Sydney Times


Usher Tinkler-Hunter Valley

Written by Aksel Ritenis

Usher Tinkler-Hunter Valley

They bought and renovated the original Pokolbin Church, which was built in 1905, to create a place to showcase their new brand.

Operating as a Cellar Door Usher Tinkler has created an energetic and sociable environment to enjoy their wines.

Whilst many consider the wines a little “funky and avant-garde” they still use only fruit/grapes from their own family estate in Pokolbin and believe in a 100% Hunter Valley production.

They do not offer wines made from other regions as a matter of principle!

Their approach to wine tasting incorporates a well-developed “food and wine lifestyle concept”, and whilst tasting you can choose from their salumi and cheese list to make a plate to accompany your tasting. On my recent visit, I found all the wines to be quite unique and exceptional,.. and way different to the “run of the mill” stereotypical wine styles generally available.

Whilst I am a bit of a stickler for tradition and have even been called a “stamp collector” by restaurateur John Fink of QUAY fame, I generally enjoyed the funky and innovative style that Usher and his Team offer and was pleased to make this discovery albeit rather late in the peace!

At Tinkler’s they are very hospitable,.. and very accommodating with groups and children,.. and at $10 per person for a wine Tasting it seems very reasonable.    Some servers such as Tristan,,..the young man serving me ,.. are definitely more knowledgeable than others,.. but you can’t really go wrong at this funky and cool establishment!

The wine tasting experience has a designated time of 1.5,…Just book ahead and enjoy the wine and food!

“The interior of the converted historic  church has polished floorboards at the original end and then polished concrete in the more modern extension at the back.  There is a real hipster feel to this cellar door with leather couches, the old retro turntable and the eclectic mix of chairs and tables around the room”

With Usher Tinkler billing himself  as a purveyor of wine and salumi it is just as well He has a bench-mounted Berkel prosciutto slicer, ,to dispense about a dozen kinds of cured meats and salumi.

There’s also a diverse mainly imported cheese list.

Visitors can sit at the bar or a stool or even luxuriate in one of the big leather sofas at the end of a hard day of Tasting.

This is quite as different experience to that offered elsewhere,.as  the mission here is to provide sociability and a modern approach.. ‘Usher Tinkler Wines – Born for Sociability’ is the motto and they live up to this pretty well,..thats the  focus for  a new style of wine experience via the Hunter Valley. The labelling, wine packaging and cellar door settings are unonconventional and the antithesis of the modern industrial commercial tendency normally encountered in most large Australian  wineries,.. so this is quite a refreshing and funky approach!

Also there is no question that  Usher and his community are innovators, and perhaps a bit more Artisanal in their style and they highlight the provenance of their unique Hunter wines very well,…and this raises interesting questions about the  “modus operandi ” of the other wineries…and perhaps even the use of wine from other regions.

According to his publicity,..Usher Tinkler is regarded as one of Australia’s most dynamic young winemakers. Along with his grandfather and father, he is apart of three generations of farming expertise; the dairyman, the cattleman, and the winemaker. They all share the same name and united passion for the land and it was in recognition of this that  Usher Tinkler Wines was born,..and you know that after being exposed to all manner of Wine Spin from the elite Bordelaise to the Burgundians promoting exorbitantly expensive wines,…

I found my visit and experience quite inspirational and convincing because “they are bloody well genuine, unique and original!”


Excellent Beef Wagyu Bresaola Salumi andFrench soft cheeses on offer are top quality

Whilst Usher’s wines are avant-garde he still only uses grapes from his own family estate in Pokolbin and believes in a 100% Hunter Valley production, paying homage to his rich heritage.

Usher Tinkler Wines purchases 25 hectares of original Lindemans Ben Ean land in December 2018 and The purchase includes 5.5 hectares of old Shiraz Vines, planted pre-1968.

“The purchase of the property was  perfect for the growth of their  business and future development of the  brand”, as they have always striven   to maintain 100% Hunter Valley production so this was a  strategic step to support increased sales and business sustainability.”

The property itself connects the Usher Tinkler Wines Cellar Door (the original Pokolbin Church built 1905) to their already owned and run vineyards, creating a stand-alone estate of 55 hectares.


The Cellar Door has

“Shifting gear in the Hunter Valley the wines are authentic yet adventurous. Blurring the lines between traditional and contemporary winemaking. Wines that create discussion – born for sociability”.




Usher grew up in Pokolbin on the Tinkler Family Vineyard established in 1943 by his grandfather Usher Gordon Tinkler

In 1841, his great grandfather Usher Tinkler left Ireland for Australia and started growing vines. For generations, the family sold their grapes to top Hunter wineries like Tyrrells and Mt Pleasant before deciding to go at it alone in 2014. Today, the family owns 50 hectares of their own vineyards and uses the grapes to make their own wines..

“From a young age, I’ve been interested in the Hunter Valley,… I want to make sure that we can contribute back to this region by securing rare and old vines such as these, keep them in great condition, and crafting wines from them”

With the new Tinklers Winery upgrade, there is now the potential for the entire 400 tonnes of premium fruit grown on the Tinkler Family and Usher Tinkler Wines vineyards to be utilized on-site, for both brands. Already The wines can be spotted in Hunter region restaurants and shops and there is local pride in the brand.

Clearly, Usher has something of a local following with good reason. He was previously chief winemaker at Poole’s Rock and Cockfighter’s Ghost,.. so he has a lot of experience and creative energy to further develop Tinklers, and production has been increased to meet demand. Global interest has emerged,..with exports to Sweden, Singapore, and China.

The Wines 

“As far as the wines on show are concerned, this range of wines both celebrate the history of the Hunter Valley while embracing new ways. Tinkler created his own range of wines, which come with busy, colorful, eye-catching labels aptly described as hipsterish in style. They are sealed with corks dipped in wax ( which have been tested for TCA taint).”

Wines Tasted on our Visit

La Volpe 2020 Prosecco 

Very good fresh and peardrop Prosecco that measures up as an aperitif.

Nose-2-Tale White Semillon Chardonnay 

With zesty notes of lemon and lime, they have created a refreshing mineral white that is a lot more funkier than the insipid commercial stuff available in the supermarket! Signs of artisanal minerality, grip and texture.

UTW Reserve 

2019Reserve Chardonnay

A single-vineyard wine that shows flinty funky mineral notes with white peach overtones

Nose -2 Tail/2019Rose Shiraz/Merlot 

Soft Strawberry lifted savory Rose. Amazing artwork on the label.

The Enneagram 2020 Mixed varietal 

I presumed this was kind of a takeoff of the famous French Chateauneuf du Pape wine of the Rhone valley which has  8 to 9 varieties (cepages) blended into the wine .. so this is the local Hunter version,..made of 9 Hunter valley varietals. The wine was light bodied with floral aromatics. I was expecting a herbal element,…but didn’t detect any.

Nose-2 Tail 2019 Shiraz /Pinot

It kind of seems a little strange to blend these two varieties to me instinctively,..but it has been done before in the Hunter and it seems to work,..You can’t argue with history and experience! With dark fruits and spice,..the flavor is intensely juicy all-round- Now I understand why they use the term “juicy”, fits!

UTW 2018 Reserve Shiraz 

A Premium reserve, barrel selection crafted from aged vines. A full-bodied wine with lifted aromas of white pepper black mulberries and vanillin oak. The Shiraz grapes are hand-harvested for optimum flavor, resulting in a rich juicy palate full of ripe black mulberries!


Meeting with Usher,..I was reminded of the fact there’s a lot of talk about natural and organic wines at the moment, and I think that’s reflected in the contemporary style of winemaking that Usher is trying to adhere to.

“It’s all about going back to basics, and really letting the grape variety and terroir shine,” he says.

What the “Punters” are saying about the Experience:

 Platter with 1 cheese selection for $30 was one of the best platters we’ve ever enjoyed in 15 years. $60 for one cheese plus one salami was tempting but way too much for two. The French soft cheeses on offer are top quality. I only wish they offer a tasting platter with a variety of salamis and cheeses. The tastings are always really pleasant – nothing groundbreaking, but really nice, easy-drinking wines. It’s a lovely setting, being in a renovated church, and although they get very busy on the weekends


As regards my visit and impressions,..,…I tasted some cured Wagyu Bresaola and it was delectable,..with La Tur White mould soft cheese which was very pungent,.. (and made me think I was in France),..incidentally one of the great legends of the Hunter Dr. Max Lake wrote numerous academic treatises basically about Pheremones,.cotained in Wine and Foodstuffs such as Cheese and Truffles and he advanced some theories along the lines, that a mature and pungent French Cheese (which contained Pheremones,.. when combined with wine could result in sexual arousal,..and that these smells were similar to the physical scents or smells encountered during mating between the homo sapien species !?...

So please don’t be surprised if you discover that a mature Burgundy combined with pungent cheese or truffles, results in some amorous behavior or an inclination to find someone sexually attractive,..all of a sudden! Now whilst this was a little removed from Max’s theorems,.. I did find the pungent cheese served up quite intoxicating and divine!

Incidentally, this pungent  French soft cheese is made from Cows and Goats milk and the quality has to be tasted to be believed and it is anything but sterile!

In conclusion,.. to summarize my own overall impressions with this Usher Tinkler Tasting Flight and Salumi,..I will use the words of Sharon Stone (which she used in reference to a Chocolat Brownie Cake she frequently ate on  Top Floor Terrace of Harvey Nichols in London),,…This is better than Sex!

Usher Tinkler


97 McDonalds Rd, Pokolbin NSW 2320



Opening hours: Mon to Thurs 10 am – 5.30 pm, 




About the author

Aksel Ritenis

Publisher and Custodian of the Sydney Times

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