A Guide To NSW’s Top Natural Winemakers & Cellar Doors

20 September 2019

Word of Mouth cellar door, Canobolas.

Word of Mouth Cellar Door, Canobolas.

 

Low-fi. Organic. Minimal intervention. Biodynamic. Sustainable. Handmade. Whatever tag you want to attach to the new breed of NSW winemakers taking their craft and legacy seriously, there’s another descriptor you can add: delicious. As the industry turns towards a more natural approach to making wines, it’s also opening up a raft of new producers to explore.

Here are some of the best cellar doors to visit across the State.

Mallaluka, Yass

Sam Leyshon cut his teeth at the Canberra District’s renowned Clonakilla winery, whose shiraz viognier is one of the country’s most celebrated wines. Now, Sam has returned to his roots and is running his family’s Mallaluka winery just outside Yass in the heart of the burgeoning Murrumbateman region. The cellar door is little more than an upturned barrel behind the corrugated-iron door of his winery but it’s where you’ll glimpse Sam’s meticulous, intuitive and visceral approach to low-intervention winemaking and have him talk you through some of the State’s most interesting wines, running from a delightfully textural riesling to a brilliant, fascinating rosé.

By appointment only

Jilly Wines, Clunes

Some of the best cellar doors are those that need a little planning. Jilly Wines, in the tiny Northern Rivers village of Clunes, northeast of Lismore, is only open by appointment but the effort is more than rewarded with the wines and affable passion of winemaker Jared Dixon. Sourcing his fruit from the vast New England wine region, Jared is turning out truly interesting juice, fermented using natural yeasts and no fining (a clarifying process). His White Wolf of Cumbria Rosé is made from a blend of tempranillo, shiraz and durif while his savoury, perfumed Lone Ranger Touriga Nacional is a thing of beauty.

By appointment only

Harkham Wines, Hunter Valley

When the first line of the Harkham manifesto is “Let the grapes speak”, you know you’re in good hands. Started in 2005 – with a laser-focus on hand-picked grapes from a vineyard that is fungicide- and pesticide-free, and extracting natural flavours through zero fining or filtering – this family-run operation is new-wave Hunter Valley at its best. Drop into the unique cellar door to swirl and slurp the wonderfully balanced semillon, the juicy, sulphite-free Aziza’s Shiraz or splash out on their flagship, Saba Shiraz. Harkham also makes chocolate liqueur and a mead crafted with 24-carat gold flakes.

Open Thursday to Sunday

Word of Mouth Wines, Orange

In the foothills of Mt Canobolas, Word of Mouth has been quietly turning out some of the Orange region’s best sustainably farmed wines. Vigneron Peter Gibson comes from a long line of horticulturalists but his training as a fine-art teacher is evident at the vineyard’s cosy, timber-soaked cellar door, which won a Gourmet Traveller Wine 2018 award for Best Additional Experience highlighting its on-site kiln for pottery and ceramic workshops. The Word of Mouth vineyard is devoid of chemical fertilisers or insecticides, and its petit manseng is a triumph, as is the pinot gris. Pair it with the generous cheese and preserves platter that Peter also offers visitors.

Open daily, 10.30am to 5pm

Ari’s Natural Wine Co., Sutton Forest

Ari’s name might be on the label but the unfiltered, un-fined and zero-sulphur range is a labour of love between Aristotle (Ari) Zafirakos, who grew up making his own wine in Greece, and his son, Tony. Working from their Southern Highlands winery, the Zafirakos are among one of the newest and most exciting ‘raw’ winemakers in the State. With a nod to Ari’s heritage, they make retsina from semillon and chardonnay sourced locally near Goulburn – a blend that gets its unique flavour from the addition of Aleppo pine resin. Their simple cellar door is by appointment but, for those that want to stay a bit longer, their farm also has glamping. Opa!

By appointment only.

 

For more information on planning your trip to New South Wales, head to VisitNSW.com