Being new visitors to the Mudgee region and not really knowing much about the wines produced here, we visited cellar doors that were either recommended to us by friends or offered something a bit different. We've listed our favourites below - check them out next time you're in Mudgee.
Winners of the Best Cellar Door Experience Award in the Gourmet Traveller 2012 Travel Awards and recommended by friends for the amazing views from the cellar door and yummy cheese platter, Logan Wines was at the top of our list of wineries to visit.
Logan is a family owned and operated boutique winery using produce grown in the New South Wales Central Ranges areas of Mudgee and Orange. With three labels to choose from - Logan, Weemala and Apple Tree Flat - you're spoilt for choice. We worked our way through a selection from each label, starting with the bubbly. All the wines we tasted were fantastic and very well priced.
We settled on a bottle of Logan Shiraz to accompany our cheese platter, which we devoured whilst taking in the amazing views offered by the floor to ceiling glass seating area. The showers had cleared and the sun was shining on the ranges - magical. The outdoor seating area looked inviting but we'll have to save that for another day when the weather is a bit warmer - any excuse to come back again.
Another winery recommended by friends. Lowes cellar door is located within the winery itself, where you can enjoy the tasting surrounded by wine barrels and wine making equipment. This gives a sense of being in the centre of the wine making operation and adds to the tasting experience. There is also seating outside with views over the vineyard to the valley below.
Like Logan, Lowes produce a range of wines - Lowe, Tinja and Louee - from grapes grown in the Mudgee and Orange regions. The tasting offered here is a bit different from most cellar doors. Presented as a wine flight, it provides an opportunity to taste the same grape variety from the different ranges so you can compare the terroir, age, etc - great idea Lowes.
We found this tasting experience had the personal touch with the our host sitting down with us and explaining in great detail the structure of the wines and the history of the vineyard, all the while happy to answer questions. It was a relaxing way to have a tasting.
We first dropped in to Blacklea on the way to our accommodation, we were after a bottle of red to have with our dinner. As it was late on in the day we only had time to try their reds before heading off to check in. We made the promise though that we would return the next day to try the whites and their range of olives and olive oils.
Gail and Bernard Blackley planted their first vines in 1996 and are producing wonderful fruity Pinot Noirs and Cabernet Sauvignon, and a lovely peppery Shiraz. As a small producer their wines are often sold out so unfortunately we didn't get to try the Pinot/Shiraz blend or the Rose. With a bottle of the Cabernet Sauvignon under our arm we headed off to our accommodation - it went very well with the pizza we had for dinner that night.
The next day we dropped in to try the whites, the range of infused olive oils and their "best in the world" olives (as proclaimed by Bernard!). We were treated to a tasting of the Verdelho and Semillon, with strict instructions from Bernard on how long to leave the wine on the palate before swallowing. These wines are packed with tropical fruit and lemony flavours. We picked up a bottle of the Semillon - bring on summer.
Next it was the olive and olive oil tasting - you could seriously spend all afternoon at Blacklea tasting their wide range of produce. We were treated to a tasting of the natural olive oil and the basil and roasted garlic infused oils. By using fresh herbs, Bernard and Gail have managed to produce amazing flavoured oils.
With our purchases in hand we wandered off very satisfied, can't wait to try the basil infused oil, perhaps drizzled over some bruschetta.
Robert Stein Winery and Vineyard
Robert Stein started the vineyard in 1976 but the winemaking lineage goes back as far as 1838. Robert's grandson, winemaker Jacob Stein, is carrying on that lineage. Set in a beautiful location, with your eye following the vines up to the mountain range beyond.
The cellar door is housed in a very quaint cottage, with a pot belly fire to keep the room toasty. Outside there is picnic area, small sculpture trail and a motorbike museum - yes you read correctly. That was one of the reasons why we wanted to visit, not that we are particularly into motorbikes but we just thought it made for a interesting visit.
Inside the cellar door we tasted the widest range of varietals so far on our trip. With varieties such as Sangiovese, Gewurztraminer and Riesling. There were too many to work our way through so we had to be selective in our tasting or we would have ended up pickled. The cellar door staff were very friendly and chatty, with a conversation struck up about photography when my camera was spotted.
With the purchase of a bottle of the Sangiovese, we headed off in the direction of the motorbike museum. Great selection of old bikes which have been raced at such legendary bike events like the Isle of Man TT. Loads of photographs and memorabilia to browse through. Definitely worth a visit if you find yourself at Robert Stein.
Have you visited any vineyards in Mudgee? Which are your favourites?