Slowly but surely, things are returning to normal. Kids are back at school, we’re heading back to the office, gyms are reopening, and the local pub is pouring once more.
Each week, we find ourselves one step closer to the holy grail—aka, an overseas holiday. But until the borders open up (and someone, literally anyone, saves Virgin Australia), we’ll have to settle with holiday destinations a little closer to home. Luckily for us, NSW is home to some of the most picturesque and esteemed wineries in the world, so the only decision left is red, or white?
Clocking in at just over a three-and-a-half-hour drive from Sydney, you’ll find the heritage-rich, rural epicentre of Orange. A combo of high altitude, soil, climate, and temperature makes the Orange region ideal for growing grapes. Renowned for their cool climate wines that produce a distinct flavour and colour, you’ll find a host of incredible vineyards and wineries peppering the country roads. Each has their own charm, but if you’re looking for a particularly scenic experience, book a tasting at family owned De Salis Wines, situated a little further off the beaten track. If you want to witness the best sunset of your life from the warmth of a rustic shed, head to Nashdale Lane Cellar Door. Or, if you want to sample some local wines in a more suburban setting, Ferment Wine Centre in the middle of town will sort you out.
If you’ve ever witnessed Question Time in parliament, you’ll understand why Canberra needs wine. Australia’s humble capital city has been stomping grapes for the better part of the last 160 years, but it’s never really made a name for itself in the wine world. That’s a shame, because you’ll find some of the country’s best Shiraz and Shiraz Viogner blends here, as well as a revered Riesling. Helm Wines is an absolute must-visit, where you can sample pioneering winemaker Ken Helm’s delicious drops inside a historic tasting room that was once an old school house. For a tasting with a view, check out Eden Road Wines, set in the picturesque high country of the Canberra wine region. Or, if you want to pass as a local, head to the cellar door at Four Wines Vineyard to sample a range of cool-climate varieties and a slice of wood-fired pizza.
Forget the Italian countryside—the Hunter region, just 3.5 hours’ drive north of Sydney, honestly gives it a run for its money. The insanely beautiful Hunter Valley is not only the oldest wine growing region in Australia, but one of the most prestigious in the world. With over 150 premium wine producers in the area, it’s pretty hard to narrow it down to just a few favourites, so your best bet is to spend a little longer than a weekend here if you want to get a real taste for the place. Still, your trip wouldn’t be complete without a tasting at the stunning Hanging Tree Winery, regarded as one of the most picturesque vineyards in the region, or sample the wares (and cheeseboard!) at the French inspired Krinklewood Vineyard.
Clocking in at less than a two-hour drive, a winter winery experience in the Southern Highlands is the perfect weekend getaway plan—particularly if you enjoy a cheeky Pinot or two. Though the region’s pretty new to growing grapes (most vineyards here are less than 20 years old), cool nights and warm days provide perfect conditions to produce some premium varieties, namely Pinot Noir. At last count, there were 15 or so cellar doors to visit, with many offering delicious food pairings made with fresh local produce. Just off the highway before New Berrima, family owned boutique vineyard Cherry Tree Hill is a must-stop, both for its wines and its pies. For a real rustic and rural highlands experience, check out Artemis Wines, where you can sip on their premium wine, cider, or beer by an open fire.