Orange has a long history of fruit growing particularly apples, cherries, stone fruit and grapes.
The modern development of the wine
industry in the region began in the early 1980s and by the late 1990s
there were 1350 ha under vine.
The Orange Wine Region is one of the few in Australia officially defined solely by altitude and is the area above 600m in the local government
areas of Orange, Cabonne and Blayney. This is basically a circle
around the city of Orange. The area is ideal for grape growing and wine making due to
a combination of geology, soils, climate and temperature.
Together these factors combine to produce grapes and wine of distinct flavours
More details on the Orange Region terroir can be found here.
Our first stop was Hedberg Hill Wines.
Peter Hedberg was a lecturer throughout my course at Orange and was instrumental in getting me interested in grape growing and convincing me to continue studies of viticulture and wine making at Charles Sturt University in Wagga Wagga.
He established the vineyard at the Orange campus and my Cabernet Sauvignon vines are from cuttings taken from that vineyard.
We tasted the entire range of Peter's cool climate whites with the 2010 Viognier (2 gold and one silver medal so far) and 2011 Sauvignon Blanc (one bronze medal so far) being outstanding. Then it was onto the reds. My favourite was the 2011 Tempranillo. Typical savoury flavor with fine tannins and good length.
There was also a late harvest slightly botrytized Riesling dessert wine but it was not quite ready for commercial release. Both the co driver and I loved this wine.
Then it was on to Printhie Wines near Molong.
They have two ranges of wines, one a cheaper fruit driven style, the other, more complex.
We liked the fruit driven 2011 Sauvignon Blanc better than its dearer brother but the more complex 2011 Riesling and 2009 Pinot Noir were great wines.
The vineyard sits on rolling hills at the far reaches of the region with the ancient extinct volcano, Mt. Canobolas just visible on the horizon. A perfect place to taste and relax and try to get warm in the midday sun.
After a quick late lunch in Molong we drove up to the top of Mt. Canobolas which at nearly 1400m dominates the area. It's a rough road for the last few kilometers but worth it when you get there. The views of the surrounding area, almost 360 degrees, is stunning especially if you ignore the communication towers that litter the mountain top. And to our surprise there were still remnants of snow lying among the trees on the shaded south side of the mountain as a result of last week's snow storm.
Then it was a quick trip back to our accommodation to get ready for our dinner out at the Racine Restaurant. This was a great meal in a nice intimate room with good service. The wine list prices were not OTT and we were happy to select a Hedberg Hill Tempranillo that went well with my venison starter and baked salmon main.
Then it was 'home' again for another bottle of wine and a few games of 'quick' scrabble.