Once a swathe of apple and stone fruit orchards, Orange – a four-hour drive north-west of Sydney and home to more than 40,000 people – has become a major player in Australia’s wine industry. The relatively modern viticulture scene, established in the 1980s and led by environmentally aware and often family-run operations, has bloomed into more than 60 vineyards with around 40 cellar doors.
Situated 600 metres above sea level, Orange’s high altitude and the mineral-rich soils of extinct volcano Mount Canobolas make it an ideal grape-growing region where world-class cool-climate drops abound, from chardonnay and pinot noir to pinot gris, shiraz and more.
How to Get Around Orange’s Wineries
If you’re exploring by car, there are plenty of wine drives to embark on. The Mountain Trail is just 10 minutes out of town and takes in prominent vineyards like Philip Shaw as well as farm gates and views of Lake Canobolas. Further afield, the Eastern Heritage Trail winds its way through the hills to the historic village of Millthorpe.
Don’t have a designated driver? Country Food Trails runs private excursions for two to 11 people with winery stops tailored to your tastes. They’ll provide transport and a friendly local guide with a wealth of industry experience. For something a little more luxe, Winery Experiences Orange offers helicopter tours that include a flight over Mount Canobolas, tastings at three cellar doors, a scenic stop for lunch and hotel transfers. Or, cruise between vineyards with a Captain Barnacles motorcycle and sidecar tour – there’s room for two passengers aboard the Harley Davidson Road King Classic.
The 10 Wineries You Must Visit in Orange
Set on eight hectares in the verdant foothills of Mount Canobolas, this family-run vineyard specialises in small-batch chardonnay, pinot gris and niche Italian varietals such as arneis and nebbiolo. Book a tasting, a picnic hamper brimming with local produce or, better yet, a weekend at Rowlee Vineyard Villa – a historic homestead surrounded by charming gardens.
19 Lake Canobolas Road, Nashdale; (02) 6365 3047
Ross Hill became Australia’s first certified carbon-neutral winery in 2016. Renowned for Bordeaux blends, chardonnay and more – this is the house wine for restaurants like Sydney’s Catalina and the Fratelli Fresh group – the cellar door also hosts a cooking school run by chef Michael Manners.
134 Wallace Lane, Orange; (02) 6365 3223
This family-friendly spot was once part of the region’s largest cattle stations and is still home to a small herd of alpacas, shaggy highland cows and a petting zoo. Run out of a 100-year-old woolshed, the roomy cellar door serves up award-winning drops like the spicy shiraz. Explore the property by buggy with a guided tour and roaming tasting.
1034 The Escort Way, Borenore; (02) 6365 2275
A 10-minute drive out of town, Nashdale Lane’s sustainably produced wines range from playful, entry-level rosé to the full-bodied Legacy tempranillo. It’s also one of the region's best glamping spots, where you can sleep among the vines in one of two luxe tents equipped with a four-poster bed, a lounge area and a fireplace.
125 Nashdale Lane, Nashdale; 0458 127 333
The brothers behind Printhie Wines have built a following for their award-winning line of Swift méthode traditionnelle sparklings. Take your tasting up a notch with the helicopter tour that includes a scenic flight, behind-the-scenes access to the winery, a three-course alfresco lunch and transfers to your accommodation. Planning a daytrip instead? Swing by the winery’s new cellar door for a five-course degustation where you’ll slurp oysters plucked straight out of Printhie’s own oyster tank and enjoy smoked quail served with coconut and pear as well as murray cod in beurre blanc.
208 Nancarrow Lane, Nashdale; 0409 645 075
A pioneer of Orange winemaking, this photogenic vineyard is one of the highest and coolest in Australia. Head to the converted bluestone barn to sample local cheese and house-made lavosh alongside bestsellers such as the citrusy riesling. Keep an eye out for seasonal events like long lunches held in the barrel hall.
100 Shiralee Road, Orange; (02) 6362 0710
First planted with shiraz and chardonnay vines in 1995, Swinging Bridge also produces experimental wines like the #006 Tempinot, a highly drinkable blend of tempranillo and pinot noir. As well as hour-long tastings, the multi-generational team hosts live music, stargazing sessions and masterclasses throughout the year.
701 The Escort Way, Orange; 0447 416 295
1000 metres above sea level, De Salis sits on the northern slope of Mt Canobolas with broad views of Orange. The winemaking here is modern, with minimal intervention techniques that result in excellent blanc de blanc and sparkling rosé. There’s a deck overlooking the aptly named ‘Lofty Vineyard’ – the ideal spot for a relaxed afternoon in the sunshine.
125 Mount Lofty Road, Nashdale; 0477 298 984
After transferring management of his eponymous label to his sons, Phillip Shaw started Hoosegg, an eight-bottle series that includes heavy-hitting wines designed to be cellared and crowd-pleasing blends to be enjoyed straight away. A true passion project for Shaw, he picks the grapes himself and hosts tastings by appointment at the small winery that also happens to be his home.
45 Caldwell Lane, Borenore; 0448 983 033
A picturesque spot to sip sauvignon blanc, cherry port or cider, Borrodell’s 54-hectare estate encompasses a vineyard, fruit orchard, truffery and restaurant, plus private suites for couples and three-bedroom cottages. Don’t skip lunch at Sister’s Rock, where the regionally-sourced set menu can be matched with Borrodell wines.
298 Lake Canobolas Road, Orange; (02) 6365 3425
Image credit: Destination NSW