You’d think a town named Orange would be famous for oranges. But it’s wine that’s fast becoming the drawcard for this charming Central West NSW town.
Oranges are not grown in Orange because the climate is too cool. The town was actually named after the Prince of Orange, who later became the King of Holland, not after the citrus fruit.
Orange does, however, produce almost half the NSW crop of Apples. And families can go apple picking in season.
And it’s perfect for growing grapes.
“The long cool ripening and long sunshine hours ensure lovely purity of flavours and natural acidity,” David Cumming of Define Wine says.
Orange also has a diversity of elevation – meaning the region can grow a vast range of grapes, instead of just one or two varieties.
“The Orange region is defined by the 600 contour around the fertile Mount Canobolas,” David says.
“It ranges from 600m up to an impressive 1100 odd metres. This diversity ensures that the red varieties grown on lower elevation ripen well with finesse and elegance, and the higher elevation vineyards with Chardonnay and Pinot Noir offer complex flavours with wines of longevity.”
The cool climate is also well suited to the likes of sauvignon blanc, riesling and pinot grigio.
The vineyards are now so good that winemakers from other regions such as the Hunter Valley and Mudgee are looking to Orange for their grapes.
“The Hunter Valley’s Brokenwood and Gartelmann Wine have Orange region wines, as does Helm Wines (one of Australia’s finest Riesling winemakers). Mudgee’s Logan Wine and Gilbert Wines both have a number of Orange region wines in their portfolios. This shows the quality of grapes being grown in Orange. “
Orange wine production is booming. Well-established winemakers such as Bloodwood, Swinging Bridge and Angullong are honing the quality of their wines. New winemakers are also setting up wineries in the region.
“These young winemakers, such as Will Rikard-Bell, Matt Eades and Matthew Atallah, are making fantastic wines that are gaining recognition within Australia,” David says.
Orange is also taking control of the production process, rather than shipping their grapes to the Hunter Valley or Mudgee, as was done when the region was younger. That means families can see the process of turning grapes into wine and tour the facilities.
These are the best family-friendly wineries in Orange – with David’s tips on which wines you must taste at each winery.
Heifer Station Wines
Heifer Station Wines has wine tasting and sales in a 100-year-old woolshed. Kids will love the petting zoo and farmyard which has a miniature pony, goats, a pig and a heard of Highland cattle.
Cheese boards, bicycle hire and picnic packages available to book too.
DAVID’S WINE PICKS – Heifer Station ’The Bull Paddock’ Chardonnay and Heifer Station Pinot Gris
Philip Shaw Wines
Philip Shaw Wines is a stalwart of the Orange wine scene with wine tasting and glass sales in a converted Blue Stone Barn, set amongst sprawling manicured gardens.
This place has plenty of room for the kids to run around.
The winery also hosts a monthly pizza night in the Old Butter Factory on-site.
DAVID’S WINE PICKS – Philip Shaw ’The Wire Walker’ Pinto Noirt and Philip Shaw No17 Cabernet Sauvignon Cabernet Franc Merlot
Mortimers Wines is set in an old Schoolhouse. The surrounding gardens have sunny courtyards for summer and cosy fireplaces for winter.
The gorgeous winery has plenty of space for families and groups.
If you think that name is familiar, it’s because this winery is owned and run by ex-Canterbury Bulldogs legend turned vigneron, Peter Mortimer.
DAVID’S WINE PICK – Mortimers Reserve Chardonnay & Mortimers Autumn Series Shiraz
Ross Hill Wines
Ross Hill Wines is Australia’s fist NCOS certified carbon neutral winery.
Families can join a complimentary behind-the-scenes tour at 10am daily. Learn how grapes are turned into wine, how wine gets its colour and how long it takes to produce.
Ross Hill Wines has wine tasting matched to local produce, monthly lunches and Barrell & Larder Cooking School also housed on-site.
DAVID’S WINE PICKS – Ross Hill Pinnacle Series Chardonnay & Ross Hill ‘Isabelle’ Cabernet Franc Merlot
Patina Wines is unique. This place is winemaker Gerald Naef’s home and it is surrounded by magnificent gardens which are tended to by Gerald’s wife Anji.
The kids are free to explore and roam the gardens while the parents taste wine and soak up the incredible views of Mount Canobolas.
In Wine Week and FOOD Week, Patina has garden games to play, and guests can picnic in the gardens.
DAVID’S WINE PICKS – Patina Reserve Chardonnay & Patina ‘Jezza’
Angullong’s beautiful blue stone stable cellar door a Millthorpe has a great little outside area.
The village is a must, with a quick wine tasting followed by some sweet treats at The Old Mill Cafe.
DAVID’S WINE PICKS – Angullong Crossing Reserve Shiraz & Angullong Sauvignon Blanc.