The name “Mudgee” comes from the Wiradjuri term for “Nest in the Hills”, encapsulating the town perfectly.
Mudgee sits in undulating terrain between the tall ridges of the Cudgegong River Valley.
The high elevation, plentiful sunshine and fertile soils all put the town among Australia’s winemaking capitals.
Everything is just right for gutsy reds like Zinfandel, Shiraz and Cabernet Sauvignon, but white grapes like Riesling, Chardonnay and Gewürztraminer also do well here.
Below we’ve got a hand-picked selection of wineries to check out, each with their own signature varieties.
Mudgee’s CBD is a joy for the elegant 19th-century architecture, and for a food scene to match the world-class wine.
1. The Drip Gorge
Mudgee is conveniently close to a natural wonder in the Goulburn River State Conservation Area.
You can walk an easy track beside the Goulburn River to the Great Dripping Wall, where rainwater trickles though the porous rock.
This has a natural air-conditioning effect on the gorge, and temperatures can be 15°C cooler than the ambient level.
Try to be here after a period of sustained rainfall, when these sandstone walls are completely saturated.
The microclimate gives rise to a wealth of plant life, from orchids to tree violets and apple gums.
Also see if you can make a detour to Hands on the Rock, a key Aboriginal art site two kilometres from the Drip Gorge.
2. Lowe Family Wine Co.
One of the stars of Mudgee’s wine scene is Lowe Wines, a certified organic vineyard known for its robust, quartz-loving reds, made with innovative techniques and years of experience.
The vineyards themselves are untrellised and unirrigated, and so produce wine that is a perfect expression of the soil and climate alone.
Lowe’s main varieties are Merlot, Shiraz and the flagship Zinfandel.
And you can pair your glass with selections from the Food Store, located at the cellar door and letting you build your own platter from local cheese, sourdough bread, baguettes, marinated olives, salami, crimson snow apples, double smoked ham and a choice of delicious dips.
3. Moothi Estate Winery
One of the great things about this cellar door and restaurant east of Mudgee is its high elevation, giving you dreamy views over the vines and sun-lit backdrop from the deck.
The family-owned Moothi Estate produces Riesling, Chardonnay, Merlot, Shiraz, Cabernet Sauvignon, and gives you a leisurely 45 minutes if you’re here for a tasting.
Or you can book a table for lunch and while away the afternoon.
Most of the ingredients on the menu are sourced locally, and an antipasti plantter will have marinated olives, prosciutto, house-made pastrami, vintage cheddar and much more from around Mudgee.
4. High Valley Cheese Co.
This cheese-maker’s creations appear on menus all over the Mudgee region.
High Valley Cheese Co. uses milk from Dubbo’s Little Big Dairy for nine different artisan cheeses, all made in the traditional way.
Among them is a marinated feta, a rouge, a Caerphilly, a smoked cheddar, a triple cream Brie and two kinds of blue cheese.
Opposite the Mudgee Racecourse, High Valley’s factory is on a boutique scale and has a cellar door attached, offering tastings.
5. Robert Stein Winery & Vineyard
Founded in 1976 and now in its third generation is this single estate vineyard, growing and bottling on site.
The Stein family has a winemaking lineage that can be traced back to 1838, channelling all that knowhow into a flagship Riesling, as well as Gewürztraminer, Chardonnay and Shiraz.
Current winemaker Jacob Stein has taken a whole raft of prizes, including “Winemaker of the Year” several years running at the Mudgee Wine Show.
Swing by the award-winning cellar door for tastings and try salami made from the farm’s own free-range Berkshire pigs, or book a table at the beloved Pipeclay Pumphouse, blessed with panoramas of the Cudgegong Valley.
Another string in Robert Stein’s bow is the vintage motorbike collection, which you can check out for free while visiting the winery.
6. Short Sheep Micro-Winery
True to its name, Short Sheep Micro-Winery is all about first-rate wine in small batches, using sustainable practices throughout the process, from vine to glass.
When we put this list together in 2020, Short Sheep’s offer comprised reds like the signature Syrah and Cabernet-Merlot, and whites like limited release Chardonnay and Semillon.
One thing that separates the Cellar Door from much of the flock is the generous “Flavours Palette”, on Saturdays when you can explore curated wine and food pairings.
Short Sheep also gets creative with its tasting experiences, letting you try its selection by candlelight, fire and twilight.
7. Mudgee Museum
West of the CBD and backing onto the Cudgegong River is a museum documenting Mudgee’s history with the help of a giant collection.
This is runs to more than 60,000 items, from farming tools to natural history specimens.
The setting is also remarkable, at a fine colonial inn from the middle of the 19th century, and complemented by other historical buildings like an early-20th century church and a slab hut.
Among the major exhibits are a 19th-century wagon belonging to a local farming family, a rare cabin chest that arrived in Australia with German immigrants in 1855 and a 1935 Packard that served in the Mudgee Ambulance Service in WW2.
8. Pieter van Gent Winery & Vineyard
This 100-acre estate sits just off the Ulan Road, little more than ten minutes out of Mudgee proper.
Pieter van Gent has been in the winemaking business for decades, and produced Australia’s first bottles of Chardonnay in the early-1970s.
The cellar door has a special setting, in the barrel hall, furnished with antique choir stalls and flanked by 20 German oak casks made in the 1850s.
Pieter van Gent’s wines reflect the nuances of the grape, soil, season, climate and the winemaker.
Make sure to sample the famous Mudgee Pipeclay White Port, with its overtones of nectar in the bouquet and a smooth palate from start to finish.
The cellar door is also a sales space for the talented local chocolatier, Amelie.
9. The Cellar by Gilbert
Mudgee’s Gilbert family has six generations of winemaking expertise under its belt, and opened this cellar door on the edge of town in 2016. The venue is a cute sandstone building, which has more in a common with an upscale winebar than a typical cellar door.
There you can sample Gilbert Family Wines’ selection, featuring Riesling and blends like “Rouge” (Shiraz and Sangiovese), “Blanc” (Riesling, Pinot Gris, Gewürztraminer), Lignée Rouge (Shiraz and Pinot Noir) and Lignée Blanc (Semillon and Sauvignon Blanc). And if you want to see how it’s done there’s a wine masterclass every Saturday afternoon.
10. Mudgee Observatory
Set up by one John Vetter, who has almost 50 years of experience in the field, Mudgee Observatory is a private facility set 15 minutes out of town in an area of dark skies.
This facility is occasionally used by members of the prestigious Sutherland Astronomical Society, but also opens to schools, group tours or individuals keen to do some stargazing.
You’ll need to book ahead for a session, which will include a conducted tour of the night sky using the observatory’s telescopes and binoculars.
There’s also a planetarium here for programs going into depth on celestial bodies as well as the history, present and future of space missions.
11. Putta Bucca Wetlands
If you’ve been overdoing it at Mudgee’s wineries and fancy some exercise, a nature reserve has cropped up on the town’s doorstep.
An exhausted aggregate quarry and Mudgee’s former sewage works have both made way for a wetland site, found on what used to be a meander in the now straightened Cudegong River.
Bordering this oxbow lake are bird hides, and in a short space of time you may see a staggering number of species, from Australian king parrots, to plum-headed finches, mistletoe birds, musk lorikeets and rainbow bee-eaters.
You can navigate the reserve on four different trails, from 400 metres long to a 1.4-kilometre path that hugs the riverbank.
12. St Mary of Presentation Catholic Church
A building that brings real gravitas to Mudgee’s townscape is the Neogothic St Mary’s Church.
Composed of Botobolar sandstone, St Mary’s was built from 1873 to 1876, but incorporates some older architecture dating back to the 1850s.
The main facade, dominated by an image of Mary, is rich with multifoil tracery, in the blind arches flanking the entrance, a frieze below that statue, a pair of lancet windows and a masterful rose window at the top.
Step inside and there’s much to admire, like the stencilling and stained glass, produced by Glasgow’s Lyon, Cottier & Company.
The pews were carved from maple in the 1930s, while the organ was built by London’s J.W. Walker in 1866 and the Stations of the Cross are the work of London artist George de Pyro.
The church’s standout is the altar, made up of Carrara marble, Rockhampton marble and some green marble from Sweden.
13. Mudgee Heritage Walking Tours
The CBD is constellated with fine old buildings that have been around since the second half of the 19th century.
This refined architecture gives a hint of the kind of money that was flowing through Mudgee, first on the back of the Australian gold rush and then via the wool industry and arrival of the railway.
The Mudgee Heritage Walking Tour is a weekly event, departing at 10:00 from the Clock Tower at the Corner of Market and Church Streets.
You’ll get to admire some handsome heritage architecture at the Railway Station (1884), Mudgee Post Office (1862) and Town Hall (1880) to name a handful, and will learn about fascinating characters and events in the town’s past.
14. Mudgee Fine Foods Farmers’ Market
Opposite the visitor information centre, Robertson Park is the venue for a well-attended farmers’ market on the third Saturday of the month.
In a town like Mudgee, with its reputation for quality food and drink, the event is run according to strict farmers’ market guidelines.
This means that everything sold here has been grown, caught, reared, baked, smoked, pickled or brewed by the stallholders themselves.
Think seasonal fruit and vegetables, all kinds of herbs, chutney, oils, feta, macarons, freshly-baked bread and much more besides.
There will be music by local musicians as you shop, and you can grab a bacon and egg roll for breakfast.
15. Mudgee Wine + Food Festival
This two-week festival has been going for more than 40 years and takes place every September/early-October.
For epicureans there’s no better time to be in Mudgee, for a program brimming with special tastings, exclusive tours, lunches, dinners and live music.
There’s a host of participating cellar doors in the Mudgee, each offering something different, be it special offers or innovative platters and pairings.
The festival all builds up to Flavours of Mudgee, where all of the area’s winegrowers and food producers gather to lay out tastings and delicious bites in the heart of the CBD.