A Long & Fruitful History at Iconic Estate

With a vineyard that dates back nearly half a century and a name linked to one of Australia’s most iconic television series, Wandin has had a long and fruitful history.

But with a reinvigorated focus on creating sensory experiences and a rejuvenated offering across the cellar door, restaurant and accommodation, the 40-hectare Lovedale property also has an exciting future ahead.

Wandin has been a part of the renowned Hunter Valley wine region since 1973 when local potter and winemaker Peter Dobinson decided to plant a vineyard in the rich, fertile soil on the slopes of the Molly Morgan Mountains, which he named Millstone.

The property changed hands – and names – 17 years later when it was purchased by noted television producer James Davern and his wife, Philippa.

The couple renamed the property Wandin Valley in honour of the fictional village in the much-loved television series James had created in 1981, A Country Practice, and set about turning it into a bonafide tourist destination with a winery, cricket pavilion, restaurant, manager’s cottage, modern cellar door, function rooms and tourist accommodation.

Wandin Valley went on the market again two decades later and was snapped up by Mosman couple Russell and Katrina Leslie, who already owned other vineyard properties on Wilderness Road.

The site’s evolution continued when current owner Lipton and Linda Tsoi took control of the estate in 2016 with long-term plans to strengthen the brand’s offering.

General Manager Manda Duffy said that the owners had invested heavily in rejuvenating the property and vineyard during the past few years, which is now known by the updated, abbreviated branding of Wandin.

“The current owners bought Wandin with a long term view to improve the site and return the brand to a strong position from a complete wine tourism perspective,” she said.

“Significant investment was required in all the buildings, particularly the accommodation and this has been successful. Like fashion, we keep updating the rooms to fit the style of the buildings and complement the surroundings.

“Wandin has the luxury of two kitchens, which also require constant updating and together with the team, we continue to make changes to suit our team and our customers.”

With most of the building and cosmetic changes already complete, Manda joined the Wandin team at the start of 2020 with plenty of plans for the future; however, the onset of COVID-19 soon saw the team shift their focus.

“I remember signing on to start on January 6 with a bundle of plans and ideas. We reset opening times for the cellar door, we named the restaurant Wandin Kitchen and launched a range of new menus. Then COVID hit, and it was devastating for all.

“Once the place was cleaned from top to bottom during lockdown it was the brand’s opportunity to focus on the wines, the way the wines and accommodation were presented and of course, the awesome food.

“Our new direction has been so rewarding and, more importantly, our visitors enjoy all we have on offer.

“It’s an authentic space run by a team who love the Hunter and appreciate that every customer has chosen the place we call home as their tourism destination.”

Wandin’s rejuvenated direction is based around the idea of creating sensory experiences for their guests, as the website itself proclaims: ‘We exist to create an experience for you that takes you on the ultimate sensory journey. From outstanding wines for every palate to the hospitality of our estate, let us shower you with the true country charm that is the Hunter Valley and Wandin’.

Manda said this promise encapsulates everything Wandin has to offer, from the visual appeal of the property itself to the seamless melding of its mouth-watering food, and highly renowned wines.

“When you drive through those big sandstone and iron gates and gaze down to the first of many water views, it is blissful and very calming,” Manda said.

“The entrance road dotted with kangaroos and birdlife takes you up to the high point on the property, which provides the most amazing views back over the valley right across to the Brokenback ranges.