The 3-plus-hour-drive from Sydney to Canberra or vice versa does not have to be a boring long drive. A stop at the right place, in addition to the rest stops, could make all the difference. Just 30 minutes out of Canberra in Collector NSW, the Lerida Estate is one such option that does not disappoint. I chanced upon its café on the drive home back to Sydney—I was feeling a bit sleepy so I was on the lookout for a rest area or the first place I can grab a coffee from. I was in luck, I found both. Turning off the Federal Highway to Gurney VC rest area, Lerida Estate is a very short drive on a paved road parallel to the highway.
In a recent trip to the Hunter Valley, the wine region of New South Wales, I was told that an operational vineyard and winery combined is now rare, considering that for some, it makes sense to focus on grape planting and leave the wine-making to the pros, just as it makes good business sense to specialise in winemaking and make that expertise available to the grape planters. Such is not the case with Lerida Estate, however. It has its own vineyard, its own winery, a cellar and a café to boot. They plant the grapes, make the wine, and you get to dine with an array of choices of cool climate wine. Its vineyard is planted with Pinot Noir, Chardonnay, Pinot Gris, Merlot, Shiraz and Viognier grapes, while its winery produces the best Pinot Noir, Shiraz Viognier and Botrytis Pinot Gris wines for which Lerida Estate is known. At my stop at Lerida Estate, I was only after coffee, but I got more than I bargained for. Since I was, unfortunately, the designated driver, only my companions had the opportunity to enjoy what the place had to offer on-the-spot. I had to contend with the nice view and the coffee that dispelled my sleepiness on the wheel.
Dining with these wine barrels around you adds to the feel of the place
So, are the wines at Lerida Estate awesome? I am not a wine connoisseur but I think they're good and perhaps winning the James Halliday Wine Companion Five Star Winery six years in a row from 2011 and counting, if it is any indicator of quality, speaks volumes. Sold by the original owners to its current owner earlier this year after starting from the ground up in 1998, Lerida Estate is now focused on pushing the boundaries of quality and exploring the export market, particularly in China. If you are interested in having a look at the different wines Lerida Estate has, check out their wine list (Click here for the Lerida Estate wine list). Meanwhile, instead of making it a mere stop on the way to or from Canberra, schedule a visit where you can have a decent meal overlooking the beautiful vineyard with Lake George as the backdrop. The café is open daily from 10am to 5pm, ring them up at (02) 4848 0231 if you wish to make a booking.