The Re-Birth of Burnbrae – The Story
The owners of Burnbrae Tony and Jill Bryant were previously broad acre farmers who followed their love of wines to ultimately live their dream. In the years following the sale of their family farm they began looking for a vineyard to purchase that possessed the characteristics they believed would produce the most exceptional wines.
In 2004 they purchased Burnbrae, one of the oldest vineyards in Mudgee dating back to 1968. Situated alongside McDonalds Creek on the Hill End Road the vineyard and its mature vines offered the opportunity to ofster their love of wine and “create something special”. While not on the beaten track, Tony saw Burnbrae had “the potential to create wines with regionality and originality.” Add to this its significance in the regions wine making history and its picturesque and tranquil setting; it was exactly what they had been longing for.
This opinion was shared by veteran winemaker Frank Newman, who recognised Burnbrae as a vineyard with the potential to create some exceptional vintages of the future. Thus, a wonderful partnership was born between two men who are the epitomes of the perfect dichotomy; two very contrasting characters coming together to create something synergistic and wonderful. Tony is driven, flamboyant, cheeky and always buzzing with boundless energy.. In contrast Frank is reserved, analytical, and precise while sporting an encyclopaedia-like mind on Oenology and a delightfully dry sense of humour. Put together they not only produce Award Winning wines, they entertain the rest of the team with their endless quirkiness.
Their shared philosophy is to always maintain the integrity of each Boutique wine with individual focus on nurturing each vintage to bring out its finest characteristics. Like a piece of art.
Born in the nearby town of Gulgong, Tony sold the family farm 14 years ago to pursue his desire to live, eat and breathe the world of wine. Having completed his studies in viticulture and marketing he went on to manage wineries in the Mudgee area, before starting his own consultancy business for vineyards.
Tony’s big picture for Burnbrae is to create a “must destination” as visitors enjoy “hand crafted boutique wines” that show true varietal style and flavour… “with the wines speaking for themselves”. He is very much hands on and whether organising a function showcasing all the wineries in the region or zooming around on a ride-on mower, he is always approachable, animated and above all passionate about wine and the Region.
Born in England, Frank arrived in South Australia (then Australia’s undisputed wine capital) as a teenager. Growing up in a family involved in the wine industry meant his passion for wine started young and has never waned since. Frank’s pedigree as a winemaker is first class, with the first half of a career (spanning 40 years) devoted to Penfolds, before choosing to become Chief Winemaker and Production Manager for Angove’s and a number of other wineries. With the Awards he continues to receive for both the Burnbrae wines (along with the ones Burnbrae produces for other wineries on a contract basis) he is undisputedly one of the most qualified winemakers in the region. His approach to winemaking is much like any artist creating a unique piece; He uses smell and taste as well as an intimate knowledge of the chemistry and process.
Frank’s big picture is to “see the fruit that’s grown end up in wines that in the future will be held up as Mudgee icons”. As most people in the region know how good the Burnbrae fruit is, it is now his desire to have it become better known throughout the NSW and Australia.
While Frank may have Rolls Royce qualifications, he prefers to be creating his masterpieces rather than discussing them and he is happiest keeping an eye on things from the background.
The daughter of Tony and Jill Bryant, Trine has a degree in marketing and a vision for the next phase of the family business, whilst keeping with the tradition and rustic charm of Burnbrae. Having worked in Sydney for a major car rental company and now running her own consultancy, she shares her parent’s vision to produce exceptional vintages which are enjoyed by those seeking true personality and regionality in their wine.
Lisa Bray has an Oenology degree, completing a Bachelor of Applied Science at the University of Western Sydney in 2002. She started her career in winemaking in Mudgee working with traditional varieties such as Semillon, Chardonnay, Shiraz and Cabernet. Lisa has also completed vintages in Germany, New Zealand and the Hunter Valley before returning to Mudgee to work with the family-owned wine producer Andrew Harris Vineyards in 2004 as Assistant Winemaker before taking over the role of Senior Winemaker in 2007 to 2011.
A 2011 European vintage in Turkey and a Mudgee 2012 vintage working with organic and preservative free wines sees Lisa complete her 12th vintage. Lisa places immense importance on making wines of integrity that best represent the vineyards where the grapes are grown.
As the newest member of the Burnbrae team, Lisa is constantly pushing Frank’s limits and ideas in the Winemaking arena and we look forward to seeing her winemaking style influence our upcoming vintages.
Ciao is the smallest addition to the Burnbrae family. Our little four-legged ambassador will be the first to greet you at the door as you arrive. She is a definate attention seeker with big brown puppy dog eyes, no one can resist giving her a pat.