The Localist

The fireside cellar door tour

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It’s Autumn in my hometown of Orange, and I thought this would be the perfect opportunity to share the delights of the changing countryside in the Central West region of NSW, Australia with you, like the spectacular display of reds and yellows and burnt oranges of the hillsides and the trees in Orange’s central Cook Park. But Autumn seems to have come to an abrupt halt, and we’ve already had our first day of snow, so instead I’ve been seeking out cellar doors at local vineyards with roaring fires (and great wine!) to keep warm.

When I’m on the hunt for cosy cellar doors in Orange, my first vineyard stop is always Mayfield Vineyard. Summer, Spring, Autumn or Winter, it’s just beautiful. The 100-hectare estate with its Georgian homestead can be found 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 praised 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. I highly recommend starting with a coffee and a pastry at The Old Mill Café and then working 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 cosiest fireplaces around, but I 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 also get to chat with the producers of the wine themselves.

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! Enjoy its 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) – 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 for a cheeky cider tasting by the cheerful potbelly stove.

Not too far away, Cargo Road Wines also boasts a merry cornerside potbelly stove that warms up the cellar door. The wines here are amazing and have become a firm favourite amongst the locals. Go straight for the Zinfandel to keep you even toastier inside. 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.

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MEET THE LOCAL: KELLY-ANNE SMITH

 

Image. Photo by Kelly-Anne Smith.

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One Response to The fireside cellar door tour

  1. […] A version of this article first appeared in The Localist online travel and culture magazine in May 2014.  […]


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