Hilltops. Such a romantic sounding wine region. High on the hill with a lonely goat herd, yodelei yodelei yodeloo. Well not quite, but the Hilltops are an elevated, region with some important cool climate influence. The region is centered around the town of Young in southern New South Wales in what forms part of the Murray-Darling basin and while not stratospheric in the wine world for its reputation, Hilltops is steadily gaining credibility for its exceptional Chardonnay and Shiraz production.

Boutique producers are leading the way with attention to detail in vineyard sites and innovating with winemaking. High altitude is key to vineyard sites and growers have been experimenting with ‘alternative’ varieties for some time. The temperate, continental climate combined with hot days/cool nights in summer makes it an ideal area for growing grapes.

The region has long been a bit of a candy store for other wine companies. Many growers supplied fruit rather than produce their own and much of Hilltops had been blended away to form pleasing varietal red and white wines. However, attention has been brought to the region by wineries like Barwang, credited as being the first ‘modern’ wine producer in the region and Clonakilla, who source Shiraz from the region for their highly praised, entry level red wine. Throw into the mix innovators like Freeman, who have championed alternate varieties and complex white and red blends, and the future of Hilltops is in ascension.

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