This wasn’t a mystery tour at all, but it was totally magical. An inner-city friend recently returned from Dubai made the trek over the Blue Mountains to spend the weekend with us, and he was completely blown away by what’s on offer here in #OrangeNSW.
We created a special boutique-style tour for him, to introduce him to the marvels of the region. Starting off with a home-cooked meal using local produce when he arrived after a surprisingly quick 3.5 hour drive from Sydney. On the menu was pork belly from Trunkey Creek Bacon with polenta, followed by rhubarb + apple hazelnut crumble inspired by the Local is Lovely cookbook.
Stopping first for a coffee at The Lakehouse kiosk at Lake Canobolas, admiring the view over the lake and soaking in the crisp fresh air, our dedicated day for the vineyards started at Brangayne, where our friend went crazy for the buttery unwooded 2011 Chardonnay, the 2012 Pinot Noir and the 2011 Late Harvest Riesling.
This was his first experience of an Australian cellar door experience outside of the Hunter Valley, and he was stunned by the views of the Orange countryside. He thought it looked like he’d very much just arrived in Italy, and The Italian confirmed he’d saved himself a long haul trip by venturing out here to savour the spectacular local wine and gourmet experience.
Our next stop was Ross Hill Wines across the road, where we were served by local winemaker Phil Kerney who has been nominated as one of Gourmet Traveller‘s 2014 winemakers of the year along with his wife Rochelle.
Then it was time for lunch at Racine Restaurant in La Colline Vineyard. Our inner-city friend peaked at this gourmet experience, declaring it the best meal he’d had since arriving back in Australia. We dined on a winter menu of venison, quail and smoked trout but it was the desserts that completely blew us away. Can’t even begin to describe them.
We went for a quick scenic drive after lunch through the Towac Valley along the bottom of Mount Canobolas and headed straight for Cargo Road Wines. Sitting outside on the terrace watching the sun set over the vineyard, we indulged in a wine tasting of everything on the menu as this is one of our favourite cellar doors in the region. Our friend departed with bottles of the incredible 2013 Zinfandel, 2014 Riesling and the Dessert Zin.
We finished off our very fine day at the Union Bank Wine Bar, which stars a plethora of local vintages and an awesome sunset-view wine garden. After an action-packed day we had a relatively early night, and recovered at Bill’s Beans East Orange the next morning, with freshly-ground coffee and quite possibly “the best BLT we’ve ever eaten in our lives”.
Our inner-city friend packed himself off for the return trip to Darlinghurst, stunned by the news that we’d only managed to visit three of the over 40 local vineyards. He’ll be back.