More on Mudgee, Australia!

In my first post on Mudgee, I focused on Day 1 of my excursion with the Wine Media Conference to this gorgeous wine region and town. On Day 2, I visited several more wineries, and below are my notes on each.

Logan Vineyards winery
Logan Vineyard’s unique winery and tasting room

Logan Wines

Logan Wines is the site of one of the most spectacular tasting room I’ve been in. This Danish modern building, located in the hamlet of Apple Tree Flat, is the height of style, while also extremely inviting and comfortable. Perched over the edge of a rather steep hill and overlooking Logan’s vineyards, this is a visual delight, and the dramatic drive up to it only enhances the experience. As mentioned in my first post on Mudgee, the town and surroundings are so picturesque that TV shows are shot there; I saw this tasting room in an episode of one of my favorite Australian shows recently.
The cool factor only increased for me when we met owner, Peter Logan, who epitomized the character of the region. Smart, personable, articulate and passionate about the wines and the vines, Logan graciously indulged us wine writers with his wine musings, pointing out that the vineyard behind him was being prepped for grafting of Tempranillo vines onto older Merlot rootstock (see photos below). Logan is at the forefront of the movement to bring new varieties into the region, and is producing wines from such grapes as Gewurztraminer, Pinot Gris, Moscato, Pinot Noir & Pinot Meunier, Semillon, Sauvignon Blanc, Chardonnay, Riesling, Viognier, Shiraz, Cabernet Sauvignon, Merlot, and Cabernet Franc. He makes sparkling, still, rose, and orange wines.
Most of Logan’s grapes are brought in from Orange, a wine region to the south and slightly east of Mudgee, where temperatures run slightly cooler; in fact, it’s the coolest wine region in Australia and where the country’s first Chardonnay wines were made. Logan’s vines in Orange grow at elevations from 1600 to 2000 feet.

Logan’s wines are a beautiful melding of new world pizazz and old world finesse. My husband and I were especially impressed with the Weemale Tempranillo. The Ridge of Tears shiraz (pictured below) is Logan’s homage to his Scottish ancestors, using Shiraz grapes from Mudgee and Orange, grown on the best slopes, with low yields and produced with “hand-made” loving care to create Logan’s signature style. This Shiraz is beautiful.

This winery is well worth visiting if you find yourself in Mudgee.

collage showingwinemaker Peter Logan and Logan's posh tasting room and Ridge of Tears Shiraz and Merlot vines waiting for grafting with Tempranillo and inside the tasting room.
(Top left, clockwise) Winemaker Peter Logan; Logan’s posh tasting room; Ridge of Tears Shiraz; Merlot vines waiting for grafting with Tempranillo; inside the tasting room.

Moothi Estate

Moothi Estate outside view
Moothi’s 180-degree view cannot be beat.

Moothi Estate is a family-owned winery, founded in 1995, nestled in the Mudgee hills, and it’s delightful. Moothi is another Aboriginal word for “nest in the hills.”

The tasting room and outside terrace are a perfect setting for a long, languorous lunch and wine tasting. The winery’s cellar door/kitchen features small bites and charcuterie platters (see picture below), and spectacular views. And the owners are lovely … as welcoming as can be. They generously poured for us just about everything on their menu, which started with sparkling rose, and moved through Riesling, Pinot Grigio, Viognier, Chardonnay, Merlot, Cabernet Sauvignon, a Cabernet-Shiraz-Merlot red blend called Mooth Rocks, a Shiraz-Viognier blend, and a fortified Shiraz.

All of Moothi’s grapes are estate grown, and the cellar door, one of the highest in the region, overlooks the vines.

Collage showing Moothi's logo and Moothi Rocks Red Blend and wines on deck and charcuterie platter
(Upper left, clockwise) Moothi’s logo; Moothi Rocks Red Blend; wines on deck; delicious charcuterie platter from Moothi’s kitchen 

Burnbrae Wines

Moving on to Burnbrae Wines, we were welcomed by Trine Gay, co-owner with her husband Andy, and one of their winery dogs. The couple took over the winery from Trine’s father in 2014, and have created a cheery, youthful and inviting venue.

Collage of Owner Trine Gay and "book cover" labels and Bruce Nozick with winery dog and cellar door reading and outbuilding for events and peppercorn tree and charming rustic doors
(Top left, clockwise: Owner Trine Gay; “book cover” labels; my husband Bruce with winery dog; cellar door reading; outbuilding for events; peppercorn tree; charming rustic doors (center).
Rustic charm abounds at Burnbrae, from the cellar door, to the grounds, to the outbuildings, creating a beautiful venue for weddings and other events. There’s even the option to stay at the adorable “winemaker’s cottage” on the grounds.
The labels on Burnbrae’s wines are designed like book covers, each telling a story that is linked to Burnbrae’s past and present. For example, the “Twinkle Toes” Cuvee sparkling wine, which we were greeted with upon arrival, has a label that harkens back to the fact that the cellar door used to be a dance hall. The “Home Ground” Shiraz refers to the large peppercorn tree outside the front of the cellar door, which marks the site of the original winery.

Burnbrae produces a range of wines, including the above-mentioned sparkling white, Sauvignon Blanc, Pinot Noir (my favorite), Shiraz, Cab-Merlot blend, Pinot Gris, and a couple of different Rose wines, which are slightly spritzed and sweet, using the Moscato grape. The lineup is definitely youth-oriented, light, and fun.

Lowe Wine & Zin House

This place is special in that it’s a winery, a restaurant, a wedding venue, and surprisingly, it’s also all about Zinfandel. My first thought was ‘Zin is quintessentially Californian … not Australian!’ I was definitely intrigued.

Our first stop was at Zin House, the restaurant, where we were treated to a gorgeous lunch prepared by Chef Kim Currie, wife of Lowe Wines‘ David Lowe. Served family style, in the gorgeous dining room that felt like an old farmhouse, the food was classy but not pretentious (see photos below). The foods were paired with Lowe’s lip-smacking wines. I was overwhelmed by the generosity of our hosts.

For the last four years, Zin House has been awarded One Chef Hat from the SMH Good Food Guide Awards, which, as explained to us, is Australia’s equivalent of Michelin stars. Very impressive.

Along with our lunch at Pipeclay Pumphouse at Robert Stein Winery, we were definitely eating in style on this Mudgee excursion, and Mudgee was living up to its reputation as a foodie destination.

Four courses at Zin House in Mudgee.
The fare at Zin House, a One Chef Hat award-winning restaurant in Mudgee.

Most of the produce used at Zin House is sourced right from the property, and is organic, as are the wine grapes from the estate vineyards. Like the best Zin vines in California, the vines are old, bush trained and untrellised, unirrigated, low-yielding, and in this case organic (certified) and biodynamic. Robert Lowe is passionate about his winemaking, calling it “slow winemaking,” which I interpret as quality. His wines are lovely, and who knew you could get great Zin in Australia?

Lowe is a fifth-generation Mudgee, descended from the first English settlers in the Valley. He has been in the wine business since birth, basically. He’s passionate about Zin, after having spent time in northern California, in his “formative years,” learning from California wine pioneers, and he also worked alongside Australian legends Len Evans and Murray Tyrrell. He seems to have wine running through his veins, and he’s also humble and approachable. I so enjoyed my conversations with him at his winery.

Collage of Zin House winemaker Robert Lowe, winemaker and various vineyard shots
(Upper left, clockwise: Robert Lowe, winemaker; Zinfandel
paver (the entire alphabet populates Lowe’s cellar door garden); the wine; Zin
vines;  tasting the Zin in the garden
outside Cellar Door; winery dog; bush vine Zin vineyard; one of the views from
inside the Zin House restaurant; the cellar door (center)

Final Thoughts on Mudgee

Mudgee is a wonderland to me, with dozens of small, artisan, family-owned wineries tucked in and around the valley and rolling hills. And the wines being produced are wonderful. The town of Mudgee is really cool, with shops, eateries and hotels, and just about the nicest people I’ve ever met. All of these things make Mudgee a wonderful destination for weekend travelers.
If you are traveling to New South Wales, Australia, I urge you to check out both the Hunter Valley and Mudgee. You can get to them easily from Sydney, via train, car, or plane. On the journey, you can experience the Blue Mountains, Australia’s version of the Grand Canyon; they are stunning.

Special Thanks

I want to say a giant Thank You to Mudgee and its people. Also, cheers to the following organizations and business who welcomed Wine Media Conference 2019 attendees:

Mudgee Wine and Country Tours Ben, our driver, was the best driver a visitor could ask for, making sure we saw wildlife, stunning vistas, and historic markers, even if it meant pulling to the side of the road spontaneously to shoot a picture of a road sign!

Collage of various people at WBC19

(Upper left, clockwise): Ben of Mudgee Wine Tours; Mudgee road sign; beautiful old vines in Mudgee; the comfortable Mudgee Tourist Bus; my husband Bruce with Cara George of Visit Mudgee Region; my fellow WBC19 travelers.

Cara George, CEO of Visit Mudgee Region: A wonderful human being and great host, who made sure we stayed on schedule but also gave us the time we needed at each stop on our tour.

My fellow Wine Media Conference attendees who made the Mudgee excursion extra fun. It was great sharing the wine geek moments with all of you.

Until next time,