Tyrrell's, Drayton, Tulloch ... Horner; the latest name to be added to the pantheon of winemaking families who call Hunter Valley Wine Country home.
"It feels good, especially being a Hunter boy," says Ashley Horner, whose name now appears above the bar in the new cellar door that he and his wife, Lauren, have been busy building over on Palmers Lane, Pokolbin, these past two years.
The last time Weekender was here, the driveway was dry with dust and dirt, the concrete slabs were still being poured, and the cellar door next door was nothing more than a vision of ambitious aspiration situated somewhere in the future.
Well, the future is here, and the Horners have officially arrived in Wine Country with the recent opening of their cellar door and winery right next door. A proper cellar door.
"It's great to have the cellar door right next to the winery," Lauren says. "It means we can show visitors where the wines are made, give a little tour, and a tasting out of the barrels, sometimes ... if we're not too busy."
Of course, the events of 2020 notwithstanding, the road to opening was not as smooth as the new asphalt car park may suggest. It's been a challenging two years for Ashley and Lauren, to say the least.
"Opening this has definitely tested us, absolutely," Ashley says.
"There's been a few times where I've wanted to give up."
"Raising two kids and a baby throughout all this, I can tell you it's been hard," Lauren says.
"Ash and I work well together, but we have different ideas about how things should work. So, we've had some good arguments between us, that's for sure.
"I guess, because we put so much pressure on ourselves to do it right, and do it well."
"We had to keep reminding ourselves to keep the faith and the vision," Ashley says.
"Yeah, and think of the bigger picture of what we're trying to build here, for our family," Lauren adds.
Diamonds, of course, are created under pressure. Now it's time for Horner Wines to shine.
"The special thing, for me is that it's not just our cellar door. It's everyone's.
"At least, that's how it feels to me, because we've had so much help from everyone along the way ... obviously, our parents, but also the Angels from Naked Wines, they're our biggest supporters and we couldn't have done this without them.
"But also, the community around us, they've been so supportive. It all helps."
When you next visit, keep an eye out for the new Piquepoul de Pinet (white), all briny citrus with a mealy mouthfeel; and the elegant as an evening in the Rhone, Shiraz-Marsanne (red), with its gorgeous play of black and stone fruit aromatics.
Two outstanding wines from the Hunter Valley's newest wine family, Horner Wines.
Horner Wines, Palmers Lane, Pokolbin, Friday to Sunday, 11am to 4pm. Monday to Thursday by appointment. 0431 741 203.
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