John and Pam Chapman, of Como Villa Estate, near Alexandra, are hoping to have a replica blacksmith smithy on site by March next year, to compliment their stables, restored stone cottage, and buried wine cellar.

The couple bought the Earnscleugh property in 1982 as an orchard and deer farm, but when Mr Chapman's tractor wheel collapsed into a hole in the ground behind an old stone house, they found a wine cellar, excavated by the property's first owner, Thomas Oliver.

Oliver and his family lived there in the 1860s and early 1870s.

Inside the cellar they found empty wine bottles, as well as other winemaking equipment.


They realised the property had been one of the first vineyards in the area and the Chapmans eventually replanted it back into grapes.

Now they have their own wines.

''We have pinot noir grapes and we make rose,'' Mrs Chapman said.

Their winemaker, Anthony Worch, of Alexandra Vintners, also uses grapes from a neighbouring property that used to be part of the estate, to make pinot gris, chardonnay and a blend of cabernet, merlot and malbec.

They use the original stone house as a cellar door and museum, featuring artefacts from the property and items they have sourced from elsewhere, including a copy of a notice of sale, which listed the original buildings on the site.

The property had a vineyard, piggery, coach house, dairy, store room and smithy.

Mr Chapman said they repaired the wine cellar and old house to be as authentic as was practical, and had been working on the smithy, complete with furnace and bellows. They hope to have it finished by about March next year.

They also brought in an old miner's cottage.


Thomas Oliver and two other miners inspired the name of ''Three Miners Vineyard'' which is a few kilometres down the road.

Oliver, Joseph Knowles and James Simmonds were originally miners from England, and arrived in the region in the 1860s to search for gold.

However, Oliver and Knowles realised water was more valuable, so they built more than 20 water races to supply water to the miners' claims and made a lot of money.

- Southern Rural Life