Pack your bags, your podcasts and some snacks, and hit the road. Mudgee is a four and a half hour drive north west of Sydney, just long enough for you to justify yum car snacks, but not long enough that you’ll get cabin fever. The drive takes you through the beautiful Blue Mountains and into the NSW Central Ranges. You’ll want to move to the country in no time.
If you haven’t been wine tasting in Mudgee, you have been missing out. The warm days and cool nights keep the grapes happy and the wine makers busy. Sitting at a higher altitude than the Hunter Valley, Mudgee’s harvest period happens four weeks later, so you’ll find quite different drops out here. And they’re all worth trying. Honestly, you could spend days trying to pop into each cellar door. From big to small, there’s plenty of gems.
Let’s get down to the details. If you’re short on time, make sure you stop at:
- Burnbrae Wines: Trine and Andy have taken their family run business and supercharged it with just the right about of Sydney pizazz and passion. The heritage wine maker cottage makes an excellent cellar door to try these reasonably priced, top notch drops. Don’t leave without some of their Twinkle Toes Cuvee sparkling.
- Huntington Estate: with a pretty impressive pedigree, Huntington knocks it out of the park for just about every type of wine. We’re keeping our cab savs for a seriously special occasion, but you can’t go wrong with their easy drinking semillon.
- Rosby Wines: pull up a seat in the paddock/sculpture garden for one of the friendliest wine tastings around. The Rosby family do a great job with their wine, and an even better job at being excellent hosts. Save time to stroll around looking at the sculptures, and get to know the friendly farm dogs, who will always have time for a pat.
- Slow Fox Wines: the most hipster cellar door we’ve even been to, this small producer has perfected easy drinking wines. Grab as much of their rose as you can carry.
3. Wine flights
So we expect you’ve spotted the theme here. Mudgee and wine tasting go hand in hand. If you’d like to do more than just stop in for a drink, go back to Burnbrae and try one of their brand new wine flights. Four glasses of wine, paired with local produce like goats cheese, pickled beetroot and cured meats = a very nice way to kick start the afternoon. There’s a few different options – our pick is any flight with the Home Ground Shiraz. It’s a real winner at the right price tag, we challenge you to leave without a bottle to take home.
4. Fine dining
One of life’s greatest pairings, and greatest pleasures, is food and wine. Mudgee knows how to turn up the heat in the kitchen, with plenty of great places to try local wine with top notch nosh. For a casual night in town, head to Eltons Eating & Drinking. Originally Eltons Pharmacy, the space is pretty cool for a country town, and serves up a mean taco. There’s also pan fried scallops, mac and cheese balls and southern fried chicken bites to name a few of the share dishes. Celebrating a special occasion? Pipeclay Pumphouse has a cult following for its decadent degustation dinners. Located at the Robert Stein Winery, you’ll spend several hours inside the cosy dining room, savouring every mouthful of locally sourced produce paired with the winery’s well respected wines. Dishes like sautéed gnocchi with duck and juniper ragu, and braised beef brisket keep vistors coming back.
Meet the locals and their wares at the Mudgee Farmers Markets. Held on the third Saturday of each month outside the St Mary’s Catholic Church, right in the centre of town, they’re a feast for all the senses. Try everything from local olive oil, honey and hazelnuts to handmade Polish pastries and unicorn cupcakes. The locals come to stock up on their fruit and veg, and pick up fresh flowers, but there’s plenty of ready to eat food, and the hot chocolates are on point.