Standing in the winery tasting 2010 barrel samples and listening to Ken Sloan speak passionately and humbly about the success of Mistletoe Wines you soon realise he is one of the Hunter Valley’s true gentlemen. Sloan is living his dream and with winemaker Nicholas Paterson, the owner and vigneron at Mistletoe Wines, is creating some of the region’s most talked about wines.
In the last 12 months, the small Hunter Valley winery has picked up the trophy for Reserve Wine of Show for its 2009 Reserve Chardonnay at the 10th International Chardonnay Challenge held in Gisborne New Zealand.
This follows a number of accolades including plaudits from a roll call of wine commentators being given to the 2007 Grand reserve Shiraz.
Sloan credits winemaker Nic Paterson with much of the success and hails him as an “absolute gem”.
Sitting on a strip of land running along Hermitage Road, Ken and his wife Gwen set-up the vineyard back in 1989 after a career in business. The winery was the culmination of a life-long dream for Ken, who started planting Semillon and Shiraz grapes in 1990-91.
Apart from the award-winning wines, the Sloans have invested heavily in art and sculpture. The cellar door features a sculpture garden and gallery showcasing the work of emerging artists. What’s more, the Sloans back-up their love of emerging art by funding the Mistletoe Acquisitive Sculpture Prize at Newcastle University. Visitors to the cellar door can see many of the works entered for the prize, as they wander the cellar door grounds.
Sponsoring the prize allows the Sloans to promote what they see as a natural affinity between wine and art, yet, at the end of the day, it’s the wines getting the real attention. As doyen of the Australian wine industry, James Halliday says, “Mistletoe is one of the ten dark horses of the Australian wine industry.”