Four adventures in NSW wine country
Whether you’re seeking robust vintages, widescreen vistas or boundary-pushing food-and-wine pairings, NSW has a vineyard for you. Here are four ways to immerse yourself in unexpected (and adventurous) wine experiences.
With more than 500 vineyards spread across 12 major regions, NSW offers endless possibilities for adventurous wine lovers. Feel like exploring vast heritage vineyards? Or getting to know boundary-pushing vintners? Or is a food-focused adventure more to your taste?
Whatever you crave, there’s a wine region out there waiting. Here are four ways to get among the grapes in four different parts of the state.
Watch the sunrise in the Hunter Valley
Misty mornings in the deep-green Hunter Valley are an invigorating sight to behold – and there’s no better vantage point than smack-bang in the middle of one of the region’s top vineyards.
For soul-stirring views of the Hunter’s rolling hills, book a night or two at Winmark Wines, a centrally located, 50-hectare property planted with chardonnay vines. There are four guesthouses plus facilities including tennis courts, three swimming pools and even a sculpture garden.
Alternatively, spend a day roaming the grounds at The Carriages, a boutique two-hectare property near Pokolbin that produces some of the Hunter’s best-regarded shiraz. With just two guesthouses on site – one for large groups and another for couples – you’re likely to have the vineyards, saltwater pool and tennis court all to yourself.
Nearby, at Tinonee Vineyard Estate, the two guest cottages channel south-of-France vibes: think exposed wooden beams and crisp white furnishings. And while you may not want to leave your accommodation, there are 20 hectares of grounds to explore and a garden chess set to play, just outside your front door.
Or, for unrestrained luxury, Vinden Wines is an attractive option: the homestead, which sleeps 12, boasts marble bathrooms and exquisite furniture, not to mention direct access to the vineyard and epic views of the Brokenback Ranges.
Give your taste buds a workout in Mudgee
The Mudgee region in country NSW isn’t just a mecca for wine devotees: it’s also home to some of the state’s most exciting restaurants, many of which can be found in the midst of vineyards.
There’s a real buzz about the food Andy Crestani is conjuring up at Pipeclay Pumphouse, connected to Robert Stein Winery, and snagging a table during busy periods can be a challenge. The effort is worth it, though, for enlightening dishes such as truffle tuna tartare and zesty orange sorbet with fennel, all served with Stein’s award-winning whites and reds.
Another big player is The Zin House at the organic and biodynamic Lowe Family Wine Co property, where all the ingredients are either grown on site or sourced from local farms. Save room for sweet treats such as apple tarte tatin, accompanied by the estate’s acclaimed dessert wine.
Alternatively, try the phenomenal Italian cuisine at di Lusso, which is connected to the vineyard of the same name (don’t miss the pork-belly cacciatore if it’s available). Or keep things casual at The Cellar by Gilbert, where decadent share plates and house-made pasta accompany riesling and rosé from Gilbert Family Wines.
Challenge your palate in Orange
The cool climate and rich volcanic soils of the Orange area have long drawn unconventional winemakers. As a result, the natural and organic wines you’ll find here are among the best in the world.
For a crash course in organic techniques and flavours, head first to Tamburlaine Organic Wines cellar door, where you can try a dazzling array of vegan and low-sulphur varieties while learning about the company’s ongoing quest to produce the purest drops possible.
Then make your way to the Orange Wine Centre, a sleek European-style wine bar and tasting hub for the region’s small producers, to try vintages by biodynamic growers See Saw Wines and a dozen others. Next, it’s out to the Word of Mouth Wines vineyard and cellar door to sample punchy vegan wines made with niche grape varieties such as petit manseng and vetliner.
Cap it off with a visit to local legend Will Rikard-Bell’s pint-sized Rikard vineyard and winery to try some of his small-batch pinot noir and chardonnay, made with wild yeast and minimal intervention. Will’s passion for the craft is contagious, and you’re bound to leave with a bottle or two under your arm.
Discover cellar doors in the Southern Highlands
After a long, enlivening walk through the crisp-aired countryside of the Southern Highlands, there’s nothing better than pulling up a chair at one of the region’s cellar doors and feasting on local produce.
The area is full of hidden gems like Tertini Wines, which offers intimate tastings paired with NSW cheeses, plus jams and chutneys made on site. There are larger operations, too, such as Bendooley Estate, home to both a cellar door with food and a restaurant that serves up pan-roasted kingfish and Black Angus fillets matched with memorable vintages.
In Berrima, local wine and olive-oil producer PepperGreen Estate operates a sophisticated restaurant with hearty dishes such as oxtail ragout, roast duck leg and – for the fearless – olive oil ice cream. Don’t leave the area without visiting Southern Highland Winery and its on-site Italian trattoria to sample locally reared rabbit and quail with matched varietals.