Mudgee is a destination that is quickly gaining popularity as a premier wine region. It is a perfect place for a romantic long weekend getaway, or a fun boozy trip with a group of friends.
It is a manageable 3.5 hour drive from Sydney’s CBD and can easily be added on to a number of NSW road trip routes.
It was our first major stop on a food & wine inspired road trip that would take us from Sydney via the Blue Mountains and onwards to the Hunter Valley after a few days in Mudgee.
We liked Mudgee more than it’s better known neighbour and this post will outline the highlights we found along the way.
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Why Visit Mudgee
Mudgee is less established as a wine region than the more popular Hunter Valley. The majority of vineyards were established in the 70’s & 80’s. Despite the relatively immature vines you will find mudgee wines featuring heavily on wine lists at most Hunter Valley wineries.
So we thought we would just come directly to the source instead.
The region is growing in popularity for both tourists and city residents seeking a permanent tree change. The quality of the local produce, agreeable climate, and picturesque surroundings have turned this small country town into a major regional centre that will continue to thrive in the years ahead.
With Mudgee being less mainstream than the Hunter you will also get a slightly different clientele. This is best summed up in a quote from my sister who’s response when learning of our planned trip was:
“I love Mudgee… 50% less d*ckheads than the Hunter Valley”
Visiting Mudgee Wineries
There are 35 cellar doors in a relatively small area which makes all wineries very accessible and full coverage of the region possible in a few days… If you have the staying power!
We managed to make it to four of them over two days in amongst some other activities. We lost a bit of time due to being generally disorganized and not always booking ahead.
Most full day wine tours will take you to 5-6 different wineries so you can cover far more than we did!
Here we have listed all of the wineries we visited in our order of preference. Be sure to bookmark this page for future updates as we will be going back and will add to the list.
1. Huntington Estate
This was our favorite winery by far with the quality of wine and food just outstanding.
You can get a tasting for as low as ten bucks and can upgrade to better wines, or a food pairing to go with each type of wine.
We went with a selection of red wines and the food pairings which consisted of nuts, cheeses, salami, and a final course of dark chocolate (which was outstanding!). This really takes the experience up a notch and is worth every cent.
The wines were a cut above everything else we tasted and walked away with a few bottles of every single one we tasted. This is the only tasting that resulted in such liberal purchasing.
You receive a paper booklet that gives you info on each wine, including the vintage, flavors to expect, and recommended food pairings.
I found this more useful than having someone come over to explain it to you every few minutes as they make a new pour. You just nod, smile, and forget most of what they said.
With this format we could go at our own pace and take the info on each wine with us for reference later on.
This was all in a pleasant outdoor setting with a large open hut with a wine bar in the middle. It was fairly quiet when we arrived but by the time we left nearly every outdoor table was busy.
After the tasting you have the option of wandering around the grounds of the estate. Due to some heavy rain we were limited with how far we could go but would have enjoyed this for longer if not for the damp ground under foot.
2. Logan Wines
This winery stood out purely for the location. The tasting room is in a slick sunny room with floor to ceiling glass walls that overlook the vineyard.
This also leads out to a large balcony where you can enjoy your wine tasting in the sun if you want.
You have the option here to add a cheese platter with your wine tasting to graze at your convenience.
This overshone the wines and included fresh honeycomb and blue cheese that when combined was a real winner.
3. Robert Stein Winery
The setting is very rustic with the tasting taking place in a room surrounded by old barrels stacked up on the walls with chalk scribbled on the ends.
The tables are of course made of barrels also.
It was quite busy here so you should book ahead so you don’t get posted outside like we did.
The highlight of this tasting was the dessert wines. I am not usually a fan of sweet wines but couldn’t resist taking home a bottle of Harvest Gold.
4. Petersons Wines
We made sure we came to Petersons after it was recommended to us. Unfortunately, the wine didn’t live up to the hype.
This was the only tasting where we left empty-handed and didn’t purchase anything.
It was still enjoyable and with the setting in a very simple building with balcony and indoor seating in the middle of the vineyard which surrounds on all sides.
Must Visit – High Valley Cheese
If you haven’t demolished enough cheese at your tastings then check out the tastings at High Valley Cheese. There can be a bit of a line here so get in early!
You follow a production line of cheese stations from soft cheeses, to their flavor infused fetas, and finally the hard cheeses.
We ended up buying multiple jars of Feta; olive, chilli, and pesto flavors. All outstanding!
Unfortunately for us they had run out of their blue cheese.
There is a restaurant here also but most gravitate towards the little room at the side where the cheeses are.
How to Get Around Mudgee Wineries
We drove ourselves so we were able to set our own itinerary. This is the most convenient option in terms of mobility, but the least convenient for fully enjoying the wine tasting experience.
I had to carefully keep track of what I was drinking to keep things safe and legal when driving again.
There are a few other options for those who don’t want the hassle or the risk of driving after a few wines.
Mudgee Tourist Bus
The Mudgee Tourist Bus is your easiest choice for a wine tour.
They have plenty of options to suit your time available (and desired consumption!) with morning, afternoon, and full day tours available.
If you prefer to DIY then the Mudgee Hopper is a hop on/hop off service that runs on a loop and allows you to set your own itinerary.
The bus sticks to a set timetable so you will need to be organized with your bookings and ensure you don’t get held up or your plans could go out the window quickly.
This option is only available on Saturdays at this time.
There are a handful of local companies offering these tours. You can also organize through the Mudgee Tourist Bus page also.
This will give you the most flexibility and will allow you to cover more in less time.
Other Things to do in Mudgee
If you need to give your liver a break check out these other activities that you can do in Mudgee. Unfortunately we were prevented from doing these due to either COVID closures or the poor weather that we struck on our visit:
- Goree Park Stud – A well known horse breeding operation. This was closed to visitors when we visited due to COVID but is top of my list when I go back!
- Drip Gorge – an easy half hour hike surrounded by unique cliff faces formed by the dripping water that signifies the area.
- Mountain Biking – ok we will never do this but some people like it and the trails are very good apparently.
- Saturday Markets – there is a different one on each week so ask a local on arrival about this one.
Don’t forget to also put aside an hour or two to grab a coffee and walk around the main town. It is small, but includes a number of heritage buildings that date back to the mid 1800s that are worth a look.
My first impressions of Mudgee is that it is a place of substance over form. Many of the wineries and restaurants are simple places when compared to some of the grandiose venues in the Hunter Valley.
But the quality of wine and food is top notch and just as good as anything we have found elsewhere. And remember, less d*ckheads.
I can see Mudgee being a place we will return to over and over again for years to come.