Heading up to New England High Country? Make sure to check out these wineries and distilleries in one of Australia’s finest wine areas
New England High Country is well known for gorgeous national parks and a distinct four seasons. But did you know New England wine is also famous for its cool climate offerings? With lush tablelands, cool winters and warm summers, it produces some of the best drops in the state.
Breweries and distilleries have also turned up to the bar – with small-batch botanical gins, inventive liqueurs, and Indian Pale Ales crafted with love in New England High Country. If you’re ready to take a detour on that road trip from Sydney to Brisbane, here are the best boutique winery, brewery and distillery stops to make.
Discover cute decor and tasty drinks in New England High Country. (Image: Deepwater Brewing)
1. Petersons Armidale Winery and Guesthouse
Staying in a winery has a two-fold benefit. Not only do you have more time to linger and soak up the country atmosphere, but it eliminates any issues you might have securing a responsible driver after you’ve had a glass or two.
Book a romantic getaway at Petersons Armidale Winery and Guesthouse, and you can simply walk down to the cellar door, checking out the vines and English-style gardens on your way.
Wines from the Armidale region are on offer, including award-winning wines like Semillon, Sauvignon Blanc, Pinot Noir, Cabernet Sauvignon and more. Follow a tasting up with dinner, with plates that change day-to-day, depending on what local ingredients are available, and retreat to one of the seven rooms. Rich with old-world style, there are charming details, as well as full-sized spa or clawfoot baths in the five suites.
Want to taste New England produce, but can’t stay overnight? You can book in for lunch on the weekend. In summer this can be served outside under the trees.
Dine outside under the trees.
2. Topper’s Mountain Wines
Follow this mini-Australian wine trail to Topper’s Mountain Wines, an hour or so north drive from Petersons, in Tingha. You’ll have to book ahead to visit this boutique cellar door, but believe us, it’s worth it.
Rare varieties are cultivated here, like full-bodied Nebbiolo, dry Gewürztraminer, and the smoky Tintas Kvevri – which is fermented underground in clay amphorae. Classics like Sauvignon Blanc and Shiraz, and signature red and white blends, are also available at this cool climate winery.
As well as picking out how many bottles (or boxes) of Topper’s special varietals to take home, another must-do activity at this winery is joining the owners as they explain their process to create and maintain the vines at this extraordinary vineyard.
Finish up with a cheese and charcuterie board to accompany the tasting of these one-of-a-kind wines.
Stop in for something unique at Topper’s.
3. Reedy Creek Estate
Drive up to the NSW-Queensland border, to the very edge of northern New England. Here, you will find the Reedy Creek Estate, where the area’s Mediterranean-style climate has been used to create Reserve Old Vine Shiraz (which comes from vines that are over half a century old), Chardonnay with hints of passionfruit and lemongrass, and delicate Prosecco with a glamour of apples and pears.
The Reedy Creek Estate cellar door is open seven days a week, and you can order antipasto boards and traditional Italian sweets to accompany tastings. Need a solid meal after your time on the road? You can also request a pasta lunch if you book in advance.
If you are after a secluded getaway for a special anniversary, the independent winery has a cottage on the property. You can also contact the owners and book the campsite by the Dumaresq River.
4. 2Wild Souls Meadery
If you’re keen to try a drop that is a bit different, swing in at 2Wild Souls Meadery. Located at Torrington, this cellar door specialises in handcrafted mead, created from local honey created by bees who visit the blossom on the property.
If you’ve never tried the ancient drink before, expect a preservative-free, refreshing drink, that uses the ‘Ancestral Method’ to produce the naturally sparkling taste.
Due to the nature of using bees and honey in the mead, you can expect each season to taste slightly different – a fantastic excuse to come back again and again. Dogs are welcome on the property, which is open Wednesday to Sunday. For other times, book ahead for an appointment.
Taste handcrafted mead at the family-owned 2Wild Souls.
5. Deepwater Brewery
Head north of Glen Innes to sink a cold one at a country craft brewery. Overlooking the Deepwater River Reserve, the Deepwater Brewery creates a wide range of beers, including IPAs, kolchs, ales, stouts and spicy ginger lagers.
Curated for locals and road-trippers looking to kick back over the weekend, this dog-friendly brewery is open on Fridays and Saturdays, with delectable pizzas served up.
Wash down your pizza with locally crafted brews.
6. New England Brewing Co.
Grab the growler and make your way to Uralla for this boutique brewery. New England Brewing Co’s centrally-located shed has fun vibes in spades.
In summer, cool off with their selection of beers, like locally brewed milk coffee stouts and peach and cherry sours. In winter, order one of their taster paddles and settle next to the fire. The beers are served from the tap and as takeaway cans, if you want to bring a taste of New England High Country home with you.
Grab some classic beer snacks like pork crackling and pickles, or pick out cheeses and cold meats from the fridge. Not a beer fan? Alcoholic ginger beer, wine from Topper’s Mountain and Petersons, as well as non-alcoholic kombuchas are available.
Taste a bit of everything with a New England Brewing Co. tasting paddle. (Image: Destination NSW)
7. Glen Gowrie Distillery
For the fans of cocktails or a good gin and tonic among you, head to the Glen Gowrie Distillery. Here, products are handcrafted by this family-owned business from start to finish, using Sebago potatoes, blueberries and molasses instead of commonly used grains. The result? Preservative-free gins and liqueurs, defined by regional flavours, with varieties as wide-ranging as olive leaf gin or oak and whisky liqueur.
Located near the Celtic capital of Glenn Innes on a working farm, the cellar door is open Wednesday to Sunday. Take a tour of the distillery with the head distiller, indulge in a guided tasting journey through five gins, or simply relax under the trees with a gin and tonic.
For nibbles, the Glen Gowrie Distillery has a selection of locally smoked trout, jerky, cheeses and cured meats for grazing boards.
Sip on these small-batch, family-made creations.
8. Dobson’s Distillery
No chance of missing out on local liqueurs if you find yourself in Kentucky (that’s in New England, not the U.S.). Seven days a week, Dobson’s Distillery’s speakeasy and tasting bar is open for business.
Pull up a chair at this jazz and blues bar where there is something for everyone. Its gins, whiskeys and rums are award-winning, and if you’re more of a beer drinker, they brew that onsite too.
Come weekends, make sure to book a table for lunch in advance. With cured meats infused with gin botanicals, home-smoked salmon with local pickles, and a ploughman’s lunch that includes slow-cooked barbecue meats, pate, cheeses, freshly baked bread, and more, you better believe it fills up quickly.
Soak up the atmosphere and award-winning liquors.