Since the mid-1800s, the unique soils and climate of the Hunter Valley have created ideal conditions for farming and wine making. Calais is located in Pokolbin in the heart of this Valley and began its early life as a dairy and cattle farm, which produced top quality beef, milk and butter for the local region. In 1971, the agricultural focus of the property turned to wine, and the first vines were planted.
Calais Estate is more than just a vineyard though. It is a completely self-contained boutique winery that manages all aspects of the wine making process from the growing and harvesting of its own grapes, through to the creation of its broad range of traditional wines and rare varietals.
The Winery was first established in 1975, and the Cellar Door, with its convict hewn sandstone blocks and timber supports, a few years later. There are twenty acres of working vineyard, which are planted in Cabernet Sauvignon, Shiraz, Semillon and Chardonnay. Selected parcels of premium quality fruit are also sourced from other first-class vineyards.
The Bradley family purchased Calais Estate in July 2000, and continue to add to the Estate's character and charm. In their first year as owners, the Bradleys undertook an extensive beautification program. The grounds were landscaped, hundreds of trees, plants and flowers were planted, and the Winery, Cellar Door and old Winemaker's Cottage were given a much-needed facelift. The expanded dam has been successful in attracting a stunning array of local fauna and bird life to the winery throughout the year. These initiatives have helped make Calais Estate one of the showpieces of the Hunter, and the family is committed to continual improvements to the Estate.
In 2007 Matt Dillow reopened the Verandah Restaurant on the Estate, serving modern Australian food, tapas style with sweeping views of the vineyard.
In 2013, Katrina Bradley (the youngest of the Bradley family), opened Come What May, a small homewares and gift shop on the Estate which has become renowned for it's unique pieces and locally made products.