A visit to Mudgee is not complete without immersing one’s self in the region’s rich culture of winemaking, which has earned Mudgee its spot as a top tourist destination for wine aficionados.
With a climate significantly different from that of the Hunter, Mudgee has become known for producing lovely Chardonnay in addition to its robust red wines. Around 30 cellar doors are scattered throughout Mudgee, and over 100 grape growers call the town home.
We enthusiastically jumped into a weekend of winetasting and vineyard hopping to bring you the best wineries to visit in Mudgee.
Baker Williams Distillery
Located at the cellar door of Vinifera Wines, Baker Williams Distillery produces a range of high quality spirits and was such a joy to visit that it has earned its place on this list despite not being a winery itself. Run by Nathan and Helen Williams, the concoctions produced by the married duo are a testament to skill, determination and, of course, a good taste for liquor.
The delicious Butterscotch Schnapps here is a must-purchase for your shelf at home, as is the Café Liqeur for any sweet tooth. A visit to Baker Williams Distillery also would not be complete without a try of the unique Cumquat Liqeur, the Wheat Vodka and Newmake, the moonshine-style spirit. Expect loads of fun here. For us, there was nothing quite like vodka-tasting at 10 in the morning!
Robert Stein Winery and Vineyard
This vineyard was established in 1976 as a much smaller enterprise, but has since grown to what it is today with the help of the Stein’s family and friends. Today, Robert Stein Wines owe their success to chief winemaker Jacob Stein, whose humble nature and breadth of knowledge earned him the Gourmet Traveller Wine 2012 award of ‘Young Winemaker of the Year’.
Having been producing grapes for over 35 years, the Robert Stein Vineyard now has a very comprehensive cellar door that will impress anyone with its range on offer. A good approach is to sample a few wines from the Family Range, which includes a 2015 Rosé, 2012 Semillon Riesling, 2011 Cabernet Merlot and Shiraz Cabernet Savignon. Then, gazing down the list of Robert Stein’s Premium, Fortified and Reserve Ranges will have you spoiled for choice, with a number of other red and white wines available for sampling and purchase.
It is also worth noting how beautiful the Robert Stein Winery and Vineyard is. Rolling hills paint a backdrop for the vineyard and neighbouring restaurant Pipeclay Pumphouse. The whole area really is gorgeous to visit at any time of the year. With both high quality food and wine located on the same lot, it makes this family-run business one of the most notable in Mudgee.
Lowe Wines is the brainchild of the charming David Lowe, whose passion for winemaking and organic grape growing has helped his business grow over the years. The cellar door is located on a truly breathtaking vineyard. The team at Lowe is well-aware of this beauty, with maps of the property on offer for visitors to take a stroll and even sit up on the hill for an enjoyable picnic.
When we arrived, the cellar door was bustling with visitors, which speaks to the success of Lowe Wines.
Must-tries include wines from the organic range, which really testify to what David Lowe and his team are about. Have a try of the 2012 Lowe Organic Zinfandel or perhaps the 2015 Lowe Tinja Preservative Free Shiraz (Organic). The 2005 and 2006 Lowe Zinfandels also make for great comparative tasting. One of Lowe’s other recurring themes is wine made with low alcohol content – something that allows for one to enjoy the flavours in a wine without the usual drawbacks of a boozy night. The 2015 Lowe ‘Headstone’ Primitivo Rosé is a good option for this, and while it is more on the dry side of you typical Rosés, it nevertheless is an enjoyable one to try.
I was lucky enough to sample Lowe’s wines at a wine-matched dinner held at The Gantry last year. But to actually see the landscape responsible for producing the wines was something else entirely. Our visit to Lowe Wines and The Zin House next door had us on the property for quite a while, and we had the pleasure of experiencing the vineyard both in the daylight and at dusk. With wonderful wine, great company, breathtaking views and unforgettable food, this combined visit made my personal highlight of the trip.
Bunnamagoo Estate Wines
Much of our time in Mudgee was, of course, spent eating at different restaurants and so we didn’t get to visit nearly as many wineries as we may have liked. Bunnamagoo Wines was our last stop on our trip and was a lovely way to bring our winetasting weekend to a close. Despite sitting on property settled in 1827, Bunnamagoo’s cellar door is definitely the most modern of the ones we visited, with cool and sleek finishings contrasted with the lush green landscape outside the glass walls.
An array of wines line the main counter, with essentially everything including reds, whites, sparkling and dessert wines on offer. I really enjoyed the Autumn Semillon 2013, which some others would probably find a little sickly sweet, but that’s exactly what you’d expect a sweet tooth like myself to enjoy. For more mature flavours, the 1827 Bunnamagoo special release range are great to try. Made up of the 1827 Chardonnay and the 1827 Cabernet Sauvignon, these two vintage wines are made to be cellared for 10 and 15 years, respectively.
It was a pleasure to sample all these different wines throughout Mudgee – wines which work well to capture the essence of their winemakers’ different worlds of experience and preferences. Each property had a significantly different character, making our overall visit to Mudgee well-balanced and enjoyable at every turn.
I Ate My Way Through visited Mudgee as guests of Destination NSW. For more information on the Mudgee region, check out visitnsw.com.