Just under four hours outside of Sydney lies the Mudgee region, where you’ll find a unique food and wine scene that lends perfectly to a weekend away. The most famous wine destination in NSW has long been the Hunter Valley but in recent years areas like Mudgee have been steady gaining more and more attention, focused in on the more intimate, tailored experiences and adaptability that comes with having a smaller, more tight-knit community of wineries. Perhaps the best indication of this is that the communal spirit between Mudgee’s various wine makers that is evident from the way each talk about the region and one another, promoting rather than competing.
We had the opportunity to explore just some of the 12 wineries and 42 Cellar Doors that dot the centre and fringes of Mudgee, giving us three days of nothing but good wine, awesome local food (particularly the cherries, Spencer Cocoa chocolate, and High Valley cheese), and tender, genuine hospitality. Take note of these wineries and get to planning a short-stay in Mudgee because there’s plenty of reasons why the region has been picking up as an essential destination.
While you’re hopping around these wineries be sure to save some stops for High Valley Wine & Cheese, one of the most memorable moments of a Mudgee trip with platters of high quality cheese – particularly the Caerphilly and Smoked Caerphilly – paired up with some local wines, and the very centrally located Mudgee Brewing Company where you can treat yourself to a craft beer tasting and a casual lunch. You’d also be well off considering the leafy Alby & Esthers for breakfast and Elton’s Eating + Drinking for a casual, shared-style dinner.
This family-owned and operated winery originated in Orange but now has planted it’s roots firmly in Mudgee, with the benefit of producing in both regions. Their award-winning Cellar Door is a marvel of design, like your wealthy friend’s dream house perched high above Apple Tree Flat, overlooking the vines and the hills of Mudgee. The view from the balcony in inspiring to say the least, overwhelming in some ways and a perfect start to a weekend drinking one’s way around the region. The wines are beautiful and bold, like the Temperneo and the stunning Rosé, but the most essential is the Apple Tree Flat Semillon Sauvignon Blanc, with a nose of sage and guava and an incredibly nutty mouthfeel that goes with it’s earthy, clean palate. You’ll be well looked after here, and even after you’ve reached your wine quota you’d be tempted to just sit there admiring the memorable landscape.
Address: 1320 Castlereagh Highway, Apple Tree Flat, Mudgee NSW 2850 Australia
Contact: (02) 6373 1333
Opening Hours: Seven days, 10am-5pm
Robert Stein Winery
This winery is vast and you could easily spend an entire day here (which should always end at the excellent on-site restaurant, Pipeclay Pumphouse). The consistent recipient of five-stars in Australian Wine Companion, Robert Stein Winery is a magnificent and imposing property which even includes a big Motorcycle Museum with around 17 bikes from the family’s history. Of course, the wines made on this property are of central focus, and they are best showcased on a tour with chief winemaker Jacob Stein, who is no stranger to accolades himself having been named ‘Young Winemaker of the Year’ by Gourmet Traveller Wine in 2012 and “Mudgee Wine Show Most Successful Exhibitor” from 2009-2011. Pay particular attention to their family range but do not leave without trying a glass of the beautiful 2014 Rosé Saignee, best had with some local produce at Pipeclay Pumphouse while the sun is setting over the small lake.
Address: Pipeclay Lane, Mudgee NSW 2850
Contact: (02) 6373 3991
Opening Hours: Seven days; 10am-4:40pm
Undoubtedly one of the best, sweeping views of the Mudgee landscape can be found at this property. Relaxing on Moothi Estate’s gorgeous patio with a light red in hand and an antipasto platter of fresh cheese, meats, and cherries is heavenly. The owners, like everywhere else in Mudgee, are charming, friendly, knowledgeable, and attentive so getting them to take you through some of their wines is a must. Zone in on your favourite and pull up a stool to the wooden benches overlooking the vines – you’ve got yourself a quintessential regional NSW experience.
Address: 85 Rocky Waterhole Road, Mudgee NSW 2850
Contact: (02) 6372 2925
Opening Hours: Mon-Fri; 10am-5pm.
Perhaps one of the best known Cellar Door experiences in Mudgee is at Lowe Wine, located right by Kim Currie’s exceptional hatted, paddock-to-plate restaurant The Zin House. The exterior is beautiful, a lush garden illustrated by stone slabs, flowers, and smooth greenery with tables and deck chairs facing away from the inside and overlooking the picture-perfect valley. Time stands still here, and the generous pours while you have the chance to get some real deep insight into biodynamically grown and preservative free wine is something that defines a weekend getaway in Mudgee. The Lowe Riesling and Shiraz varieties here are of particular repute, but make sure you ask for some of their incredibly refreshing Rosé to finish with.
Address: Tinja Lane, Mudgee NSW 2850
Contact: 02 6372 0800
Opening Hours: Seven days; 10am-5pm
Baker Williams Distillery
Okay, this one’s the black sheep of the list of course. They don’t do wine, but this micro distillery, located right by Vinifera Wines’ cellar door, is not one to overlook if drinking your way around Mudgee. It serves as a nice way to break up all that wine and you’ll find some of their renowned Butterscotch Schnapps here alongside some incredible Lemon Myrtle Liqueur, and even better Cumquat Liqueur made with Cooyal cumquats & Mudgee Honey. It’s not all soft, smooth flavours here though, their Wheat Vodka will knock your socks off, and you can also get across their single malt spirits.
Address: 194 Henry Lawson Dr, Mudgee
Contact: (02) 6372 9332
Opening Hours: Tues-Sun; 11am-4pm
Blue Wren is a fun property that is perfectly designed to host events and weddings, there’s even a charming stage set up on the back of a truck for live music and what not. That’s the first impression you’d get from walking onto Blue Wren early in the morning, sitting out back and getting ready to tuck into some excellent breakfast platters of local produce, including those exceptional Mudgee cherries and some High Valley cheese. If you take a short tour inside and outside of the space you’d know why there are plenty of weddings hosted here, just make sure you have a glass of their award-winning wines in hand.
Address: 433 Ulan Rd, Mudgee NSW 2850
Contact: (02) 6372 6205
Opening Hours: Seven days; 9am-5pm
SHORT SHEEP Micro-Winery
SHORT SHEEP Micro-Winery is a unique micro winery and perhaps one of the smallest in NSW, a trait mirrored by the sheep they keep on property, hence the name. Though, don’t be fooled, wine making is just as serious here, while the main benefit is to those who visit, gifting them a supremely intimate tasting, that will probably take place in the very room the wines are bottled. It’s not as glamorous as the surrounding Cellar Door experiences, but the exceedingly friendly and entertaining Sue, who owns the property along with Tony, livens the place up with a detailed, personable explanation of the wines and history of SHORT SHEEP Micro-Winery. The minimal processing allows for a more concentrated and hands-on approach, helped along by the on-site sheep who act as “lawnmowers” and help sustain the whole thing. Make sure you try to preservative free Shiraz before you leave, as well as the French style Syrah, which is one of their most popular wines.
Address: 47 Buckaroo Lane Mudgee NSW 2850
Contact: 0420 299 999
Opening Hours: Friday to Monday; 11am-5pm
1838 Wines + Olive Nest
The Olive Nest is a unique property in the Mudgee reason because not only is the home of the 1838 wine vineyard, but the property also boasts a boutique olive grove. Their wines are fruity and show great depth, on display right next to a range of hand-crafted olive oils, clean and fresh. Their sparkling durif is incredible, so a glass or four of that is essential here right after you take a few moments to learn the benefits of extra virgin olive oil and the adaptability of products like the available garlic infused olive oil and the lime infused olive oil.
Address: 60 Pipeclay Lane, Mudgee NSW 2850
Contact: 02 6373 3719
Opening Hours: Saturday 10am-4pm and Sunday 10am-3pm
Burnbrae Wines is well connected to the local community in Mudgee, known largely across the country not just for their wines but also their annual Black Tie BBQ, which is held every December. The property is like a scene out of a movie, with one of the most stunning sunsets that falls over the rows of vines, and a warm, welcoming atmosphere that lends to any occasion. Their backyard patio restaurant is spectacular, as is the big, bold Shiraz which pairs up well with a nice crusted steak. They also do accommodation, and we all know how tempting waking up to rows of vines, and the smell of wine, is.
Address: 548 Hill End Road, Mudgee NSW 2850
Contact: 02 6373 3504
Opening Hours: Seven days; 10am-4pm
For more on where to stay and what to do in and around Mudgee head to the region’s official website: www.visitmudgeeregion.com.au
The writer visited Mudgee as a guest of Mudgee Tourism.