As one of Australia’s oldest wine regions, Mudgee makes for a fabulous getaway destination for the whole family. The first grapes were planted in 1858 and since then, the area has grown to become NSW’s third-largest wine region. Despite it being only a three-and-a-half-hour drive north west of Sydney (same distance as driving to Orange) with more than 35 cellar doors and fabulous foodie havens at its doorstep, Mudgee just doesn’t have the reputation among Sydney food and wine lovers as a favoured destination. But that’s about to change – here’s why you need to book a weekend escape.

We’ve already been to Mudgee on three occasions, but this trip was en route to Dubbo, so it was short and sweet but jam-packed full of winery stops. With our children coming along for the ride, there was a limit to the number of wineries we could visit, but that didn’t deter us. We discovered super destinations for the whole family to enjoy.

Wineries aside, there are plenty of great food stops to discover – little cafés, restaurants and wine bars scattered through town and, if you’re after lunch, many of the winery cellar doors serve great food on weekends.

Our foodie highlight was the Mudgee Fine Foods Farmers Market. Specialist food producers abound with delicious local produce and local musicians providing entertainment while the bustling crowd stocks up on their weekly groceries.

The Butcher Shop Café on Church Street, which actually is a former butchers shop, served fantastic food in the theme of the old-school butcher with a fabulous atmosphere to boot. Highly recommended! There are also lots of local coffee shops like Eltons Brasserie and Market Street Café serving tip-top breakfasts.

Now to Mudgee’s wineries:

This has to be one of the best cellar doors I’ve visited in Australia – a big call I know, but it will always remain memorable given how welcome our whole family was made to feel (see Top Cellar Door blog for more details).

This is an exceptionally well-designed facility, overlooking the beautiful vineyards on Apple Tree Flat, with beautifully crafted wines from Orange and Mudgee on offer, and incredibly hospitable staff who make you feel like staying forever.

There are so many highlights within Logan’s range of wines – the Hannah Rosé, Logan Vintage “M” Cuvée, Weemala Riesling  and Weemala Shiraz Viognier. If you’re up for a splurge, splash out on the 2010 Ridge of Tears Orange Shiraz – not only does it taste great, it has a very cool label that will get people talking!

My tip? Put Logan Wines at the top of your list when you’re visiting Mudgee.

The team members at Lowe Wines are making a name for themselves for their organic and biodynamic wines, but it’s the charismatic owner David Lowe and talented winemaker Liam Heslop that we stopped by to visit. They make a dynamic duo with a real passion for wine and a clear vision of their winemaking philosophy. The cellar door is situated in the actual winery so visiting at vintage time is always a highlight for us (the kids were enthralled by the forklifts, tractors and fermenting grapes).

On weekends they offer delicious food tasting plates, which were perfect to enjoy while sitting back and taking in the afternoon while sampling the lovely wines. The kids wandered through the vegetable garden and had loads of fun running around picking apples from the trees to give to the Easter bunny.

Wines to try? The 2012 Organic Headstone Primitivo Rosé is dry, savoury and one of the only Primitivo-based rosés I’ve tried. Delicious any time of year and such a great match with the food platters being served. We’re also a fan of the 2012 Tinja Riesling and were given a sneak preview of the 2012 Lowe Riesling, which we can’t wait to buy when it becomes available.

Wines to put down and savour include the 2009 Block 8 Organic Shiraz – luckily from our son’s birth year, so was easy to justify buying a six-pack to cellar for when he turns 21.

I follow Josh Clementson from Skimstone on twitter and was excited to stop by and try his wines. We were definitely not disappointed. The wines are approachable and make fabulous food matches. There is a quaint little tasting room with beautiful views out to the vineyards. Keep an eye out for this upcoming brand and be sure to stop by if you’re in Mudgee – they are just across the road from Logan Wines.

Wines we loved include the Barbera, and the Tre-Onde (60% Sangiovese, 20% Barbera and 20% Cabernet).

This winery has created a bit of buzz lately, with lots of show success and its winemaker Jacob Stein winning the 2012 Gourmet Traveller Wine Young Winemaker of the Year Award. However, it was the vintage motorcycle museum that attracted us most! Great to see wineries offering varied attractions (as well as wines of course!) to bring in customers.

The Rieslings were definitely the stand-out and the Moscato makes the perfect start to a summer afternoon with friends. My husband was sold on the vintage port, so there was a wine here for everyone to enjoy.

Walk into this charismatic winery and immediately sense the Italian heritage. Di Lusso Estate boasts Italian varietals, authentic pizza served to match wines and a great space for the children to run around or play a game of boules.


Somewhere to stay

Our accommodation at Colonial Court Villas was the perfect place for a family to stay – three large bedrooms, impeccably clean and centrally located. Don’t need a space that large? They also have two- and one-bedroom villas.

Going with a group of friends or keen to give the kids a taste of country life? It’s worth checking out the Mudgee Getaway Cottages. The kids loved being able to interact with the animals and collect the eggs from the chickens in the morning.

Mudgee is definitely a town worth exploring with lots of interesting events throughout the year. Check out for a calendar listing.

Been to Mudgee and got somewhere else we should explore on our next trip? Love to hear about it in the comments below.