The property that is now home to Punt Road Wines began its wine story in the 1860s when two brothers from Switzerland, Paul and Hubert de Castella, followed the Yarra River out from Melbourne to what is now the Yarra Valley. They established St.Huberts Vineyard on the current property with over 100 acres under vine and some of the grandest local buildings of the time including a beautiful state-of-the-art winery, underground cellars, a dairy, and stables.
Punt Road Wines
Punt Road Wines is located on the Napoleone family property in the Yarra Valley, an hour east of Melbourne. Surrounded by orchards and vineyards, a wealth of history and a superb range of wines await you at the Punt Road cellar door. From the famous Punt Road Wines to the interesting Airlie Bank range, these wines offer something evocative and expressive for the wine traveller to lose themself in. All wines are made on site from our estate fruit by winemaker Tim Shand and team. Let the savvy cellar door crew take you on an adventure through these vineyards from glass to glass or bring a picnic and relax on the lawn with a bottle of the sparkling or the award-winning Shiraz while the kids play in the expansive back garden.
When these first grape-growing communities originated, it was the beginning of a boom period for the Yarra Valley; the wine industry was flourishing and Melbourne was growing rapidly with the population doubling during the period from 1860 to 1870. As further acknowledgement of Melbourne’s growth and standing, the Melbourne International Exhibition was held at the newly opened Royal Exhibition Building (1880-1881). St.Huberts was one of 15 wineries that submitted wines, many of them international, and was awarded the prize of Emperor Wilhelm I of Germany, a highly coveted honour. The award added substantially to the Yarra Valley’s growing reputation as a New World region.
By 1900, St.Hubert’s was the largest estate in the Yarra Valley with 260 acres under vine. Twenty years later, however, the boom ended, Australia entered an economic decline, and the local wine industry virtually collapsed. Most vineyards were returned to pasture for dairy, cattle, and sheep, and it wasn’t until the 1960’s that replanting began in the Yarra Valley.
In 1978, as the Yarra Valley wine industry began to wake again, the Napoleones purchased the property at Coldstream which was formerly home to the original St.Huberts vineyards and winery. The Napoleones planted their vineyards in the 1980’s, built a winery in the 90’s, and Punt Road Wines became fully operational in 2001 when we celebrated our inaugural vintage.
In 1926, Joseph Napoleone migrated to Australia from Abruzzi, Italy, seeking a new life for he and his family. He began working in South Australia, clearing bush for day wages to earn enough money to bring his wife Josephine and their 5 children over from Italy. Though he intended to bring them over as soon as possible, the Great Depression and World War II interrupted, and he had to wait until after the war before they could join him. These were difficult economic times throughout the world, and the local wine industry virtually collapsed. Most vineyards were returned to pasture for dairy, cattle, and sheep, and it wasn’t until the 1960’s that replanting began in the Yarra Valley. Post-World War II, the Napoleone family was reunited, and in 1948 they purchased land in Wandin and began the family business, Red Rich Fruits, as orchardists growing apples.
In 1961, Michael Vivien Napoleone (Joe and Michael’s father) planted 2 more acres of orchard on the original 20 acres his father had acquired, and the first generation of Napoleone’s were born in Australia (Josephina, 1960, Joe 1961, Michael 1972). In 1978, as the Yarra Valley wine industry began to wake again, the Napoleone’s purchased the property at Coldstream which was formerly home to the original St. Huberts vineyards and winery.
They began planting vines in 1987 and, in the late 1990’s, a modern winery was built on the Napoleone Vineyard here in Coldstream. In 2001, the first range of Punt Road wines was released to the market with great success. Today, the Napoleone family, through their vineyards, winery, orchards, brewery and ciderhouse, are committed to crafting the most exceptional wines, beers and ciders in the Yarra Valley.
Single vineyard, historic site, 30 years on the property, old vines and new, balancing classic with new wave, we allow the older, more experienced sites to exude purity of fruit while we provide more guidance to the younger vines, taking creative liberties and irreverently disregarding the status quo.
Everything we do comes from our home in Coldstream; ideas are born here, the grapes are grown here, and our wines are crafted and shared on site. Our small team aims to create wines that reflect the heritage of our vineyard, and the excitement of the Yarra Valley.