Sometimes you just have to get out of the rat race and have a weekend away. And for those living in Sydney, Mudgee is the perfect place. About a 3 and a half hour drive through some stunning countryside, you can get away from it all, get some fresh air, fresh produce and great wine. So when Loretta and Kevin invited me up to the cottage at Thistle Hill winery for the weekend I jumped at the chance. And what a perfect weekend it was.Thistle Hill is an organic winery (certified in 1993) that doesn€™t use an pesticides and herbicides, forcing the vines to work a little harder and the grapes to be lower yields and full of flavour. Essentially they want to make authentic, fruit driven, full flavoured wines that have some complexity. They also make some preservative free (PF) wine and have the added bonus of having accommodation on the property, only a short walk from a fantastic cellar door. Perfect for a weekend away in anyone€™s books and a great place to take the kids as well.
The accommodation is pretty simple but has everything you need for a lovely weekend away. Authentic, rustic, natural, cute, beautiful outlook, were the words I wrote down when taking some notes for this blog. The outlook out over the olive groves and vineyards is just stunning and the night sky is incredible with glass of red in hand€¦ Three bedrooms and self contained, you don€™t really even need to leave the property if you didn’t want to. Loretta also lays out a great platter for her guests, so we had some great local produce and olives on arrival.We were lucky enough to have Kevin bring the horses around and give the kids a ride, so they absolutely loved it. If you have kids and are staying on the property make sure you ask if you can see the horses as they always happy to take the kids for a walk on the horse if they can. You can also visit and feed the chickens. One of the great things about staying at the Thistle Hill cottage is the hosts. They are just lovely and will go out of their way to help you with anything you may need.Â Bookings for the cottage can be made by emailing Thistle Hill atÂ [email protected]Â , or phoning thm on (02) 6373 3546.
The outlook from the cellar door is gorgeous, so even if not staying at the accommodation, if you are in Mudgee make sure you give Thistle Hill a visit. Sit around on the large deck, say hi to the wine dog and just enjoy the view and rustic charm.
The Thistle Hill wines are definitely wines to watch out for in the future. Whilst winning awards for their organic wines already, winemaker Tim White is doing great things and has just nailed some of the latest wines to be released, including a Riesling that really surprised. All organic, Thistle Hill are delivering some quality, €˜drink now slurpable€™ wines that are made to enjoy with good friends and good food.The Preservative Free Shiraz was an interesting one. It definitely gave off a little fizz initially which I think was partly due to carbon dioxide being used when bottling to keep out microbes and bottling early. Give it half an hour in a decanter, or just swirl the bottle after opening and the bubbles disappear and then the wine just opens up. A beautiful crimson colour with white pepper spice, cherries, blueberries and soft tannins. Not for everyone but if you want to minimise hangovers or sensitive to preservatives, then this is your wine. The 9 bunches was probably the pick of reds for me. The Chardonnay is winning all sorts of praise in Mudgee but the Riesling was the real surprise packet and the standout wine in my opinion. I have not tasted a better Riesling from Mudgee. You can check out more of the Thistle Hill wines here.
Simply beautiful, there is so much to do in Mudgee. Make sure you look to see if the local markets are on when on town as the local produce is just amazing. Otherwise hit the wineries or just chill at the Thistle Hill cellar door.
Other wineries I recommend to visit (other than Thistle Hill):
Robert Stein – a place I always visit when in Mudgee and with a restaurant to die for as well (book in advance).Skimstone – wow! What a view and what amazing wines! With varietals such as Barbera, Sangiovese showing exactly what the Mudgee region can produce. Top shelf€¦Others of note: Logan, Di Lusso (nice Pizzas too), Burnbrae (opposite Thistle Hill), Mansfield, Petersons, Huntington Estate.Anyway€¦ A weekend in Mudgee? Just do it.Full disclosure: Accommodation was provided by our lovely host Loretta from Thistle Hill. All wine however, was purchased with gusto, with more than a few cases (2 of the Riesling) finding their way back to Sydney! That€™s wine tasting is about isn’t it? Find that wine you love, buy some at the cellar door and then find a way to buy more later – eg. WineCloud 😉