Hurley Vineyard for sale

Kevin Bell AM says he is reluctant to sell the vineyard but needs the money to support his family. Hurley Vineyard

Hurley Vineyard, one of the Mornington Peninsula’s most dedicated pinot noir producers, has announced that it’s for sale.

Proprietors and founders Kevin Bell AM and Tricia Byrnes have decided to sell their tiny Balnarring vineyard and winery, as Bell says, they are not getting any younger and none of their family is interested in taking it on.

The Hurley pinot noirs have always impressed me as rich, generous wines with the sort of colour, structure and depth of flavour that is not always a given on the peninsula.

The 3.4-ha vineyard is at a relatively low 90-metre altitude and is on the eastern side of the Mornington Peninsula, facing Westernport Bay rather than Port Phillip Bay, which is on the other side of the peninsula. Only pinot noir is grown—in deep, dark red-brown soils full of ironstone, and because of the relatively high growing season rainfall, the vines don’t need irrigation. The soil has an ideal balance between free drainage and moisture retention.

Kevin Bell is a barrister (KC) and has been active with human rights and indigenous affairs much of his working life. Until October last year he was a commissioner on the Yoorrook Justice Commission. Yoorrook is Australia’s first truth telling inquiry.

Its website reads:

‘The Yoorrook Justice Commission extends its deep thanks to Professor the Honourable Kevin Bell AM KC who has resigned … from his role as Commissioner. Yoorrook Justice Commission chair Professor Eleanor Bourke AM thanked Commissioner Bell for his tireless dedication to addressing injustice against First Peoples.

“Commissioner Bell’s deep human rights and legal expertise has been critical to Yoorrook’s work. His passion and commitment to seeing the true history of Victoria brought to light through truth telling has been a great asset to Yoorrook since the Commission’s inception”,’ she said.

Kevin says he is reluctant to sell the vineyard but needs the money to support his family. He has it listed with LAWD*, but has always hoped he might notch up 25 vintages, and he is sitting on 24 now.

“If it doesn’t sell for the price we want, we will sell our property in town instead, and wait until people realise what a great place this is!”

At 69 years old, he is increasingly aware that he will not be able to do the hard physical work of winemaking for ever, climbing ladders and catwalks and hefting barrels.

Meanwhile he is writing a book on human rights, his specialty in law.

The Hurley pinot noirs have always impressed me as rich, generous wines with the sort of colour, structure and depth of flavour that is not always a given on the peninsula. The vineyard comprises three distinct blocks which are vinified as three separate wines, each with its own personality reflecting the site, with its particular aspect, soil and clones.

The 2022 Hurley wines are all sold out from the winery, but should still be in the retail and restaurant trade.

Hurley Vineyard Garamond Pinot Noir 2022

Easterly aspect, 1.2 ha, planted in 1998, all to the MV6 clone. It gets the morning sun, requires little work and according to its owners is ‘the good child’, a truly balanced vineyard. Two Merits in The Real Review Australian Wine Classification. (AUD $130)

Hurley Vineyard Hommage Pinot Noir 2022 

North-easterly aspect, 0.8 ha, planted in 1998 and 1999, 95% to the G5V15 clone, with a few rows of MV6. It sits in between Lodestone and Garamond – both in location and wine style. (AUD $110)

Hurley Vineyard Lodestone Pinot Noir 2022 

North-facing aspect, the warmest site and earliest harvested. Ripeness is never a problem. 1.4 ha. First planted in 1999. Dijon clones 114, 115 and 777, as well as MV6. One Merit in The Real Review Australian Wine Classification. (AUD $110)

*LAWD Agribusiness is also selling the Judd vineyard at Main Ridge on the peninsula, established by former Victorian Supreme Court judge James Judd, whose grapes go into Ten Minutes By Tractor’s outstanding Judd vineyard bottlings.


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