Mudgee: Australia's New South Wales Wine Region Shows Diversity & Quality

Mudgee is the third-largest wine region in the state of New South Wales, Australia.  Mudgee got its unusual name from its original residents, the Wiradjuri Aborigines, but it got its start in wine production thanks to a group of 19th-century German settlers who came to Australia with winemaking expertise.

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"Mudgee" translates to "nest in the hills," and the area is certainly well-named.  The region is surrounded on three sides by the Great Dividing Range.  Throughout the Mudgee wine region you will find gentle hills and valleys, so many that practically every Mudgee-related brochure and Web site you read uses the word "nestled" to describe vineyards, wineries, restaurants and lodging.  This is beautiful country, no doubt about it.

Mudgee is often overshadowed by Hunter (the lower and upper Hunter Valley), its famous neighbor on the eastern side of the Great Dividing Range.  In fact, Mudgee wine grape growers have, in past decades, sold all or part of their harvests to Hunter Valley winemakers; some still do so today.  Mudgee has established its own reputation, however, and is best known today for its cabernet sauvignons and chardonnays.

Mudgee History

For more than 25 years, The California Wine Club founders Bruce and Pam Boring have explored all corners of California’s wine country to find award-winning, handcrafted wine to share with the world. Each month, the club features a different small family winery and hand selects two of their best wines for members.

Mudgee was first settled by Europeans in 1821, but the discovery of gold near the small town in 1851 brought prospectors and new residents to the area.  Only a few years later, in 1858, the area's first winery, Craigmoor Winery, opened its doors.  As the news of gold spread, more and more people came to Mudgee, first to look for gold and, later, to work in the growing wool and wine industries.  Unfortunately, economic troubles hit Mudgee when the gold mines began to give out.  By the early 1960s there were only two wineries operating in the area, Craigmoor and Mudgee Wines.

In the 1970s, Mudgee's wine industry rose from the ashes of the 1890s financial crash.  Italian winemakers opened Montrose Winery and brought Old World grape varieties with them.  Around that time, Australian winemakers discovered that a chardonnay clone with exceptional potential had been isolated in Mudgee; the area's cooler climate was perfect for this popular grape variety.  This discovery contributed to the great chardonnay boom that put Australia on the world's white wine map.