The verdict is in. Recent research from Roy Morgan shows that the nation’s favourite alcoholic beverage is wine.
Despite a strong sports and drinking culture in Australia that champions beer, in any given four week period, 45.1% of Australian adults drank wine as opposed to 37.6% of adults who drank the ol’ ale. While Australian women preferred white wine, the men much preferred red and both sexes overwhelmingly enjoy it at home.
*Data from Roy Morgan
From the stats is looks like men prefer reds and women whites, but when it comes to wine, are you just playing it safe and sticking to wines you know? Could there be something more ‘you’ out there that you just haven’t tried yet? Why not gather some friends, take a road trip out to the vineyards and find your true self on the wine trails of New South Wales?
Head over to the Hunter Valley
The temperate climate of the Hunter Valley wine region, a ninety-minute drive north from Sydney, produces the best Semillon in the country. Australia’s oldest wine region yields a dry style Semillon ranging in taste from crisp lemon acidity to richer, fuller flavoured styles with toasty, honeyed characteristics depending entirely on the vineyard.
If you’re looking to quaff the region’s finest drop, head to the Brokenwood Winery, awarded the best Semillon of 2016 by James Halliday. Other notable wineries to visit for Semillon include Mount Pleasant, Bimbadgen Estate, McLeish Estate.
If you’d like to match your Semillon with the Hunter Valley’s best local produce, the annual Lovedale Long Lunch is one of the region’s premier events.
Once you’ve quenched your thirst, meander through some of the region’s historic towns such as Morpeth. Heritage listed with beautifully preserved cobbled laneways and sandstone buildings from the 1800s, you’ll also find the original Arnott’s biscuit bake house, alongside antique shops, boutiques and cafes. Other pretty towns to visit in the region include Singleton, Denman and Scone, the horse capital of Australia, famous for its numerous equine festivals and racing meets throughout the year.
The Rivierina Wine region could be for you
Do you like a full-bodied, rich chardonnay with subtle hints of oak and buttery mouth-feel? If this sounds to your taste, the Riverina wine region is for you. Centred on Griffith and situated on the banks of the Murrumbidgee River, the region is the largest wine producer in New South Wales and is especially well known for its sweeter varietals. The European heritage of the Riverina is unique from other regions with many third or fourth-generation Italian migrant family-owned wineries still operating today. The best local wineries to hunt down your favourite bottle of chardonnay include De Bortoli, Casella, Calabria Family Wines and Lilly Pilly Winery.
It goes without saying that food and wine go hand in hand in the Riverina and visitors flock to the region for its regular culinary events such as the La Festa Festival in Griffith.
Get a taste for the festival below:
If you’d like to take some time out after your cheese and wine flights, try the Barmedman Mineral Pool to relax and recharge before the next round of wining and dining.
Credit: Ben Janeczko; Detination NSW
Mosey over to Mudgee
Located approximately 300km west of Sydney in the NSW Central Ranges, the vineyards of the Mudgee wine region produce a style of Shiraz that is medium to full-bodied with plum, berry and spice flavours with a soft texture and a long finish. The temperate climate and slow ripening grapes result in a savoury depth and intensity of Shiraz not experienced in other wine regions. The best wineries to try here for your deep reds are Huntington Estate, Robert Oatley Vineyards, and the architecturally stunning Logan’s Winery where you can enjoy a glass of wine as well as the incredible view over rolling countryside.
The town of Mudgee is also a gastronomic destination in its own right, with a bustling café culture, cosy wine bars and craft beer and cider rooms as well as regular farmer’s markets showcasing local cheese, olive oil, hazelnuts and honey. The highlight of the year is the month-long Mudgee Food and Wine Festival that takes place in September each year. Nearby, the town of Orange and surrounds is home to over forty wineries of equal quality and is especially stunning for its autumn colours. Otherwise, you could always leave town altogether, pack a picnic and take in the scenery and wildlife at Capertree National Park.
Credit: Don Fuchs; Destination NSW
Treck to Tumbarumba
Do you prefer your reds a bit on the lighter side? The cool climate pinot noir produced in the Tumbarumba wine region, Australia’s coldest, at the foot of the Snowy Mountains is a fruiter and lighter alternative with hints of cherry, raspberry and plum. Try Courabyra Wines and Coppabella to taste the best pinot noir in this region.
This wild alpine region is also made for adventure sports and getting amongst nature. Go hiking, bike riding, fishing and horse riding against a backdrop of mountains, forest and pristine rivers. Enjoy some excellent local high- altitude produce of Batlow apples, blueberries and yellow-box honey or try some goat’s cheese from the Hobbitt Goat Farm, Australia’s highest dairy. In the winter, take the skis or snowboard to nearby premier ski resort of Perisher Valley and stay close by in Jinabyne
Credit: Lawrence Furzey; Destination NSW
Order yours from Orange
The Orange wine region, in the Central NSW Tablelands, shares climatically similar conditions with Bordeaux in France so, oui! It’s no wonder that the region produces excellent Sauvignon Blanc, true to its French heritage. The cool climate and high altitude of the vines produce Sauvignon Blanc with a crisp, fresh herbaceous character and is a perfect pairing with soft French-style cheese. Great wineries to try with outstanding Sauvignon Blanc varietals include Angullong, Brangayne, De Sallis Wines and Brokenwood Forest Edge Vineyard.
Nearby, at Canowindra you can grab a birds eye view of the region from a hot air balloon or go hiking up Mt Canobolas, an extinct volcano that last erupted 11-13 million years ago.
Head to Hastings
Do you sit on the fence when it comes to choosing between red and white? The softly textured and well-rounded merlot of the Hastings wine region is a great red wine for white wine drinkers who lean towards the darker side of their wine sipping. This sub-tropical region in the state’s north is fanned by fresh sea breezes and surrounded by lush hinterland and is very easy to drive around. Many of the vineyards also offer both a cellar door and dining experience to satisfy in between visits.
Beautiful wineries showcasing the best of local merlots include Cassegrain Winery, Douglas Vale and Sherwood Estate. While in the region, pick up some macadamia nuts or local avocado or come back for the two biggest food and wine festivals of the year, Tastings on Hastings and Oysters in the Vines. You can also visit the popular coastal holiday town of Port Macquarie, a 20 minute drive from the Hastings River, for some beach time or head to the Willi Willi National Park for the beautiful rainforest walk that finishes with a spectacular waterfall.
Shimmy over to the Southern Highlands
The cool climate of the Southern Highlands produces an exceptional Sparkling from Pinot Noir Chardonnay and Blanc de Blanc grapes that is subtle and elegant in flavour with excellent fruit characters and a clean finish. Head to Tertini and Centennial Wines to sample the best of the region’s sparkling.
The region’s towns of Bowral, Moss Vale, Berrima and Mittagong are steeped in local history. Bowral is home to the Empire Cinema, Australia’s oldest commercial cinema operating since 1915, and host of the Bowral Tulip Festival each year in spring.
Nearby in Berrima, you’ll find the country’s best-preserved examples of Georgian Village sandstone homes built in the 1800s, Australia’s oldest licenced pub, The Survey General Inn, as well as art galleries, antiques shops, restaurants and the historical Harpers Mansion and Hedge Maze.
Hike over to Hill Tops
Do you like your red wine big and bold, the kind that tops off a juicy steak or a comforting bowl of spaghetti bolognaise, the kind that sloshes generously around your glass while you sip in front of a roaring fire? If this is how you like your glass of red, the dry and elegant medium to full-bodied cabernet Sauvignon of the Hill Tops wine region is for you. One of the smallest wine regions in NSW but no less of quality and flavour, the high altitude vines combined with a long summer and autumn produce robust and intense wine varietals. Try Chalkers Crossing winery and Grove Estate for the best Cabernet sauvignon on offer.
Nearby, Young, the ‘cherry capital of Australia’, hosts the natural cherry festival in December each year and you may also pick your own from various farms around the area. Over in Boorowra, the town hosts a unique festival – The Irish Wool Festival and their version of the Running of bulls – the running of the sheep, much safer than the Spanish version.
New South Wales has such exquisite wine varietals, and there’s certainly fun to be had exploring them all!