The 'Custodians of the Landscape' sandstone sculpture collection was carved onsite at the Two Rivers vineyard in the winter of 2015 by renowned English artist Ben Dearnley. Ben has earned an international reputation for creating stunning sculptures in stone, bronze, slate and stained glass. He has complete many large-scale public and private works and they can be found across the globe.
The 'Custodians of the Landscape' project saw Ben work with sandstone for the first time and these carvings directly reference the ancient art form of stone masonry whilst reflecting the dramatic landscape at Two Rivers.
So how did an Englishman who lives on the west coast of Wales end up spending 12 weeks on a vineyard in the Upper Hunter? It all started back in 2007 when Ben was in Australia to catch up with his mother Bridget who retired to Denman many years ago. During this visit they spent the afternoon at the Two Rivers Cellar Door.
After enjoying a glass of wine and a cheese platter, Ben took a stroll through the vineyard to the top of the hill where he discovered a collection of sandstone boulders that had been unearthed during the construction of the vineyard many years ago. Ben's creative mind went into overdrive and he formulated a plan where he could return to Australia to embark on a major sculpture project while at the same time spend some quality time with Bridget.
He contacted Brett & Linda Keeping from Two Rivers and they agreed it was a perfect synergy to create something spectacular for their cellar door and the project was born.
All the sandstone was sourced from Two Rivers property with more than 28 tonnes being used to create this unique and compelling project. Whilst crafting these pieces, Ben immersed himself in the working of the vineyard and the local community, sharing his skills and knowledge with visitors, school groups and other fellow artists.
Ben says that the flowing dynamic nature of the sculptures reflects the ever-changing moods and seasons of the vineyard where growing the vines is a labour of love in tune with nature itself. The collection of nine pieces of individual handcrafted sandstone all tie into the collections theme of 'looking after the landscape'.
Brett and Linda Keeping established the Two Rivers vineyard in 1988. Twenty-seven years on, Two Rivers has become one of the premier vineyards of the Hunter Valley and is known for producing distinctive regional wines that over deliver on quality and value.
Brett and Linda are strong believers in the philosophy that great wines are made in the vineyard and are truly passionate about their vines and their place in the Hunter Valley. Sustainable viticultural practices are at the heart of Two Rivers and the years of hard work are certainly paying off in the wine show circuit.
Two Rivers have amassed many trophies and numerous gold medals in recent years with their signature Stones Throw Semillon leading the way.
"Having an artist of Ben's calibre here at Two Rivers has been an absolute privilege," Brett Keeping said. "Ben immediately understood our connection to the land here and this is beautifully reflected in his work."
The rich farmland and rolling hills of the Upper Hunter provide the ideal breeding ground for world-class premium viticulture, with the region producing wines of international acclaim.
World renowned chardonnays, classic Hunter semillons and fresh vibrant verdelhos are among the white varieties the Upper Hunter has become famous for, while long-time favourites shiraz and cabernet sauvignon dominate the red plantings in the area.
The history of the Upper Hunter as a wine region goes back to the 1850s when William Ogilvie planted vines at Merton property near Denman.
These were pioneering times and the vines he planted at Merton were among the first to be planted in the Hunter Valley.
By 1860, a young German settler named Carl Brecht planted vines at the junction of Wybong Creek and the Goulburn River.
Brecht went on to make wines that won gold medals at international wine shows during the 1870s, and this early success was an indicator of the area's potential as a wine region.
Nearly 100 years on, the area saw a surge of development in the late 1960s which began with Penfolds moving their entire Hunter operation from Dalwood in the Lower Hunter up to Wybong near Denman.
This period also saw the now internationally famous names of Richmond Grove and Rosemount start their operations in the Upper Hunter, setting the scene for many others to follow.
The area today plays an important role in the broader Hunter Valley and makes a significant contribution to the quality reputation the region has earned over many years.
In recent times, there has been renewed activity among the cellar-door outlets of the Upper Hunter and the area now boast a range of highly acclaimed vineyards, wines and cellar doors to suit every taste.
An event not to be missed each year is the Upper Hunter Wine and Food Affair, which is held on the first Saturday of May.
Ogilvie Street, the main street in Denman, is transformed for the day with over 40 stalls featuring gourmet food from some of the best restaurants in the Hunter, delicious gourmet produce and, of course, award-winning wines from all the wineries of the Upper Hunter.
We extend to you a warm welcome when you visit the beautiful Upper Hunter.
Brett Keeping (Two Rivers Wines)
President, Upper Hunter Winemakers Association.
Hollydene Estate Wines lies just 10km west of Jerrys Plains and 20km east of the pretty little hub of Denman, gateway to the rich Upper Hunter Valley.
The Hollydene and Wybong Estate vineyards are two of the oldest and most iconic vineyards in the Upper Hunter. Combined with the historic Arrowfield Estate, the three vineyards provide Hollydene Estate Wines with Shiraz, Chardonnay, Semillon, Tempranillio, Sangiovese and Gewurztraminer.
Vines Restaurant is one of the most unique finds in the Hunter Valley.
The architecturally designed building features rustic timbers from the Bowman's Crossing bridge that once crossed the Hunter River at Jerrys Plains, highly polished concrete floors and a wraparound alfresco area.
Chef Steve Houghton, masterfully combines his years of experience with cuisines from around the world, to put together dishes of robust flavours and wide appeal. Vines menu options suit every occasion from three course receptions to business dinners and casual luncheons and breakfast.
Discover Steve's interpretations of modern rustic country style food. Starting with signature dishes of 17 hour slow cooked lamb shoulder and homegrown homemade beef sausages. Steve sources fresh, local produce for delicious seasonal dishes you can enjoy indoors or alfresco dining. The menu offers weekly specials to keep it fresh and interesting.
Vines hots special dinners and events throughout the year, including 'The Burning of the Canes' each August.
Stay updated with what's happening at Hollydene such as Father's Day lunches and Oktoberfest at www.hollydeneestate.com.
GET ACTIVE IN YOUR SUPPORT
On Sunday 23 November 2014, James Estate - Baerami is hosting Short Circuit Cancer – a six-hour mountain bike relay to raise funds for local charity CanTeen, who work to support young people whose lives have been turned upside down by cancer. It's a family friendly mountain bike event, so all you mums dads and kids, friends and corporate companies can create a team, ride and raise funds. You don't have to be a racer, just a rider!
Ride with us:
There are a few different ways you can ride with us:
Why don't you also make a weekend of it.
James Estate Wines will open up an area for camping on the Saturday evening and also host a Wine Tasting for those interested. The cost is $10, which will also include a guided walk on Saturday afternoon. James Estate Wines have kindly donated these funds back to Short Circuit Cancer.
Food Available on the day:
Two Rivers Wines, situated on the outskirts of Denman in the Upper Hunter Valley of NSW, has been awarded the Ed Jouault Memorial Trophy for Best One year old Semillon for their 2013 Stones Throw Semillon.
The announcement was made at the wine show Luncheon held at the Crown Plaza in Pokolbin on Friday. “This is a great result for Two Rivers and a fitting reward for the passion and attention to detail of our vineyard and winemaking teams,” commented General Manager Brett Keeping. “The Hunter Valley has such a proud tradition of producing world class Semillon and it is a real honor for Two Rivers and the Upper Hunter to be amongst the trophy winners.”
“It’s heartening to see such a solid progression over the past decade with this wine style”, added Cellar Door Manager Linda Keeping. “This wine has been a consistent gold medal winner for many years and this award backs onto the Trophy win here last year for our 2013 Hidden Hive Verdelho.”
The Hunter Valley Wine Show is a regional Wine Show open to wines that are made from grapes grown and made in the Hunter Valley. Industry peers see this Show as one of the best Regional Wine Shows in Australia and the Semillon classes always attract record entries. This trophy is highly coveted by Hunter winemakers and shows that Two Rivers is keeping company in the awards ranks with the best in the business.
The judging panel for this class were: Chairman of Judges, Mr Jim Chatto, Panel Chair PJ Charteris, International Judge Ms Fongyee Walker (Wine educator and contributor to the Wine Documentary Red Obsession), Andrew Thomas, Rauri Donkin, Adam Holmberg and Adrian Sparks along with Chairman of Judges Mr Jim Chatto.
For more information, interviews or images please contact:
Background: The Hunter Valley wine region is steeped in history. It is Australia's oldest continuous grape growing area and one of Australia’s first wine shows was held in the Valley in 1848.
The Hunter Valley Wine Show has been held continuously since 1974 and is regarded as the premier regional wine show in Australia. The show attracts some of the best national and international judges to ensure the highest standard of judging and integrity.
The Two Rivers Winery has been in operation since 1988 and is among the premier vineyards of the Hunter Valley. The vineyard is situated in the upper reaches of the Hunter Valley on the banks of the region's two dominant waterways, the Hunter and Goulburn rivers.
James Estate continues to be recognised while quietly going about their business. The winery’s latest success is being announced as the most awarded winery in the Hunter Valley by the prestigious WineState Magazine.
Peter Jackson from WineState Magazine had the pleasure in sharing the news to James Estate saying that “The team should be very pleased and proud with their results.” James Estate was the most awarded winery in the Hunter Valley tasting with 10 medals; 2 Gold, 5 Silver and 3 Bronze. To top this off, 4 wine have been nominated to go into the “Taste Off” for WineStates Annual “Wine of the Year Awards”.
James Estate is run by a small dedicated team and is based at Baerami 15 minutes from Denman. The winery is quite unique in the Hunter Valley as it is one of the few wineries that grow their own grapes, and not only make their own wine but also bottle it on site.
The Baerami property also boasts a scenic bushwalk as well as mountain bike trails that are open to the public 7 days a week as well as the cellar door where you are likely to be served by one of the winemaking team.
JAMES ESTATE WINES - 951 BYLONG VALLEY WAY – BAERAMI
OPEN 7 DAYS 10:00AM TILL 4:30PM – 6547 5168