The Wine Lover’s Guide To Wine Tasting In The NSW Hilltops

24 September 2019

Head to Young in country NSW to take in the burgeoning cool-climate wine scene of the Hilltops region.

It wasn’t long ago that the Central West NSW town of Young was known by most people as the cherry capital of Australia. And not without good reason – its orchards produce bountiful sweet cherries and the city hosts the annual National Cherry Festival.

Sun setting over the Hilltops countryside.

Sun setting over the Hilltops countryside.

Happily, the same undulating landscape that delivers cherries is also perfect for cool-climate wines. And vignerons have taken note, with more and more land turning over to vineyards in recent years. As the grapes have come on, so too has the Hilltops region, which takes in Young and nearby towns Harden and Boorowa and surrounds, making it one of the most exciting emerging wine districts in the State.

Here are the wineries you should put on your list. If you don’t have time to go vineyard hopping, swing into the Hilltops Region Wine Cellar in Young’s historic railway station for a good general introduction.

Lockwood Vineyard

It might be a small, family-run operation but Lockwood produces some of the Hilltops region’s more impressive boutique wines. All the grapes are hand selected and then crushed using a traditional basket press, and only limited numbers of the wines, including shiraz-viognier, rosé, pinot gris and tempranillo, are available. Pick up a bottle or two at the local Young and Region Farmers’ Markets.

Freeman Vineyards

Local wine from Freeman Vineyards, Kingsvale in the Hilltops region.

Local wine from Freeman Vineyards, Kingsvale in the Hilltops region.

The vast Freeman Vineyard in Prunevale is overseen by one of the most experienced viticulturalists in the game, Brian Freeman. A former head of Wine Science at Charles Sturt University in Wagga Wagga, Brian planted two Italian varieties – rondinella and corvine – more than 10 years ago and since then has expanded not only his list of grape varietals but also the extent of his vineyard. From his 175-hectare property, he and his daughter, Xanthe, are creating award-winning wines that run from his bubbly, finely balanced prosecco and delightful Fortuna Pinot Grigio Plus (a blend that includes four other varieties) to his nebbiolo, sangiovese and robusta, which includes corvina grapes treated with the traditional Italian method of partial drying before crushing.

By appointment only.

Moppity Vineyards

Moppity is one of the Hilltops region’s true stars. In 2002, owner and winemaker Jason Brown bought the property and set about making it a world-class estate for shiraz. His foresight and persistence have paid off, with his 2013 Escalier Shiraz garnering 98 points from James Halliday and winning a swag of medals in domestic and international wine shows. But, as good as the shiraz is, Moppity is no one-trick pony. The vineyard just outside Young is also producing stunning riesling, chardonnay and fresh, lifted Italian varietals including tempranillo, nebbiolo and sangiovese.

No cellar door; phone (02) 6382 7997 for local stockists or order online. 

Grove Estate Wines

Couples enjoying food and wine at Grove Estate Wines, Young.

Couples enjoying food and wine at Grove Estate Wines, Young.

The old adage that the whole can be greater than the sum of its parts definitely applies to Grove Estate Wines. Drawing on a number of different plots across the Hilltops region – and with assistance from Clonakilla’s gun winemakers, Tim Kirk and Bryan Martin – the Grove Estate is producing a wide range of stunning wines. Pop into the cellar door and fill your glass with well-known varieties of shiraz, cabernet sauvignon, chardonnay and the Halliday 95-point Cellar Block shiraz viognier. Alternatively, get a glimpse of the future with Think Outside the Circle viognier or The Italian, a jaunty, blissful blend of nebbiolo, sangiovese and barbera.

Open daily, 9am to 4.30pm


For more information on planning your trip to the Hilltops region, head to