Orange, a 3.5 hours drive west of Sydney, is a cool climate wine region, rising 600m and more above sea level in the Great Dividing Range. It’s best known for shiraz, cabernet sauvignon, chardonnay and sauvignon blanc.
It’s also a pretty regional city where the Orange Wine Festival kicks off today, running for the next fortnight until October 30.
Now in its 17th year, the 2016 festival features 90-plus satellite wine and food events hosted by local vineyards, cellar doors, wine bars, whiskey saloons, restaurants and cafes.
There’s a wine and food night market next Friday, October 21, and if you don’t feel like driving, the “Vino Express: an all-inclusive weekend away, including 2 nights accomodation, departs Sydney’s Central train station on Friday October 28, returning Sunday, October 30.
Tickets and full festival details are available online here
The great thing about Orange is that many of the region’s 40-odd wineries are open all year around, so if you can’t make it this month, here are seven wineries well worth visiting.
It’s 31 years since local pioneers Rhonda and Stephen Doyle produced their first vintage of merlot noir, having first planted vines in the region in 1983. They’re fine hosts, and Stephen’s sense of humour is apparent in their sparkling wine first produced when the French were testing nuclear weapons testing at Mururoa atoll. It’s called Chirac because it’s “the biggest Fizz in the Pacific”.
One of Australia’s most celebrated winemakers, Philip Shaw has twice been awarded International Winemaker of the Year (1986 and 2000). He established his own vineyard in Orange in 1989 after searching Australia for the best site in an emerging wine-growing region to make exceptional wines with flavour and finesse.
Australia’s only certified carbon neutral winery, with a high quality range of cool climate wines. The modern winery occupies an old apple packing shed; this is a must-visit cellar door.
Terry and Julie Dolle run this small winery. Good range of wines including an excellent Viognier (97 points, James Halliday).
A renovated shearing shed provides the setting for a terrific tasting – this is the latest charming cellar door to open in Orange, with sophisticated wines being made from a reinvigorated vineyard.
Slow Wine Co
With a cellar door in historic Millthorpe, the Slow Wine Co. recently rebranded from its former Bantry Grove label to reflect more on the vineyard’s philosophy of small lot selection, hand-picking, native yeasts and slow maturation. This approach takes time, but the result is wines perfect for those moments of appreciation and reflection.
One of the latest cellar doors to spring up in Orange, it’s already streaking ahead with its wines. Former winemaker for Brokenwood, PJ Charteris is Rowlee’s consulting winemaker, and the cool climate results are speaking for themselves. Produces arneis and nebbiolo, both cool climate Italian varieties hailing originally from northern Italy.
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