Some say the early bird catches the worm, but in Mudgee it's the winemakers who catch the bees. A spiritual home for honey in New South Wales, rumour has it that the sticky stuff puts some additional pep into the winemaking in the region.
Modern winemaking kicked off in the 1970s, though original plantings were established much earlier in the 1860s. Sadly the old vines probably had to make way for the bees and hives, but a ground swell of interest from large company investment in the area helped re-establish vineyards in the region.
Today Mudgee is ascending in popularity. Fruit driven, cleanly made wines have found a groove, moving away from the bulk fruit production and clunky winemaking practices of the past. Combine this with sustainable practices and a ground swell of commitment to organic and bio-dynamic vineyard management, and Mudgee is coming along in leaps and bounds.
Chardonnay is the leading light for the region. It's not an enviable position as the honey pot of Sauvignon Blanc from New Zealand seduces Australia, but a focus on Chardonnay wines has seen exceptional examples being consistently produced from the region. Shiraz, Cabernet Sauvignon and Merlot are also gaining in vogue, with fruit forward, friendly, approachable wines the norm. The great realization is that Mudgee is capable of producing readily consumed wines from the noble grape varieties, but also has a heart for innovation – the region is steadily increasing existing older plantings of alternative varieties such as Sangiovese and Barbera.
Wine tourism has always been key, a haven for Sydney-siders seeking local produce, dining and relaxation opportunities, however, with over 40 cellar doors in the region, visiting Mudgee will keep you as busy as a bee.