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FOOD & DRINK

NSW Cellar Doors Where You Can Spend an Afternoon Drinking Wine

From the vineyards in the Hunter Valley to the rolling hills of the Southern Highlands, these wineries are prime for wine tasting and a long Sunday lunch.
By Marissa Ciampi
May 29, 2020
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NSW Cellar Doors Where You Can Spend an Afternoon Drinking Wine

From the vineyards in the Hunter Valley to the rolling hills of the Southern Highlands, these wineries are prime for wine tasting and a long Sunday lunch.
By Marissa Ciampi
May 29, 2020
  shares

NSW CELLAR DOORS WHERE YOU CAN SPEND AN AFTERNOON DRINKING WINE

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From the vineyards in the Hunter Valley to the rolling hills of the Southern Highlands, these wineries are prime for wine tasting and a long Sunday lunch.

As Sydneysiders, we're lucky to be situated so close to so many of Australia's most celebrated wine regions: Orange, Mudgee, the Hunter Valley and Kangaroo Valley (the list continues). Whether you're looking for organically produced, family-operated or award-winning, you'll find it all just a road trip away.

If you're a wine fan and you're not taking advantage of NSW's seriously impressive vineyards, it's time to get those engines revving. Here are ten cellar doors worth travelling for, from an elegant farmhouse to an old-school organic vineyard, and even one with its own craft brewery and live music amphitheatre.

From pristine beaches and bountiful wine regions to alpine hideaways and bustling country towns, Australia has a wealth of places to explore at any time of year. We've partnered with Tourism Australia to help you plan your road trips, weekend detours and summer getaways so that when you're ready to hit the road you can Holiday Here This Year.

While regional holidays within NSW will be allowed from June 1, some of the places mentioned below may still be closed — or operating differently — due to COVID-19 restrictions. Please check websites before making any plans.

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    Led by Orange wine pioneer Philip Shaw himself, this family-owned and operated vineyard has been kicking goals and pouring wines since 1988. And over its 30-plus years, these wines have won a whole heap of awards. The cool-climate drops — including particularly tasty pinot noirs and chardonnays — are all sourced from the 47-hectare Koomooloo vineyard. A trip to the cellar door’s bluestone barn is more akin to visiting a wealthy friend’s country house than a bar. The building is distinguished by a stone exterior and interior, with large share tables for tastings and stunning mountain views. Nab a glass (or bottle) of the good stuff and sit by the fireplace, or out among the vines during warmer weather. For eats, there’s the requisite nibbles like cheese and charcuterie boards ($30–35). For more substantial meals, book to come in during one of the cellar door’s monthly woodfired pizza nights.

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  • 9

    The country-inspired cellar door at the family-run Ross Hill Wines was created by local designers and artisans, and it makes for a lovely day of sipping top-notch drops in the white cherry blossom orchard. Grab a seat at one of the outdoor tables and enjoy a wine tasting for just a tenner per person (redeemable if you purchase a bottle). Or splurge on the wine and food pairing ($25), which features a tasting plate of local produce, paired with the Ross Hill Pinnacle range. This includes the Orange region’s signature pinot gris, cabernet sauvignon and shiraz. The venue also offers frequent three-course local chef’s lunches in the private dining room for $95 per person. If you’d like to get more interactive, the Barrel & Larder cooking class runs regularly out of the cellar door, too. Tastings start at 10.30am each day, with a guided tour of the Wallace Lane vineyard on offer from 10am — it’s a certified carbon neutral winery, which makes for a guilt-free wine tasting to boot.

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  • 8

    Dating back to 1870, Silos Estate is hidden among converted farm silos in rural Berry. Located within an original dairy shed, the cellar door offers free wine tastings, plus an art gallery and an impressive collection of locally made smallgoods. Those include jams, honey, tapenade, relishes and cheese from 13 different providores. The vineyard showcases the full range of the cool Shoalhaven climate —  from chardonnay, semillon and sauvignon blanc to shiraz, merlot, cabernet sauvignon and malbec. You can also grab a glass or bottle alongside a meal in the adjoining Silos Restaurant. Open for lunch and dinner, Thursday to Sunday, it’s serving up a farm-fresh seasonal menu that uses native Aussie produce — and has rolling views of the vineyard beyond.

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  • 7

    Lowe Wines owner David Lowe was up on natural winemaking long before it was considered cool. He’s producing certified organic wines in small batches — so small, in fact, that you’ll be hard pressed to find his drops outside of the cellar door. Located just a short drive from Mudgee CBD, the winery is in a region well suited to red varieties like shiraz and merlot, as well as the vineyard’s signature drop: zinfandel. For eats alongside the wine, there are grazing platters that use all local produce and smallgoods. While you’re there, take a stroll around the stunning vineyard, which includes a wooden picnic area, rescued donkeys (for patting) and access to 360-degree views of Mudgee from Federation Hill. The tasting room also hosts regular events including wine making, cooking and ceramics workshops.

    Image: Destination NSW.

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  • 6

    The 200-acre property that makes up Bendooley Estate doesn’t just offer a cellar door — it’s also home to a luxe restaurant, an alfresco cafe and an outpost of the much loved Berkelouw bookshop. Located in the Southern Highlands, this multi-faceted winery has a focus on Australian and Italian varieties, including sangiovese, pinot gris and chardonnay. The cellar door offers stunning views across the vineyard, a large fire and lunch daily. For something fancier, though, you can dine in the main restaurant — attached to Berkelouw — which offers everything from chermoula braised lamb shoulder ($36) to blue cheese pizza ($26) and linguine with blue swimmer crab ($29). Don’t feel like leaving? Book into one of the estate’s cottages and enjoy a night out of the city.

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  • 5

    Hungerford Hill’s architecturally stunning cellar door and two-hatted restaurant make it one of the most recognisable wineries in New South Wales, let alone the Hunter Valley. Established back in 1967, the boutique vineyard overlooks the Brokenback Ranges. Head to the barrel-shaped tasting room and the accompanying underground cellar to sample a range of the region’s best drops, including Hungerford’s preservative-free or single-vineyard series. Or sit in either the sculpture courtyard or indoor terrace and opt for the Epic Tasting Experience ($50) for a mini-degustation of wines and bite-sized dishes. The estate’s fine dining restaurant, Muse Restaurant, is housed next door, within its own stunning building. Run by Troy Rhoades-Brown, Muse serves contemporary Australian fare, with a seasonally changing menu. Dine a la carte or opt for a tasting menu with wines to match. Plus, don’t forget to pop into the Hungerford Espresso Bar for a caffeine hit before you roll out.

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  • 4

    Located in the Broke Fordwich subregion of the Hunter Valley, Krinklewood makes certified biodynamic and organic drops on its sustainably run vineyard. This boutique winery boasts incredible views of the Brokenback Range as well as an old-world cellar door set within Provence-inspired gardens. You’ll likely catch a glimpse (and hear the songs) of the region’s abundant birdlife, too, due to its remote location. You can sample wine varieties typical of the region, including verdelho, semillon and chardonnay, along with a sparkling shiraz, rosé and Krinklewood’s Wild range of blends. To complement the wine, snack on the cheese platter ($27.50) of all organic cheese, served with locally sourced olives, chutney, apricots, almonds and cornichons. The cellar door is open Friday to Sunday, from 10am–4.30pm.

    Images: MJK Creative.

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  • 3

    From the hand-built furniture to the beef cheek with beetroot and black sesame, EXP Restaurant in the Hunter Valley is about all things local and carefully handcrafted. You’ll find it tucked away in Oakvale, a family-owned and run winery in Pokolbin with a focus on drops made with minimal intervention. Since you’ve made the journey, we suggest you settle in for a tasting ($90). The multi-course menu offers the likes of slipper lobster, and Hunter wagyu beef with pumpkin and pepita. For dessert, there’s apple and celeriac pie, among other delights. Add matching wines for $65. Most of the drops on the list come from nearby, with Oakvale getting a good look in, as well as Tyrell’s, Margan, Keith Tulloch and Tinklers.

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  • 2

    Mudgee’s Blue Wren winery is creating minimal-intervention drops in an elegant farmhouse setting. Don’t expect to find a wine counter here, though — instead, guests gather at tasting tables and enjoy their wine seated. The flights are $10 for five wines, with the vineyard growing shiraz, verdelho and merlot grapes. During the cooler months, tables near the open fire are prime real estate, while in summer you can take your wine out to the garden and farm. It grows herbs, fruits and edible flowers for the in-house restaurant, and is home to a cherry farm and beehives — as well as duck, geese, chooks and heaps of blue wren birds (naturally). Grab lunch Friday to Sunday from noon–3pm, but we’d advise booking ahead as it gets busy. Never want to leave? You can stay overnight, too.

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  • 1
    Hope Estate

    Located in the heart of the Hunter Valley, Hope Brewhouse is all about four things: beer, wine, food and music. The 420-hectare property is home to a winery, restaurant and one of the state’s biggest outdoor stages. The venue has hosted the likes of Bruce Springsteen, The Rolling Stones and Fleetwood Mac, as well as events like Wine Machine, the Grapest 5k run and Elton John’s farewell tour. But it’s still worth coming here on any regular weekend. You’ll also find large tables and benches resembling a German beer hall and, outside, the patio serves up views of green hills, gum trees and vineyards — making it one of New South Wales’ most picturesque wineries. It’s the perfect place to work through Hope’s 18 wines. The kitchen operates all day, too, with a menu of pizza, burgers, cheese plates and bar snacks.

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Whether you’re planning to travel for a couple of nights or a couple of weeks, Holiday Here This Year and you’ll be supporting Australian businesses while you explore the best of our country’s diverse landscapes and attractions.

Top image: Philip Shaw Wines.

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