A Sydney based writer, director, actor. Loves going out and exploring what Sydney has to offer.
Published December 8th 2012
Taste some tantalising boutique wines in northern NSW
If you're planning a holiday in Port Macquarie or are just hankering for a top wine tour, I highly recommend these wineries in the Hastings Valley region.
Douglas Vale is a charming vineyard and, unbeknownst to us, historic homestead. As soon as we arrived, ready to taste some wine, we were whisked off around the property for a fascinating history lesson.
In 1863 the Francis Family planted the vineyard with Isabella Vines, a vine now rare in Australia. By late last century, the family was no longer producing wines and when the last family member living at Douglas Vale passed away, the property was in a state of disrepair. A group of volunteers restored the homestead and planted new vines using clippings from the original vines.
The volunteers now produce a range of lovely wines and we left happily with a White Cockatoo, a crisp blend of Villard Blank and Chardonnay that rolls easily off the tongue, and a Portobella, a delicious port made from the Isabella grape variety.
Douglas Vale is open Wednesday, Saturday and Sunday, 10am – 3pm.
Located in Wauchope, at a 25 minute drive from Port Macquarie, Bago Vineyards is open 9:30am – 5pm, 7 days a week. Bago stretches across a picturesque expanse and can host weddings and functions (even for over 400 people). It's ideal for families as parents can send their children off to the maze while they relax with a glass of wine or two.
That's right, a maze. It's small, but fun and contains musical instruments.
As it turned out, the day we visited was the Maze Grand Opening. We'd planned to taste test, then use our voucher from the local tourist guide for two free glasses of wine with purchase of a cheese platter. We were told there were no cheese platters available due to the Grand Opening but were kindly offered the two free glasses anyway. My partner and I decided to compromise: we bought a local cheese, Comboyne Culture Washed Rind, for $10 with a glass of the Spritzy Chardonnay and Chilled Jazz Red. The cheese was beautiful, with a strong flavour.
Bago has a strong range of wines and we were particularly impressed by the whites. Our pick of the vineyard was the Spritzy Chardonnay, a lovely, refreshing bubbly which will only set you back $15 per bottle.
While we were less impressed with the wine selection at Cassegrain, it would also be a lovely location for weddings and functions. The grounds are large, set amongst lakes and beautiful greenery, and I was very excited to see young kangaroos milling about.
Their restaurant offers French-inspired cuisine using fresh, local produce. I have a strong suspicion that the meals are delicious but expensive. We had no intention of trying for ourselves, as the menu was not available online (one of my partner's pet hates).
On a beautiful day, Cassegrain's 'Le Pique-Nique' would be wonderful: a special hamper with fresh baguettes, homemade pate, terrine, cold meats, salad, fruit, cheese and dessert that can be taken out onto the grounds with a bottle or two of wine.
The Cellar Door has a vast range of wines, all of which can be tasted. The winemaker was friendly and, we believe, gave us a discount on the bottle we purchased, the L'éthérée Blanc de Blanc, another refreshing bubbly.
The wines are light, smooth and fruity and we particularly enjoyed the Sparkling Chardonnay (yes, we like our bubbly drinks) and the Roses are White 2012, a crisp, cool chardonnay. The winemaker was very friendly and we had a good chat about his wines and our holiday.
Rose's Vineyard also caters for functions and weddings on their lovely surroundings of 120 acres and accommodation is available in their 4 bedroom, 3 bathroom house. It can sleep up to 8 people and is fully self contained.