The top 12 wineries & cellar doors around Orange
Once known for its cherries and apples, Orange is now most famous for its shiraz and chardonnay. Diverse, innovative and award-winning, you’ll want to drink in the flavours of the Orange wine region.
The first commercial grape vines were planted in Orange in 1980, yet just four decades on, there are more than 80 vineyards in the region. A unique combination of rich volcanic soils (provided by the extinct volcano Mount Canobolas), high altitude and a cool climate characterised by warm summers and cold winters produce exceptional grapes. Add to that a crop of passionate, diverse winemakers and you’re left with magic in a glass.
Shiraz, chardonnay and cabernet sauvignon are the region’s top drops, making up more than half of the wine produced in Orange. But with a wide variety of vineyards planted at different altitudes, wineries here are producing everything from light and bubbly sparkling wines to bone-dry rosé, complex pinot noir and exotic viognier. With more than 30 cellar doors to visit around Orange, you could happily spend a week sipping your way through the region.
Philip Shaw is a good place to start. The Shaw family were among the pioneers of the Orange wine region and the grand cellar door is set inside a restored stone barn from the turn of the century. Their elegant wines include a deservedly famous pinot noir, chardonnay, shiraz and sauvignon blanc, as well as small-batch experimental vintages.
Borrodell is one of Australia’s highest vineyards, set atop a steep hillside overlooking the Towac Valley and Lake Canobolas. The estate produces mostly white wines, like riesling, sauvignon blanc, chardonnay and sparkling, as well as pinot noir and pinot meunier, available for tastings at the picturesque SkyBar cellar door. The on-site accommodation and restaurant makes it ideal for an overnight stay.
A few minutes' drive from Borrodell is Rowlee Wines, known for having its roots in the Dalmatian wine country of Croatia’s coastline, emulated in Australia by founders Nik and Deonne Samodol. Today, the vineyard uses a combination of new and old methods, with an emphasis on minimal intervention. Varietals on offer include arneis, chardonnay, gewurztraminer, nebbiolo, pinot Gris, pinot Noir and riesling – and after you are finished wine tasting, you can opt to stay the night at Rowleee’s private, luxury guesthouse.
On the opposite side of the valley is Ross Hill Wines, Australia’s only carbon-neutral winery and vineyard. The family-run operation has been around since 1994 and remains vastly popular, in large part thanks to its sustainable approach. Take a tour behind the scenes before sitting down to a tasting – don’t miss the 2019 chardonnay, named best in show at the London International Wine Competition.
Nashdale is a tiny enclave set at the foothills of Mount Canobolas; there’s not much more than a primary school, a community hall and a few excellent wineries. Nashdale Lane has a strong commitment to sustainability in producing its eight wine varieties, that include an award-winning shiraz, fumé blanc and riesling. The cellar door is inside a repurposed apple packing shed and there are two luxe glamping tents where you can spend the night.
Nearby, the experiences at Printhie Wines go beyond a simple tasting – book in for a , set up a wine picnic in the vines, book in for a degustation lunch at the on-site restaurant Printhie Dining, learn the art of fly fishing, or step aboard a helicopter for a private tour. The cellar door even has an oyster tank filled with water shipped from the Clyde River so guests who are missing the taste of the sea can enjoy shucked-to-order oysters, paired with the Swift Sparkling range.
The kids will enjoy Heifer Station as much as the adults – there’s a petting zoo where they can pat friendly alpacas and fluffy highland cows, feed the chickens and take a photo with the Shetland pony Tilly. The cellar door is run out of an old woolshed, which pours fantastic glasses of chardonnay, pinot noir, pinot gris and merlot.
The small cellar door at Swinging Bridge Wines adds to the charm of this family-owned estate. Passionate winemaker Tom Ward produces a limited but exceptional range of hand-crafted cool climate wines, with a focus on chardonnay and pinot noir. Boasting a commanding view of Mount Canobolas at 1,395 metres high, it makes a perfect perch to watch the sunset.
As the name suggests, the cellar door at Strawhouse was built from bales of straw by owners Justin Byrne and Meg Simpson in 1997. They produce only a handful of wines in small amounts and are only open for visits from Friday to Sunday, so it’s the place to pick up something you won’t find in the average bottle shop.
With a minimalist winemaking philosophy, De Salis creates drops that showcase old-world styles and French varieties such as pinot noir, chardonnay, sauvignon blanc, merlot, cabernet franc and pinot meuniere. The aptly named ‘Lofty Vineyard’ sits on the northern slopes of Mount Canobolas at an altitude of 1,050 metres, so like many of the wineries in the region, enjoys spectacular vistas.
Pioneers of Orange winemaking, Canobolas Wines was established by Murray Smith and his family in 1986. Today, the team is still industry innovators with a proudly artisanal approach: all grapes are hand-pruned, hand-picked and unirrigated. The winery is open by appointment only, but a taste of the barrel-fermented chardonnay or the unique Alchemy red blend – considered by many to be “the red” of the district – is worth the effort.
For vineyards without a cellar door, Ferment the Orange Wine Centre takes over the tasting duties. Set inside a beautifully preserved heritage building in the centre of town, they run personalised tasting sessions every day. Sip on organic prosecco from See Saw Wines (the only prosecco produced in the Orange region) or the well-known Rolling series from , inspired by the rolling hills that surround the town.