2023 Best Winery of the Year in Australia
"When Denis and Margaret Pooley planted seven rows of pinot noir and ten rows of riesling in the Coal River Valley as a retirement plan in 1985 – described by their family today as ‘nothing more than a distraction for them’ – they cannot have had an inkling of just how far their little farm would ascend in Tasmanian wine. Now, Pooley Wines is the 2023 Winery of the Year.
The Pooley family led by John Pooley (far right).
The trajectory of ascension of their wines has been nothing short of breathtaking, with quality rising emphatically with every season...
Tucked into a bend of the meandering Coal River, there is a deep spirit about their quaint Cooinda Vale vineyard, still the source of Pooley’s finest wines. To their granddaughter, winemaker Anna Pooley, sense of place is everything, ‘for this is where the heart and soul of wine exists.’ It is the eloquent articulation of the native Tasmanian spirit of the rugged and beautiful landscapes of their Cooinda Vale and Butcher’s Hill vineyards that has elevated Pooley Wines to the pinnacle of Australian pinot noir, chardonnay and riesling.
The trajectory of ascension of their wines has been nothing short of breathtaking, with quality rising emphatically with every season, all the while doubling production, since Anna and husband Justin Bubb returned to Tasmania to establish the winemaking arm of the family estate in 2012.
Winemakers Anna Pooley and Justin Bubb.
The fourth generation of the family now offers them avid assistance in the winery. Theirs are wines intricately engineered to heighten sense of place. Crafted with intuition and talent, every tool of winemaking is applied purposefully, sensitively and yet courageously, be it barrel fermentation, wild yeast, skin contact, residual sugar, selective malolactic, or whole-bunch fermentation.
The results speak for themselves, and their Margaret Pooley Riesling was our Riesling of the Year last year, my top Tasmanian riesling again this year, and Jack Denis Pooley Pinot Noir 2020 was James’ highest-pointed pinot noir this year. With biological farming and organics now weaving into the tapestry of this fabled family story, even greater things are yet in store for what was once but a distraction – and is now Winery of the Year." – Tyson Stelzer
On winning Winery of the Year, Anna Pooley says: “It’s a pretty awesome recognition of where we’re at. It confirms how hard we’ve been working to make changes in the vineyard, home in on our different sites, and make the best wine we possibly can.”
Tyson Stelzer on the 2023 Winery of the Year
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Previous Winery of the Year recipients were Paringa Estate (2007), Balnaves of Coonawarra (2008), Brookland Valley (2009), Tyrrell’s (2010), Larry Cherubino Wines (2011), Port Phillip Estate/Kooyong (2012), Kilikanoon (2013), Penfolds (2014), Hentley Farm Wines (2015), Tahbilk (2016), Mount Pleasant (2017), Mount Mary (2018), Seville Estate (2019), Jim Barry Wines (2020), Henschke (2021) and Yarra Yering (2022).
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*This is an edited extract from the 2023 Halliday Wine Companion, with reviews by Dave Brookes, Jane Faulkner, Ned Goodwin MW, James Halliday, Erin Larkin, Jeni Port, Philip Rich and chief editor Tyson Stelzer.