Swinging Bridge Wines is, initially, a tale of two families, the Wards and the Paytens, cousins who have farmed in the district since 1867. The wines in the Winemaker Series pay homage to this historic connection, being named for eminent and beloved family members, such as the Mrs Payten Chardonnay and M.A.W. Pinot Noir (Tom’s father, Mark Andrew Ward). The name Swinging Bridge refers to the historic wooden footbridge that spans the Belubula River in Canowindra, at the foot of the original Swinging Bridge vineyard, first planted with Shiraz and Chardonnay vines in 1995.
In 2008, having spent many years working as a viticulturist at Swinging Bridge, and after completing a university course in winemaking, Tom Ward took the reins at Swinging Bridge to make more wines under his own label, as a complement to the estate’s 100ha that were supplying grapes to large-scale wineries. Always intrigued by the enormous potential afforded by the cool-climate varieties produced in the region, he turned his attention to sourcing Sauvignon Blanc and Chardonnay from a selection of premium Orange vineyards, including Hillcrest Park, planted in 1998 by Peter and Lee Hedberg.
After selling up in Canowindra, Tom and his family set down their own roots in Orange, taking over the Hedberg’s iconic estate. Here, he and his wife, Georgie, live and run Swinging Bridge, which they consider to be the best site in Orange for Chardonnay and Pinot Noir, and which they’ve renamed Hill Park. A formidable viticulturalist and winemaker, Tom has been the driving force behind the progress and development of the estate into what it is today – a benchmark producer and maker of premium-quality cool-climate wines that showcase the best of the Orange region.