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Hilltops and Yass Valley Guide

Clonakilla, MurrumbatemanCREDIT: Destination NSW

Wineries in the Yass Valley include Clonakilla, famous for its shiraz viognier. 

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Hilltops and
Yass Valley Guide

Clonakilla, Murrumbateman CREDIT: Destination NSW

Wineries in the Yass Valley include Clonakilla, famous for its shiraz viognier. 

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Visit the exciting food and wine destinations of the Yass Valley and Hilltops region, about a three-hour drive southwest of Sydney, and discover excellent produce in beautiful country towns and villages. You’ll find everything from super sourdoughs to wonderful wines.  

Say yes to sourdough in Yass 

After the award-winning Clementine restaurant closed in 2020, the artisan Clementine Bakery emerged in its place. Restaurateurs Brook and Adam Bantock have rekindled their love of baking and now make six types of sourdough, croissants and Danish pastries, in small batches by hand, using local ingredients and seasonal produce where possible. You’ll find the bakery in a white weatherboard cottage in the town of Yass, a three-hour drive southwest of Sydney or an hour north of Canberra. It’s open Friday to Sunday. While you’re in Yass, call in for an ethical coffee at Trader & Co, a social-change collective offering a wholefoods pantry, coffee bar and roaster, café and community space. Or grab a green brekkie bowl and an organic coffee at Kaffeine 2582.  

Mosey on down to Murrumbateman 

Head to Murrambateman, the centre of the Canberra district wine region, a half-hour drive south of Yass, and call in on the Four Winds Vineyard. Known for its award-winning riesling, it also made a riesling gin in 2020 with grapes it wasn’t able to use for wine due to smoke damage. At the cellar door you can enjoy tasting flights, wood-fired pizza, and meat and cheese platters.  

Four Winds CEO Sarah Collingwood isn’t the only notable woman in wine in the Murrumbateman region; Stephanie Helm is the winemaker at The Vintner’s Daughter, which produces award-winning riesling, while Celine Rousseau is the winemaker at Eden Road Wines, a boutique winery that produces exciting wines including the award-winning Long Road Syrah.  

While on a tasting trail of the Murrumbateman, be sure to sample Ken Helm’s impressive range of wines at Helm Wines, whose cellar door is housed in an 1888 schoolhouse. Shaw Wines produces great cabernet sauvignon and offers wine tasting experiences that include access to a private cellar. And the shiraz viognier at Clonakilla, the signature meads at the Wins Creek Meadery, and natural wood-smoked meats and wine at the Poacher’s Pantry are also not to be missed. 

Get on down to Gundaroo 

The lovingly preserved heritage village of Gundaroo, in the Yass Valley just half an hour north of Canberra, is home to the renowned Grazing at Gundaroo, in the restored, historic Royal Hotel. This restaurant offers innovative two- or three-course menus designed around fresh, local produce, plus a four-course tasting menu that can be matched with Canberra District wines. In the stables right next to Grazing, try award-winning wines from Gundog Estate at its Cork Street Cellar Door.  

Nearby is the Cork Street Café, where you can find gourmet pizza in a historic 1870s police stables and lock-up, and Tallangandra Hill, a winery with a cellar door and cottage accommodation.  

The Nest at Gundaroo offers luxury villas and a heritage-listed cottage, while a half-hour drive north-east of Gundaroo, Lerida Estate specialises in pinot noir and offers fine food at Café Lerida in a Glenn Murcutt-designed winery on Lake George. 

Helm Wines, Murrumbateman CREDIT: Destination NSW

Winemaker Ken Helm in the Helm Wines cellar door, Murrumbateman.

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Helm Wines, Murrumbateman CREDIT: Destination NSW

Winemaker Ken Helm in the Helm Wines cellar door, Murrumbateman.

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Poachers Pantry, Springrange CREDIT: Destination NSW

Couple driving up the scenic driveway to Poachers Pantry, Springrange.

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Poachers Pantry, Springrange CREDIT: Destination NSW

Couple driving up the scenic driveway to Poachers Pantry, Springrange.

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Choose cherries in Young 

Cherries blossom in and around the Hilltops town of Young in September, and cherry picking season runs from the start of November until the end of December, so if you’re here at that time of year, pick your own at one of the many local orchards. You can follow a Cherry Harvest and Vineyard Road Trip in and around Young, a four-hour drive west of Sydney or two hours north of Canberra, and ideally time your visit for the annual National Cherry Festival, held in December. It celebrates all things cherries, with cherry pie eating, cherry pip spitting, the crowning of the cherry king and queen, plus street parades and markets. Young’s wineries include Grove Estate Wines, where you can enjoy a premium wine tasting with a gourmet platter; and Ballinaclash Fruit and Wine, a combined cherry orchard and winery.  

Jog into Jugiong for fine food 

The Hilltops village of Jugiong, on the banks of the Murrumbidgee, a 3.5-hour southwest of Sydney or 90 minutes northwest of Canberra, is home to some culinary surprises. The Long Track Pantry is a country food store with a difference: eat breakfast or lunch in the excellent Long Track Pantry Café, grab a coffee and taste the artisan homemade jams, relishes and granola in the Jam Factory Tasting Room, choose from 26 flavours in the Lickety Splits Gelato Bar, and sign up for a cooking class.  

Next door to the Long Track Pantry, the Jugiong Wine Cellar stocks boutique wines from the surrounding Tumbarumba, Hilltops, Canberra District and Gundagai wine region, and sells local artworks.  

Also at Jugiong, you can stay at the Sir George, a stone pub dating back to 1852 that has been lovingly restored. Stay in luxury renovated stables (even older than the pub — dating back to 1845) or barns, enjoy a drink by the fire in the stylish bar, or head out into the leafy beer garden. And settle in for a two- or three-course chef’s set menu in a restaurant that uses high-end produce such as local lamb, herbs from the kitchen garden and homemade charcuterie. Try the sourdough and doughnuts from the Sir George Bakery while you’re here. 

Welcome Sign, Young CREDIT: Destination NSW

Sign welcoming visitors to Young, the cherry capital of Australia.

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Welcome Sign, Young CREDIT: Destination NSW

Sign welcoming visitors to Young, the cherry capital of Australia.

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Long Track Pantry, Jugiong CREDIT: Destination NSW

Lunch menu items available from the cafe at Long Track Pantry, Jugiong.

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Long Track Pantry, Jugiong CREDIT: Destination NSW

Lunch menu items available from the cafe at Long Track Pantry, Jugiong.

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