Welcome to Orange! Where you can sip the afternoon away, nibble on tantalising cuisine and even pick your own fruit, oddly every fruit but oranges as we soon discovered.
Dominated by Mount Canobolas, the high-altitude slopes provide the cool climate, meaning that Orange is one of the highest and coolest wine regions in Australia.
Arrival into Orange felt like any country town in New South Wales, friendly locals, minimal traffic lights (if any), Pin Oak lined streets wide enough to draw your attention sideways without risking a broken bonnet. A neat and meticulous row of vines sit high on the horizon overlooking the town, but it wasn’t the grape we were here for (that yearning would come later), first we had a race to complete: our first ever half marathon.
Jacqui, Angela and I slowly amble west from Sydney, and while the 253km would prove to be a long way to travel just to run 21km, we were excited to sample the fruits of the region (literally and metaphorically.)
Those who do not enjoy running will not believe me, but truly the race was over in the blink of an eye. All the stress of what to consume pre, mid and post race seemed highly unwarranted and surprisingly we were rather spritely for the rest of the day.
The first thing on everyone’s mind post 6am run must be a unanimous: Breakfast! We immediately made way to Bills Beans for a scrumptious shakshuka.
We came to an agreement that despite it being a rather poor recovery scheme, booking a wine tour post half marathon was an essential when in Orange. We had heard of a few cellar door recommendations from previous travellers and despite efforts to ‘book’ a wine tour, we opted to use the Orange taxi service instead. We’d hand picked three to visit within a three hour window – fool proof! First up:
Not my personal favourite, the service was slow and the wine a little too acidic but the waiter was passionate and extremely knowledgable. Sadly their platters were unavailable – hard to hear after just running the equivalent of Sydney city to airport return. We devoured what little nuts and olives they had left. My pick were the 2018 Maya & Max Chardonnay and the 2017 Isabelle Cabernet Franc Merlot from the Family series. From there it was on to:
Colmar was by far the crowd pleaser (thanks Brad!), hearing from Bill Shrapnel (owner and winemaker) was refreshing and honest – without any of the usual BS wine talk. I could listen to Bill talk about Pinot Noir all afternoon and in fact, I rather did. I enjoyed every single tasting we were offered bar one, which made it hard to select just two. My pick were the 2017 Colmar Estate Pinot Gris and the 2014 Colmar Estate Block 3 Pinot Noir. Would not visit Orange without stopping by, don’t miss it!
By this point, our sips were slightly shorter as our steps slightly swayed as we make way to our last cellar door:
No history of Orange would be complete without mention of Phillip Shaw. The undulating Koomooloo estate didn’t so much put the area on the map, rather it got a pencil out and drew (it).wineaustralia.com
James Halliday (Australia’s premier wine critic) himself describes the estate ‘to be the premier winery of the Orange region’ and boy did it not disappoint. I’m unsure whether it was due to my relaxed state or the relief of Hallidays approval, but again, every drop bar one was light, fresh and delicious. The tick of approval were the Dreamer Viognier and the No 89 Shiraz.
We couldn’t possibly have enjoyed all that wine and not pair it with a sumptuous feast, and with that notion (and a quick power nap) we were off to Mr Lim, the downtown mecca for Korean BBQ and Chinese cuisine. A quick night cap and live music hit at Washington and Co.to seal off one heck of a day.
The following morning, we awake a little sore and achey in search of food yet again. A decent breakfast and coffee can be found at Factory Espresso, who dish out a free coffee if you’ve driven 100km that day #ifyouloveafreebie.
Our last stop on tour before heading back into the grinding halt that is Sydney traffic was fig picking! Norland Fig Orchard was a sight for sore eyes. Having never seen a functioning fig tree before, owner David guided us through the yard pointing out the best figs, the darker the sweeter he says, I keep my eyes peeled. The orchard do make regular trips to Sydney for farmers markets and you can buy a fig tree for $25 if you’re keen to grow your own.
Another week, another cellar door and doesn’t Australia grow a delicious drop!
Until next week xo