Review of Douglas Wales Historic Homestead & Winery by Bill Wilkat 2018/11/26
In the bustling seaside town of Port Macquarie lies one of its’ best kept secrets; an historic site that has been in the business of winemaking for 150 years. I say “secret” because although many pass by it daily, and they have a sign out front, they are situated beside a public school nestled into the scenery in near anonymity. That’s just the first surprise as you enter the grounds and park adjacent to an enormously tall copse of bamboo trees that frame the entrance to the old homestead building that welcomes you. Once inside, you can wander through on a self-guided tour, see some interesting antiques and learn the history of the pioneering Francis family who established this heritage site and launched the vineyard.
The Douglas Vale Conservation Group was formed in 1995 to save the site from demolition after the last family member died in 1993 which was fortunate since it is the oldest winery in Port Macquarie and was once also the largest. Today you can sample and purchase their wines which include a fortified Port style as well as whites and reds and even a rosé. The wine is no longer produced on the site but the grapes are still grown in the vineyard. Volunteers look after tours and tastings and welcome visitors so the hours of operation are short (from 10 am to 3 pm). Donations are also accepted (and greatly appreciated), and there are additional products available to purchase in the tasting shop as well—the prunes in Portobello wine are an ideal compliment to a fine piece of sharp cheddar cheese.
I found the Portobello and the whites more to my liking, and if you like dry reds, you will likely choose one of the reds. For my tastes, they are more in keeping with the earthy overtones that I’ve found more common to European wines. I’m not a wine expert but I do know what I like, and since I’m partial to reds that are bold and fruity I’d choose a Shiraz or Cabernet Sauvignon before a Merlot or a Chianti. Regardless, I would gladly share a glass of any of the Douglas Vale red wines at dinner with good friends and a juicy rib steak.
Tall Bamboo Trees at Entrance