New South Wales – Mudgee – taste of the country

MasterChef winner Kate Bracks puts new focus on Mudgee

By Winsor Dobbin
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The spectacular Logan Wines cellar door in Mudgee

The spectacular Logan Wines cellar door in Mudgee

Walking farm tours at Lowe Family Wines in Mudgee
Burnbrae Winemakers Cottage, Mudgee
Mudgee Brewing Company
Mudgee, New South Wales


Mudgee is a country town on the move – particularly when it comes to food and wine. Visitors will find new labels, new cellar doors and restaurants – even a new micro-brewery.

Once home to the Wiradjuri people, who gave it the name “nest in the hill”, the Mudgee region, a 3.5 hour drive west of Sydney, offers a blend of spectacular countryside, rural hospitality and growing sophistication.

There may be good restaurants and an ever expanding number of cellar doors, but the locals are unhurried and there are several welcoming country pubs where you can rub shoulders with the locals.

While there is plenty of history – former gold mining town Gulgong is just down the road - and a wide range of activities available, Lucy White, tourism development manager for Mudgee Region Tourism, says most visitors come for one reason, to sip, slurp and sample the local wines.

Mudgee and surrounds have produced wines for over 150 years – and there are better than 40 cellar doors. Major players include Oatley Wines (Wild Oats and Montrose), Logan Wines, Lowe Family Wines, Andrew Harris, Huntington Estate, Frog Rock, and Robert Stein, while there are dozens of boutique operations including organic producers Thistle Hill and Botobolar along with di Lusso, Cooks Lot, Burnbrae, Elliot Rocke, Farmer’s Daughter, High Valley and Moothi Estate.


Stop 1 – Brunch at The Farmer's Pantry

Georgie and James Caspar produce Ormiston Free-Range Pork products and their concept farm shop encompasses a providore, delicatessen and café. There’s a good range of fresh, cured and smoked meats, local jams and condiments for eating on-site or as tasting platters matched with wines from Burrundulla, whose cellar door is adjacent. Think roast pork, Burrundulla beef steak sandwiches, homemade pies and sausage rolls.

Open: Thursday-Monday from 10am
234 Castlereagh Highway, Mudgee
Phone (02) 6372 9532


Stop 2 – Tasting at Logan Wines

Peter Logan and his team produce outstanding wines using fruit from Orange, Mudgee and other rural regions of New South Wales. The cellar door is one of the most spectacular in the state. The tasting room (which uses Riedel tumblers) has magnificent vineyard views and is the venue for regular dinners and events. Visitors can enjoy a cheese platter while sampling the latest releases.

You must taste: The Logan M Cuvee sparkling wine is outstanding, while the Logan Sauvignon Blanc and Apple Tree Flat Merlot both offer great value.

Open: Daily. 10am-5pm
Castlereagh Highway, Apple Tree Flat
Phone (02) 6373 1333


Stop 3 – Tasting at Frog Rock winery

The Turner family have been growing grapes for over 40 years – and their winery is named for a striking local landmark of frog-shaped granite boulders. Their new cellar door, just five minutes out of town, overlooks spectacular gardens with a lake and picnic areas. There are two public tasting areas and a private tasting room, as well as a local produce store.

You must taste: The pinot gris and rosé are fresh, flavoursome wines.

Open: Daily 10am-5pm
Edgell Lane, Mudgee
Phone (02) 6372 2408


Stop 4 – Lunch at The Butcher Shop Café

Enjoy country flavours at the two branches of the Butcher Shop Café in Mudgee and Gulgong. You’ll find excellent coffees and hearty lunches and both venues are BYO.

Open: Daily. 8am-5pm Monday-Friday,  8am-4pm Saturday-Sunday
49 Church St, Mudgee and 113 Mayne St, Gulgong
Phone Mudgee (02) 6372 7373, Gulgong (02) 6374 2622


Stop 5 – Tasting at Robert Stein wines

With a winegrowing family lineage dating back to 1838, the Stein family produce reds, whites and fortifieds. In addition to wine tasting, the cellar door offers great views, a vintage motorcycle display and an undercover picnic area.

You must taste: The excellent cabernet sauvignon and shiraz and the superb 2009 riesling.

Open: Daily 10am-4.30pm
Pipeclay Lane, Mudgee
Phone (02) 6373 3991


Stop 6 – Go on a regional pub crawl

The Mudgee region has several historic pubs – and a boutique brewery. There are over 20 pubs in town and the nearby hamlets of Rylstone, Hill End and Gulgong. The Mudgee Brewing Company, the town’s first and only brewery, opened a new restaurant and café in May 2009 in a 100-year-old converted wool shed. Highlights on a self-guided pub trail through the region include the 1870s Royal Hotel in Hill End, which dates back to the 1870s gold rush, The Globe Hotel in Rylstone, the Kandos Hotel and the Prince of Wales in Gulgong.

Phone (02) 6372 1020


Stop 7 – Dinner at Sajo’s

A relative newcomer, Sajo’s is both a lounge bar and a restaurant – the perfect spot for a quick drink or a leisurely meal. Located in an old pharmacy building dating back to 1859, it combines heritage with a thoroughly modern ambience. Diners can choose from an a la carte menu or something simpler from the bar menu. Dishes may include the likes of scallop and prawn salad with ginger, soy and sherry or pork loin cutlet with red wine and braised figs, crispy pancetta and melted blue cheese.

Open: From 5pm Wednesdays, from noon Thursday-Friday and from 9am Saturday-Sunday
22 Church Street, Mudgee
Phone (02) 6372 2711


Stop 8 – Overnight at Burnbrae Winemakers Cottage

Mudgee offers a wide range of accommodation options; from the chic Cobb and Co boutique hotel and long-time Bed and Breakfast favourite Wildwood to the stylish The Tannery, but for a true country experience, try the Burnbrae Cottage, which is located eight kilometres out of town in Hill End Road in the Erudgere Valley. It’s within spitting distance of three wineries with the Burnbrae cellar door next door and Thistle Hill just across the road. The two-bedroom cottage is rustic and quite basic, but also charming and comfortable. There’s a well-equipped kitchen, an open fire in winter and veranda for the summer months. The adjacent cellar door is open seven days with some excellent reds from winemaker Frank Newman. Burnbrae also hosts monthly lunches and dinners.

Open: Daily
Hill End Road, Mudgee
Phone (02) 6373 3504


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