Wine has been called “nectar of the gods, a potent elixir, and nature’s own medicine.” For Michael Hope, a successful Sydney pharmacist turned vigneron, wine is all that and more. In 1994, Hope moved his family out of Sydney and up to the bucolic Hunter Valley, with the hope of raising his family in a more rural environment. Immediately, he purchased a pretty piece of vineyard land, and within a couple of years he acquired the adjacent long-shuttered Saxonvale Winery, along with all 200 acres of Saxonvale’s prime vineyard land. In 1997, Hope released his first wine. By 1999 the Hope Estate had already gained a reputation for fashioning some of Hunter Valley’s most popular wines or as Hope himself is fond of saying, “nice, feel good, lifestyle wines that everyone can enjoy.” Hope Estate is located some two and half hours north of Sydney in Australia’s oldest wine producing region. The Hunter is Australia’s Catskills, a dreamy pastoral land of far off Blue Mountains and plenty of legends and lore. It is also a weekend retreat for Sydneyites in search of a little slice of the bush as well as some fine food and a hearty taste of the grape. Hope Estate also offers an excellent restaurant, the Wollemi, that features modern country fare. Hope Estate wines are produced exclusively from Hunter Valley fruit, a rarity oddly enough in the oldest and most established of all Australian wine regions. Chardonnay and Shiraz are this winery’s flagship offerings, but excellent Merlot, Cabernet Sauvignon, and Verdelho, are also grown and made here under the watchful eyes of Hope, Neil Orton, Vineyard Manager, and Peter Howland, the estate’s Winemaker. No pun intended, we hope to see a lot more of this estate’s wines in years to come.