The classic country town of Gundagai might be famed for attracting writers and bush poetry, but it’s now increasingly their warm-climate wines drawing a crowd to the promising wine region.
With its hilly landscape and mountain streams, Gundagai continues to grow as a wine region with new plantations thriving above the Murrumbidgee floodplains. The top varieties grown in the area include fruit-forward cabernet sauvignon, elegant chardonnay and full-bodied shiraz.
The region is blessed with natural beauty, with long cycling trails to discover. However, no trip is complete without stopping by the celebrated Australian icon, Dog on the Tucker Box, stemming from a colonial bush ballad as a bronze monument to the region’s early pioneers.
Travellers can expect to arrive in Gundagai within a four-hour drive from Sydney and a five-hour drive from Melbourne.
James Halliday on Gundagai
Gundagai is a thoroughly schizophrenic region, but one created with a good deal of common sense. Its north-eastern corner is Temora; it and Cootamundra have warm to hot climates at relatively low elevations to the west of the Great
Dividing Range. The region’s south-eastern corner is Tumut at the northern end of the Snowy Mountains, with a cool to cold climate, and abutting the Tumbarumba region to the south. Had the boundaries not extended to take in Tumut and the area around it, there would have been a significant regional no-man’s land.
The first vines were planted at Kyeamba, south-east of Wagga Wagga, in the late 1840s. The most significant 19th-century development was that of John James McWilliam, who established Mark View near Junee in 1877 before moving to the Riverina in 1912. The vineyard continued in production until the 1950s; in the 1970s the New South Wales Wine and Food Society had bottles of McWilliam’s Junee red wine made by the legendary Maurice O’Shea which I tasted on a number of occasions.
Significant vineyards have been established around Gundagai (including a 240-hectare red grape vineyard by Southcorp), Ladysmith, Borambola, Jugiong and Tumut. When site climate is factored in, the region will be able to produce as diverse a range of wine styles as any other region in Australia.
35°07’S (Junee), 35°17’S (Tumut), 34°38’S (Cootamundra)
210 m (Junee), 267 m (Tumut), 320 m (Cootamundra)
|Heat Degree Days||
2110 (Junee), 1500 (Tumut), 2050 (Cootamundra)
|Growing Season Rainfall||
240 mm (Junee), 420 mm (Tumut), 270 mm (Cootamundra)
|Mean January Temp||
24°C (Junee), 21.2°C (Tumut), 23.7°C (Cootamundra)
Late February to mid March (Tumut much later)