Photo credit: Pip Farquharson

Looking to escape the daily grind? Then look no further than Orange! Get some friends together for a weekend, get yourself down there, breathe in some fresh country air and you’ll feel ready to take on the world. Throw in some award-winning wine and delicious local food, and you’ll never want to leave.

I Ate My Way Through was invited to Orange recently to preview the Orange Wine Festival, which runs from 14th-30th October this year. We got to experience some of the area’s best wineries, meet some of the local characters who’ve helped put this region on the map and (of course) sample some delicious wine. 

Photo credit: Pip Farquharson

The Wine Festival, now in it’s 17th year, is an unmissable event for wine lovers. It is a celebration of NSW’s newest wine region, and provides guests with fantastic opportunities to meet the local vignerons, participate in free wine tastings and masterclasses and immerse themselves in everything this wonderful area has to offer. 

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Festival highlights this year include: The Finest Drop, a party in an uber cool helicopter hangar – come dressed to impress; the Wine & Food Night Market, a family-friendly produce market under the stars; the Vino Express, a train ride offering Sydneysiders an all-inclusive, two day package experience of the festival; and Wine in the Vines, a roving lunch through the vineyards with the opportunity to mingle with the winemakers themselves and taste wine straight from the barrel. 

Getting to Orange

  • Drive: It’s only a 3.5 hour drive from Sydney through the beautiful Blue Mountains, either via the Great Western Highway or the Bells Line of Road.
  • Train: NSWTrainLink XPT has a direct daily service. Departs Sydney Central Station, Country Platform and takes around 5 hours.
  • Bus: Australia Wide Coaches has a daily express service from Sydney to Orange, which departs from Sydney International Airport at 3.30pm, Sydney Domestic Airport at 3.40pm and Sydney Central at 5pm.
  • Fly: Probably the most hassle-free way to go, REX airlines has several direct flights from Sydney that will get you there in under an hour.

Where to Stay

Orange has a huge range of accommodation options suitable for any occasion. There are B&B’s, self contained units and cottages, motels and hotels and even space for camping and caravans. For more information, check out the Brand Orange website. 

Getting Around

This photograph by Pip Farquharson of Photography by Pip

We were lucky enough to be guests of Orange Wine Tours during our stay in Orange. Our fantastic driver and guide, Chase Johnson, was super friendly and very knowledgable about the area, and made sure we didn’t miss out on anything. Chase is proud of the region and its wine, and he obviously loves his job. 

Vineyards to Explore

Patina Wines
Patina is a family-owned estate nestled in the volcanic slopes of Mt Canobolas. At the helm is California-born Gerald Naef, whose fusion of old tradition and new technology has created some beautiful, complex cool climate wines. On offer at Patina is a boutique range of Sauvignon Blanc, Riesling, Chardonnay, Cabernet Sauvignon, Merlot, Pinot Noir and Shiraz. They also have the most delicious Rosé, which was our pick of the lot. 

Gerald fired up his pizza oven and made some scrumptious food to accompany his wines, and he even took us behind the scenes to taste some wine straight from the barrel. Winery dog Sprocket was always on hand to giver her expert opinion, too. 

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Photo credit: Pip Farquharson

Stockman’s Ridge Wines
This vineyard boasts some stunning views out over the mountains, and is the perfect spot for the whole family. While the grown ups swig on a selection of delicious wines, the little ones can entertain themselves for hours with a variety of lawn games, such as bocci, noughts & crosses and giant jenga. Maybe after a few glasses, the big kids will want to join in too!

Jonathan Hambrook’s passion for the Orange region is obvious, and runs through every fibre of his vineyard. So pop in, grab a glass, pull up a deck chair and soak it all in. From October, the vineyard will also be offering boutique accommodation at their Swagman’s Homestead, so you can roll out of bed and into the vines!

De Salis Wines
Charlie Svenson has worn many hats, from a master fisherman catching lobster and barramundi in the Torres Strait to a research scientist at UNSW. Today, he’s the owner and winemaker of De Salis Wines, and together with wife Loretta they are producing some of the regions finest minimalist, handcrafted wines. 

The ‘Lofty Vineyard’ of De Salis is located high up on the northern slope of Mt Canobolas, and offers the most exquisite views over the whole region. Looking out over the vines bathed in the gorgeous golden light of the sunset, we sipped on their Lofty Cuvee, took a million photos and listened to Charlie and Loretta talk about the history of De Salis. A glorious way to end our first day in Orange. 

See Saw Wines
“Great wine, like most things in life, is all about balance.” That’s the philosophy over at See Saw Wines, and for owner Justin Jarrett it’s the key to everything. He’s a pioneer of the Orange viticulture industry, and unfalteringly passionate about his work and the region. 

The original plan for our visit was to wander through their vines, but the weather wasn’t playing nice. Plan B, however, was perhaps even more charming — a rustic sheep shed decked out with native flowers and cheese and fruit platters with curious sheep looking in! It was here we got to try the Orange region’s first ever prosecco. And by “try” it we mean they had to pry the bottles out of our hands, it was THAT good.

Photo credit: Pip Farquharson

Philip Shaw Wines

Philip Shaw is a household name, if not all over the country then definitely in NSW. This vineyard is an institution in Orange, with Philip and his family having been making wine here for decades. The site of their Koomooloo vineyard was stumbled upon by Philip quite by mistake, during his time investigating and exploring regions all over Australia. Today, Koomooloo produces fine, elegant wine, and sits at around 900m, making it one of the country’s highest vineyards.

We were served a spectacular long-table lunch next to a roaring fire, perfect for escaping the chilly weather. Then Dan, Philip’s son, led us on a behind the scenes tour, letting us taste wine straight from the barrel and providing us with some wonderful insights into the business of winemaking. 

Ferment
Roaming around vineyards not your thing? Or perhaps you’d just like a day exploring Orange’s town centre and shops? At Ferment the Orange Wine Centre, you can try all of the region’s very best wines in one place. Located in a beautifully preserved heritage building, their Enomatic wine dispenser allows guests to sample an extensive range of exceptional wines, curated by Peter Bourne. All wines are available for purchase at the store, and they also stock wine from all over NSW and beyond. 

On our visit, Peter paired some beautiful wines with delicious cheese from Second Mouse Cheese Co., and talked us through some additional flavour pairings. We even got to try a particularly special drop — a White Shiraz from Montoro Wines named ‘Just For Madge’, which might just be the only white shiraz in Australia. 

We felt very special to be invited on this trip. It was a fantastic way to get a little taste of Orange, and have such a personal experience with just some of the region’s fantastic vignerons. 

Photo credit: Pip Farquharson

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For more information about the Orange Wine Festival, check out the official website here. You’ll be able to get more information, download the official festival brochure and start booking your tickets to the signature events. Don’t miss out!

I Ate My Way Through visited Orange as a guest of Destination NSW

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Alana is an avid writer, traveller and eater. She’s Sydney born and raised, but spent 5 years living and studying in London, which gave her great opportunities to see the world. Alana is an actor by trade, so creativity is in her blood. In her spare time, she’s a theatre critic here in Sydney, and is always on the lookout for new and exciting pre-theatre dining options. Alana is often seen camera in hand, munching on the latest sweet treat and endeavouring to get that perfect shot. If puppies happen to be involved, it wouldn’t be a total disaster.

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