About 1½ hours drive north from Adelaide is the beautiful Polish Hill River sub-region of the Clare Valley, home to Neil and Alison Paulett and their winery
The Polish Hill River region was named after the Polish Settlers of the mid 1800's. The area is blessed with a climate ideal for premium grape growing and the combination of consistently good winter rains, hot summers tempered by cool nights and a long ripening period produces grapes of exceptional flavours and balance.
Neil Paulett graduated from the Roseworthy Oenology course in 1971 and began working as a winemaker for Penfolds Wines in Sydney and then Rosemount in the Hunter Valley. With 10 years wine making experience behind him, Neil and wife Alison began their search for the place to establish their own family vineyard. After discovering the Clare Valley in 1981, they set about protracted negotiations to purchase what is now their property. The property had remained in the same family's hands from the 1860's until its purchase in 1983 and has a long history of vineyard production with vines being present for well over 100 years.
The property has expanded from the initial 47 hectares to 147 hectares and the on-going vineyard development now sees 25 hectares under vine. There is a substantial portion of Shiraz and Cabernet vines over 70 years of age and Riesling of 35 years and this their treasured resource makes up the back bone of the super premium red and white, the Andreas Shiraz and Antonina Riesling (Shiraz is only produced in the best years) after these original settler family members. This connection with the past is felt very strongly and Neil and Alison understand and embrace the challenge of being custodians of the land for future generations.
In 2004 Pauletts celebrated the 21st Anniversary of operating their cellar door and receiving a producer's licence. The cellar door has become one of the 'must see' places in the Clare Valley, often described as having the most spectacular view from any cellar door in the country. "Twenty years ago, visiting a cellar door was not as common as now and we felt we had to offer that extra inducement to bring people to the Valley. Now it's just considered all part of the package, a welcoming cellar door, the premium wines and the spectacular views all enhance the sense of well-being that wine lovers have come to expect from Paulett's Winery" said Neil.
The range of wines produced has grown over the years in much the same way as Neil and Alison's interest in different varieties and wine styles. In addition to the staples of Shiraz and Riesling there is, a Late Harvest Riesling, Trillians Sparkling Riesling, Chardonnay, Sauvignon Blanc, Shiraz, Cabernet & Malbec blend and a Cabernet Merlot. The constant refinement and attention to detail has led to the very high quality across this significant body of work.
Since the first vintage in 1983 there have been many accolades received from within Australia and internationally including the great 1995 vintage winning both the Top Riesling at the Hyatt/Advertiser awards and Best Riesling in the Penguin Good Australian Wine Guide. The 2003 was included in Phillip White's Top 100 Australian Wines scoring 93 points. When asked about these accolades Neil said "This kind of recognition against all-comers is particularly rewarding however there is just as much of a thrill walking into a restaurant seeing people enjoying a bottle of our wine".
Pauletts reputation for producing wines of finesse, elegance and intensity is justly earned and their skill and care can be seen consistently from vintage to vintage. Neil has a craftsman's sensibilities coupled with over 30 years experience making wine - and it all shows. The current release wines have a touch more roundness and generosity than previously and it's these subtle on-going improvements that have kept Pauletts at the forefront of Australian wine.