When I went to Mudgee, it happened to be one of the hottest damn weekends in recent history. Just my luck! But despite the hectic hot winds making us sticky with sweat, Mudgee brought the goods. I can’t wait to go back!
A brief history
Mudgee’s viticultural history dates back to 1858, with its wine backbone being robust shiraz, bold cabernet a big, buttery chardonnay. These days you’ll find thoroughly modern Aussie winemaking and contemporary cellar doors dotted around a town that’s brimming with historical charm.
Fun fact: The name Mudgee is derived from the Wiradjuri term Moothi, meaning ‘Nest in the Hills’.
Did you know? There are over 40 family-owned cellar doors in Mudgee.
Mudgee is 268km north-west of the city, translating to around 3.5 hours’ drive through the Blue Mountains. Alternatively you can take the Bells Line of Road, which is a bit more scenic. If you go via Rylestone like we did (I definitely recommend!) then you’ll add a bit more time. But I think it’s worth it.
You can also fly into Mudgee (from Sydney it’s a 45min journey) and train & coach services also exist. For more information, check out Visit Mudgee Region.
Where we stayed
As you might imagine, there is a fair bit of winery accommodation available in Mudgee, but we chose a cute little Air Bnb right in town for our 2 nights. If we were staying longer, I would have looked into winery accommodation for a couple of nights. But we wanted to be able to walk into town for dinner.
I actually won a 2-night stay at Odd Frog Lodges, which I have booked for a weekend in September! So I’ll be doing another Mudgee write-up and will include Odd Frog in the accommodation.
My brother recently went to Mudgee on my recommendation, and he glamped at Glenayr Farm and said it was absolutely amazing. These guys are on my bucketlist for sure.
Below is my itinerary for our 2-night weekend in Mudgee. You’ll read about the places we discovered, including wineries, restaurants and shops.
Top tip: If you’re visiting mid-week, you can probably get away with not booking your tastings in. But that would give me anxiety, so I booked ahead where I could! Also, there are quite a few places that aren’t open Monday & Tuesday, so plan ahead to avoid missing out on your top choices.
Stop 1: Rylstone
If you can, make time to stop here on your way to or from Mudgee. It’s a gorgeously rustic little country town with loads of charm and lots to discover. Settled in the 1820’s, Rylsestone is one of the oldest settlements west of the Great Dividing Range. Definitely take some time to wander the streets and take in some of its beautiful historical buildings.
We were planning on grabbing a bite at our first winery of the weekend, but if we weren’t, we would have gone to 29 Nine 99 Yum Cha + Tea House. Apparently it’s phenomenal, serving what many people told us are ‘THE BEST DUMPLINGS EVER!’. I’ll be sure to stop there on my way through in September.
For those who love gorgeous homewares, make sure you pop into Folkologie. You’ll find a bit of everything, from furniture and candles, to skin care and yummy local delicacies. I’m not going to reveal how much money I spent in here…
Now, onto the wineries!
Stop 2: De Beaurepaire Wines
This estate is on the route through Rylestone, and it’s off the beaten track. You’ll think you’re on a road to nowhere when you make the turn off, but trust me – keep driving and you’ll be rewarded. At De Beaurepaire, you’ll get “a taste of France in Australia”, meaning if you like French-style wines you’ll love this hidden gem.
There’s a lot to learn here if you’re interested in taking the time, and there’s an experience that caters to just about everyone. There are mini wine masterclasses, more detailed masterclasses, guided vineyard walks & tastings, flights, wines by the glass and ‘build your own’ picnics. To read more about their experiences, click here. Bookings highly recommended!
Sascha: A Series
If you’re lucky enough you’ll meet two gorgeous wine dogs, Sascha & Scotch (not pictured). They’ll be your best friends if you go for the picnic option! De Beaurepaire is a stunning spot for a picnic and a glass of French-style Aussie wine.
My wine pick: Rylstone Estate Match Point Rosé – rose petal and cherry on the nose, with a dry palate. There’s a gorgeous lick of acidity and a hint of strawberry sweetness. Yum!
Stop 3: Baker Williams Distillery
Here you’ll find a range of gins and liqueurs if you’re needing something other than wine (whatever that means!). It’s a funny little tasting room that’s round the back in a shed right next to Vinifera Wines.
It was relatively busy when we were there, not to mention just a little warm in the shed in the 40-degree heat. The tasting experience wasn’t amazing, probably because it was so busy, and priority was given to larger groups. But the products are great. The liqueurs especially are delicious.
For coffee lovers, go for the Café Liqueur. If you’re a citrus nut, the Orangcello is for you.
My pick: The Rouge Vert Jus – made from Cabernet grapes, it’s a delightfully sweet tipple that would be a dream with gin, soda & a sprig of mint. I also came away with a bottle of the Lemon Myrtle Liqueur for my mum, who LOVES it.
Stop 4: Check into our cute little Air Bnb
Such a cute cottage, and a great location for walking into town for dinner. The hosts were friendly and super accommodating, and there was even a bottle of local wine & some local cheese waiting for us when we arrived. The walls in the cosy lounge room were covered in books, and I could have spent hours browsing all the titles. But alas, we had wine to drink & food to eat!
Here’s the link if you’d like to check it out for yourselves: https://www.airbnb.com.au/rooms/17548533
Stop 5: Roth’s Wine Bar
When looking for a place for dinner in town, so many people recommended Roth’s. It’s been licensed as a wine bar sine 1932, making it a significant part of Mudgee’s history. Prior to 1932, Roth’s was a general store that supplied ‘under the counter’ tipples to thirsty farmers.
Music is part of the fabric at Roth’s, and usually you can find live music on Friday & Saturday nights (although this has been a little touch and go during covid).
The menu is seasonal and uses local produce where possible. The thing we were told to go for was the woodfired pizzas, and we weren’t disappointed.
You’ll also find over 100 wines to choose from at Roth’s, available to drink with your meal or take home to enjoy. The wine list changes fortnightly to showcase a selection of central ranges wines.
My wine pick: If it’s on the menu and you’re in the mood for a rosé, we had a gorgeous local drop from Skimstone – made with sangiovese grapes, there was mouthwatering fruit like rhubarb and raspberry, with a herby finish.
Today’s our wine day! I’d done a lot of research ahead of time about whether we should try and book a set wine tour or see if we could find a driver for the day. We opted for the latter. Being a slight control freak, I really love to be able to have the final say on which wineries we go to, especially since I would have done loads of research ahead of time, or even just have one or two places I know I really want to visit.
We ended up finding a fantastic driver through Airtasker! He was an absolute gem, and I would recommend him to anyone who was wanting a driver for the day. In fact, he ended up taking my brother and his girlfriend around when they visited, and they raved about his service.
If you’d like me to pass on his details to you for your Mudgee trip, flick me an email or DM on Insta and I can put you in touch with him.
Stop 1: Lowe Family Wine Co.
This has got to be one of the best experiences in Mudgee. Stunning wines, gorgeous estate, beautiful wine dog, fantastic service – can’t really get much better than that!
I was fortunate enough to sit down and have a chat with CEO & chief winemaker David Lowe when we visited cellar door. Check out the full interview here.
The story of Lowe Family Wine Co. is an unusual one, in that David doesn’t come from a wine family. He inherited the land and transformed it from farming paddocks to fields of vines. It’s certified organic and biodynamic, and David is proud as hell of that. His wife Kim Currie is Director & Executive Chef of The Zin House, the onsite restaurant. I didn’t eat there this time around, but make no mistake – I’ll be heading there next time I’m in the area.
The philosophy here is slow batch slow winemaking, and you can undoubtedly taste that in the glass. Definitely go for a Tasting Experience – it’s the best way to learn about the estate, their practices and the wines. Bookings required. If that’s not your thing, you can turn up and make your own platter from the food store (local cheeses, meats, drips etc.), grab a glass and find a spot on the lawn.
Either way, make sure you give yourself enough time to wander the gorgeous grounds that surround the cellar door. You might even meet some of the farm folk along the way. Trust me, there are so many spots for a good Insta shot!
My wine pick: This is a tough one, and I’m not ashamed to admit I came home with quite a few bottles from here. But if I had to choose one, it would be the Lowe Pinot Noir – woody & earthy, but still juicy and full of red fruits.
Stop 2: Cellar by Gilbert
This is a stylish venue with a nice vibe and quaffable wines! It’s reminiscent of a wine bar, with plenty of seating and big windows to let in lots of light. Delightful! They offer 2 tasting flights: their Small Batch and their Gilbert Range. We did one of each and shared so we could try all the wines.
The winemaking team is a father & son situation. Gilbert Senior (Simon) is a fifth-generation winemaker, and he has passed on his knowledge, expertise and passion for the industry to his son, Will.
Like many wineries in this region, Cellar by Gilbert source grapes from Orange and Eden Valley as well as Mudgee. The wines were delicious, and I particularly liked being able to try the 2015 & 2017 Gilbert + Gilbert Riesling side by side.
A nice perk of coming to Cellar by Gilbert? High Valley Mudgee Cheese Co. is literally right next door – you don’t even need to drive! I highly recommend popping for a complimentary cheese tasting. I grabbed 2 jars of the outstanding feta, one basil and one tomato.
My wine pick: To everyone’s surprise, I ended up buying a bottle of the chardonnay! Made with grapes from Orange, it was flinty, florally and fresh, and actually delicious.
Stop 3: Di Lusso Estate
Unfortunately, I think of all the places we visited this weekend, Di Lusso was the most disappointing. I’d heard such good things, and as a lover of Aussie-grown Italian varietals, I couldn’t wait to try. Their website says they have over 15 Italian varietals and blends to try and buy, but on the day we were there they’d run out of most of the wines so we couldn’t do a tasting. I understand that these things can be unavoidable and maybe unpredictable, but seeing as I had booked ahead, I would have appreciated a phone call to let us know that we wouldn’t be able to do a tasting. We might have been able to change our plans and go to another winery.
We were able to grab a glass to have with lunch, but that was all we got to taste. We ordered the Nonna’s Antipasto Italiano pizza for lunch that was admittedly delicious, and I had a glass of the arneis, which was tasty.
The service was pretty terrible… we waited a long time to order, and a long time for the food. All round it just wasn’t a pleasant experience. If I wasn’t so interested in Italian grapes, I wouldn’t bother going back. But I’ll call ahead next time I’m in the area and ask if they’ve got wines available to taste before I go.
My pick: The gorgeous wine dog!
Stop 4: Moothi Estate
Go to Moothi for the views, stay for the tasty wines. If it wasn’t so windy, we definitely would have sat on the deck and enjoyed the gorgeous vistas out over Mudgee and her vines.
As stated earlier, the name ‘Moothi’ comes from the Wiradjuri language meaning ‘nest in the hills’. Appropriate! The vineyards were originally planted with shiraz, cabernet sauvignon, merlot and chardonnay but the range has since been expanded to include pinot grigio, riesling, semillon and viognier.
The self-guided tasting flight we did included semillon, verdelho, rosé, merlot & fortified shiraz. The wine selection at the moment is limited because of smoke taint in 2020 that affected harvest. All the more reason to go and support this great cellar door.
There’s also an onsite kitchen that offers a range of food showcasing superb locally grown and sourced delicacies. You can also buy produce to take home with you, including pickles relish, sauces and honey.
My pick: The Guest Verdelho – a beautifully fragrant white with passionfruit, lychee and spice undertones.
Stop 5: Logan Wines
This is somewhere you’ll want to stay for a while, so make sure you give yourself plenty of time here. Logan’s award-winning tasting room is sleek and modern, with huge windows that make the most of the view. There’s also a beautiful big deck that’s perfect for posing on, glass in hand of course.
I highly recommend grabbing one of their cheese platters, too. It’s full of yummy local produce to munch on while you taste the wines.
Speaking of wines… there are a selection of tasting flights to choose from, meaning there’s something to suit everyone. They’re all $10pp, and you get a glass of bubbles to begin with no matter which flight you choose. There’s the Adventure, the Heroes, the Whites and the Reds. You can pay an extra $10pp and add some museum & flagship wines to your experience.
As with Cellar by Gilbert, we decided on 2 different flights to try as many wines as possible. Both the Adventure & Heroes flights are a mix of reds and whites, and the Heroes one has a rosé as well.
My pick: Clementine Pinot Gris – absolutely mouthwatering and succulent, with rich citrus and grapefruit. It was a dream with the cheese platter.
Well, we were so full from our day that we didn’t go out for dinner in Mudgee. But we did nibble on the cheese at our Air Bnb and sipped on the bottle that was given to us – a crisp and refreshing riesling from Rosby Wines. It was a fantastic end to a long, hot day at the wineries.
Stop 1: Alby & Esther’s
The most delicious breakfast and beautiful courtyard setup! Definitely pop this spot on your list for brekky. Alby & Esther’s say they’re a coffee house and wine bar, but because of covid the wine bar part isn’t operating. You can make a reservation after 12pm, but for breakfast it’s walk-ins only.
The menu heroes regional produce, and all the food is as fresh as it gets. I couldn’t go past the Bruschetta – it was the high valley pesto feta that got me. We’d tried it the day before and couldn’t get enough.
For coffee lovers, this is the spot. Great fuel for us for the drive home.
Stop 2: Whatever
No, I’m not being rude… this is the name of a shop in Mudgee. We couldn’t leave without doing a spot of shopping! There are lots of gorgeous boutique shops to discover in town, and Whatever is one of them. Also make sure you wander down the Town Hall Arcade (right near Alby & Esther’s) – it has some beautiful little shops.
Stop 3: Home!
So have I inspired you to visit this awesome little NSW wine region?
For some great info before you go, you can check out an online version of the Mudgee Magazine here. It’s got maps, self-guided walking tours, information about historical buildings, and plenty to read about the town centre and surrounding localities.
Honestly, a weekend in Mudgee isn’t enough. I’m glad I’m going back soon! Have you been to Mudgee? What should be on my list for next time? Share with me below, or reach out to me via email or Instagram!
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