Stand aside Bordeaux. Sit down Tuscany. The New South Wales towns of Mudgee and Orange are giving the wine capitals of the world a run for their money.
In Mudgee, the local winemakers seek to make each wine unique, and the region’s diverse climate and soil provide wine consumers with an unparalleled opportunity to sample a great selection of wines with personality, character and life.
You’ll discover older wine styles along with exciting, new and relatively unknown wines. The wines are generally pretty hearty, and the local Shiraz and Cabernet Sauvignon are the stars of the scene.
You'll meet people who love what they do and who are passionate about their region, and you'll find the unmistakeable stamp of the region in the pairing of fine local foods and wines.
First time visitors arriving from Sydney will encounter the Logan winery first at the beautifully-named Apple Tree Flat on the Castlereagh Highway. It’s a family operation and winemaker Peter Logan sources most of his fruit locally.
A little further along on Sydney Road, Andrew Harris Vineyards is set in an old shearing shed where a solid range of good wines are on offer. Enter Mudgee and you’ll find Frog Rock Wines, another local gem that’s definitely worth uncovering.
One of the region’s true stars is Huntington Estate on Cassilis Road. Former journalist Tim Stevens is the owner and winemaker, and he creates some of the region’s most stylish wines. This winery received a prestigious five-star rating by James Halliday in his latest Wine Companion.
Up Pipeclay Lane lies another regional star, Robert Stein. The view from the cellar door veranda across the valley is simply stunning and Stein is turning out some of the state’s best Riesling. The Cabernet Shiraz is also well worth trying.
Probably the biggest gun in the region is Robert Oatley Wines on Craigmoor Road. The Oatley family cellar door is the region’s oldest, although the Oatleys haven’t been there long. Having hived off their Rosemount Estate label over a decade ago, the Oatley family bought the old Montrose operation. Visitors will find a range of wines from across the Australian operations of the Oatley family, as well as a chance to discover eternal regional favourites, like Montrose Black Shiraz.
Orange has established itself as one of the Australia’s best cool climate wine regions, as well as something of a food Mecca. There are fine restaurants and a couple of great golf courses, as well as a selection of excellent wineries to visit.
Like all of the world’s great wine areas, Orange’s unique climate and geography is the key. Altitude is the key. As night falls in the warmer months so does the temperature, and the sun’s ripening work of the day is tempered as the vines are given time to rest and reflect.
Soil plays a crucial role too. Orange’s soils provide a rich and fertile environment in which vines can take deep roots and thrive.
The region’s cellar doors offer as diverse an experience as the personalities that pour their wines. The region does a number of excellent Chardonnays and Sauvignon Blancs, and the Merlot and Cabernet sauvignon are very good as well.
Taste the cool-climate wines that Orange is famous for at one of the region's 40-plus boutique wineries, including Belgravia, Dindima or Ibis wines. Printhie Wines, Ross Hill Wines, Cumulus Estate and Bloodwood are also worth checking out.
Out along the Mitchell Highway, Bloodwood is one of the local stars that produces a number of great wines, including a stylish Riesling that can be found on some of the country’s top wine lists. Another regional thoroughbred is Philip Shaw Wines. The former Rosemount Estate winemaker has been espousing the wonders of Orange for over a decade and his Chardonnay, Sauvignon Blanc and Cabernet Sauvignon are all winners.
Beyond wine, the Orange region cultivates an enormous range of produce, including seasonal fruit and vegetables, pork, free range chicken, venison, duck, smoked and fresh trout, cheeses, gourmet preserves, artisan bread, mustard, honey, olives and hazelnuts.