Darling family marks century in the King Valley with special release

Darling family celebrates 100 years in the King Valley with release of Nebbiolo made in collaboration with Giaconda winemaker Rick Kinzbrunner


Life & Style
FAMILY TIES: Darling Estate Wines winemaker John Darling and his daughter Grace, among the Nebbiolo vines, will celebrate the 100th anniversary of the Darling family settling in the King Valley. Picture: JODIE BRUTON

FAMILY TIES: Darling Estate Wines winemaker John Darling and his daughter Grace, among the Nebbiolo vines, will celebrate the 100th anniversary of the Darling family settling in the King Valley. Picture: JODIE BRUTON

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King Valley family teams with Giaconda winemaker Rick Kinzbrunner

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A KING Valley winery is marking a family milestone with a special blend.

One June 8 and 9 Darling Estate Wines will release a Nebbiolo made in collaboration with renowned winemaker Rick Kinzbrunner to celebrate the Darling family's 100th anniversary in the valley.

The Nebbiolo - aged in barrel for seven years - will be released at Darling Estate as part of the Weekend Fit for a King on the Queen's Birthday long weekend.

Fourth-generation King Valley resident Grace Darling said the wine honoured the memory of her grandfather, Guy Darling.

She said he established Koombahla Vineyard in 1970 when he planted the first vines in the upper reaches of the King Valley.

"Guy planted the first vines in the valley along with Brown Brothers," she said.

"All of the fruit was sold to Brown Brothers."

Following Guy's death in 2008, his son John and partner Christine moved to the valley during 2010.

Looking to make a wine in memory of his father, John spoke to Rick Kinzbrunner from Giaconda winery at Beechworth as Guy and Rick were both engineers before forging careers in the wine industry.

John said Nebbiolo was an Italian varietal Guy grew to love and one that flourished at Koombahla Vineyard.

"I remember taking the Neb to Beechworth on the 1971 Bedford truck, marking its last journey out of the valley," John said.

"The truck is as old as the vineyard; still running, but only within the valley."

Luke Pryor and Grace Darling with their children Maddison, 4, and Archie, 2.

Luke Pryor and Grace Darling with their children Maddison, 4, and Archie, 2.

Guy's father Frederick Brooke Darling settled in Cheshunt in 1919 on an apple orchard after his service in World War I.

Having served in Gallipoli and the Western Front, Frederick was awarded the military cross in Pozieres and a bar to his military cross for fighting in Belgium, where he lost his leg.

Frederick took apples to Whitfield by horse and cart before they went to Melbourne markets via Wangaratta.

John's daughter Grace and her partner Luke Pryor returned to the valley from Orange with their children, Maddison, 4, and Archie, 2, during October.

With John as their mentor, Luke and Grace hope to expand Darling Estate Wines while staying true to the traditional small batch, minimal interference, winemaking philosophy.

"We both have a passion for wine and grape-growing," Grace said.

"To be able to do that alongside dad now is really important."

Darling Estate Wines will have wine tastings, a fire-pit, homemade sausages and salami and children's games throughout Weekend Fit for a King.

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