One of the things I have really enjoyed since moving to Australia (besides the beautiful beaches, constant sunshine and kangaroos that is), is how accessible and affordable good-quality wine is. Before moving here, my experience with vino was very limited. My students days would see me wandering down the booze aisle, head bowed, checking out what the bottom shelves had to offer and then trying to figure out if an extra 20p was worth a higher percentage. Not exactly a connoisseur… Once I’d graduated, I did mature slightly but only so much to know what kinds of white wine I liked and even then, I would rarely spend more than £4.99 because, hey, I was on a budget!
Now I’m in Oz, good wine is everywhere and, it’s actually affordable – hurrah! What’s even better is that Sydney is surrounded by some of the best wine regions in the country and, being so close to them, it’d be rude not to visit them at least once or twice.
While I’ve been to the Hunter Valley a good few times now, when we were glamping a few weeks back, I noticed that we were just over an hour away from Mudgee and thought it’d be simply be rude not to give the region a cheeky visit.
First things first, the area is beautiful. As we were driving around, I couldn’t help but gaze out of the window at the scenery. Surrounding Mudgee are rolling hills and they create a gorgeous backdrop for the whole region. There’s also plenty of wildlife around so keep your eyes peeled for kangaroos, wallabies, wombats and sheep with short legs (I’ll get onto that later!)
We started our day with a spot of lunch at Blue Wren Winery, a vineyard with a wonderful restaurant just past the airport. In addition to a great but modest collection of wines, they also serve a number of great dishes made from local produce. We ordered the Blue Wren Grazing Board, a tasty combination of crusty loaf, cheeses, meats and some locally produced honey. The board was a great accompaniment to the wines (their rosé was our favourite by the way!) and it was great to sit out in the sunshine and enjoy a long, lazy lunch.
After lunch we were back on the road looking for our next stop. We decided on Short Sheep Micro-Winery half because we were wondering what made it so small and partly because it had an unusual name (does anyone else do that?). I’m so happy we did because it was one of our favourite vineyards. Started by an English couple, the winery is one of the smallest in the Mudgee region but one of the most popular. One of my favourite anecdotes was how the place got it’s name; from the actual sheep that were on the property. The Babydoll Southdown Sheep have such short legs that they can’t reach the vines and therefore eat all the tasty grapes. If you’re planning a visit, make sure you try the Chardonnay. It’s unwooded and tastes AMAZING!
Some other great stops we made that afternoon was Red Clay, a boutique vineyard with a stunning collection of reds and Mansfield Wines who specialise in Iberian and Mediterranean varieties of grapes. After an afternoon of tasting the same varieties, it was quite refreshing to sample something completely new. We also stopped in at Robert Stein, a family owned winery with a killer collection of vintage motorbikes – something that is doubly interesting after a few glasses of vino! They’ve won a ton of awards for their wines and have even opened the Pipeclay Pumphouse, a great little restaurant that specialises in local produce.
I wish we could’ve spent another day in the region. You could easily spend a long weekend driving around the area and exploring the town too. Now we’ve had a bit of a taste, I feel like it’d be silly not to head back sometime soon. If you’ve been to the Hunter Valley and are looking for a new wine region to sample or are a just simply looking for an alternative staycation spot for your next trip, I’d definitely recommend Mudgee. The beautiful scenery paired with the excellent produce both edible and drinkable, make it a great place for a mini-break.