Mudgee

Best for wine:

Sunday Mail - Travel/Escape - - DISCOVER AUSTRALIA NSW CENTRAL WEST -

Mudgee sits sur­rounded by a ru­ral coun­try­side of slow-munch­ing cat­tle, hop­ping kan­ga­roos and hill­sides con­toured with vine­yards.

Vines have been grown here since the 1840s and Aus­tralia’s first chardon­nay grapes were planted in Mudgee in 1971, yet it has long been over­looked as a wine re­gion. That’s all chang­ing, with main­stream grape va­ri­eties giv­ing way to in­ter­est­ing, alternative va­ri­eties such as san­giovese, bar­bera and petit ver­dot.

At Vinifera Wines (vinifera wines.com.au), Span­ish grapes in­clude tem­pranillo, gar­nacha, gra­ciano and gran tinto.

‘‘ I no­ticed the sim­i­lar­ity of Mudgee’s cli­mate to that of Spain’s Rioja re­gion,’’ owner Tony McK­endry says. ‘‘ I thought, why do the same old thing when some­thing new could be bet­ter?’’

Fur­ther into the coun­try­side at Lowe Wines (lowewine.com.au), zin­fan­del is the alternative of choice, along with cool-cli­mate whites nor­mally as­so­ci­ated with New Zealand.

Mudgee’s cel­lar doors of­fer vis­i­tors more than just sip­ping and spit­ting. Gooree Park Wines (gooreepark.com) hosts wagyu beef bar­be­cues and vis­its to its horse stud.

Oth­ers of­fer cook­ing or art classes, sculp­ture ex­hi­bi­tions, cheese-mak­ing demon­stra­tions, and there’s even a mo­tor­cy­cle mu­seum.

‘‘ With good din­ing, in­creas­ingly lux­ury ac­com­mo­da­tion and plenty to do, Mudgee really is a great get­away,’’ McK­endry says. More: vis­it­mudgeere­gion.com.au Where to eat Lo­cal wine­mak­ers hang out at Roth’s Wine Bar.

There’s a great wine list, live mu­sic in the court­yard, and in­dul­gent gourmet piz­zas and ta­pas. roth­swinebar.com.au

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