Mudgee, you certainly lived up to your promises. For years now I have read stories, heard personal accounts and planned weekends, but it was only until now that I could find out first-hand what all the hype was about.
And they weren’t exaggerating. Hunter Valley move over. Mudgee has most definitely replaced you as my go-to wine and food tasting destination.
Mudgee has it all. A quaint country town, friendly people, more wineries (and good ones) than I had ever imagined and quality food. Oh, the food!! But I will get to that one a little later.
After leaving the Jenolan Caves on our recent road trip, we headed for Mudgee arriving after lunch.
It wasn’t busy at all. The advantage of working for yourself is that we can take time off during the week and that means fewer crowds for us. Just the way I like it.
Not everything is open every day, so you do need to check if what you want to see and do is available before going. There were a couple of places like Aril Estate, who specialise in table olives, oil, fresh pomegranates and syrups, and the Olive Nest that were not open. I will endeavour to plan that better next time.
The only draw-back to Mudgee I could find is that it was HOT. But that’s nothing unusual for an Australian summer, and I am in the minority of Aussies that hate the heat.
Next time we will visit in winter. We love the cold.
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Mudgee has a population of just under 11,000. A quaint and appealing town, it is situated in Mid-West New South Wales.
Mudgee has developed into a wine-growing centre, and wine manufacturing has become a major part of its economy.
And the wine is good. Very good.
Since moving to the Blue Mountains, I have made a concerted effort to try local wines. The Blue Mountains has a couple of wineries, but the main wine regions are Mudgee and Orange. It has been a pleasurable experience to branch out from the wines that I typically buy.
And after our foray into the Mudgee Wine region, I am a true convert.
You know what they say, “Where there is wine, there is food”. Well, maybe not but that’s what we say and has always been my experience.
I had asked for recommendations on what to see, do and eat from my Traveller’s Community and had been given a long list of wineries, restaurants, cafes and activities.
On our short stay, it was never going to be possible to see and try everything, but I planned our days well enough to fit in everything we felt we would enjoy the most.
First stop was Honey Haven where we tasted Honey Mead and Wines. We didn’t need to taste honey because we have fantastic honey here in the mountains that we buy from a lovely Dutchman at the local markets each month. And we are loyal like that.
But the Honey Mead was the first of many of our purchases in Mudgee, and the esky (cooler) was already starting to fill.
Mudgee Tourist Information Centre
On arrival in town, we headed straight for the Tourist Information Centre. I had recently entered a competition to win a Mudgee Weekend Getaway (clearly I didn’t win), but part of the conditions had been to subscribe to Mudgee Tourism, and with that, I received a $10 voucher off any local produce purchase at the centre.
There was quite a range to choose from, so I would say that it’s worthwhile subscribing. $10 is $10 after all. I’m looking forward to trying our Pomegranate Syrup soon.
Christine from the Tourist Information Centre was more than helpful. She went over our plans with us, recommended more places and gave us directions. She was a delight.
Have you ever heard of Rolled Ice Cream??
We hadn’t. I couldn’t even imagine what it was.
But Dan loves ice cream, and it had been recommended by a local, so we went on the hunt for rolled ice cream.
After getting a little lost, tempers were a little frayed by then in the heat; we found the small “hole in the wall” shop, Cherie’s Rolled Ice Cream.
Rolled ice cream is made by throwing all the ingredients together, in Dan’s case that was peanut butter, and then the ice cream mixture is poured onto a flat surface that is super cold. They then chop and mix the concoction as the ice cream hardens and then expertly roll it and place it into a cup.
Easy! And delicious.
I had decided on a little apartment attached to a corner café/store. I found it through Airbnb, and the deciding factor was that it included full cooked breakfast at the café next door. Bonus as far as I was concerned. And breakfast was delicious.
Our apartment was at the end, with the entrance through the gate
After breakfast, packing up we were still too early. The wineries didn’t open until 10 am and it was only 9.20 am. There was nothing in town that we wanted to look at so we decided to head to the river park.
Dan was moaning. He didn’t want to go on another walk, our walks at the Jenolan Caves had been enough for him, but we just took our time and meandered (I wasn’t allowed to walk too fast or too far) along the Cudgegong River. It is a well planned, relaxing park, so we decided to lay under the willow trees for a while watching the birds play in the water.
That was until one of them jumped out of the water and let out an almighty screech and scared the bejesus out of me!
It was like a grown man’s voice screaming from a small child’s body. It was so weird. Damn thing killed my mojo!
With shattered nerves, it was time to take off and taste some wine.
Such a small bird, such a big voice!
Let’s go Wine Tasting
First stop was The Cellar by Gilbert (Gilbert Family Wines) to taste their famous Feta Cheese. And boy did that live up to its name. Delicate and creamy with the punchiness you expect from feta. Two jars of the Pesto Feta Cheese were quickly snavelled to add to our accumulating stash in the esky.
You can’t just taste cheese when you are in a winery, so I worked my way through four wines, pretending I knew what I was doing when offered a sheet to take notes, and promptly bought a couple of bottles to keep the Feta Cheese company.
Who doesn’t like wine tasting at 10 am?
The day was shaping up nicely.
Next on the agenda was Bunamagoo Wines, highly recommended by a few people and well worth it. I quickly found my favourites and even got Dan, who doesn’t drink, to try a few of the sweeter wines. Which he bought much to my surprise.
After a quick stop at the Small Winemakers Centre and another bottle added to the back of the car, we headed to Robert Steins Winery & Vineyard.
Robert Steins was our favourite winery during the trip. The wine was delicious; the service was impeccable and personable. I love connecting with people. Not just chatting but connecting.
And we did just that with Margo. She was a credit to the winery and coincidentally originally from Wollongong where we had just moved from six months ago.
Cooper, the dog, was cute and friendly and with permission, we went off to investigate the kitchen garden further, looking for ideas for our own garden.
And then …
The highlight of the trip …
Located at Robert Stein Vineyards and rated as one of the best restaurants in Mudgee, it is highly recommended by visitors and locals alike. It lived up to its reputation.
Ordering the 8-course degustation we thoroughly enjoyed ourselves. Dan managed to get a couple of photos, me I was too busy trying to devour everything. And don’t even ask for the names of the dishes, because again I wasn’t listening, I was only concerned about eating eat.
Ben our host, provided impeccable service, the food was exquisite, wine delicious and outlook fantastic. I don’t want to go overboard, but this place was fantastic!
I think it was Beetroot Cured Salmon … delicious!
It was THE perfect way to end our break that had been long overdue.
We have already picked our accommodation for our next visit, will make room in the esky for more Feta Cheese (and others too), go to our favourite wineries from this trip and try a handful more.
Mudgee you were awesome, see you again soon.
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