Standing on the small hill behind the Montrose Winery it can readily be understood why the original Aboriginal inhabitants named this part of Australia Mudgee, meaning Nest in the Hills.
With a viticultural history that stretches back to 1858, Mudgee has played a key role in Australian viticultural history. Although primarily a producer of robust and deeply coloured red wines, Mudgee was the cradle in which a particularly good clone of Chardonnay lay unrecognised for over 50 years, a clone which some believe may have been a descendant of the Chardonnay introduced to Australia in 1832 by James Busby.
The Big Picture
The beautifully soft and intimate nature of much of the countryside around Mudgee is fashioned by the outer rim of hills which create the “nest ” and the smaller hills within that perimeter that give rise to a panorama of mini vistas with ever more valleys nesting in their midst. Overall, however, though the slopes are gentle, all this beauty does have its limitations, particularly in the form of frost-prone pockets and hollows.
Mudgee Wine Region
Situated on the western slopes of the Great Dividing Range, Mudgee has a very different climate to that of its neighbour on the coastal side, the Hunter. Spring frosts and cold nights delay budburst; rainfall and humidity are lower; sunshine hours are greater; and irrigation is essential on all but the most favoured sites. The summer and autumn days are very warm, and harvest is four weeks behind the Hunter. Nevertheless, Mudgee’s altitude of around 450 metres shelters it from the heat that would normally be associated with a latitude of 32 degrees south (Bordeaux’s is 45 degrees north and Champagne’s 50).
The brownish coloured soils are typical of those found through the majority of the wine regions of eastern Australia; slightly acidic or sandy loam over neutral clay subsoils, but both topsoil and subsoil have the advantage of being quite well drained. Yields have been restricted more by inadequate water for irrigation than by any deficiency in the soils or its structure.
(Courtesy of the Australian Wine and Brandy Corporation)