This brother and sister have joined forces at their family vineyard, elevating the wines in terms of both quality and finesse.
Margaret and Denis Pooley planted 17 rows of vines on their Cooinda Vale farm in 1985 with little idea of what their pioneering vision would spawn. When Margaret died in 2010 (aged 94) those 17 rows had grown to 12 hectares over two sites with her grandson, Matthew morphing from agriculture to viticulture and her granddaughter, Anna a rising star in the world of winemaking.
Matt’s story is of a stalwart – his ‘things happen for a reason’ philosophy was learned from working in the vineyard with his grandmother and hauling hoses with Andrew Hood of Hood Wines. Matt grasped the opportunities (and survived the frustrations) presented by Tasmania’s embryonic wine industry. Ten years older than Anna, Matt studied farm business management in Geelong, before running the family’s 600-hectare broad-acre farm and spending a decade in Hood’s cellar.
Over time the Pooley Wines brand emerged with the bold decision (in 2003) by Matt and Anna’s mother Libby and father, John to purchase Belmont Lodge – a Georgian stone homestead at Richmond, just 15 kilometres from the original Cooinda Vale vineyard at Campania. Belmont Lodge gave Pooley Wines a home with its cellar door housed in the old sandstone stables. Matt planted the Butcher’s Hill vineyard on a steep site opposite Belmont Lodge with the first grapes harvested in 2006.
Selling grapes from both properties to the likes of Clover Hill and Treasury Wine Estates (Pooley chardonnay went into several vintages of Penfolds Yattarna) may have slowed the development of the Pooley brand but, the money from these sales provided the financial springboard to employ his sister Anna and build an eco-friendly winery in 2012.
Anna Pooley’s story is more vivid than her brother’s, yet equally inspiring. Anna’s career began at Tatachilla in 2002 (after graduating from the University of Adelaide), she rapidly gained experience with a vintage in Austria and numerous stints in Italy while honing her skills at Treasury Wine Estates. Anna’s corporate stint culminated in being responsible for the fruit for Treasury’s Tasmanian brands – Heemskerk and Abel’s Tempest. Anna won accolades equally rapidly including dux of The Australian Wine Research Institute’s Advanced Wine Assessment Course in 2008 and, in 2012, making the cut for the prestigious Len Evans Tutorial. 2012 was a big year for Anna who made the decision to return to Tasmania. She didn’t come empty-handed bringing along her winemaking husband, Justin Bubb and their first child.
The new winery was ready for the 2013 vintage and the catalyst for an exponential quality escalation. The recent planting of two hectares of riesling on the Butcher’s Hill vineyard and the expiration of the Treasury contract has enabled Anna to craft a parallel duo of single-vineyard riesling, chardonnay and pinot noir from the Cooinda Vale and Butcher’s Hill sites. A tight pinot grigio, a perfumed gewürztraminer and a rare J.R.D. Syrah complete the portfolio. The two vineyards may be close but each has a quite individual terroir with Cooinda Vale on a north-east facing slope of brown-black dermosol over friable clay while the Butcher’s Hill has a northerly aspect with well-drained dolerite and limestone over sandstone. Sandstone quarried from Butcher’s Hill was used to build Belmont Lodge.
Matt farms sustainably with Freshcare certification. His deep knowledge of the land was boosted by a Nuffield scholarship (in 2013) that saw him travel the world to study how to meld small-scale winemaking into our ever-changing environment. Likewise the winery was designed with sustainability in mind. Financial viability is equally important with the 300-tonne winery contract making for a handful of local vineyards.
The Pooley Wines cellar door on Hobart’s doorstep is a regular winner in the GT WINE Cellar Door Awards. Functions and fabulous pizzas augment the highly prized wines. Pooley Wines is a family affair with Matt focusing on the vineyards and the business side while Anna (and Justin – part of the two winemakers for one deal) manages the quality of the wines and the marketing. Proudly in the background are their parents keeping an eye on the next generation playing in the vineyards.