The Mudgee Region in Mid Western NSW would have to be one of the best areas that we have visited in quite some time. Best known for it’s many wineries, we soon discovered that the reputation these wineries have, is well deserved.
Mudgee is about 270 kilometres north-west of Sydney. It is nestled in a picturesque valley surrounded by the hills of the Great Dividing Range. Being so close to Sydney, it is the perfect spot for a weekend getaway.
IT’S ALL ABOUT THE WINE!
Mudgee is the third largest wine producing region in NSW, with wine being made here since the 1850’s. The area now has over 40 family owned cellar doors. There is also a distillery and a micro-brewery. The biggest decision you will have to make is choosing which ones to visit.
Mudgee is also fast gaining a reputation for being a ‘foodie’ hot spot, with many cellar doors offering food to compliment their wines.
Not having been to Mudgee in over 20 years I had no idea what wineries were here. So I grabbed a copy of the Mudgee Region Visitors guide and found a list of all the wineries. There were a couple of familiar names listed including Bunnamagoo Wines (which I had tasted at the 2017 Gold Coast Food and Wine Expo) and Pieter Van Gent Winery – famous for their White Port.
So I thought I would head to a couple that I had never been to before and also visit a distillery and a micro-brewery for Brenden.
THISTLE HILL ORGANIC WINERY
Thistle Hill immediately appealed to me because of it’s organic status. Located a few k’s out of Mudgee on the Hill End Road, Thistle Hill is one of six certified organic wineries in the region. There are 29 hectares of grapes with most planted between 1968 and 1987.
At the Cellar Door, we discovered that we were chatting with Thistle Hill’s Head Winemaker – Tim White. He is knowledgeable and passionate about Thistle Hill wines and wine in general. For someone who just likes drinking the stuff it was excellent to talk with him and learn a little bit more about the wines.
Thistle Hill are a relatively small winery so have only a small selection of wine available to taste. I was surprised to discover that most of their wines are also preservative free. Another big tick from me. I tried a 2017 Chardonnay, a 2017 Rose, a 2016 Shiraz Cabernet and two different 2017 Shiraz’s which were both very drinkable. Tim even told me that it was okay to chill these reds.
My final tasting was of a 2006 Liqueur Muscat and it was so delicious. I couldn’t resist buying a bottle and I will savour every drop of it!
BAKER WILLIAMS DISTILLERY
Our next stop was at Mudgee’s first ever micro-distillery where they make a variety of spirits and liqueurs. First off we tried their Silver Medal winning Gin XLCR. Not being a fan of gin I wasn’t sure what to expect, but this was delicious. We then tried a Cumquat Liqueur. I don’t think I have ever heard of anyone using this old style citrus fruit in anything alcoholic before. Once again it was delicious.
Next on the list was a Lemon Myrtle Liqueur – also a Silver Medal winner. It tasted of honey and barley sugar. A bottle of this is making it’s way back to the Gold Coast (for Miss Oz’s birthday)
The last two we tried was a Cafe Liqueur – think coffee and chocolate and a Butterscotch Schnapps which they boast is the best Butterscotch Schnapps you’ve never tried. We’d have to agree.
All of Baker Williams’ products are hand bottled and individually labelled so the bottles look like little works of art. We highly recommend a stop here!
ROBERT STEIN WINERY
Robert Stein Wines was established in Mudgee in 1976 by Robert and Lorna Stein. These days, their grandson Jacob is the Chief Winemaker. The winery covers about 30 acres and produces wines from Chardonnay through to Cabernet.
I tried something from each style of wine including a sparkling Chardonnay Pinot Noir, a 2016 Half-Dry Riesling which had a nice hint of sweetness. I also tried a 2013 Shiraz Viognier which was a lovely, lighter style red.
But once again I couldn’t resist bringing home a bottle of their 2013 Harvest Gold. A Botrytis Semillon, I could smell fruit and marmalade and was blown away by how good it was.
Robert Stein Winery also has it’s own restaurant on site called the Pipeclay Pumphouse. They are open at various times for breakfast, lunch and dinner.
Also of interest when you visit Robert Stein Winery is his vintage motor cycle collection. Always a keen motor cyclist his collection started with a 1928 Douglas, a gift from his family for his 40th birthday. There are now 16 bikes in the collection as well as other motor cycle memorabilia.
HIGH VALLEY CHEESE CO
Cheese goes with wine right? So I couldn’t resist stopping at the High Valley Cheese Co for a tasting. Located in The Cellar by Gilbert these cheeses are handcrafted and delicious. Try the Tomato Feta and the Brie. You will want to come home with both.
Whilst at Cellar by Gilbert you can also taste some of their wines or enjoy a meal in their rustic cellar door orsit in the shade of the verandah and enjoy a glass or two of wine.
TIME FOR A BEER
Once you’ve had enough wine to drink, make sure that you call into the Mudgee Brewing Co for a beer tasting. Mudgee Brewing Co is Mudgee’s only micro-brewery, bar and restaurant. All of their beers are brewed on site by founder and chief brewer Gary Leonard. The vats are located right alongside the restaurant area so you can see some of the brewing processes in action.
Mudgee Brewing Co produce six signature beers and five seasonal beers. Their beers range from their Signature Pale Ale to their Seasonal Mudgee Mud – a rich, imperial stout with hints of aniseed and liquorice. Brenden’s favourite was the Pale Ale and mine was the Signature Porter which is a dark beer that originated on the docks of England and had a hint of coffee and chocolate flavours to it.
Interestingly, the beers are served with small pieces of dark chocolate which helps to cleanse your palate in between each beer. It worked well and tasted amazing with the heavier beers.
There are loads of accommodation options in Mudgee including motels, pubs, B & B’s, farm stays and caravan parks. We chose to stay at the Mudgee Riverside Caravan and Tourist Park and found this to be a great, centrally located spot.
We thoroughly enjoyed our time visiting the Mudgee Region. There are so many more wineries there than what we could have possibly visited, not to mention restaurants, pubs and coffee shops. It would be no problem to spend a whole week in the Mudgee Region and not visit all the wineries in the area!
It will definitely be somewhere that we will return to in the future.
For more information on the Mudgee Region, visit their website HERE.
Happy Travels……Brenden and Melissa