The sky has turned a silvery-grey, there’s frost on the ground. There’s nothing more for it, it’s time to search out the best local cellar doors with roaring fires(and great wine!).
My first vineyard stop in Orange is always Mayfield Vineyard – summer, spring, autumn or winter, it’s just beautiful. The 100-hectare estate and Georgian homestead are placed on the Icely Road, just outside of Orange and not far from the original Ophir goldfields where gold was first discovered in Australia in the 1850s. The cellar door is in the property’s original schoolhouse, and when it gets a little chilly they start blazing the open fire. It’s the perfect accompaniment to their highly thought of wines.
From the Icely Road, it’s only a hop and a skip over to Millthorpe, one of the most charming of the surrounding villages in the Orange region. Being a heritage village, it’s awash with original buildings starring open fireplaces. Start with a coffee and a pastry at The Old Mill Café and then work your way over to the nearby Angullong cellar door. Originally the stables for the next door hotel, this bluestone cellar door not only has one of the coziest fireplaces but we think it also some of the best wines in the region. The marvellous thing about buying wine direct from cellar doors is that you get to taste the entire range before making a choice, it really beats grabbing an unknown bottle from a bottleshop and you get to chat with the producers as well.
Speaking of the next door hotel, after you’ve experienced the Angullong hospitality it’s a great idea to drop into Gerry’s Commercial Hotel. Best village pub ever! A stellar local wine list, Guinness on tap served up by the Irish publican and award-winning pub food (Gerry’s scored the 2014 ‘Best Lamb Burger’ and 2013 ‘Best Steak’ awards from the Sydney Morning Herald’s Good Pub Food Guide) – and all by the crackling fireside.
If you manage to drag yourself away from the pub, on the other side of Orange you can take a little tour through the rolling hills of Borenore and stop off at Small Acres Cyder for a cheeky cider tasting by the cheerful potbelly stove.
Not too far away, Cargo Road Wines also boasts a merry cornerside potbelly stove warming up the cellar door. Go straight for the Zinfandel to keep you even toastier inside, the wines here are amazing and have become a firm favourite. Slow-cooked goat curry and venison pies are served up in the picturesque café overlooking the vineyard, and the cellar door also doubles up as an art gallery.
When you’re finally ready to make your way back into town, head straight to the Union Bank Wine Bar for a final sample of local wines and a welcoming fire. Owned by local winemaker Tom Ward, this is also the location of his Swinging Bridge handcrafted wines cellar door. With live courtyard music and a glass of award-winning Pinot Noir in your hands, you won’t want to leave.