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Yarra Valley’s Best Cellar Doors and Wineries

Start planning your next trip to the Yarra Valley with our latest cellar door guide to this premier cool climate wine region. 

The Yarra Valley is an easy one-hour drive from Melbourne’s CBD – arrive there and you’ll find an almost endless choice of premium wineries, cellars doors, restaurants and exciting experiences. To help make the most of your time in this spectacular cool climate region, we’ve selected a collection of wineries that provide great cellar door experiences.

With a such a diversity of terroir, the Yarra Valley is able to produce a wide range of classic wine styles and is renowned for its Chardonnay, Sauvignon Blanc, and Pinot Noir, Sparkling wines and innovative savoury Rosés. You can find out more about the wines on offer in our Yarra Valley region guide here.

YARRA VALLEY MUST-VISIT WINERIES

Helen & Joey Estate

Established in 2010, Helen & Joey Estate is a family owned winery producing outstanding cool climate wines from their 85-acre vineyard located in the Yarra’s Gruyere sub region. Nestled in the Warramate foothills, a visit to their cellar door will leave you feeling like part of the family.

Senior winemaker Meg Brodtmann MW is the first female Master of Wine in Australia, and has many years’ experience making wine all around the world. Meg works closely with vineyard manager Jamie McGlade to produce sensational Pinot Gris, Semillon, Sauvignon Blanc, Chardonnay, Pinot Noir, Merlot, Shiraz, Cabernet Sauvignon and Cabernet Franc. 

Enjoy a wine tasting across their Inara, Layla, Alena, Late Harvest, and Wayward Child ranges whilst soaking in the stunning views from the Helen & Joey deck.

2-14 Spring Lane, Gruyere

Open 7 days a week (except Christmas day) 10am - 5pm

Visit the Helen & Joey Estate Website

Oakridge

While, the Oakridge’s vineyards and winery were established back in 1978, their contemporary cellar door was opened in 2013. With its sleek industrial lines, the striking, architect-designed building is in bold contrast to the surrounding vines.

Step inside to sample a superb range of award-winning wines including Pinot Gris, Semillon, Chardonnay, Pinot Noir, Shiraz, Cabernet and more. Treat yourself to lunch at Oakridge’s one-hatted restaurant where chefs Matt Stone and Jo Barrett serve seasonal menus based on fresh ingredients from the Oakridge kitchen garden, as well as wild produce they discover on foraging and fishing excursions around the region.

864 Maroondah Highway, Coldstream 

Open daily 10am to 5pm

Visit the Oakridge Website

Coombe Farm

Tasting Panellist and wine show judge, Trent Mannell says, “Coombe Farm is a remarkable winery and a destination with a real sense of history.”

The enchanting Coombe Farm cellar door is set within the grounds of the historic Melba House, constructed in 1912 by famed opera singer Dame Nellie Melba. The exquisite gardens, lovely restaurant, and Melba Gallery are not to missed. Melba’s Morning Tea is available from 9:30am Saturdays and Sundays, while a special high tea experience is at 2:30pm every Wednesday and Saturday through June and August. The estate grown, limited production wines are elegantly varietal and regionally expressive. 

673 Maroondah Highway, Coldstream

Open 9:30am to 5pm Tuesday to Thursday, 9:30am to 3:30pm Friday and Saturday, 9:30am to 5pm Sunday and public holidays

Visit the Coombe Farm Website

Soumah

Located down a country lane in the dress circle of the Warramate foothills, the Soumah cellar door offers, not only a fantastic tasting experience, but also spectacular views of the vineyards and the surrounding Warramate Hills.

“Our focus at Soumah is on making wine with the charm of Northern Italy, but with the provenance of the majestic Yarra Valley,” says Soumah director, Brett Butcher. “We’re best known for our Chardonnay and Pinot Noir, and are also gaining a good reputation for Viognier and Syarah, plus our passion for the Northern Italian varieties with our Nebbiolo, Brachetto, Pinto Grigio and Savarro ( Savagnin).

Along with its casual tastings, Somuah has a premium wine rooms where you’re treated to six exclusive samples selected from their reserve quality, limited production and museum release wines. You can also enjoy a glass of wine or two at their restaurant, Trattoria d’Soumah which serves up excellent Northern Italian cuisine like antipasti, pasta, wood fired pizza, cheese and dessert, seven days a week, with extra options offered on Saturdays and Sundays.

18 Hexham Rd, Gruyere

Open 7 days a week 10am to 5pm

Visit the Soumah Website

Punt Road Wines

The Punt Road Wines cellar door is the perfect place to sample a fine selection of single vineyard, estate grown wines. The Cabernet Sauvignon, Pinot Noir, Shiraz, and Chardonnay, in particular, are all exceptional. Enjoy a cheese platter, a glass or a full wine flight, chat with their team and experience why they spend every day here.

Relax outdoors on the back-garden lawn with a Gundowring ice cream or try your hand at bocce. Tasting Panellist, Adam Walls loves visiting the Punt Road cellar door – ‘It has such a warm and welcoming feel and the quality of both the wine and cider on offer is very high!”

10 St Huberts Road, Coldstream

Open daily 10am to 5pm

Visit the Punt Road Website

Domaine Chandon

Every Aussie Sparkling wine lover needs to experience the joie de vivre of Domaine Chandon.

In the mid 1980s, leading Champagne house Moet & Chandon established Domaine Chandon, considering the Yarra Valley as a leading location for the cool climate Sparkling grape varieties of Chardonnay, Pinot Noir, and Pinot Meunier. 

The stunning cellar door and winery melds traditional Champagne architecture with modern Australian design. Its cavernous 72,000 bottle climate-controlled riddling hall, stunning colonnade wall and restaurant overlooking their Green Point vineyard are all world class. As of course are the wines, including the Chandon Brut that was awarded Best Australian Sparkling Wine at the 2018 Champagne & Sparkling Wines World Championships.

The terrific self-guided tour of the winery allows visitors to examine up close the full winemaking process from the expansive winery, barrel and riddling halls, all with informative interactive guides.

727 Maroondah Highway, Coldstream 

Open daily 10:30am to 4:30pm

Visit the Domaine Chandon Website

Giant Steps

“Making wine is often done hidden in sheds in distant wineries. That’s no how we do it. We like our winemaking as transparent as the big glass wall between our winery and cellar door,” Steve Flamsteed, Giant Steps chief winemaker and 2016 Gourmet Traveller Winemaker of the Year.

Located in Healesville, the Giant Steps complex is a fantastic wine and food experience that shouldn’t be missed. The remarkable venue features a restaurant, café, private dining rooms and a cellar door built directly within their working winery separated by floor to ceiling glass. Visitors are surrounded by the winemaking process with tastings held in the barrel hall tasting room allowing further insight into the happenings of vintage. 

All day grazing plates are available with a new menu of beautiful and seasonal dishes on offer Friday and Saturday evenings.

336 Maroondah Highway, Healesville 

Open 11am to 7pm Monday to Thursday, 11am till late Friday and Saturday, 11am to 7pm Sunday

Visit the Giant Steps Website

Dominique Portet

When you visit the gorgeous Dominique Portet Winery, you’ll be enjoying wines crafted by 9th generation winemaker Dominique Portet and his son Ben, who is the family’s 10th generation winemaker.

Their cellar door is absolutely charming with a Mediterranean-inspired terrace cafe overlooking the rolling vineyards. Take time to sit and relax while sampling their exceptional Rosé, Sparkling, Shiraz and Cabernet Sauvignon. 

870 Maroondah Highway, Coldstream

Open daily 10am-5pm

Visit the Domonique Portet Website

Rob Dolan Wines

A Yarra Valley winemaking stalwart of over 25 years, Rob Dolan launched his label in 2010 and in 2014 was awarded the James Halliday Best New Winery. His farmhouse cellar door combines welcoming spaces where you can taste Rob’s premium wines, plus sample the delicious Stone & Crow cheeses that are matured at the winery by cheesemaker and founder Jack Holman. Enjoy a platter of local produce including pâté, terrine, olives, and a fantastic range of Rob Dolan pickles, pastes, relishes and jellies.

Located in Warrandyte, just 30 minutes from Melbourne’s CBD, this charming cellar door makes for the perfect start or conclusion to any visit to the Yarra Valley.

21-23 Delaneys Road, South Warrandyte

Open Daily 10am to 5pm

Visit the Rob Dolan Wines Cellar Door Website

De Bortoli Yarra Valley Estate

One of Australia’s iconic wine producers, De Bortoli Wines  was established in  Griffith, NSW in 1928 by Italian immigrant, Vittorio De Bortoli. Even in his wildest dreams, he never imagined he would establish an Australian winemaking dynasty.

The baby of third generation Leanne De Bortoli and her husband Steve Webber (who is De Bortoli’s chief winemaker), the Yarra Valley vineyard was established in 1987. The vineyard has produced excellent wines with De Bortoli winning the coveted Jimmy Watson Trophy in 1997.

The cellar door is set in a stunning location with vines in every direction. Along with their wide range of wines, what makes De Bortoli a particularly nice winery to visit is the marriage of wine with cheese. The extensive selection of local and imported cheeses in this friendly cellar door is outstanding and perfectly complements De Bortoli’s excellent cool climate Yarra Valley wines and those from their other regions.

Upstairs, The Locale Restaurant offers an authentic Italian dining experience with the menu reflecting the best local seasonal produce and featuring veggies from their garden, homemade pasta and delicious authentic Italian risotto. 

58 Pinnacle Lane, Dixons Creek 

Visit the De Bortoli Yarra Valley Estate Website

Yering Station

No visit to the Yarra Valley is truly complete without a visit to Yering Station. This winery is a destination in and of itself with an exceptional architect designed restaurant and bar, historic cellar door, art space, underground barrel room, local produce store, monthly farmers market and stunning grounds. The first vineyard in Victoria was established on this site in 1838, and that history is enshrined in the old winery that now serves as the cellar door and gallery. 

Choose from several different tasting experiences to enjoy the excellent range of wines (including Chardonnay, Rosé, Shiraz, Pinot Noir and of course, Sparkling wines) crafted by chief winemaker Willy Lunn and his talented team.

Open seven days from 12pm, the Yering Station Restaurant serves a superb French-inspired menu under the leadership of executive chef, Maxime Croiset.

The monthly farmers market held in Yering Station’s historic barn is the oldest farmers’ market in Victoria and is a must if you are fortunate to be in the area. Be sure to check the Yarra Valley Regional Food Group’s page for more details on the market.

38 Melba Hwy, Yarra Glen 

Open daily Monday to Friday 10am to 5pm, Saturday and Sunday 10am to 6pm

 Visit the Yering Station Website

Seville Estate

One of the oldest continually operating wineries in the Yarra Valley, Seville Estate was named the Winery of the Year at the 2019 James Halliday Wine Companion Awards.

“Our philosophy at Seville Estate is to capture the fruit expression of this unique vineyard, in wine styles that show cool climate complexity and finesse,” says Dylan McMahon, winemaker.

Their famed Shiraz and Pinot Noir are excellent examples of the region’s terroir. “Seville Estate is a Yarra Valley icon, the higher elevation of the estate’s vines allows the grapes to ripen slowly to produce elegant cool climate wines perfect for Pinot Noir,” explains Trent Mannell, Tasting Panellist.

Situated further southwest towards Yellingbo and with a charming casual aesthetic overlooking a classic Australian bushland setting, the Seville Estate cellar door makes for the perfect place to spend a lazy afternoon. The newly opened restaurant offers lunch on Friday through Sunday, and dinner Friday and Saturday nights.

65 Linwood Rd, Seville 

Open daily 10am to 5pm

Visit the Seville Estate Restaurant

Tarrawarra Estate

“There are so many great cellar doors in the Yarra Valley, but TarraWarra must be on your short list,” says Trent Manell, Tasting Panellist. “Situated on 400 hectares of prime land beside the Yarra river, TarraWarra’s wines are meticulously grown, handpicked, vinified and aged on the estate,” he says.

The spectacular TarraWarra Estate cellar door is built into the earth of the wineries’ rolling hillside and is a stunning place to sample their premium-quality wines.

Serving delicious dishes inspired by the estate’s kitchen garden and prepared by head chef Mark Ebbels, the renowned restaurant further cements TarraWarra as an exceptional Yarra Valley winery experience. 

311 Healesville-Yarra Glen Road, Yarra Glen

Open Tuesday to Sunday, 11am to 5pm

Visit the TarraWarra Website

Helen's Hill

Nestled at the bottom of its eponymous hill, Helen’s Hill is a 100% family-owned and operated vineyard and cellar door, and a must-visit for those interested in the inner workings of the winemaking process.

The cellar door reveals floor to ceiling views of the winery and barrel hall, providing a real sense connection to the wines that are hand crafted by winemaker Scott McCarthy and his team. Enjoy tasting of Helen’s Hill cool climate regional range including premium Arneis, Fume Blanc, Chardonnay, Pinot Noir, Cabernet Sauvignon and Shiraz.

Don’t miss The Wine Deck for a casual snack or lunch and tasting in the garden. For beer lovers there’s another treat – a fantastic range of carefully brewed small batch craft beers. A tribute to the family’s furry members, the Caesars Pale Ale, Brutus’ Amber Ale and Archie’s Pale Ale are all easy drinking styles that go really well with food.

16 Ingram Road, Lilydale 

Open daily 10am to 5pm 

Visit the Helen's Hill Website

Yering Farm

Owned and operated by Alan and Vicki Johns, Yering Farm is located on the original site of the Yeringa Vineyards once owned by the Deschamps family in the 1800s.The Johns family, who are fifth generation orchardists, resurrected the property in 1980 with the replanting of the 30-acre vineyard starting in 1989.

The original Yeringa Vineyard sign adorns the entrance of the rustic cellar door and the whole property exudes charm and commanding views of the Yarra Valley. All of Yering Farm wines, including Chardonnay, Sauvignon Blanc, Pinot Noir, Shiraz, Merlot and Cabernet Sauvignon, are produced on site from estate grown fruit.

Enjoy a tasting and a Yering Farm 'Pruner's Platter’ by the fire or out on the large verandah where you can take in the gorgeous views. You can also bring your own picnic or use the BBQ facilities for a small fee (bookings essential).

A tasting at Yering Farm wouldn’t be complete without trying Alan's Farmyard Apple Syder (cider), it's delicious!

19-21 St Huberts Rd, Yering 

Open 7 days a week from 10am to 5pm 

Visit the Yering Farm Website

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Life
Go West
Words by Jeni Port on 4 Jul 2017
Henty, the Grampians, Pyrenees and Ballarat – there are plenty of tasting treasures to be unearthed in the wine regions of Western Victoria. We need Western Victoria and its wine. We need its different taste and the perspective it brings: a balanced, middle-weighted, pepper-infused, mint-garnished, spicy, smooth, sometimes savoury, sometimes rustic kind of alternative taste. Vineyards are vast and isolated here, attached by dirt roads to country towns and sometimes just the smallest of hamlets. Wines are made by men and women of the land, people like John Thomson at Crawford River in the Henty region, who talks of his “peasant genes,” and who has four generations behind him who have farmed sheep and cattle on the land. He and his wife Catherine branched into wine in 1975. “I didn’t set out to grow grapes,” he says. “I set out to make wine.” There was, he adds, more money in the latter. It’s a common enough story around these parts. Western Victoria is a collective term for four independent wine regions:  Henty , the  Grampians ,  Pyrenees  and Ballarat. This is home to  Shiraz  (plenty of it) and  Cabernet Sauvignon  (less of it) along with  Chardonnay  and a little  Sauvignon Blanc ,  Riesling  and  Pinot Noir  with a gaggle of Italian varieties bringing up the rear. The Back Story
It’s the flagpoles out front issuing a kind of multi-national wave of welcome that stump first time visitors to  Taltarn i . There’s the Aussie flag to the forefront shouldered on either side by the American stars and stripes and the French tricolour. What does it all mean?   Like a few wineries in Western Victoria, it’s all about history and foreign influences.  Taltarni’s  story involves a wealthy Californian owner who set up the operation in 1972, and his long-time French winemaker who laid the foundations for its enduring, elegant wine style. The French were among the first to see the potential that lay in the Pyrenees, with Cognac-based Rémy Martin arriving at Avoca in 1960, ostensibly to make brandy, but wine quickly followed. They called their enterprise Chateau Rémy. We know it today as  Blue Pyrenees Estate . But the biggest influence on the region was gold. Discovered in the 1850s, it made towns like Ballarat and Great Western magnets for prospectors from around the world. After the gold, people like Joseph and Henry Best stayed and moved into wine. Joseph built a substantial winery and used unemployed gold diggers to carve out underground cellars. It was the beginning of what came to be Seppelt, one of the biggest Sparkling wine producers in the country. Henry Best planted vines fronting Concongella Creek at Great Western. But it was the purchase of the site by Frederick Thomson in 1920 that really saw the Best’s Wines story take off. The Grampians
Western Victoria is a land of wide plains running smack up against some pretty spectacular hills and ranges, none more impressive than the rugged National Park that gives the  Grampians   its name. Mountain walkers, climbers and cyclists really love this part of the world. With a range of B&Bs, hotels and camping sites to choose from, most make Halls Gap their HQ. Wineries like Mount Langi Ghiran and The Gap are just down the road. Mount Langi Ghiran is best known as the producer of archetypal  cool climate, peppery Shiraz , which first drew the industry’s attention to a budding new style in the 1980s. How pepper gets into the wines of Western Victoria to such a degree that it might be called a phenomenon has only slowly been revealed by scientists at Melbourne University working with the winemakers at Mount Langi Ghiran (it’s got to do with a cool climate and wet seasons). On paper, the region (19 vineyards, eight cellar doors) looks small, but its history and influence belie its size. The Great Western sub-region was the commercial cradle of Sparkling wine production in Australia at Seppelt and is synonymous with a great Aussie icon, Sparkling Shiraz. Grampians Estate and Seppelt lead the pack, but for added gravitas, tour the Seppelt underground drives to feel the history and finish with a glass of spiced-up red bubbles. One of the state’s great restaurants, the  Royal Mail Hotel , can be found in a highway town called Dunkeld. Five and eight course degustation menus star local produce, alternatively there is an informal wine bar. Or there are the local Mount Gambier wines to try, including up-and-coming Pinots, at Tosca Browns in Hamilton. Henty is a developing wine region as far west as you can go before you bang into South Australia. Volcanic, gravelly soils over limestone are the key to some of the best Rieslings in Australia made here at Crawford River Wines. And what a treat to find a one hat quality restaurant such as The Pickled Pig in Warrnambool. The Pyrenees
Major Thomas Mitchell, the 19th Century explorer, was a bit of a romantic, clearly. He named this part of the Great Dividing Range,  the Pyrenees , as the dense, blue-hued hills reminded him of the mountains dividing France and Spain. Given the hills outside the towns of Avoca and Moonambel rise to 800 metres compared to some 3400 metres in Europe, that’s a bit of a stretch, but point taken. This is a pretty part of the world. It is here that the wine lover will confront the Pyrenean wine character known in academic circles as 1,8-cineole. The rest of us call it eucalyptus, aka, mint or menthol (the cineole is sourced from leaves and stems that find their way into fermentation), and it’s often found on either a red wine’s bouquet or flavour, or both. Its usual vehicle of choice is the Shiraz grape, which dominates plantings, but it can be found in any number of red wines. That eucalyptus in wine should be such a powerful influence is not so surprising. Gum trees are everywhere around these parts. For those who applaud its inclusion in wine, it’s part of the land, a question of terroir. The Pyrenean red winemaking style is understated, medium-bodied and earthy. Best in Bubbles
And strange as it may seem when so many producers today seek the super cool regions like Tasmania for sourcing grapes for sparkling wines, the Pyrenees does an excellent job with bubbles. Blue Pyrenees Estate 2010 Midnight Cuvee  beat some of the country’s top Sparklings to be named World Champion Australian sparkling at the inaugural Champagne and Sparkling Wine World Championships in England in 2014. A 100 per cent Chardonnay Blanc de Blancs style, Midnight Cuvee’s success comes thanks to 10 years of refinement in the vineyard and winery by winemaker, Andrew Koerner. And, yes, the fruit is harvested at midnight at optimal coolness. Taltarni  is another leader in Sparkling wine, sourcing grapes grown on the estate in addition to Tasmania for its successful Clover Hill brand. The region’s great white, whether for still or Sparkling, is Chardonnay. It has undergone changes over the last decade or more, moving away from a rich heavyweight to a more fruit-powered, streamlined number. At Dalwhinnie, the importation of a Chardonnay clone from Champagne has served to highlight citrus and grapefruit qualities with sustained acidity and textural weight. It is a wine of great presence in the glass. While Mount Avoca’s early reputation was built on Sauvignon Blanc and Shiraz, I suspect that it is the Italians coming through – Pinot Grigio, Nebbiolo,  Sangiovese , Lagrein – that now attract the drinker’s attention. The adjoining region of Ballarat is smaller again, but its focus on Pinot Noir and Chardonnay indicates that it is heading in a different direction to its neighbour. Eastern Peake Winery at Coghills Creek is a Pinot Noir maker par excellence, and is one of the few open for tastings seven days. Or, for a relaxed look at the wines of the west over a meal, head to Mitchell Harris Wine Bar in North Ballarat, part-owned by former Domaine Chandon Sparkling winemaker, John Harris. Events Out West Avoca Riverside Market   - Dundas & Cambridge Streets, Avoca, on the fourth Sunday of each month. Blue Pyrenees Estate Avoca Cup   - Avoca Racecourse, Racecourse Road, Avoca, each October. Grampians Grape Escape Food and Wine Festival   - Showcases regional wine and fare during a month-long festival in April, culminating in the Grampians Escape Weekend tastings, auction, grape stomping and live music in Halls Gap. Staying out West Pyrenees Eagles Nest at Dalwhinnie Vineyard, Moonambel  Redbank Chestnut Cottage Mount Avoca Vineyard Eco-Luxe Lodges, Avoca Warrenmang Vineyard & Resort, Moonambel Grampians/Henty Royal Mail Hotel, Dunkeld Boroka Downs, Halls Gap Aztec Escape, Halls Gap Links Retreat, Ararat   
Wine
Mudgee - nest in the hills
Words by Keren Lavelle on 12 Sep 2016
There’s a zest for life, a sense of passion and purpose, among the winemakers, restaurateurs and providores of this Central Western NSW region. Friday night, with the sun setting and the moon rising, is a fine time to arrive at Lowe Wines, high on a hill-rise, with its vista of vines and cerulean blue hills beyond. There’s time enough for a quick catch-up with the very busy winemaker David Lowe, just before hundreds of guests are seated at tables in his winery for dinner and a show. Lowe is a sixth-generation descendant of the first Lowes to take up farming on this property, and he’s a passionate convert to organic, indeed biodynamic, farming measures. "When I took over, the soils here were completely degraded, needing drastic repair, and biodynamics seemed the fastest and best way to fix them,” Lowe says. Biodynamic farming techniques involve burying cow horns with a mixture of fermented manure, minerals and herbs at specific phases in the lunar cycle ‘to harmonise the vital life forces of the farm’, as one authority explains it. While it’s based on belief more than theory, it’s certainly working here. David is famous for his premium, certified organic wines; some made without any preservatives, notably a Shiraz , demand for which is high. Adjacent to the winery is The Zin House, Mudgee’s only restaurant with a SMH Good Food Guide chef’s hat. Chef Kim Curry is David Lowe’s partner, so naturally, flights of Lowe Wines accompany her degustation menus, which are inspired by what’s fresh and in season – 60 to 70 per cent of the ingredients are sourced locally, many of them grown here on the farm. PALPABLE PASSION There is a long tradition of organic winemaking in Mudgee , starting with Australia’s first organic vineyard, Botobolar in 1971. At Vinifera Wines, the McKendry family is celebrating having achieved organic certification for their wines. After Tony and Debbie McKendry recognised climatic similarities between Mudgee and Spain’s Rioja region, they embarked on Spanish varieties like Tempranillo, Graciano and Gran Tinto – all of which have been very popular – however, it’s their Chardonnay that leaves me smitten. The passion emanating from the winemakers – indeed, from all the Mudgee producers – is palpable. They care deeply about quality, and are continually improvising and experimenting to improve quality and variety. The other striking feature is how collaborative they are – they share advice and ideas, and as winemaker Peter Logan tells me, they have fun together – the winemakers field their own indoor soccer team in a local comp. A STUNNING OUTLOOK With over 40 cellar doors in the fairly compact Mudgee wine region, there’s a lot of choice. There’s also plenty to please the eye, like the stunning tasting room and deck at Logan Wines with its sweeping view of Apple Tree Flat and its surrounding pyramidal hills. Peter Logan, celebrating his 20th vintage, is happy to show off his latest range called Ridge of Tears, two very different styles of Shiraz. Each is made from low-yield fruit and treated much the same, but ‘terroir’ is the variable – one comes from Logan’s Orange basalt-based vineyard, the other from Mudgee’s more loamy soils. The terrace at Moothi Estate has another gorgeous view, especially at sunset. ‘Moothi’ is another version of ‘Mudgee’, meaning ‘nest in the hills’ in the Wiradjuri language, extremely apt for this beautiful place. Jessica and Jason Chrcek now run Moothi Estate vineyard, which her parents started. At their cellar door, they serve award-winning platters of cheese, pickles and smallgoods – the lamb pastrami is a great discovery. At another family enterprise, the Robert Stein Vineyard and Winery, the multitalented, third-generation winemaker Jacob Stein (playing striker in the winemakers’ soccer team), also has responsibility for looking after the ‘old world’ varieties of pig that graze on the property. His brother-in-law, chef Andy Crestani, roasts the resulting free-range pork at the winery’s restaurant Pipeclay Pumphouse, and it appears as one of the dishes in the dinner degustation. (I’m keen to come back for breakfast to try the bacon and egg gnocchi with truffle oil.) Just about every cellar door will serve you High Valley Wine & Cheese Factory’s handmade soft cheeses, and they return the complement by serving local wines in their tasting room. The couple behind High Valley, Ro and Grovenor Francis, are no slouches. They already had 40 years of farming experience, and 20 years of viticulture behind them before venturing into dairy manufacture. The walls of their tasting room are plastered with the awards their wines and cheeses have won. ALL AGES ADVENTURES I discover local passion isn’t confined to producers when I meet ‘mine host’ of Mudgee’s Getaway Cottages, Elizabeth Etherington, a former mayor of Mudgee. These six holiday dwellings appear to be houses on an ordinary street a few minutes’ walk from the centre of town, but you soon discover that they all back onto a 3.64-hectare farm-stay wonderland on the banks of the Cudgegong River. “I’m a baby boomer,” Etherington explains, “and I grew up with plenty of space to play and roam, and with innocent freedom to explore. When I created Getaway Cottages, I had in mind to provide for today’s children the joy of nature, which many seem to miss out on.” To this end, Elizabeth Etherington has created a kids’ paradise, complete with an ostrich, a donkey, rabbits, flourishing vegetable gardens to raid for dinner, and plenty of toys and activities, including, for the big kids, a chip’n’putt golf course. In conversation, it transpires that Etherington is a producer as well, of the Orchy brand of fruit juices, which is a “100% Australian family-owned business since 1876.” Mudgee’s food manufacturing history goes way back. In town, Roth’s Wine Bar, holding the oldest wine bar licence in NSW, is the place to try (and buy) almost all of the district’s wines (due to the peculiarities of the ancient licence, you are also permitted to take away). Here you can dig into pizza, listen to live music, and try Roth’s special in-house drinks, such as the ‘1080’ (named after a poison bait) and ‘Diesel’. Before being licensed in 1923, when Roth’s was a general store, these were code names for the sly grog chalked up on farmers’ accounts. Also possessing a fine cellar, the recently renovated Oriental Hotel offers an elevated dining/drinking experience (and city views) on its second-storey deck, while at the nearby Wineglass Bar and Grill, owner and chef Scott Tracey serves breakfast, lunch and dinner (and provides chic boutique accommodation) in a restored 1850s former hostelry for mail coaches. BEER AND BITES It’s not all about the wine (and food), however, there are very fine craft beers to be sampled at the Mudgee Brewing Company (another live music venue), housed in a historic wool store; and adjacent to Vinifera Wines there’s Baker Williams Distillery, where distillers Nathan Williams and Helen Baker are having a lot of fun coming up with proof concoctions – butterscotch schnapps, anyone? Good coffee can also be found – at the Wineglass, you can buy the four-shot ‘bucket’, ideal for coping with a bad hangover. One of the most popular breakfast spots in town is the leafy courtyard café at Albie + Esthers, which transforms into a wine bar at night (of course). Tea is not neglected either – exotic varieties (and fresh handmade dumplings) feature on the menu of the delightful 29 nine 99 Yum Cha and Tea House at nearby Rylestone; it’s well worth stopping here for refreshments if you are making the 3.5 to 4 hour drive from Sydney. There’s lots more to explore – the old gold-mining township of Gulgong, the racehorses of Goree Park, the fine streets and shops of Mudgee itself, and more wineries – but when you eventually have to leave, FlyPelican can make light work of the trip with a 50 minute flight to Sydney. (Speaking of ‘light’, and speaking from experience, the aircraft’s 23kg luggage limit means it may be best to freight your wine purchases beforehand.) It’s good to know, however, that whenever you pine for a taste of more Mudgee magic, it can be quick and easy to return.
Two Blues Sauvignon Blanc 2014
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