Although New South Wales is the second largest wine-producing state in Australia, it’s the number one when it comes to wine consumption.
It’s also the most popular state to visit from foreign travellers, as there are 14 wine regions within New South Wales; most of them are to the south and east, as these areas are the most favorable grape growing conditions.
Whether it’s a spicy Shiraz or a cool Sauvignon Blanc you are after, here are some tips to planning the perfect NSW wine trip.
Hunter Valley – Famous, and Close to Sydney
Hunter Valley is Australia’s most famous wine growing region, and the oldest; vines were planted here in the 1820s.
The two grapes most well-known from this region are Semillon and Shriaz, though many of the picturesque wineries here offer a robust selection of wines.
There are quite a few wine tours (such as this one) that depart from Sydney, if you aren’t up for the drive.
Once here, there are few large chain hotels; the bulk of the accommodation is boutique hotels and B&Bs; try basing yourself in Pokolbin, Wollombi, or Lovedale for the best selection, plus amenities and quick access to the wine trail.
Orange – Cool, and for the Foodies
Orange has earned the distinction of Australia’s “most exciting new wine regions” and the label is not just marketing talk.
With the higher altitude here in Orange, the wines have a fine nuance, and Orange’s signature grape, Sauvignon Blanc, has been perfected since the first vines were planted here in the 1980s.
Orange is also well-known with the food crowd, and you’ll have plenty of occasions to visit here: there is the Slow Summer Festival (Feb), the Orange Food Week (Apr), the Frost Festival (Aug), and the best of the bunch, Orange Wine Week (Oct).
For accommodation, you may find the surplus of serviced apartments, complete with their own kitchen, to be right up your alley.
Southern Highlands – For the Pinot
Another cooler region near the coast, the Southern Highlands has been racking up the awards for its popular Pinot Noir, which seems to just get better and better every year.
With over 60 wineries and 15 open cellar doors, there’s plenty to taste – consider following the official wine trail centered around Mittagong, Bowral, Berrima, and Moss Vale; quite a few escorted tours leave from Mittagong, allowing you to sip and sample in comfort and without having to worry about the drive back to your rustic hotel.
When to Go?
All four seasons are a great time to visit Australian wine country. Summer can be particularly hot, especially in warmer regions like the Hunter Valley – so hydrate.
Harvest starts around January and continues through March – this is an exciting time to be in the region, but it also may mean some tasting rooms are closed as all staff are working on the production lines!
Autumn is particularly picturesque, as the leaves change color; that’s a great time for the photography buffs to get a few great snaps.
Winter can be chilly at night but it’s often a cosy time to explore the vineyards, as tourism can be a bit slower.
And then comes Spring, where many regions have their own flower festivals in August and September – the perfect time for sipping wines throughout the afternoon while listening to the local musicians practice their trade.
This post was written and brought to you by Britz Australia. Learn more about a campervan holiday with Britz today.
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Planning a trip? Go Backpacking recommends:
- G Adventures for small group tours.
- World Nomads for travel insurance.
- Hostelworld for booking hostels.
- Rail Europe for train passes.
Thursday 25th of July 2013
I have been spoilt - living only 1 hour door to cellar door to the Hunter! They do have some spectacular wines. One of my favourite things when I did my own self guided trips (of which there were many) was to pick up some cheese, baguette and olives from the Hunter Valley Cheese Company! Makes for a delicious snack and needless to say, there is an abundance of wine around for a wine and cheese picnic! Have had Mudgee Reds but Orange is a region I have yet to sample. No longer living in Australia but planning a return trip!
Saturday 27th of July 2013
Cool, thanks for sharing your experience. I wish I'd had more time to visit some wineries during my trip to Australia in 2008.