Love at first sight for new Dryridge Estate owners

The couple has moved from Sydney to take on Dryridge Estate in the Megalong Valley.
The couple has moved from Sydney to take on Dryridge Estate in the Megalong Valley.

It's one big seachange: two 30-somethings, previously ensconced in inner-city Bondi Junction, have just taken on 50 hectares of rolling hills in the Megalong Valley.

Emma MacMahon, her husband Simon, Charlie the cat and George the dog spent their first weekend in their new home, the Dryridge Estate winery.

It was a case of love at first sight when they visited the estate for the first time. They were spending a weekend in the Mountains, noticed the 'for sale' sign and popped in.

"We have been looking for a business for a while. We came across this when we were up at the Mountains and saw the signs. We fell in love with the property - we really just did."

Ms MacMahon has worked in hospitality for two decades, most recently in events management with the Justin Hemmes Merivale group, a job she left earlier this month. Her husband will continue working in the finance industry, planning on regular commuting to Sydney.

The property they now own includes five hectares of vines under trellis, substantial grazing land with stream frontage, waterfalls and private natural swimming holes.

As well as their three-bedroom home, there is a cellar door and a separate fully self-contained two-bedroom cottage which has been used as a holiday let.

And the entire estate features spectacular views of the valley and the Blue Mountains escarpment.

Dryridge Estate was established in 2000 by Bob and Barbara Tyrrell, who pioneered viticulture in the valley. It is the only licensed producer of local Mountains wine. Mr Tyrrell suffered a fatal heart attack in 2013 and Mrs Tyrrell and her son Matthew have managed it since.

Immediate plans are to "pretty much leave it the same", said Ms MacMahon. "Maybe build and grow a little bit but in the beginning keep the vines - we may do some different wines and develop the cellar door further.

"And we wouldn't mind doing a few weddings and corporate events."

She bursts into laughter when asked about winery experience: "No, we haven't run a winery before. My husband's been in farming though - he's from New Zealand - but we figured we would get help from the guy who looks after the farm and the wine makers."

She also figured her 20-year experience in the hospitality industry has given her a great deal of knowledge about wines.

Ms MacMahon has quit her job at Merivale but her husband will keep his work, commuting to the city.

"Yes, we'll miss the city. My whole family lives in Sydney so we'll be visiting a lot. But it was a natural fit for us - our own business combined with the hospitality industry and events.

"It's a huge lifestyle change. It's very exciting."

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