IN a beautiful bushland site on the outskirts of Kurri Kurri, a little-recognised gem of the Hunter Valley wine scene is this year celebrating its 21st birthday.
It’s the Hunter TAFE’s viticulture section, which since 1995 has turned out 300 graduates from its Diploma of Viticulture course and contributed mightily to the expertise of men and women who own and/or work in the region’s boutique winemaking ventures. The diploma courses go for 18 months and embrace winegrowing, winemaking, marketing, staff management and safety. There are also short commercial courses.
Alongside the Hunter Valley Hotel Academy and other elements of Kurri TAFE, the viticulture section has a well-equipped, 50-tonne crush winery, a temperature-controlled barrel room and cellar, a classroom, laboratory and small vineyard of chambourcin, chardonnay, verdelho and pinot noir vines.
The courses are run by three part-time teachers – winemakers Geoff Broadfield and Adriana Mansueto and viticulturist Steve Gell. Adriana is a Charles Sturt University wine science graduate, whose post-graduate experience includes a vintage in Italy’s Piedmonte Region and a term as assistant winemaker at the Arrowfield winery at Jerrys Plains. Steve Gell, who runs the courses’ viticultural units and helps with grape procurement and processing, has long experience in Hunter winegrowing.
Not only do the courses turn out skilled graduates, they produce some pretty smart wines from the Kurri vines, grapes bought in from growers in the Hunter and from Mudgee, Young and Tumbarumba vineyards.
The fittingly named Intuition brand wines have won five trophies and five gold medals in boutique wine shows over the past five years. The Intuition 2014 Hunter Valley Merlot reviewed below won a gold medal and the trophy for the best open vintage merlot at this year’s Hunter Valley Boutique Winemakers’ Show at Maitland. The wine was made by Geoff Broadfield working with students and comes from grapes grown on the Talga Road, Lovedale, vineyard of course graduate Roy Deane.
It and other Intuition wines can be bought at the Kurri TAFE office (Phone 4936 0300).
Geoff is one of the Hunter’s most experienced winemakers. A Charles Sturt graduate, he came to the Hunter in 1984 to work for Brian McGuigan's old Wyndham Estate group. He later had a 10-year stint as Wandin Valley winemaker, then as a contract winemaker, consultant and as producer of his own Broadfield and Rooks Row wines.