New South Wales – Mudgee – taste of city life in the country

By Winsor Dobbin
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The spectacular Logan Wines cellar door in Mudgee

The spectacular Logan Wines cellar door in Mudgee

Mudgee Brewing Company
Al fresco dining at di Lusso Estate in Mudgee
Robert Stein Motorcycle Museum, Mudgee
Market Street Cafe, Mudgee

 

Mudgee, four hours’ drive west of Sydney, used to be just another sleepy country town where eccentrics tried to compete with the Hunter and the Barossa by planting a few vines. Fast forward to 2011 and Mudgee is riding a wine-tourism led boom.

There are chic boutique hotels and bed and breakfasts, a range of cellar doors and an ever-increasing number of cafes and restaurants. Stop in Mudgee just about any weekend and the place will be bustling.

Mudgee is today home to close to 50 wineries and a busy little downtown precinct with delicatessens and stores selling local produce.

Wine grapes have been grown in Mudgee since 1858 but it is only in recent years that the region has become a tourism hotspot – and one well worth visiting.

This itinerary takes in some old favourites – and some of Mudgee’s latest attractions.

 

Stop 1 – Brunch at Market Street Cafe

A relative newcomer, this funky French-influenced cafe specialises in dishes utilising local produce and bakes its own sourdough bread. Young chef Aaron Cole’s menu changes daily depending on what is fresh but the local Ormiston pork rillettes with house made pickles, sourdough and Dijon mustard are always a hit, as are the Merriwa steak sandwiches. Locals rave about the desserts, too.

Open: Thursday-Monday 7am-6pm
79 Market Street, Mudgee
Ph (02) 6372 0052

 

Stop 2 – Tasting at Bunnamagoo

Owned by the Paspaley family, who are among Australia’s leading pearl producers, this high-tech winery produces a range of excellent wines crafted by ex Printhie winemaker Rob Black and has a pretty cellar door with knowledgeable staff. It is the new venue for the annual MudFest short film festival.

You must taste: The chardonnays and the cabernet sauvignon are the standouts in an impressive range.

Open: Daily 10am-4pm
Henry Lawson Drive, Mudgee
Ph (02) 6373 3046

 

Stop 3 – Tasting at Thistle Hill

Thistle Hill is one of Australia’s leading organic wine producers, founded in 1975, and its cellar door sells a range of regional organic foods so visitors can create their own gourmet platter. There is also a range of preservative-free wines.

You must taste: The rieslings and chardonnays are both reliably good.

Open: Monday-Saturday 10am-4.30pm and 10am-4pm on Sundays
Off Hill End Road, Mudgee
Ph (02) 6373 3400

 

Stop 4 – Lunch at di Lusso

Congenial host Robert Fairall makes a wide range of wines, many of them from obscure Italian grape varieties including aleatico, picolit and vermentino. There is a lovely relaxed vibe at the cellar door and the wood-fired pizzas at the weekend are outstanding (think traditional flavours like figs, prosciutto and gorgonzola). Wines are available by the glass. The menu changes weekly.

You must taste: The rosato (a blend of sangiovese and lagrein) is a standout and the passito is di Lusso’s take on Vin Santo.

Open: Daily for lunch (except Tuesdays)
Eurunderee Lane, Mudgee
Ph (02) 6373 3125

 

Stop 5 – Tasting at Skimstone

This rustic cellar door is just across the road from Logan Wines on the way into town from Sydney and young winemaker proprietor Josh Clementson specialises in Italian grape varieties.

You must taste: Sangiovese, barbera and rose are all worth sampling and the chardonnay is also very good.

Open: Thursday-Friday 11am-3pm. Saturday, Sunday and public holidays 10am-4pm
1307 Castlereagh Highway, Apple Tree Flat
Ph (02) 6373 1321

 

Stop 6 – A pre-dinner drink at Roth’s Wine Bar

The oldest licensed wine bar in New South Wales has been through its ups and downs but remains a convivial spot for a drink and often hosts top-line acts like James Reyne on weekend evenings. The wine list focuses on local bottlings.

30 Market Street, Mudgee
Ph (02) 6372 1222

 

Stop 7 – Dinner at Rajarani Indian Restaurant

Ethnic restaurants in small country towns can be problematic but this casual Indian eatery is reliably good and earns a rating in the Sydney Morning Herald Good Food Guide. It has a wide range of vegetarian dishes and also offers takeaways.

Open: Lunch Thursday-Friday noon-2pm. Dinner Tuesday-Sunday from 6pm
75 Church Street, Mudgee
Ph (02) 6372 3968

 

Stop 8 – Overnight at Rosby Guesthouse

Mudgee has a new vineyard retreat with the recent opening of Rosby Guesthouse; a luxurious homestead 10 minutes from town with vineyard views. Four king-size rooms with private en suite bathrooms and verandahs lead into large living areas while original artworks decorate the walls. Bespoke breakfast trays feature local sourdough and fine teas; and guests are offered complimentary wine from the award-winning Rosby estate. Rooms are decorated with Turkish rugs and Moroccan artefacts while there are also luxury bathroom products, high-quality cotton linen, an open fireplace and fluffy bathrobes. Attractions include personal wine-tastings in the nearby mud-brick cellar; artist workshops and custom picnic baskets.

Open: Daily
Strikes Lane, Mudgee
Ph (02) 6373 3856

 

Don’t miss:

  • The Logan cellar door is one of the best in the region with something at all price points – and great views
  • The MudFest short film festival held each March at a local vineyard; previously at Elliot Rocke, now at Bunnamagoo
  • The stylish modern Australian cuisine at Sajo’s Restaurant and Lounge Bar on Church Street
  • Trying some local cheeses at the High Valley Wine and Cheese Company
  • Dishes inspired by Australian bush tucker and paired with cider, beer or wine at The Cider House cafe and restaurant
  • A bite to eat at the new Wild Oats Pavilion Cafe at the Robert Oatley Cellar door, open for lunch Friday-Sunday
  • A wine tasting and visit to the fascinating motorcycle museum at Robert Stein Winery
  • A schooner in a country-style pub like the Oriental Hotel or The Waratah or pop into the Mudgee Brewing Company for a freshly brewed beer
  • A trip nearby Gulgong to check out the historic old buildings
  • Trying boutique wines from tiny labels like Mongrel and Queen’s Pinch

 

Regions

  • Explorer Country (NSW)
  • Mudgee (NSW)

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July 04th, 2011
 
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