4 of the Best Wine Regions in NSW
Home to Australia’s oldest and largest wine regions, New South Wales is a rich tapestry of vineyards dedicated to fine-tuning full-bodied reds, cool-climate whites and just about everything in between. While each of the state’s 16 wine regions is worth extensive investigation, the following deliver a strong foundation on which to build your sommelier-level education.
Clear the boot and take the two-hour drive north of Sydney to the Hunter region, widely celebrated as the birthplace of Australian wine and an exquisite semillon and shiraz stronghold. The region is a vineyard-dotted wonderland punctuated by vibrant hot-air balloons, innovative restaurants and over 150 cellar doors. A gourmet getaway begins by checking into Spicers Vineyards Estate, a luxury retreat of 12 suites set within its own private estate of chardonnay, cabernet sauvignon and merlot grapes. Enjoy a hearty lamb ragu and macadamia affogato at Vines at Hollydene before embarking on an afternoon of wine tastings. Pop in at award-winning De Iuliis for a wine flight of their small-batch, handcrafted wines (or lock in a winery tour experience), then drop in at Mount Pleasant Wines to nab a bottle or two of their famous Maurice O’Shea shiraz. Want to mix it up? Award-winning brewery 4 Pines at the Farm and Hunter Distillery, which offers “test-tube” tastings of its unique range of spirits, are located just around the corner.
The Riverina is not only the largest wine-producing region in the state, but it’s also the home of the aromatic botrytis semillon. Located in the south west of NSW – around four hours, 30 minutes drive from Sydney – it’s widely recognised as the country’s food bowl with charming riverside villages teeming with farm gates, restaurants and vineyards. Clear the schedule for tastings at family owned wineries such as Borambola Wines in the Gundagai growing region and Calabria Family Wines in Griffith, which specialises in alternative wine styles such as montepulciano and sangiovese. When it comes time to eat, enjoy a farm-to-fork approach to local produce, followed by an immersive farm tour, at Piccolo Family Farm. Ask the team at Bella Vita Tours to create a personalised Riverina itinerary for you and don’t forget to tack on a stay in a Premium King Room at Griffith’s modern contemporary Gem Hotel.
Located in the Central Tablelands region, four hours west of Sydney, Orange is home to more than 60 vineyards, many of them focused on showcasing the legendary chardonnay and pinot noir. To best get a handle on the offerings of the region, check in at the centrally located de Russie Boutique Hotel and lock in a Country Food Trails tour, an experience that promises to immerse guests in a world rich with independent vineyards, local providores and family farms. A meal at The Union Bank has long been considered a must-do while in town: be sure to order the sirloin and sample some local drops. That is, if you’re not already compelled to go wine tasting at Ross Hill Wines and See Saw Wine, the latter noted for its focus on sustainability.
Famous for its cherry orchards and lush, undulating hills, Hilltops is quickly emerging as one of the country’s most exciting wine regions. Once lauded as a cabernet sauvignon and shiraz mainstay, the region – situated four hours south-west of Sydney – is seeing local wineries increasingly turn their attention to Italian varieties such as nebbiolo, prosecco and sangiovese. Play the role of impartial judge by taste-testing at Grove Estate, Moppity Vineyards and Ballinaclash where you can also pick your own cherries in November and December. Stone fruit picking opportunities are available around the region but if you’d prefer your food comes direct to you book a table at The Cranfield, a new restaurant/wine bar/providore in Young that features a changing weekly menu created to hero local produce. A stay at The Sir George, a boutique property which gives you a choice between heritage-listed stables or a reimagined barn, completes the ultimate getaway.