Ready to escape the city for a wine road trip? Let us prepare you…
It’s undeniable that Sydney is one of the best-placed cities in the world for reaching internationally acclaimed wine regions within a short drive. So that means all you need to do is hop in the car and head out of town right?
It’s not hard to organise a second-to-none winery road trip from Sydney, but it does involve a little bit of organisation. No worries, we’ve got you. Here’s a step-by-step guide on how (and how not) to plan the ultimate winery road trip in New South Wales. We’ll cheers to that!
Don’t Go Just Anywhere
Sure, the rolling hills and fertile soils of regional New South Wales are some of the best there are for wine production. But the truth is, it’s so good, that Sydneysiders are absolutely spoilt for choice when it comes to choosing where to go. If you leave your choice last minute, you may well miss out on some of the incredible experiences you could be making the most of. Luckily, we’ve got the lowdown on the best regions which are just a short drive from Sydney. We recommend choosing one of these four best wine regions in New South Wales:
The Hunter Valley is one of the most famous wine regions within two-hours driving distance of Sydney. Perfect for one-day wonder trips, the Hunter Valley is Australia’s oldest wine-growing regions and is also home to plenty of well-established wineries. Alongside vineyards, you’ll also find a range of family-friendly attractions, resorts and golf courses. This is the perfect destination for anyone looking for a hassle-free trip. We’ve even got everything you need to eat, drink and do thanks to this nifty Weekender Guide.
Orange sits across the Blue Mountains to the west of Sydney. A cool climate region, it attracts visitors for its thriving food and wine heritage as well as some characterful historic sites. This is the perfect region to choose if you’re interested in exploring diverse and experimental wines. And if you’re a foodie, you’re in luck – our Sydney to Orange checklist will save you time on researching which means more time eating and drinking!
Mudgee is located to the North West of Sydney and is renowned for its stunning and picturesque scenery. Centred around a historic and elegant town, winemakers have been producing wine here since the 1850s. Due to its temperate climate, Mudgee is particularly excellent in its red wine production, not least shiraz and cabernet sauvignon. It’s the perfect spot to head for connoisseurs of those richer tastes. Here are five of the best Mudgee wineries you need to visit.
The Southern Highlands is just about the closest region to Sydney’s CBD sitting less than a two-hour drive south of the city. Close by, you’ll find the beautiful wilderness of Kangaroo Valley so it’s an ideal choice for anyone who wishes to combine their trip with some camping or outdoor activities. And if you’ve never ventured to the Southern Highlands, our Weekender Guide will show you all of our favourite spots to visit.
Don’t Go For Just One Day
Sure, if you’re absolutely time-strapped, it is possible to visit one of these wine regions for just a day trip. But, if we’re honest, that only works if you love early mornings, driving in the dark, and don’t really want to enjoy tasting the beautiful wines you’re travelling for. It doesn’t sound ideal, does it?
So, to make the most of your tasting experiences and in order to see the beauty of vineyards through the day, it’s best to stay for a night or two. We recommend making a weekend of it and staying for two nights, ensuring that you have at least one full day in your region of choice.
Don’t Sleep In Your Car
Forgetting to book yourself accommodation for your stay could be the rookiest error of the lot.
Each of these wine regions has a wealth of places to stay in for your planned winery trip. In established areas like the Hunter Valley, you’ll find resorts with restaurants, pools and golf courses so that you can enjoy your trip with all amenities close by.
Alternatively, the historic centres of Mudgee and Orange offer a wealth of boutique hotels so that you can ignite your trip with a little extra character. And, of course, all regions are home to plenty of AirBnB’s and other rentals for those who like to do it on their own.
However, if you really want to commit to a weekend celebrating wine in all its glory, we recommend finding accommodation on a vineyard itself. You’ll get to meet winemakers and sometimes you may even be offered private experiences amongst the vineyards and a one-on-one view on the wine-making process. Discover some of our favourite luxury winery stays around Australia.
Don’t Miss Out On Wineries
So the next step in your plan concerns visiting the wineries themselves: do you want to join a tour or will you be doing it yourself? If you’re not careful, a combination of a busy weekend and health restrictions could mean you’re unable to enter the wineries of your choice.
If you’re visiting on a busy weekend, joining a tour might be the best way to ensure you can gain entry into every winery; plus for the social among us, a group tour can be a great way to meet like-minded tasters. Most tour companies offer a mix of private and public tours, full-day outings, or half-day or even just a few hours. You can even try a tour on horseback.
However, if you have particular wineries in mind, or just like to have the flexibility to visit what you want, you might fancy doing-it-yourself. If you want to make the most of each tasting, we recommend that you don’t drive, but you can hire taxis or private drivers around the regions, or if you’re after a fitness kick, even try bicycles. Forget Provence, you can cruise around the Hunter with a stash of newly-purchased red wines in the basket. Just make sure to plan a route ahead and phone wineries to check availability, or even book in your tasting session.
Don’t Limit Yourself To Wine
The likelihood is, unless you’re the world’s biggest aficionado, a full weekend of pure wine tasting might feel like a little bit much.
So, it’s a great idea to have a few other activities which you can enjoy on your afternoon off. If you’re in Mudgee or Orange, we recommend heading into the town centre to explore the food markets, shopping and culture of these historic towns. But each region offers a whole host of activities to experience.
Perhaps wake up early to admire the sunrise from a hot air balloon. Or pick up your clubs and head out for a round of golf (or maybe even putt-putt for the less skilled of us). These regions all offer a thriving food and dining culture too, so if you want a break from the wine, a tasting class or truffle hunt is also a great idea.
Don’t Forget Dinner
As already mentioned, current capacity limitations might mean that if you’re not careful, you’ll finish a tipsy day of tastings only to discover all the restaurants are booked out. So, if you are heading out on a busy weekend, we do recommend booking dinner ahead of your time, as many venues can be limited; especially if they have been hired on a Saturday for weddings or another event. That being said, there will be an abundance of great food spots to choose from, whether you’re after one of those long lunches among the vines, or cosying up in an atmospheric wine bar.
Want more ideas of your trip to an Australian wine region? Look further afield by exploring Adelaide’s wine regions. Or, delve deeper into what NSW has to offer with these looks at the ultimate foodie weekend in Orange or the best winery spas in NSW.