Orange

New South Wales

About

The burgeoning wine region of Orange is an exciting destination for quality cool-climate drops, with a map teeming with unmissable cellar doors and an equally pronounced food scene.

It’s a go-to bucolic escape for Sydneysiders that’s renowned for an abundance of top wines and a clutch of other juicy fruits. From humble beginnings, Orange is being heralded as a premium region; its bright future exciting winemakers, wine lovers and critics alike. Chardonnay is the hero style with a punch, performing particularly well through an expressive abundance of quality. The Orange wine region also has emerging vines of pinot grigio, sangiovese and sauvignon blanc, plus other styles including lighter-bodied reds.

This laidback country town has a serious image of fine eateries and local culinary delights. In between cellar doors and cafe stops, discover the Orange Botanic Gardens or take a self-guided tour and uncover the history and heritage of the region.


James Halliday on Orange


Initially known as the Central Highlands, the Orange region has long been an important orchard area, producing apples, pears and cherries for both local and export markets. An experimental viticulture station was established at nearby Molong in the 1940s, but vines were first planted commercially in 1980 (at Bloodwood Estate). The region is one of few to have its boundaries dictated entirely by topography and altitude (Adelaide Hills is another), in this instance the 600 metres contour line. It is dominated by Mount Canobolas, which provides the high-altitude slopes and hence the cool climate; the volcanic basalt from which the soils have evolved; and the spectacular panoramic views which many of the vineyards enjoy.

Vineyard and winery development have gone along two quite different pathways. All but one of the estate wineries are small, mostly family-owned and run. These have come steadily in the footsteps of Bloodwood, although the pace quickened in the latter half of the 1990s and the first five or so years of the current century. The one slightly unusual winery in the small group is Templer’s Mill, part of the University of Sydney’s Orange campus.

The other, radically different, is the very large development previously known as Cabonne or Reynolds, and now called Cumulus. Reynolds was originally financed by a tax investment scheme, which saw the planting of over 500 hectares of vineyards and the erection of a 14,000-tonne capacity winery, involving the expenditure of tens of millions of dollars. The wines, made under the direction of Jon Reynolds, were of very good quality and excellent value, but the venture fell foul of the Commissioner of Taxation and (one suspects) overly ambitious export plans to the US.

In 2004, the assets of Reynolds were acquired by an international investment consortium, and Philip Shaw, ex-chief winemaker at Rosemount and Southcorp, was hired as chief winemaker and winery manager. In accepting the position, he was effectively putting his money where his mouth was, for he had already developed a personal vineyard in the region planted, inter alia, to Merlot.

Facts

Wineries 55
Tasting Notes 2149

Geographic

Latitude 33°15’S
Altitude 600–900 m
Heat Degree Days 1200–1309
Growing Season Rainfall 440 mm
Mean January Temp 19.9°C
Harvest Mid-March to early May