Is there anything better than fresh country air, warm hospitality and award-winning wine? Throw in some delicious locally-sourced food and a few friends and you’ve got the perfect recipe for a great weekend away.
I was lucky enough to visit Orange with several food and travel writers to preview the Orange Wine Festival which involved drinking a lot of wine and eating a lot of cheese – tough job, right?
The Orange Wine Festival is now in its 17th year and runs from 14-30 October 2016, featuring over 90 wine and food events hosted by local vineyards, wine bars, whiskey saloons, restaurants and cafes. Highlights include The Finest Drop, a festival party located in a helicopter hangar, the Wine & Food Night Market, showcasing the best wine and food Orange has to offer, The Vino Express, a train departing from Sydney filled with wine tastings and fine dining and Wine in the Vines, an opportunity to dine in the vineyards and taste a selection of fine wines straight from the barrel.
How to get there
By car – Orange is only a 3.5 hour drive from Sydney via the Great Western Highway or the Bells Line of Road, making it the perfect weekend escape.
By train or bus – NSWTrainLink XPT has a direct daily train service to Orange, departing from Central Station which takes under 5 hours. Australia Wide Coaches also has daily bus services operating between Sydney and Orange.
By plane – REX Airlines has several direct flights to Orange per day, which takes between 30-45 minutes.
Where to stay
Orange is filled with a collection of hotels, motels and bed and breakfasts. I stayed in a gorgeous renovated cottage with a garden filled with cherry blossoms. For a full list of accommodation options, check out the Brand Orange website.
Vineyards to discover
Patina Wines – 109 Summerhill Lane, Orange NSW 2800
Patina Wines sits nestled in the slopes of Mt Canobolas, and is headed up by California-born Gerald Naef. His range of wines include Chardonnay, Riesling, Sauvignon Blanc, Rosé (my personal favourite), Pinot Noir and more, and is an excellent example of cool climate winds at their best. Gerald fired up his pizza oven for us which was the perfect accompaniment to our wine tasting.
Stockman’s Ridge Wines – 21 Boree Ln, Lidster NSW 2800
This picturesque vineyard offers stunning views of the Central Ranges and was the perfect setting for our wine tasting. Jonathan Hambrook’s passion for the Orange region and his winery is clearly evident as he leads us on a delicious journey of his range of wines. We finish our tasting with a few fun games including giant jenga – meaning kids big and small can still have a great time!
De Salis Wines – 125 Mount Lofty Rd, Nashdale via Orange NSW 2800
We arrive at De Salis Wines, a vineyard located at an altitude of 1050m, just as the sun starts to set. With their vineyard bathed in a glorious golden light, it was the perfect time to sample their Lofty Cuvee as we watched the sun disappear over the horizon. Charlie and Loretta Svenson, the owners of De Salis, talked us through their range of cool climate winds which are stocked in a range of high end institutions across the country.
See Saw Wines – Annangrove Park, Cargo Rd, Orange NSW 2800
We met with Justin Jarrett of Sea Saw Wines at the organic Balmoral vineyard to sample their new prosecco. Alas we wanted to drink in the vines but the weather had other ideas. However I completely adored their “back up plan” which was in a sheep shed. Corrugated metal contrasted with wattle and other native flowers to make it the perfect setting to enjoy their delicious wine (as well as admire their curious sheep!)
Philip Shaw Wines – 100 Shiralee Rd, Orange NSW 2800
Philip Shaw is somewhat of an institution in Orange, and it was the perfect place to sample their wines and enjoy a long lunch in their new bluestone venue. We met with Dan (Philip’s son) who gave us a behind the scenes tasting experience which included drinking straight from the barrels.
Colmar Estate – 790 Pinnacle Rd, Orange, NSW 2800
Colmar Estate is a 6 hectare vineyard at an altitude of 980 metres, making it one of the highest vineyards in Australia. This unique site has led to it growing high quality wine grapes which in turn, have produced award-winning wines. (Full disclosure, my parent’s own this vineyard. Despite my obvious bias, it is indeed an incredible vineyard!)
Ferment – 87 Hill St, Orange NSW 2800
Want to try the best of Orange’s wines in one place? Look no further than Ferment, Orange’s very own wine centre. They stock a huge array of locally produced wine from the Orange region, which were matched with an impressive range of cheese from the Second Mouse Cheese Co (please try their camembert and Roobie Blue cheeses, they are truly outstanding).
Thank you Orange for a truly amazing weekend away, I can’t wait to come back! Now for all the details:
This year the 2016 Orange Wine Festival will run from the 14th to the 30th of October 2016. For more information and to view the schedule, head on over to the Orange Wine Festival website. Book your tickets now as the signature events are selling out! Highlights include:
Want to experience the amazing array of wine and food Orange has to offer but can’t make it out there? Fear not! Next week, Taste Orange @ Sydney Martin Place will be happening on Thursday 22 and Friday 23 September 2016. There will be over 20 premium wineries, local foodies and tourism providers showcasing their wares right in the heart of Sydney. Entry is free and wine and food will be available for purchase on the night. See you there!
Love Swah visited Orange as a guest of Destination NSW