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Cowra and Hilltops Wine Country

Rosnay Organic Wines, CanowindraCREDIT: Destination NSW

A toast to an excellent weekend in the Hilltops and Cowra wine regions.

#lovensw #newsouthwales

Cowra and Hilltops
Wine Country

Rosnay Organic Wines, Canowindra CREDIT: Destination NSW

A toast to an excellent weekend in the Hilltops and Cowra wine regions.

#lovensw #newsouthwales

Hashtags #lovensw #newsouthwales

Explore the lesser-known wine regions of New South Wales, where you can combine a journey around the cellar doors of Cowra and the Hilltops with tastings of craft beers and boutique bourbons — and a champagne breakfast after a morning in the clouds in a hot-air balloon.  

The Cowra wine region 

The country town of Cowra in the beautiful Lachlan Valley, a 4.5-hour drive from Sydney is the hub of the up-and-coming Cowra wine region. This area, which spreads north to the historic village of Canowindra, was planted with vines in the 1970s and is now home to 40 wineries. It is especially known for producing good chardonnay, thanks to its sunny, warm days, cool nights and late summers.  

Start your visit at The Quarry Restaurant and Cellar Door, where you can sample the region’s wines, including bottles from wineries that don’t have cellar doors. Dine at the gorgeous restaurant with seating in the garden and a menu showcasing local produce, such as Cowra lamb and Rosnay organic olives.  

Canowindra and surrounds 

Head 30 minutes north of Cowra to tiny Canowindra, a popular centre for ballooning as well as wine. Float off into the clear skies at sunrise with Balloon Joy Flights to get your bearings in this the expansive landscape, before enjoying a glass of bubbly — a fitting start to a day exploring the vineyards.  

Book a tour to learn about the farming methods of Rosnay Organic, a winery and orchard 10 minutes out of town, where three generations of the Statham family have perfected their winemaking. The hands-on Stathams oversee the process from pruning the vines to painting the artwork which appears on the final bottled product. Pick up some estate-grown table olives or figs from their farm shop.  

Don’t miss Windowrie, the estate of one of the region’s founding winemakers. The O’Dea family grow many different varietals but are most excited about their cabernet, shiraz and merlot, as well as the verdelho. Try the Pig in the House organic range of wines or the Family Reserve range, made from premium fruits with only 400 cases of each variety produced.  

While you’re in Canowindra, drop by nearby Wallington Wines, a small, biodynamic vineyard. Try the rosé and chardonnay as well as red varietals, such as grenache and cabernet, at the straw bale cellar door. The farm also has an olive grove, bees, sheep and cattle.  

If you’re more of a beer drinker, about 50 minutes’ drive north of Canowindra you’ll find local craft specialists Pioneer Brewing Co, where they grow and harvest malting barley, rye and wheat from the family farm. It opens for beer tastings and brewery tours. 

Hot Air Ballooning, Canowindra CREDIT: Destination NSW

A Balloon Joy Flight hot air balloon readying for a morning flight over Canowindra.

#lovensw #newsouthwales

Hot Air Ballooning, Canowindra CREDIT: Destination NSW

A Balloon Joy Flight hot air balloon readying for a morning flight over Canowindra.

#lovensw #newsouthwales

Grove Estate Wines, Young CREDIT: Destination NSW

Sun setting over the scenic grounds of Grove Estate Wines, Young.

#lovensw #newsouthwales

Grove Estate Wines, Young CREDIT: Destination NSW

Sun setting over the scenic grounds of Grove Estate Wines, Young.

#lovensw #newsouthwales

The Hilltops wine region  

There’s always another great place just around in the corner in NSW. The handsome country town of Young sits at the heart of the Hilltops wine region, about 70 kilometres south of Cowra. The South West slopes of the Hilltops produce elegant reds, especially cabernet sauvignon and shiraz. The rich soil, high altitude and distinct seasons are ideal for cool-climate grapes. 

You can spend a happy day exploring Young, the acknowledged cherry capital of Australia, which also produces olives, honey, beef and lamb. Then take just about any road out of town and you will come to a cellar door fairly quickly. Grove Estate Wines has vineyards stretching across a diverse range of conditions and soil types which allow for a variety of styles, including nebbiolo, zinfandel and viognier. Chalkers Crossing produces shiraz, riesling and tempranillo. Freeman Vineyards is a small family winery specialising in northern Italian varieties, while Moppity Vineyards has some of the oldest vines in southern NSW. 

After sampling the region’s wines, try some of the boutique liquor at Bluestill Distillery, on the site of a former jam factory. The fruit of the region is now the star in a creative range of Australian-made spirits. Pop in for a tasting of cherry liqueur or honey bourbon and a chat, browse the local artworks on display and stock up on locally made jam.  

You can’t visit the region without stopping at the orchards to pick your own fruit, especially during cherry season from October to late January. At Drive in Orchards you might find cherries, apricots, persimmons and figs, depending on the time of year. Willayoung Orchard specialises in tree-ripened fruit such as plums, peaches and nectarines — you can also buy them at local markets from December to March. Stock up on jams, relishes, cherries, pies and honey from the delightful shop at Valley Fresh Cherries & Stonefruit. You can also pick your own during the season at Main Range Cherry Orchard or Wombat Heights

Where to stay  

Take a step back in time at Grenfell Hall, in the former gold-rush town of Grenfell, a 30-minute drive from either Young or Cowra. This elegant Victorian residence was once a convent and is now a bed-and-breakfast set in a pretty garden.  

Country romantics and animal-lovers will adore The Shearing Shed, a charming rural hideaway in Cowra. It comes with all the modern comforts, including a king bed, luxury linen and air-conditioning. Keswick Cottage is another wonderful option, just outside Cowra. The former shed has been stunningly transformed into a luxury farm stay amid gardens overlooking lucerne pastures. 

Wind down in Canowindra, where Rosnay Organic vineyard offers accommodation in a typical 1910 farmhouse, and the recently renovated Blue Jacket Motel has modern suites with views over the river. 

Get a group together to stay and play at Wonga Homestead in Young, a delightful country getaway that sleeps up to 18 people in the six bedrooms of the 1912 private home. Battle it out on the tennis court or launch yourself off the vintage diving board into the pool after a day touring the surrounding vineyards and cherry orchards. 

Grove Estate Wines, Young CREDIT: Destination NSW

Couples enjoying a stroll through the vineyards at Grove Estate Wines, Young.

#lovensw #newsouthwales

Grove Estate Wines, Young CREDIT: Destination NSW

Couples enjoying a stroll through the vineyards at Grove Estate Wines, Young.

#lovensw #newsouthwales

Valley Fresh Cherries & Stonefruits, Young CREDIT: Destination NSW

Woman enjoying a day of cherry picking at Valley Fresh Cherries & Stonefruits, Young.

#lovensw #newsouthwales

Valley Fresh Cherries & Stonefruits, Young CREDIT: Destination NSW

Woman enjoying a day of cherry picking at Valley Fresh Cherries & Stonefruits, Young.

#lovensw #newsouthwales

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