1835 to 1909
Englishman Edward Tyrrell was 19 years old when he arrived in Australia in 1854 with his elder brother Lovick. Edward moved to the Hunter Valley to take up dairy farming and when he saw the land, was said to have marveled at the thriving vineyards that had been planted along the Hunter River. When Edward arrived at Pokolbin in 1858, only a few blocks were left available for vine growing. He settled on a conditional purchase of 320 acres of land abutting the edge of the Brokenback Range, much further into the Valley, and named the property “Ashmans” after family holdings in Suffolk, England.
In 1858, Edward built his first dwelling – a humble single roomed ironbark slab hut. This slab hut still stands proudly today and was honoured at the 2009 Hunter Valley Wine Industry Awards with the ‘Heritage Award’. Edward was predominantly interested in the two varieties of grapes the Hunter was already having great success with and making its own: semillon and shiraz. The first vintage was harvested in 1864. In 1869, Edward married Susan Hungerford (same family as Hungerford Hill Winery) and in 1871, their first son and the second child of ten – Edward George Tyrrell was born. He later became known as ‘Uncle Dan’. In 1883, their youngest son Avery was born – who was the eventual father to Murray Tyrrell.
The “book-end boys” Dan and Avery were the next generation of Tyrrell to put their weight behind the wine industry. Dan was 18 years old when he took over many of the vineyard operations from his father in 1889. Edward died in 1909 aged 74. In 51 years at “Ashmans”, he planted about 70 acres of vines on land that turned out to be one of the best vineyard sites in the Valley. Dan and Avery formed a formidable winemaking and grape growing team, leaving Edward sure his sons would continue the vision he had nurtured in his ironbark hut.