Wine tasting girls weekends are the best! Especially after a hard week and especially with your bestie. I’m over visiting/working in Sydney which made the weekend a perfect time for Jax & I to explore some more of Australia i.e. test out another wine region.
Orange is a great spot for a weekend trip, it’s only 3/4 hours out of Sydney. I definitely recommend doing what we did and heading down on a Thursday night (try not to be as lame as us by working on Friday), that way you get a full weekend in the town. Orange in autumn is gorgeous. Living in LA you don’t get the autumn colours at all, and Orange really brought it- yellow, gold, amber and these full on red trees. Just beautiful.
The wineries are all really close to town, and there are some good little circuits you can do. I do recommend bringing a pregnant person or friend that doesn’t drink to chauffeur you around while you drink all the wine 😂 We looked at the different wine tours, you are basically looking at $85-150 per person for 4 wineries (dependent on whether you go private or group). It seemed like an expensive option for only 4 vineyards so we decided to test the taxi system. Honestly, this is not an easier option. There’s no Uber and taxis are expense. We did a 5 min trip for $17! What!!!???!!!! Well, that is what happens!
Jax ended up driving around for the first few to make life easier for us. You need to be very careful though if you take that option, you do not want to risk a drink driving charge and the wineries do not have breathalyzers for you to check yourself. Some of them do have signs up telling you how many tastings are a standard drink, so make sure you use this guide. Jax opted for baby sips to taste with me basically having double tasters (oops).
We learnt a lot about what ‘cool climate’ wine was on this trip. The basic lesson being, you aren’t getting a heavy red, which is what we like. It’s very much Pinot land, which is not my red of choice. However, that being said, some very nice whites. The first day we got there I picked up a couple of local shiraz for after dinner: mistake. It is not Shiraz as you know it, no punch to it at all. Now I know it’s better for white.
Anyway, we managed a couple of wineries. Could have had more because there are a lot open on Sunday (we thought they would be closed), but with the drive back to Sydney, it’s not a smart move. Saturday is the day for wine tasting!
By far, our favourite. My only regret: it was our first stop! When you drive in you go down these dirt roads along the property (an interesting experience after many discussions about serial killers) but don’t be alarmed, there is light at the end of the journey in the form of a beautiful set up for tasting. Great views, friendly and helpful people and delicious wine. The pinot here was clearly very good, to the point that I could drink it on a hot day if I felt like a red instead of white. The bubbles were tasty, made in a true champagne style and the whites were great. We left with 6 bottles, erring on the cautious side because it was, after all, our first stop. Oh yeah, they had 3 gorgeous winery doggies who played around- particularly lovely, cause I was missing my puppy.
Basically across the road (a county cross the road) this is a good next stop. Another great little set up, and friendly people. It got quite busy by the time we were finishing up though, so you will need to patience. Friendliness does not come with pace! Wine were nice, and about $20 less than De Salis. What was a really great touch was their $10 mini cheese and charcuterie pairing with your tasting. Definitely do that, it totally helps showcase the wine.
I saw this wine in Byng Street Cafe, great name and great label, so I had high hopes for this place. Sadly, this ended up being my least favourite of them all. Not sure if it was to do with the sever telling us we weren’t tasting what we were tasting. Hmm, I thought we were finished with men telling women what they think? That’s not to say we didn’t buy any wine 😂 we opted for the Chardonnay not for Chardonnay drinkers, despite being Chardonnay drinkers 😂😂 and some merlot which I’m not sure if was good, or just better than the other reds we’d tried. They also had some giant cheese platters which you might want to think about.
This lovely little winery has a great little space and a story to go with it. We were helped by one of the wine makers, 2 of the wines are named for his children. I do like a little personal connection like that.
We picked up some reisling from this one. Something I never would have expected us to say- Jax and I are not reisling fans! But these were really nice and crisp.
Philip Shaw Wines
The final stop in our mini tour! This place is super busy! But it’s set up to manage it. We got a lovely cheese & charcuterie plate and settled in with our wines. The wines here were good, lots that suited our palate so we walked away with a mixed 6. It was a good end to the tour they have a great outdoor area which would be amazing in the summer.
After heading back into town there are plenty of bars you can stop into to taste some wines you missed. We stopped in at Ferment. It’s a cute little bar which was super busy! They do a tasting for local wineries who don’t have a cellar door which is a cool concept. Unfortunately there was no space for us to join in, luckily, they have one of those cool card operated wine dispenser things so we made our own mini tasting
There are way more wineries for you to try out here and Orange is a beautiful spot to spend some time (lots of yummy food too in case you were wondering). Pretty much everyone is lovely, and you gets some nice whites (remember, I’m ignoring the pinot). Tastings are $10 per person with the amount coming off any wine you purchase. This seems to be coming more and more common lately, the paid tasting thing. I don’t really care, we almost always buy. Besides, all of the wineries we experienced had a generous amount you could taste within your $10 tasting.