Emma MacMahon and her husband Simon Doyle own the Dryridge Estate vineyard in the Megalong Valley. Their wine from this unexpected source has become highly regarded and visitors flock to their cellar door.
Q: How did it all start?
A: In a moment of madness! Simon and I saw the vineyard was for sale and came here and fell in love with it. Bob and Barbara Tyrell had set it up, it was the first commercial vineyard in the valley. I’m an event manager, so I saw the potential for the restaurant and weddings.
Q: The setting is sensational, looking across the vineyards to the escarpment. It’s a bit like being in Italy.
A: Or South Africa, some people say that. People do seem to be swept away the first time they visit. They often say they weren’t expecting much – they had no idea it would be this beautiful.
Q: What sort of grapes grow well here?
A: It’s pink granite soil and east-facing. We make a variety of wines. Some of my favourites are the cool climate riesling, pinot noir and shiraz.
Q: Was it hard to build up the business and get people to come to the Valley?
A: It’s taken a while – we’ve just celebrated our seventh anniversary. In the early days we might have had 30 people over a weekend, now it’s 600 at the cellar door and for a meal, plus the weddings. We also have a membership scheme, where members get two cases of wine a year. A lot of our members are from the Mountains. People up here tend to support each other.
Q: Is all the wine from your grapes?
A: It’s from ours and another vineyard in the valley, and some from Orange and Mudgee. The demand’s been growing. Our wine is in a lot of the bottle shops across the Mountains, and most of the good restaurants. Visitors like to try local wine.
Q: What do you like to do when you’re not working?
A: There’s some very good restaurants in the Mountains, such as BLAQ and Cinnabar up in Blackheath, and Mr Collins down in Leura. We like dog-friendly walks. The Six Foot Track is just down the road. And the Hargraves Lookout on Shipley Plateau has an amazing view of the Megalong Valley.
Q: Can you see your vineyard from there?
A: No. But you can see us from the Hydro Majestic.
For more information on Emma and Simon's wine, cellar door visits and meals, membership and accommodation, check out dryridge.com.au