Pioneers of the Hunter Since 1853
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Drayton Family History

It's been nearly 170 years since the first Drayton, Joseph, trod on rich Hunter Valley soil.

He was born in 1825 at Lincolnshire in England, and at the age of 27 set sail for Sydney with his wife, Anna, and their two small boys. Tragically Joseph lost a son, a newborn daughter, and his wife during the long voyage.

In 1853 he and son Frederick journeyed to Lochinvar. Soon after, they moved to Pokolbin, where Joseph acquired 80 acres of land, on which he built the “Bellevue” homestead. In the late 1850’s, Joseph stopped growing grain to plant his first vines in the rich virgin soil of the “Bellevue” property.

Joseph married Mary Ann Chick and they had eight children. One of their sons, William, took over the “Bellevue” property from his father. In 1885, William married Susanne Lambkin and they had ten children. 

After retiring in his sixties, William split his assets among his children. Harry, Walter, George, and Leonard took over control of “Bellevue”. Ernest and Wesley took over the “Homestead” block, known as “Happy Valley”. Willie and Lewis were given the “Crows Nest” block now Mount Pleasant.

In 1947 the company 'W. Drayton & Sons' was formed by third generation descendants of Joseph. Harry, Walter, George and Len were later joined by some of their fourth-generation children, Max, Bill, Reg, Jock, and Ron, in the running and further expansion of the business. By this time, the company was actively marketing itself as Drayton’s Family Wines.

In 1989, Max Drayton and three of his four sons, John, Trevor & Greg, purchased the company from the other family members. Consequently, Jock and the late Ron retired to Cessnock, Bill settled at his “Cedarside Vineyard” at Mount View, where his interest in growing grapes continues. Tragically, Reg and his wife Pam lost their lives in a plane crash in 1994.

In 2008, another tragic chapter was added to the Draytons story. A winery fire and explosion resulted in the death of winemaker, Trevor Drayton, and severe burning of the assistant winemaker, William Rikard-Bell. The Australian and Hunter Valley winemaking community still mourn Trevor.

Today, Drayton's Family Wines, originally started by Joseph Drayton nearly 170 years ago, remains 100% Australian family owned and fully independent. 

John Drayton, who joined the company in 1989 after 13 years of teaching, continues to be an active member of the current Draytons Team.

The Drayton Family is very proud of its history over six generations, and the part it has played in the development of the region that is now known as “Hunter Valley Wine Country”.