Road trip: A guide to the best food and wine in NSW

De Bortoli Wines Bilbul - Credit: Destination NSW
De Bortoli Wines Bilbul - Credit: Destination NSW
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20 hr 8 min | 1,644 km
Foodie destination
Kid friendly

If excellent food and wine are important criteria when choosing where to go for a getaway in NSW, you'll have likely ticked off trips to some of NSW’s top gourmet destinations. Places like Orange, the Hunter Valley, Byron, Narooma, Bowral and Mudgee – all of which have earned their excellent reputations as epicurean hubs.

If you’re thinking about where to go next, look a little further afield to these exciting regions that are up and coming. With promising wineries, abundant fruit and vegetables and enterprising producers, there’s plenty to explore.

Route: Tenterfield | Armidale | Great Lakes | Parramatta | Cowra | Young | Griffith | Gundagai | Tumut | Tumbarumba. 

Hero image: De Bortoli Wines, Bilbul (Credit: Destination NSW)

  • Slide down sand dunes at One Mile Beach
  • Visit the tallest tree in NSW
  • Learn how a working farm operates
  • See one of the best views in Australia at Heaton Lookout

Day 1: Tenterfield to Great Lakes

5 hr 45 mins | 495kms

Before you embark on your journey, check the my nrma app for your nearest and cheapest fuel. There are plenty of fuel stations to choose from. 

Stop 1: Tenterfield

The picturesque New England area has a number of cool-climate wineries as well as waterfalls, rainforests and abundant wildlife. It also produces some of Australia’s finest lamb and beef. 

Wine growing in New England began in the 19th century and the district was winning international prizes by the 1880s. An exciting region, it has a diversity of soils and aspects which produce cool climate expressions of classic varieties as well as alternative varieties by innovative winemakers. Zappa Wines is a family operation near Tenterfield that includes beef and wool production, seasonal cereal crops, fresh vegetables along with the vineyards. Taste barbera, tannat, merlot, sauvignon blanc and semillon at the cellar door. Also near Tenterfield is Splitter’s Swamp, a small winery with rich granite soil producing shiraz cabernet, sauvignon and merlot, open by appointment. 

Stop 2: Armidale

Further south, near Armidale, you’ll find well established wineries Petersons Armidale winery and Merilba Estate. Leave half a day to visit the cellar door at Petersons, which operates out of the original homestead stables, where you can taste semillon, sauvignon blanc, riesling, pinot noir, shiraz and merlot. Enjoy lunch on the lawn and stay a night in the traditionally furnished guesthouse. Merilba Estate produces semillon, sauvignon blanc, chardonnay, shiraz and cabernet; try the range in the 150-year old building that houses the cellar door and follow it with lunch. Excellent dry cider is also produced here under New England Cider. 

Eastview Estate is a unique distillery, brewery and restaurant, producing award-winning gin, vodka, beer and whisky. Spend a night at the jazz and blues speakeasy tasting your way through the range. If you’re open to trying something different, head to 2 Wild Souls, where they make sparkling honey mead, using a traditional natural fermentation process that helps retain the qualities of the honey blossom. It’s best served chilled, in any situation where you’d have champagne. 

For a family-friendly activity, visit Deano’s Springwater Smoked Trout and try your hand at fishing for brown trout, rainbow trout and Atlantic salmon in the recreational dam. Kids will love visiting the strawberry farm The Super Strawberry near Glen Innes for old-fashioned milkshakes and scones with jam and cream – don’t forget to take a jar of jam home with you. Learn how olive oil is made and taste locally made spice blends at Olives of Beaulieu, near Inverell. The farmers markets at Armidale are held on the second Sunday of each month at Saumarez and is an excellent way to meet local growers and stock up on produce. 

Day 2: Great Lakes to Parramatta

3 hrs | 238kms

Stop 1: Great Lakes

From vast lakes and white beaches to lush hinterland and coastal rainforest, the Great Lakes region on the Mid North coast is a verdant, beautiful area. There is a number of producers to visit with ethical practices and a real sense of community. You can visit on a trail date or create your own journey visiting the following producers.

Start near Buladelah at Yeo Farm, where lamb is raised using organic principles. Lamb is available to buy at the farm, and tours showcase the holistic management and permaculture practices used. Nearby is Old Inn Road Vineyard, where the sunny days and mild winter makes for great growing conditions of verdelho, chambourcin and dolcetto grapes. You’ll also find their wine at Wingham, Gloucester, Forster, and Nabiac markets throughout the month. Pass by Brush Turkey Café to meet some locals and enjoy a slice of their lemon myrtle cheesecake before heading to Great Lakes Paddock. Along with 10 ha of vineyards, the farm raises Angus cattle, and grows finger limes and olives. Try the Sparkling Lily made from pinot chardonnay grapes with a cheese board laden with local produce.

Spend a night at Elraes Farmhouse, a B&B and farm that produces home-grown jams, pickles, honey and beeswax products. Try inventive flavours of jam such as quince and raspberry or orange, almond and rosewater marmalade. A must on the route is definitely Burraduc Farm, a buffalo farm in the Myall Lakes region, where mozzarella, milk, artisan cheeses, ice cream and buffalo meat are produced. In 2019, the fresh buffalo curd won a Delicious Produce Awards gold medal.

You’ll find the region’s only microbrewery in the coastal town of Forster, The Coastal Brewing Co. Each beer’s name is linked to the natural beauty of the Barrington Coast area, such as the Cellito (Hazy) IPA, an aromatic, juicy IPA named after Cellito beach and the Wallis Weizen American Wheat Beach, named after the lake between Forster and Tuncurry.

Stop 2: Parramatta

Once known as the colonial city of Sydney and with almost half of its residents born outside Australia, this culturally diversified community has together created a culinary wonderland where both locals and visitors can choose a different cuisine every day.

Horwood Place has become a hotspot for lovers of coffee and a morning feed, with popular Paper Plane Café setting up shop to sell coffee made with Numero Uno beans. Just across the road is St Drogo’s, with Toby’s Estate concoctions, while on Macquarie Street, you can find Double Mac, making brews with Double Roasters coffee. This hole-in-the-wall enjoys a cult following, is chock-full of character and consistently delivers on the coffee front no matter what your preference. And the café at the heart of Parramatta’s coffee makeover is Circa Espresso on Wentworth Street, one of the city’s first boutique coffee houses.

There are also hotspots for cultural cuisines, one of which is Harris Park, close to Parramatta's CBD. With its Greek and Lebanese community spruiking restaurants from the motherlands, Harris Park is also known as 'Little India', and for good reason. Every evening when the sun goes down, the fairy lights are turned on, illuminating a golden mile of Indian food, fashion and fun. Wigram Street is the epicentre, where the restaurants are almost exclusively Indian – but that’s where the similarities end. Some are formal eateries, some are brightly lit takeaways; some serve steaming dishes of meat, many others are vegetarian. In fact, vegetarians and vegans will be spoilt for choice here. Plant-based or not, the vibrant Chatkazz is a must for its authentic vegetarian Indian street food.

Temasek is a Parramatta institution that has been serving traditional Singaporean and Malaysian cuisine for more than two decades. The char kway teow (flat rice noodles with sausage, prawns and bean sprouts in sweet soy sauce) and beef rendang (slow-cooked beef with a coconut-milk base) are a must, as is the chef's speciality, kecap manis sotong (calamari and sweet soy sauce).

If you're in town on a Friday, head to the Parramatta Farmers Market in Centenary Square for a wander among the vibrant colours and inviting aromas of fresh produce and artisanal food. Pick up your fruit and vegetables for the week, grab a beautiful loaf of sourdough, collect a few slices of your favourite deli meats and try your best to avoid the many sweet temptations. If it’s not market day, make your way to Tatra Delicatessen on Victoria Road. The popular European deli is a carnivore’s delight, with a mouth-watering meat selection as well as enticing cheeses, breads, condiments and Polish sweets and cakes. Pick up some homemade pierogi (Polish dumplings) for a quick, easy and oh-so-tasty dinner.

Day 3: Parramatta to Young

4 hrs 40 mins | 356kms

Stop 1: Cowra

Located in the Central West, Cowra is a thriving hub with an up-and-coming wine region and gorgeous Japanese garden. The wine region was planted with vines in the 1970s and is today home to 40 wineries. The area is characterised by sunny, warm days, cool nights and late summers. Cabernet sauvignon and merlot are the primary grapes grown here, with ripe fruit characteristics of berries and chocolate.

Rosnay Organic Vineyard and orchard is a special winery located in Canowindra, with three generations making wine and growing olives and figs. The winery is a leader in organic farming, and it’s worth booking a tour to learn about the process and maybe pick some fruit yourself. Stay for the weekend at the 1910 farmhouse and enjoy a few bottles of chardonnay, shiraz and cabernet sauvignon over a meal. Also in Canowindra is Wallington Wines, a smaller, biodynamic vineyard that produces cabernet and chardonnay as well as red varietals such as grenache and mourvedre for blending. The farm also has an olive grove, bees and sheep and cattle.

Windowrie is one of the region’s founding winemakers, located in Cowra, and is certified organic. The family grow a wide variety of varietals but are most excited about the cabernet, shiraz and merlot as well as the verdelho. The Pig in the House range are award-winning organic wines or try the Family Reserve range, made from premium fruits with only 400 cases of each produced. The cellar door is open by appointment only. The Quarry Cellar Door offers tastings of some of the region’s best wines, some of which don’t have a cellar door, but be sure to visit the gorgeous restaurant on site with seating in the garden and a menu showcasing local produce.

2. Young

Young, in southwest NSW, is the unofficial cherry capital of Australia and also produces olives, honey, beef and lamb. The Hilltops region, with its rich red soil, high altitude and distinct seasons, is ideal for growing cool climate grapes.

Grove Ridge Wines is an exciting, award-winning winery in the Hilltops region. The vineyards are spread out, meaning the diversification of sites and soil types allow for a range of styles, with grapes including nebbiolo, zinfandel, barbera, sangiovese and viognier. Chalkers Crossing, just south of the Hilltops region, produces shiraz, riesling, semillon and tempranillo. Grapes from the Tumbarumba region are also used to complement the blends.

Bluestill Distillery produces a unique range of Australian-made spirits, including cherry port, rum, whisky and more. Pop in for a tasting and a chat and stock up on locally made jam or an artwork from the Art and Craft Gallery.

You couldn’t visit the region without stopping in at some fruit farms; cherry picking season is from October to late January. Drive in Orchards sells cherries, apricots, persimmons, prickly pears, pistachios, mulberries, figs and more. While Willayoung Orchard specialises in tree-ripened fruit such as plums, peaches, nectarines – you’ll find them at local markets from December to March. Valley Fresh Cherries and Stonefruit have a delightful shop that stocks jams, conserves, relishes, cherries, pies and honey. Pick your own during the season at Main Range Cherry Orchard or Wombat Heights Orchard.

Day 4: Young to Griffith

2 hrs 36 mins | 233kms

Stop 1: Griffith

Griffith, in the Riverina region, has a strong food and wine culture, in part due to the European population that settled there after World War II. There are a number of excellent wineries and food producers to sample – a good time to visit is during one of the numerous food festivals, so you can sample as much as possible.

The De Bortoli family is one of Australia’s first families of wine, with vines established in Bilbul by the head of the family, Vittorio De Bortoli, in the 1930s. Visit the cellar door to learn about the company's history and enjoy a bottle of wine under a pergola in the garden. Another family with a long history in the region is the Calabrias. The Tuscan-style cellar door in Griffith welcomes visitors with real warmth and Italian hospitality, and offers a number of tasting experiences, including cheese and wine matching and a group tasting. Yarran Wines is a smaller winery overlooking Cocoparra National Park, producing sauvignon blanc, pinot grigio, shiraz and cabernet sauvignon. Enjoy a relaxed vibe and check their calendar for events like Stretch and Sip,, which involves yoga in the vines followed by a sparkling brunch afterwards.

Along with wine, there are numerous fruit and vegetable farms in this fertile region. Discover the impressive range of fruit grown at Catania Fruit Salad Farm on one of the daily tours and taste pickles, relishes, seasonal fruit and jams. If you’re staying at self-contained accommodation, visit Riverina Grove in Griffith to stock up on pasta sauce, condiments, salsa and award-winning olives for a delicious night in.

When you’re in a region heavily influenced by Italian culture, you can expect high quality smallgoods and sweets, and the Riverina doesn’t disappoint. Codemo Smallgoods specialise in salami, bacon, sausages, prosciutto and ham. Visit the shop to try different styles of Southern and Northern Italian salami which ranges from extra hot to mild, as well as black olives, chilli and cacciatore. Make a stop at fourth-generation baker Bertoldo’s Pasticceria for bread, biscotti, cannoli and gelato.

Aquna Sustainable Murray Cod produces premium, pond-grown Murray cod, with a vertically integrated approach for breeding, growing and supplying seafood. Visit the recently opened retail store in Griffith to taste this local delicacy.

For a true paddock to plate experience, stop off at Piccolo Family Farm. This working farm supplies its fine dining restaurant, Limone, with fresh produce every day. Herbs, fruits and vegetables are grown sustainably with all of the produce harvested by hand and free from pesticides. The property itself is beautiful, with a homestead built in 1921, ornate hedging, a lovely garden and birch forests. Check the calendar of events at the farm for upcoming long lunches and music festivals.

Day 5: Griffith to Gundegai

4 hrs 16 mins | 358kms

Stop 1: Gundegai

Nick Spencer Wines produces two reds from Gundagai which pay homage to the great Australian red blends of the 50s, 60s, and 70s. Grapes are also sourced from Tumbarumba to make chardonnay and gruner vetliner. The winery was noted in the top ten best new wineries for 2019 in James Halliday’s Wine Companion and although there’s no cellar door, be sure to look out for his products in local bottle shops. Tumblong Hills is a large winery producing cabernet sauvignon, syrah, shiraz and chardonnay – wine tastings are available by appointment.

Stop 2: Tumut

Tumut is a pretty town in the region located next to a river, with great fishing spots and hiking in Tumut State Forest. It’s home to Tumut River Brewing, a microbrewery making original beers using local ingredients. Some popular ales are the Ginja Ninja, an alcoholic ginger beer using local apples, and the Strawberry Fields Forever Hefeweizen, infused with strawberry and a hint of clove.

Wilgro Orchard near Batlow grows apples and cherries and makes cider, apple cider vinegar and jam. You can pick some fresh fruit at the roadside stall in growing seasons – for cherries, raspberries and blueberries, its mid-December to late January, apples in late February to June, and chestnuts and quinces in late March to April. Mouats Farm also grows apples, walnuts, organic lemons and limes and holds regular pick-your-own apple days. Visit Jolly Berries to pick up some freshly picked, flavoursome blueberries.

Stop 3: Tumbarumba

Tumbarumba is a relatively new wine region, with vines planted in 1982. The cool climate area, with high sunshine hours and cold summer nights, mainly produces chardonnay and pinot noir, often used in sparkling wine. Gundagai’s reputation as a promising wine region is also growing, with vines planted in 1995. Shiraz and cabernet sauvignon are the primary grapes grown here. Tumbarumba itself is an idyllic country town and the surrounding alpine scenery, green backcountry and excellent bushwalking make it a fantastic destination to explore.

The owners of Courabyra Wines established chardonnay and pinot noir vines in 1994. A family member bought the neighbouring vineyard of Revee Estate and they collaborate to produce pinot gris, grüner vetliner, pinot meunier and riesling. A ploughman’s plate on the balcony of the cellar door with a glass of wine is a must. Tumbarumba Wine Escapes is particularly picturesque, with a Tuscan-style cellar door with a lush green lawn to enjoy beside the dam. Try chardonnay and pinot gris when it’s open on the weekends in the warmer months.

Obsession wines is the highest vineyard in the region with incredible views, the grapes are grown organically and all handpicked. Try the chardonnay or tempranillo at the cellar door, open seven days. Johansen Wines is a family-operated winery that produces excellent gamay, chardonnay, merlot, sparkling and pinot noir and serves it at their cellar door in a shearing shed. Stay in the beautifully restored cottage on site which sleeps six.

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