Viticulture in the Mudgee region is dominated by grape production for processing at local wineries as well as supplying larger wineries in more centralised locations. The industry is a major regional employer and is included in the Central Ranges viticultural zone and parts of the Western Plains viticultural zone. The most important region of production is Mudgee, with other production located at Gulgong, Dubbo, Rylstone and Wellington.
Production is devoted almost exclusively to winegrapes. The region is the third largest producer of winegrapes in NSW, and includes a range of soils and climates. The cool climates in some of the surrounding area are well suited to production of premium wine styles. Favoured locations are in the higher elevations, with boast strong sunshine and a long, cool ripening period. This helps to produce fully flavoured, highly coloured fruit. Many wineries will use fruit from different areas within the district to blend wines of exceptional taste and quality.
In response to growth in export and domestic wine markets, and regional development
opportunities associated with wine tourism and investment, significant winegrape plantings that occurred in recent years has now stabilised. Wine tourism is worth $45 million annually and, after coal mining, the wine industry is the largest contributor to the regional economy in the Mudgee district.
In Mudgee, red wine dominates production. The most planted varieties are Shiraz, Cabernet Sauvignon, and Merlot and to a lesser extent Pinot Noir. Chardonnay is the most popular white. Other whites include Semillon, Sauvignon Blanc, Verdelho and Traminer. There has also been a number of alternate varieties planted over the past 10 years including Sangiovese, Barbera & Petit Verdot.
The wine industry is distinguished by a high level of organisation, planning, professional expertise and investment. Mudgee vineyards are part of the world’s best practitioners of grapegrowing and winemaking. Major Australian wine companies dominate production in the region, and this is recognised nationally and overseas. The wine industry has a focus on premium quality that is enhanced by the region’s cool climates which makes Mudgee fruit much desired by winemakers. The wine industry has a strong market focussed, led by significant business expertise and backed up by depth of industry organisation and a high level of service provider support.
The wine industry is expected to continue to develop and mature, but at a slower pace in selected areas. Cautious optimism prevails. Given the challenges of export marketing, the ability of the region’s export wine industry to deliver consistency of quality at the right price, means that the industry has the continued potential for positive growth prospects in both grape growing and wine making.