For those who know me, it’s clear that I enjoy a glass (or seventeen) of wine. So when an opportunity arose to attend a binge drinking weekend disguised as wine tasting… I was on it like a fly on fresh excrement.
My expectations for Orange were fairly low. I thought it was a one-street town in Woop Woop and hadn’t given it much thought before hopping in the car for the 4 hour journey.
The drive alone is beautiful. Winding through the Blue Mountains, the views are spectacular and I was blown away by the variety of trees along the way. Although living in Sydney sure has its perks (beaches & man-bunned hotties), I do miss the rich autumnal colours of home. But now I can just drive to Orange (or close my eyes in torrential rain) and pretend I’m in Wales.
Orange itself has a plethora of restaurants and coffee shops stacked with local produce. We dined at The Union Bank where the food (and wine) is delicious, followed by a brunch the next day at Factory Espresso where I almost ordered everything on the menu (wine hangover).
On the whole the wineries in Orange are less commercialised than Hunter Valley and well worth the extra hour or so in the car. We visited 10 over the weekend and I would highly recommend 3 in particular.
Brangayne of Orange – A ‘no muss, no fuss’ kind of place with friendly staff. They made a plate of local produce including the best blue cheese and pistachio dip I’ve ever tasted. For red wine drinkers, I’d recommend the 2014 Tristan or the 2013 Shiraz. P.S the dip (Fresh Fodder) is available in Sydney. #winning
Stockman’s Ridge – This was supposed to be our penultimate stop of the day but we were so relaxed watching the sunset, sitting on wooden logs around a fire pit with music playing in the background that we bought a bottle and stayed there.
Bloodwood Wines – I was pretty sloshed by the time we got to this one, but even sober I’d have loved it. Stephen, the owner, didn’t charge for tastings but requested Easter Eggs instead. We sat at his dining table where he ploughed us with wine whilst regaling hilarious stories. We bought several bottles (2010 Maurice, 2013 Shiraz, 2016 Big Men in Tights and 2014 Schubert to name a few) and as we were the last group of the day, he gave us all the left over tasting bottles too (hence the hangover).
We also sampled some local culture in the form of Camel Racing (which, contrary to what I initially thought, did not involve us actually racing the camels). I only have one word for this experience – “bizarre”. We lasted an hour before reverting back to wine…
In summary, Orange is the perfect combination of high quality produce and down-to-earth hospitality. I would highly recommended a trip there. It’s like Hunter Valley but with less pomp… and more camels.