Swinging Bridge Estate was first planted in 1995 by the Ward and the Payten families with an initial planting of Shiraz and Chardonnay. The Home Block vineyard is located to the south of Canowindra in the Central Ranges of New South Wales (45 minutes drive south west of Orange and 25 minutes north of Cowra).
Our family has been a part of the local farming community in Canowindra since arriving in 1906. Our great, great grandfather Thomas Payten first purchased “Alfalfa” for his eldest son Leo, who soon established himself as a prominent local farmer. “Alfalfa” continues to be run by Michael and Helen Payten who are fourth generation descendants.
Mark Ward, co-founder of Swinging Bridge Estate, immigrated to Australia in 1965 from Norfolk in England where his family were farmers. Mark graduated with honours in Agricultural Science from Cambridge University.
He quickly settled into the Canowindra area, marrying Anne the eldest daughter of John and Ailsa Payten. He purchased the property “Gayton”, 10kms from Canowindra, which is on the river plains of the Belubula.
This land was part of the original soldier settlement scheme for the returning World War II veterans. “Gayton” was prone to flooding, so blocks on higher ground closer to town were included to provide some relief in wet times. At the time these blocks were used for grazing and cropping but would later prove their worth as the future vineyard site for Swinging Bridge Estate.
The family continues to be involved in a wide range of agricultural areas from prime lamb, lucerne hay and vegetable production through to broad acre cropping.
The name for the vineyard comes from the Swinging Bridge which is a suspension walking bridge located at the foot of the vineyard. This site was identified as an area of potential for a vineyard because of its soils and its access to water.
The soils of the vineyard range from sandy to light clay loams over a cracking clay loam. These soils have proven to be suitable to the varieties that are grown at the vineyard. The irrigation water comes from the Belubula River which winds its way through the Canowindra town and the Central Ranges.
The vineyard has expanded further throughout the years with Merlot and Cabernet Sauvignon. Each year selected parcels of grapes are made under our Swinging Bridge label. Since our first wines were made in the 1997 vintage, they have been well received by the consumers and highly rated at various National and Regional Wine Shows.
Swinging Bridge Wines has expanded its range over the years and now includes wines from the cool climate region of Orange