It wouldn’t be a trip to Mudgee without ticking off a few wineries…
With a viticultural history that stretches back to 1858, Mudgee has played a key role in shaping Australia’s wine identity. And while it may be a sophisticated story to sit through while you’re waiting for a tipple, it’s worth learning a thing or two about the famed region before you arrive.
The beautifully soft and intimate nature of Mudgee’s countryside is fashioned by the outer rim of the hills. This is called the nest. The smaller hills within the perimeter give rise to a panorama of mini vistas. It also means that Mudgee has some of the highest vineyards in Australia.
Wines are grown between 450 and 1180 metres above sea level. Frosts and cold nights delay budburst; rainfall and humidity are low; sunshine hours are plentiful; and irrigation is essential on some of the most favoured sites. By nature of its uniqueness, this location is where winemakers, vignerons and grape growers richly ply their craft.
Enough science, let’s get to the good stuff. If you’re keen to sample some of the drops that make Mudgee famous, head to one – or all – of these pristine wineries.
Long referred to as the ‘jewel in the crown’ of Mudgee’s Wine Region, Logan’s award-winning Tasting Room has been wowing visitors for more than a decade. Winemaker Peter Logan is inspired by the character of rich and fruity Australian wines, as well as the balance and structure of Old World varieties. His philosophy and resounding product represents a hybrid of these two styles. Taste fresh Australian flavours that embody the finesse of the European-style across the five ranges.
All grapes are grown in the NSW Central Ranges (Mudgee and Orange) and served in an architecturally-designed space that features a wide expansive deck. Sit back and devour a local produce platter for a blissful start to the weekend. We also recommend the long-lunch sitting, it’s the best way to sit back, feast and soak up the best Mudgee flavours.
First Ridge provides much by way of Italian sensibility. Uniquely housed within two adjoining shipping containers, the ambience is warm and open. Stop here for varietals that go beyond your standard pinot grigio and sangiovese (though they do those too). Fiano, vermentino and barbera encompass rich varietal flavours, while the new Alira Prosecco is perfectly vibrant, made from grapes grown on the single source vineyard overlooking the Cudgegong River valley.
After six generations of winemaking in Australia, the Gilbert family first opened The Cellar by Gilbert in 2016. The towering sandstone building now serves as an unconventional cellar door experience.
Guests are given the chance to enjoy award-winning wines and share plates made from locally sourced and home-grown produce in a relaxed, wine-bar like environment.
For a match made in heaven, duck next door to find the indulgent and highly addictive High Valley Cheese Co. tasting room. Visitors to the cellar door can taste current- and museum-release wines by sixth-generation winemaker Will Gilbert and his father Simon, a dynamic duo who have created a modern and inviting cellar door experience on the edge of town.
Talented third-generation winemaker Jacob Stein produces some sensational wines.
Brought out from Germany by the Macarthur family (of sheep-breeding fame) in 1838, his grandfather Johann Stein carried with him the first cuttings of Rhine Riesling to survive on. Now, visitors can visit the vineyard to sample the award-winning wines; the Half Dry Riesling is popular.
Alternatively, pair a drop with your meal at the adjoining Pipeclay Pumphouse Restaurant. Views overlooking the vineyard, farm and valley teach a lesson in regional opulence.
Next door there’s even a motorcycle museum if you’re a lover of vintage rides. Founder Robert Stein was an avid motorcyclist and would ride to work along a then-dirt Parramatta Road on his 1928 Douglas. Browse Robert’s collection of motorcycles, rare collectables and photographs.
A slight, 40-minute detour will see you arrive in the picturesque town of Rylstone. Seek out the family-owned, single-estate producer, De Beaurepaire Wines. These cool-climate, French-style varieties are rarely found in the wild – unless Australia’s best restaurants are a regular fixture of your social calendar.
Vineyard site selection was driven by finding a ‘terroir’ similar to the De Beaurepaire homeland in Burgundy: over 300 kilometres from the coast with cool, continental climates, and limestone-enriched, shallow alkaline soils. Fifty-three hectares produce sparkling, whites, rosé, red and dessert wines, best enjoyed seated on one of the picturesque lawns overlooking some 100,000+ vines.
Picture a space filled with muted lighting, church pew seating, suspended gilded wine bottles, dotted barrique and puncheon barrels, and you’ll get a feel for how unique Pieter Van Gent Winery is.
Venture downstairs beneath the cobwebbed-barrels in the cask hall to witness how technology and tradition meet to create magic in a bottle – it’s here that the grape starts to transition into wine.
From Wednesday to Sunday, the cellar door does a special chocolate and wine pairing with locally-made pralines. And make sure you try the Mudgee Pipeclay white port, it is smooth and fruity, and served over ice in warm weather.
You’ll be hard pressed to meet a person who loves Mudgee (and winemaking) more than David Lowe. Lowe and his wife produce small-batch, organic variants that are also served at the onsite regional restaurant Zin House (helmed by renowned chef Kim Currie). The property is also home to an event space called the Pavilion.
Each bottle of wine is a direct reflection of how the grapes are grown – unirrigated or trellised, each wine speaking distinctly of the individual terroir, vintage and region. Seek out the Gentleman’s Daughter, a sparkling wine of distinction, after seven years on lees it’s beautifully complex. The Lowe cellar door is open daily for wine tastings and regional platters.
Moothi – named after the Koori word for Mudgee – was purchased by Phil and Susan Moore in 1995. They took one look at the northwest-facing slopes filled with brown clay and limestone soil and knew it was the one.
The family-run Moothi Estate is now looked after by the Moore’s daughter Jessica Chrcek and her partner Jay. It also holds the title of the highest cellar door in Mudgee, offering 180-degree views of the neighbouring mountain range. Cabernet sauvignon, shiraz, merlot, chardonnay, semillon, riesling, viognier and pinot gris are all served by the glass and bottle.
You can also pick up an array of cheese plates, gourmet tasting platters, local olive oils, handmade jewellery and more at the excellent providore on the estate.