One of the many beauties about the regional NSW town of Mudgee is the quantity of quality wineries it has. But which ones do the winemakers themselves like to visit? Here are 7 family-run Mudgee wineries that get the blue tick from locals.
Tucked away in its own little corner of New South Wales about four hours west of Sydney and just the other side of the world’s second largest canyon (its bigger brother is quite famous), Mudgee has a special place in our hearts.
Not only is it home to the friendliest locals we’ve met anywhere, the food and wine on Mudgee tables is truly extraordinary, and much of it comes from family-run operations.
These three attributes work together to create the perfect storm for foodie travellers.
7 family-owned Mudgee wineries that locals love
We spoke to the owners of family-run Rosby Wines—the Norton-Knights—to get the lowdown on which other family-owned wineries in the area they loved.
These are the local secrets you only get from asking the right questions.
Boasting Australia’s largest range of Italian wine varietals, di Lusso Estate and its owners Rob Fairall and Luanne Hill creates some of the best examples of Barbera, Sangiovese, Vermentino, Aleatico, Lagrein, Greco di Tufo, Picolit and Nebbiolo you’ll find in this country.
They also grow their own olives for oil and for the table, and their beautiful lakeside cellar door overlooking the vineyards serves delicious-looking pizzas and other Italian fare to match with their wines.
Over its fascinating history, which dates back to 1969 when its previous owner Bob Roberts founded the winery, Huntington Estate has carved an important and much-lauded reputation for excellent wine.
The winery’s current owners Tim and Nicky Stevens have made sure that Bob’s legacy continues, creating wine true to Huntington Estate’s style and quality while elevating it and making it their own. But whichever way you turn it, Huntington Estate’s wines are renowned for their elegance and sophistication.
With the impressive accolade of making Australia’s first Chardonnay in 1971, Pieter van Gent and his eponymous winery have won and done pretty much everything you can in the Australian wine world. And Pieter’s son Philip, who has taken up the reins, is carrying on his dad’s good work.
But it’s the cellar door at Pieter van Gent that really is exceptional. Set amongst the huge wooden barrels in the winery’s cask hall, you can’t help but fall in love with the wines that you taste. From the cobbled stone floor to the timber rafters, the history of this place fills your soul.
With a history going back to 1838 when Johann Stein brought the first successful Rhine Riesling cuttings to Australia, Robert Stein Winery (pronounced ‘steen’ by the way) is justifiably the destination for Riesling in Mudgee.
But beyond that—and the exquisite Shiraz and even the rum-barrel aged fortifieds that Robert and his son Jacob make—the Robert Stein Winery cellar door is wonderful. Set amongst the barrels and tanks of the winery, and with views out over the hills and vineyards through the doors, this winery is one to visit.
Working on a super small-batch basis Slow Fox Wines are all handpicked, basket-pressed and, whenever possible, wild-yeast fermented. Owners of this family-run winery—Kate Rose and Rob Gregory—carefully craft their wines to truly represent the style and grapes as much as possible.
Slow Fox’s low-key cellar door is designed for a welcoming, relaxing experience where you can sit and enjoy Rob and Kate’s delicious wines.
6. Yeates Wines
The Yeates family have been running this winery since 2010, but before that, the vineyard had a couple of previous owners making hugely successful and famously good wine known as Mountain Blue.
Sandy and Vicki Yeates have continued that trend, crafting superb wines with the help of Robert Stein’s son and head wine-maker Jacob Stein. Their cellar door, designed and built in 2020, is intimate and has a stunning outlook over the winery’s dam and vineyards.
7. Rosby Wines
Almost as much a sculpture gallery as it is a winery, Rosby Wines is a beautiful cellar door to visit. You’re guaranteed to find at least one member of the lovely Norton-Knight family there ready to guide you through the wine list or artworks—or both!
When we were here, we were lucky enough to meet Gerry and Kay and one of their four daughters Amber.
Amber told us a bit about the winery and cellar door, then Gerry lead us through Rosby’s beautiful wines (their Shiraz is unstoppable), which are made by Huntington Estate’s very own Tim Stevens.
Gerry also gave us the list—sans Rosby of course—that inspired this story.
Finally, Kay took us round the sculptures. Our timing was perfect as they were putting finishing touches to their annual Sculptures in the Garden festival. The family works all year round to bring together artists from all over the country.
It’s an amazing opportunity for artists—in 2021, of the 300+ sculptures on display, two thirds sold and a total prize haul of almost $46,000 up for grabs. It’s also a remarkable place to explore with so much superb art all in one place.
Kay’s knowledge of sculptures and their creators is profound and enthralling, but best of all—if you get the chance—find some of her excellent artwork and compliment her on it.
The usually eloquent Kay will mutter something and quickly change the subject. Great fun!
Check out some of our other stories on Mudgee, NSW: