It’s kind of marvellous living in a festival city, especially when all the festivals revolve around food + wine. This year we’ve been treated to an extended and rebranded #OrangeWineFestival, which now traverses across three entire weeks from 17 October to 2 November. Three weeks! Yes siree.

I was particularly delighted to start off my own wine festival experience with a visit to the newly-opened Philip Shaw Wines cellar door. Established in a previously deserted bluestone granary built in the 1800s, the Philip Shaw team have brought this barn to life with a stunning contemporary makeover. We marvelled at the terraced countryside view, admired the interior craftsmanship, ogled the woodfired pizza ovens and ordered several bottles of wine. This is not considered one of the finest drops in New South Wales and Australia for nothing y’know (five red star rating from James Halliday’s Wine Companion).

Inside the new Philip Shaw Wines cellar door

Inside the new Philip Shaw Wines cellar door

While I’m in the final stages of writing a Masters thesis, I’ve actually been trying to avoid this first week of the wine festival – there are far too many distractions to be had (here’s the full program). I’m coming back to life by Friday 24 October though, for the festival night market in Robertson Park – followed swiftly by the first Fabulous Ladies Wine Soiree in Orange at Kate Jones 119 featuring Monument Vineyard on Saturday 25.

Second week of the festival my top picks are ‘Sunset Tour and Taste @ Cargo Road Wines‘, ‘Woodfired Pizzas and Wine’ at Philip Shaw Wines  and ‘The Cook, The Cidermaker and The Agrestic Grocer‘ five-course food + cider matching dinner on Thursday 30 October. Yes, that’s Thursday done and dusted then.

Friday 31 October I may need to stay in – however I’ll be up for the Millthorpe Garden Ramble over the weekend, and I’d love to say I’d be staying teetotal however there’s three fantastic cellar doors in Millthorpe (here, here and here) which will probably need a visit.

Saturday 1 November sees new signature ‘Wander, Wine and Dine’ events in the #OrangeWineFestival repertoire. The ‘Sips in the City Trail’ will take you through some of the city’s best food + wine venues, while the ‘Wine in the Vines Trail’ takes you on a progressive lunch style tour of the cellar doors nestled around Mount Canobolas.

I’m probably going to go back to Philip Shaw for pulled pork rolls, and then celebrate the end of the festival on Sunday 2 Nov with the region’s best sparkling wines at Ferment – the Orange Wine Centre (and the sparklings here are truly something else, so that’s sure to be a great way to go out in style).

And then it’s just a few months to the Banjo Paterson ‘Slow Summer’ Festival in February and the Orange FOOD Week in April. Let the festivals begin!

Enjoy, Kelly