Wine regions - Southern Highlands
Southern Highlands Tasting Note
The nose is a lovely combination of elegant peach and lime fruit and complexity of oak characters. Soft and creamy in the mouth. This wine will match any pork or chicken dish with white wine and cream sauce.
Southern Highlands New South Wales
Just over an hour from Sydney, two from Canberra and 45 minutes from Wollongong you will find a rural landscape that is a unique blend of the Australian bush and British-style settlement.
A cool climate region
with elegant wines
and a fine food culture
When the British colonised, they looked for havens replete with cool mountain air, beautiful natural scenery and a landscape that could absorb their visions of green sheep pastures, small friendly townships, gardens, golf courses, bakers shops and produce stores.
The Southern Highlands is still a place of shady lanes, summer cricket and country fairs but it is also much more as the people of each generation has extended their view outside the village and have sought to explore and identify with the natural landscape and to work more closely with it.
The wine industry in the Southern Highlands had a new vision of the land that relied on developing a closer relationship with the environment. The founding vignerons identified the potential of the region's cool sunny climate, undulating slopes and soils ranging from medium to heavy clays and sandy loams to basaltic and some granitic soils. The popularity of the Highlands with ‘rural retreaters' was also noted and has led to the opening of cellar doors and winery restaurants and cafes.
The Southern Highlands is very much a boutique wine region with
small wineries and vineyards handcrafting a range of wines. Careful
viticulture is practiced with minimal irrigation and much hand tendering
of the vines.
Varieties grown include Chardonnay, Riesling, Pinot Gris, Sauvignon Blanc, Cabernet Sauvignon, Pinot Noir and Shiraz. Emerging as standouts in the region are Pinot Gris and Chardonnay with Riesling, Merlot and Cabernet Sauvignon showing unique cool climate chararcter. Italian and Spanish varieties are grown including the rare Arneis at Berrima Estate which recently won silver at the Alternative Varieties Wine Show.
So lets take those country roads and discover the wineries of the region.
Cuttaway Hill Estate is one of the ambassadors for the region. They export 75% of their wines to the UK and North America, retail their wines into Sydney, Wollongong and Canberra and sell online. Winemaker Mark Bourne was founding President of the Southern Highlands Vignerons Association and has done much to foster the region's reputation for premium cool climate wines. Cuttaway wines are much awarded. Winning gold are his elegant chardonnays, silky Merlot and full bodied Pinot Gris reminiscent of pinots of Alsace, France.
Centennial Vineyards under the guiding hand of winemaker Tony Cosgriff also has a wonderful medal collection and ships wines to other parts of the globe. He produces elegant wines from the estate and fruit sourced from surrounding cool climate regions. Look for the top ranking Chardonnay, Pinot Noir and Riesling, the Spanish varietal Tempranillo and the Italian varietals Rondinella and Corvina. Centennial's impressive Restaurant and Cellar Door sits a top a ridge in Bowral where you can take morning tea and lunch everyday or dinner on Friday overlooking the vineyard and garden.
A treasure of the countryside, Berkelouw Book Barn
now with Bendooley Estate's cellar door and The
The western cluster
West of Bowral is a cluster of wineries and vineyards which extends west towards Wombeyan Caves and south west towards historic Berrima. On the road to Berrima (the Old Hume Highway) you will find the newest arrival on the wine scene at one of the Southern Highland's oldest treasured sites. Bendooley Estate is also the home of Berkelouw Book Barn. Within you will find a bookshop famous for its secondhand book stock, a cafe and restaurant serving quality food and coffee and Bendooley Estate's cellar door.
The main stay of the Western cluster however, is along Wombeyan Caves Road which takes you into a significant vineyard area criss-crossed by roads along which you will find a number of wineries with cellar doors.
Tertini Wines down Kells Creek Road has a cellar door were you will find award winning Riesling, Pinot Noir, a Botryis Riesling and the hard to find Arneis, an Italian, Piedmont variety which Tertini is working magic on.
Along Joadja Road is Joadja Winery, the first winery in the Highlands. Established in 1983 by Kim and Frances Moginie this winery has been producing a wide range of estate wines. They have won a number of awards over the years, most recently for Sauvignon Blanc and Cabernet. They are also known for their berry liqueur and port, all of which you will find at their cellar door.
As you go further west along Wombayan Caves Road rural pastures
begin to foreground the cliffs and gorges of the Nattai and Blue
Mountains National parks.
McVitty Grove's cellar door and modern restaurant puts you in the heart of this beautiful country. It's a case of kangaroos in the morning and with any luck the kestrel in the afternoon. The bird draws you in to a slow mediation as it performs its aerial ballet just above you. McVitty Grove has a range of wines specialising in Pinot Gris and Pinot Noir. They also have verjuice and estate-grown olive oil.
Right out on the edges of the wilderness is Pulpit Rock Wines. They produce classic cool climate Pinot Noir and Chardonnay. Order online.
Workers cottages in
Carrington Lane -
the ghost mining town of Joadja
Photo: Paul Dudley
From wineries in this area you can take off to the Wombeyan Caves, a limestone cave system in the Wombeyan valley or visit Joadja, a ghost mining town established in the 1800s by Scottish immigrants to mine kerosene shale. Workers cottages, brick kilns, mining infrastructure and a graveyard are still to be seen in this deep and beautiful valley.
Berrima is another historic town in the region, with pubs, cafes, shops and the fully functioning historic Berrima Jail.
South of Bowral
The second major cluster of wineries occurs around Sutton Forest, Exeter and Moss Vale. Eling Forest Winery at Sutton Forest is just off the expressway to Canberra. Eling Forest has historic buildings, the main homestead built around 1834. They have accommodation, restaurant and function facilities. Winemaker Michelle Crockett produces a significant range of award winning wines which includes Chardonnay, Riesling, Semillon and a Botrytis Semillon, Cabernet Merlot blend and a Peach Brandy and Cherry Port.
Cherry Tree Hill is a newcomer to Sutton Forest, owned by the Lorentz family originally from Hungary. Although the vineyard is young its Riesling star is already rising.
Along the Illawarra Highway you will see perched on a low hill Southern Highlands Wines (SHW). Stop. They have a modern café, cellar door and verandah with views north over the vineyards. Eddie Rossi the chief winemaker has just introduced a new range of wines under the label Altitude 676 (denoting the vineyards height above sea level). Amongst this range is a Rose made from Sauvignon Blanc which is everything the label suggests, classy, modern and elegant. SHW is another exporter in the region and is also making a splash in the discerning local market.
Mount Ashby Estate between Moss Vale and Fitzroy Falls produces Pinot Gris, Merlot and Chardonnay. Also of interest to those who are antique buffs is Sally Bereford's antique store located at the winery, which specialises in 17th to 19th century European pieces.
North-east of Bowral
In the easterly aspected part of the region you will find two distinctly
diiferent wine estates.
Greenbrier Park, established in 1985 by Robert and Janet Constable has a vineyard and cellar door set in extensive park style gardens. They produce award winning Sauvignon Blanc as well as Cabernet Sauvignon and Merlot.
Greenbrier Park encapsulates the historical links to Britain so evident in the towns and agricultural landscape of the region. The Georgian style manor house, exotic gardens and productive vineyards represents the preservation of the English-Scottish Arcadian vision in Australia.
Diamond Creek Estate was established in 1997. Under the stewardship
of Helen Hale they have already won a number of awards for their
Cabernet Sauvignon, Riesling and Botrytis Sauvignon Blanc. They
also bottle olive oil from groves on the estate.
On a clear day you can see Sydney's Centrepoint Tower. The city, faint, is backdrop to a majestic Eucalyptus tree which features on their label. What you can also see in the view is a notion of modernity, a view to the future, that embraces the Australian landscape and identifies with its beauty and largesse.
If you are looking to do a day trip or weekend away the Southern Highlands has a lot to offer, especially in Autumn, Winter and Spring. If you are a book lover there is none better as there are so many bookshops a Book Trail has been mapped out The Sturt Gallery in Mittagong is fabulous - there is an extensive creative arts school providing year long courses in woodwork, pottery, weaving, photography, jewellery, printmaking etc - a gallery space to display students' and local artists' work, beautiful grounds and a great little cafe. There are many antique shops (inluding at Ashby Estate) and emporiums, a cricket museum for tragics and farmers markets in the towns and off course plenty of cellar doors (see right menu for listings). It is a region also famous for its exotic gardens of which a number are open to visitors through the Open Garden Scheme (including 5th Chapter Estate) and the Tulip Festival, Bowral in late September early October.
Harvest Time: Late March to early May