Creating Quality... Cael's Gate Wines
For discerning wine lovers, the historic Broke-Fordwich wine region offers spectacular views of the Brokenback Mountains and a growing number of cellar doors worth exploring. The family-owned Cael’s Gate Wines cellar door is one of the most recent additions, and with wines that are already winning international awards, this is one winery worth the scenic drive.
Chris and Reyna Chew are the owners of Cael’s Gate, and their journey into wine began in earnest in 2016 when Chris made his first batch of wine in his Sydney garage. Chris has a background in Financial Services IT, has a passion for wine and collected it for investment purposes. Reyna is a Canadian-born paramedic, and their love affair with the Hunter Valley began when they married here 17 years ago. Ever since, they’ve been looking for the right property to purchase.
“It was during COVID in 2021 that we finally found our dream property,” said Chris.
“We knew it instantly – as soon as we saw the timber slab construction and unique architecture nestled in the bush and set on 14 acres, we were sold.”
“We love the history of the Broke area,” agreed Reyna.
“It’s one of the earliest wine-growing regions in the country; you can still see convict-built roads and heritage villages and topographically, it's different. Our property includes about seven acres of ecologically protected flora and fauna.”
When it comes to winemaking, it’s all about the quality of the grapes with minimal intervention.
“I was fascinated with the idea of what makes great wine,” said Chris.
“I began by tinkering in my garage, volunteering on vintages and learning as much as possible from other winemakers. By 2018, I was winning gold medals at the 2019 annual Asia International Wine Competition in Hong Kong and the China Wine & Spirits Awards for the 2018 Handpicked Shiraz. Since then, we've received a number of awards for our wines both locally and abroad, including bronze for our 2022 Hunter Valley Shiraz at the Hunter Valley Boutique Wine Show in October.
“We’re excited by the future and have planted one acre of Tempranillo grapes. We don’t plan on growing a lot of our own fruit, though, because there are so many great viticulturists, and we’ve developed wonderful partnerships that provide us with high quality grapes from the Hunter Valley, Mudgee, Orange and the Riverina that go to producing our ranges of Cabernet Sauvignon, Shiraz, Semillon and Rosé. We focus on low-yielding vines to optimise quality and produce small batch, handcrafted boutique wines.”
There are plans to erect sustainable and innovative pod-style accommodations to give guests a luxurious experience blurring the lines between structure and nature. Visitors can relax by the stone-tiled fireplace in winter or soak up the sunshine on the wrap-around deck with mountain and vineyard views. The family are often on hand to share the stories behind the wines, and there are cheese platters and ploughman’s lunches available to enjoy with your wine selections.
“We want the public to come on the journey of Cael’s Gate with us,” said Reyna. “There are several different spaces to enjoy tastings already, but we have lots planned. It’s a heavenly place we’ve got, and we’re excited to share it with our visitors.”