Country winter FOMO – it’s a thing, and I have it. I grew up in the country, and it’s during winter that I miss it most – those frosty mornings, cosy fireplaces, and mist-covered mountains make winter in the city seem even greyer and more grim. In the quest to seek out a country winter, we hit the road to Mudgee with a couple of friends last weekend to indulge in a weekend of wine-tasting, cheese-eating, and vista-admiring.
We rolled into Mudgee on Friday evening, stopping in town to stock up on cheese and other necessities before driving on to our digs for the weekend – Pipeclay Lodge on the beautiful Pieter van Gent Winery & Vineyard. The place ticked all the boxes – enough space for 3 couples, a lovely fireplace, huge kitchen and nice big dining table, enormous deck, and bedroom windows looking out over the frost-tipped vineyards.
Our first stop on Friday morning was the Mudgee Farmer’s Market, where we hit up some unorthodox breakfast in the form of smoked brisket sandwiches and fresh lemonade from the Smokin Hot ‘N Saucy stand. The organic veggie stand also got a good workout, as did the Fish River Roasters coffee stand. Next we wandered over the road to Mudgee Brewing Company, to share a tasting paddle of 12 of their signature and seasonal beers (the Smokey Red and Black IPA being the standouts).
Next we hit to road to Lowe Wines, one of the most picturesque vineyards around, perched on a hill overlooking vineyards surrounded by mountains. After a tasting of their organic range we headed on to Robert Stein Winery & Vineyard and indulged in a super relaxed tasting in a pleasingly provincial little cottage.
We then headed to The Olive Nest, an olive and wine mecca and definitely one of the highlights of our trip. Our lovely gave us a brief overview of their farm, then left us to a self-guided tasting of all their different olive oils, as well as their amazing verjuice (which apparently you can mix with gin and drink over ice – who knew?) We also tasted a few of their different olives, before moving on to their wines. The Olive Nest operates one of the smallest vineyards in Mudgee under the 1838 Wines label, and these were some of the best we tasted. Standouts were the Fandango, a light Shiraz and Merlot blend, and the at the opposite end of the intensity spectrum, the Durif.
That afternoon we walked along the vineyards to Petersons Wines for a tasting, the Chardonnays being a highlight for me, before heading back to Pieter van Gent to check out their Shiraz and Port game. Back at Pipeclay Lodge, we settled in for some highly relaxing wine and cheese by the open fire, as the sun set over the cabernet vines. Perfect country winter weekend achieved.