. The 2009 reds are out of barrel and freshly blended or bottled. This year’s whites are clean, filtered and bottled, and the 2010 reds have been safely tucked away in barrel where they’ll stay put for a few months. For me, spring is a time to take a few breaths, reflect on the vintage past and get involved in other areas of the wine community – or just catch up on the much-neglected paperwork!

This month I recently took part in the Australian Wine Research Institute’s Advanced Wine Assessment Course in Adelaide. The course is aimed at training Australian wine judges, and involves a solid week of tasting and scoring wines, learning to identify faults and generally improving your palate. It was a great opportunity for me to identify the strengths and weaknesses in my own palate, and also to expose myself to a wide range of styles and varieties that I am not often confronted with as a winemaker in the Hunter Valley. I believe that by doing the course it can only help to improve the overall quality of wine here at Drayton's and in the Valley as a whole.

So as I sit here and put off the paperwork a little longer, I can begin to turn my attention towards next vintage with a bit more knowledge and that little extra confidence that vintage 2011 will be even better than the last.

But I might just enjoy the quiet time for a little while more first….

2010 Vintage Report

William Rikard-Bell 26th May, 2010

Going by the record books, vintage began approximately two weeks early in 2010 due to a mild winter and spring growing period and some very warm weather leading up to Christmas. We usually expect to begin harvesting Chardonnay on or around Australia day here at Draytons, but this year the first fruit started rushing in on Jan 14th.

Aargghh!! What a panic that created!

Unfortunately for us, when the grapes are ripe, they're ripe. And when they're ripe, they've got to be picked. Grapes waiteth for no man! It was of course made much easier by the quality of Chardonnay that was making its way into our winery. Although tonnages were down considerably on last year (approx. 30% down in some cases), quality was as high as ever. Given our success with Chardonnay in the past 12 months, this year's wonderfully concentrated fruit came as a relief as much as anything (!) and for some it hinted at more success to come? Time will tell, but the signs certainly are looking good.

Semillon and Verdelho quality was also very high with small, condensed bunches lowering our yields and concentrating flavours. These varieties ripened just as quickly as the Chardonnay and came in to the winery immediately behind it.

As you can imagine not everything can be picked at once, therefore decisions have to be made quickly as to which vineyards take priority over others and therefore which ones will be picked first. I'm confident that we got the blend right this year, with plenty of quality white fruit to cover all styles and levels of wine in our range. Look out in particular for our reserve Semillons which I'm sure will be long lasting classics.

Look out for the 2010 Shiraz as well because from what I've seen, the fruit was as good as any I've seen here at Draytons since the wonderful 2007 vintage. Tiny, tiny berries on small bunches meant that there was a higher skin to juice ratio, and therefore more tannin, colour, aromatics and downright flavour all jammed into the wine. These will be blockbusters to behold, but you'll have to wait until late next year until they're ready. I know! The suspense is going to kill me too!

In true Hunter Valley form, summer rains made the tail end of harvest a greater challenge. As it turned out, only some of the Shiraz vineyards were affected by the rains leading to less concentration of flavour in the resulting wines. These, along with the Merlot and Cabernet, will be more delicate, softer wines. Structure and length will define their character more than the pure brut strength of their pre-rain brothers.

All in all, harvest could be summed up as a mixed bag. We've ticked all the boxes this year in a roller coaster ride of climatic changes, and as a result I think there will be something in our bag of tricks for everyone.

I'd better get back to it!!

Visit Us

Drayton's Cellar Door

Come visit our Cellar Door, taste our award winning wines and experience over 150 years of winemaking excellence.

Cellar Door Trading Hours

Monday to Friday 8am - 5pm Saturday, Sunday & Public Holidays 10am - 5pm (closed Christmas Day)


555 Oakey Creek Road Pokolbin, NSW 2320

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Daily Winery Tour

Monday to Friday 11am

Private Tours & Tastings

Private tours and tastings are available on request - bookings essential

$2 per person - with cheese and biscuits.

Contact Us

Drayton's Vineyard

Contact Details


555 Oakey Creek Road
Pokolbin NSW 2320 Australia

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Phone 02 4998 7513
Fax 02 4998 7743



Phone +1 941 592 2705


Phone +1 604 353 8775


Phone +44 1442 870 901


Phone +353 44 934 0634


Phone +65 6220 6533

New Zealand

Phone +64 3 542 1023


Phone (Australia) +61 416 799 864
Phone (Australia) +61 2 8541 1336
Phone (India) +91 9 254 307 645
Phone (India) +91 9 050 007 710