Alex Stuart OAM, born in Sydney in 1944 of Scottish and Welsh stock, and Daniel Binet, born in Vanuatu in 1979 of French parents, have taken very different paths to get to the same place, being great mates!
Alex’s great-grandfather, William Stuart, a Scottish stonemason, migrated to Australia in the early 1880s and set up Stuart Bros Pty Ltd, a building company whose credits include Sydney’s Luna Park, Australia’s Wonderland and a considerable chunk of Darling Harbour.
Alex’s maternal grandfather, Welshman Philip Bevan, started McPhersons Hardware and supplied most of the rivets for building the Sydney Harbour Bridge.
When Stuart Bros went public in 2003, Alex moved, with his wife Di, to the Hunter Valley, where in 1993 he had established a small vineyard on the corner of Talga Road and The Ballabourneen (Irish for “the town road”), in the district’s Lovedale area. Alex had his wines made at nearby Capercallie, then owned by the late Alasdair Sutherland.
That’s where he met Daniel Binet, an exciting young winemaker who had a major hand in crafting wines such as Ballabourneen’s 2003 ‘The Stuart’ Chardonnay, which was awarded the Murray Tyrrell Trophy for Best Chardonnay of show at the 2004 Hunter Valley Wine Show and as fate works out was the wine responsible for his nomination for Young Winemaker of the Year Award in Sydney in 2005 where Daniel met his wife Natalie.
In 2008, after six years with Capercaillie, Daniel wanted to establish his own brand. He knew Alex Stuart had put the Ballabourneen operation into a holding pattern a couple of years earlier and approached him to see if he could purchase the label.
Ultimately, they did one better. They decided to relaunch Ballabourneen as a joint venture, buying grapes from the Hunter Valley’s best sources, making their wine at Tatler’s Lovedale Road facility, and leasing the old Evans Family Wines property for their cellar door at 2347 Broke Road, right on the Hunter’s main artery. In 2016 Ballabourneen acquired it’s new home at ‘Pokolbin Hill’ 515 McDonald’s Rd Pokolbin and are building a cellar door featuring a tasting bar / lounge area, exclusive member rooms with cafe and views overlooking the famous Brokenback Ranges. Their new home will be open in May 2016.
Ballabourneen is recognized as a five star winery and has been awarded a “dark horse” winery to watch. James Halliday Wine Companion.
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