A Hunter viticultural institution dating back almost 170 years is drawing to a close, with Drayton's Family Wines selling up.
"It's the end of an era," said managing director John Drayton, a fifth-generation member of the family creating not just wine but a tradition on its Pokolbin land.
The 210-hectare property is being broken up into six lots.
Family members are retaining one of the parcels, and, according to real estate agent Alan Jurd, two lots are already in the throes of being sold.
He wouldn't disclose who the buyers were, other than to say, "they're successful businesspeople who also have a strong interest in regional tourism and hospitality".
Mr Jurd said he had not begun actively marketing the properties, and "I haven't needed to". While potential buyers in Sydney are in lockdown, COVID and the restrictions it has brought are stoking interest in the historic viticultural land.
"There's been a major change in all the regional areas post-COVID19, with regional tourism going through the roof," Mr Jurd said.
The three parcels still for sale include the winery itself, sitting on about 15 hectares of land. One of the other lots of about 26 hectares comes with an older vineyard and a century-old homestead.
Mr Jurd expected the sales would fetch more than $21 million, which he said was substantially more than if it had been sold as one property.
When asked if it hurt to break up a vineyard that was part of the Hunter's, and Australia's, wine heritage, Mr Jurd said, "it would hurt a lot more to sell it as a job lot and get someone else to cut it up".
John Drayton declined to talk at this stage about why the property was being sold, other than to say, "the time has come".
The Draytons have been working this soil since the 1850s. Through the generations, the family has helped an industry grow, tasted both flourishing and tough times, and endured tragedy. In 2008, Trevor Drayton, John's Drayton's brother, and a contractor were killed in an explosion at the winery.
With so much of the family's history attached to the place, John Drayton said the sale was "something I've got to come to terms with".
University of Newcastle historian and the co-author of Hunter Wine: A History, Julie McIntyre, said the Draytons had been a "key family" in the Hunter wine region, adding to the significance of the vineyard's sale.
"It's significant in that it's one of the oldest wine growing families," Dr McIntyre said.
"And the Draytons represent deeply embedded experience in growing grapes and operating successful wine businesses."
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