Boutique winery McLeish Estate has a new game plan

BUSY: Jessica McLeish is business operations manager at McLeish Estate, founded by her parents Bob and Maryanne. Picture: Simone De Peak
BUSY: Jessica McLeish is business operations manager at McLeish Estate, founded by her parents Bob and Maryanne. Picture: Simone De Peak

For close to 30 years the McLeish family has let the success of their award-winning Hunter Valley wines do the talking. That is all about to change.

The quality vintages will remain, carefully crafted by winemaker Andrew Thomas, but McLeish Estate hopes to this year secure its spot on the tourist map and become more of a “personality” in the Valley.

Leading the charge is Jessica McLeish who runs the business with her parents, Maryanne and Bob. 

“It’s an exciting year for us,” Jessica McLeish told Food & Wine. “We have come to realise that there are so many offerings around the Hunter Valley these days that we need to focus on a few key events and consolidate what we are doing at the cellar door.” 

McLeish Estate doesn’t have an on-site cafe or restaurant. As McLeish says: “There are so many good ones around. We want people to leave McLeish Estate happy that they have had an experience – and I think we’ve come up with an offering which will impress a lot of people.”

Guests can now take part in a Wines of Distinction Tasting and select a wine to enjoy with a Regional Tasting Plate. They are given a picnic rug, too, to set up where they please on the estate’s stunning hill-top vantage point. 

The McLeish family called on chef Matt Dillow to design the uniquely Hunter Valley tasting plate. He has worked with them for the past 15 years, catering for their annual Celtic wine feasts. 

“He is using local produce and his own hummus and relishes. He makes a beautiful zucchini and pine nut frittata and we’ve got some lovely cheeses from Hunter Valley Cheese Company, too,” McLeish said. “Everything is fresh and paired with high-end wines.” 

Another highlight is an annual dinner which showcases the boutique winery’s award-winning semillon and shiraz. Head to Scratchley’s on the Wharf on March 22 for canapés and champagne followed by a four-course menu with six matching wines. Tickets are on sale now.

“The dinner celebrates the current vintage as well as the ongoing local relationships that we have built over the years,” McLeish said. “Since day dot my parents have been at every food and wine festival. There are so many companies now that just sell on the phone but I think the wine industry is better off with a family voice on the other end of the phone or in the cellar door.”

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