We recently planned a weekend away in Bowral without really thinking about how long it would take to get there from Sydney or what was even there. We just heard that there were a few vineyards and cellar doors to check out.
Now that we have returned, we have a few tips to share with you.
It turns out that Bowral is actually very close, much closer than we thought. From where we live it took less than 1.5 hours to get there, if you’re leaving from the CBD then it would take you 2 hours. Less than the Hunter Valley!
As your GPS will tell you, jump on the M7, then the Hume and then take the Bowral exit. If you’re heading in for the day and you plan a first stop at a vineyard (why wouldn’t you?) then ignore your Apple Maps or Navman and skip the Bowral exit, take the next one – Berrima. This will then get you to the vineyards quicker as you’ll enter from the back and skip the town of Bowral. What you’ll also notice as you go through Berrima is the abundance of lovely cafe’s too.
There are more than 10 vineyards to visit in Bowral and while they don’t have more than 35 years of history behind them, they are actually producing really fantastic wines. Here are our thoughts on the ones we paid a visit to.
This is a wonderful little cellar door to visit, the facility is focused on tastings and is very accomodating. We arrived as a party of four and were seated immediately at the front bar. We were served complimentary cheese and crackers for our wine tasting and the staff could not have been more friendly. There is no wine snob talk here. The team are open, honest, happy to help with pronunciations of odd wine terms and don’t rush you whatsoever. Our top picks from Tertini include the Semi-dry Riesling and the Cabernet Sauvignon.
Turning the trendiness WAY up, Bendooley is a beautiful place, a large facility with more than just wine tasting. We arrived at Bendooley in time for lunch and their restaurant is set between their own book store. Rows and rows of book shelves surround you while you sit and look at a menu offering wonderful pizza all the way to lamb shoulder. The wines offered at lunch are from many vineyards including their own. It is a great place to let the waiter decide what wine goes with the food you’re ordering. The food is fantastic, their wine options are very good and the whole ambiance is very unique.
Once we finished our lunch we moved to another area for some further wine tasting and then proceeded to our next stop. Our picks from Bendooley would be the Mouvedre all day everyday. It’s the M in your favourite GSM wines and it’s a big one. For white wine lovers, the Riesling is our pick there.
The oldest vineyard in this region, Joadja, started in 1983. In vineyard terms it is still very young. This might be the most beautiful vineyard in Bowral based on sheer character. It’s beautiful from the moment you park and walk through the planted archway. On a hot day the tasting room can be a little unsettling however the staff are bubbly and very relaxed about their wine experiences. Joadja is making a different range of wines to some others, plenty of dessert wines too. We would have spent all day here if possible as they have a wonderful outdoor setting. Instead, we picked our favourites and moved on.
Our top picks from Joadja was the Cabernet Sauvignon and their Reserve Malbec.
Centennial is likely the most grand of all the vineyards we saw in Bowral. The venue is home to weddings and events regularly and you can immediately see why, it’s picturesque and just lovely. Entering their large “castle” the tasting room is ready to cater for the busses of tourists that do arrive. We gathered around a wine barrel and began our tasting. Their wines list is extremely long so we picked a few to focus on. Truth be told, their reserve range was the only section we really enjoyed and while it is worth trying their normal range also, you’ll be glad you spent the little extra on their more precious wines.
Our favourite pick from Centennial was the Reserve Tempranillo.
We mentioned earlier that lunch was enjoyed at Bendooley. Now, even if you have kids with you or you don’t drink wine, we would still recommend heading there for lunch. It won’t be boring for the kids and for non-wine drinkers there is beer, soft drink etc.
When it came to dinner we went in town for an Italian feast. We probably didn’t expect a country town like Bowral to have such a fantastic Italian restaurant but there we were. The restaurant was called Onesta Cucina and the retro italian artwork was the welcoming we needed. The old Campari artwork gives that fantastic feel of being in a comfortable Italian town, the staff – while not all Italian – were very friendly and helpful. The wine list doesn’t just include Bowral based wines but we do recommend keeping it local, these are wines you won’t find when you get back to Sydney. We enjoyed a bottle from a vineyard we didn’t make it to, but will visit next time – Artemis. This Shiraz was off the planet. We’d include it in the vineyards section above but didn’t visit ourselves yet.
The food at Onesta was also lovely, dessert options were a mile long and if you left there hungry then it means you didn’t walk in at all.
For breakfast we paid a visit into town, a cafe called Coffee Culture. It came recommended to us, the meals were big and most importantly – the coffee was fantastic.
We booked our stay at Peppers Craigieburn, it’s a lovely old colonial style hotel which sits next to a golf course. There are more facilities there than we could use and the rooms were large and had a modern feel. We loved going to a place with character but while still having the creature comforts of a new hotel.
A restaurant is onsite for dinner and breakfast however on a weekend away we just wanted to get out and explore.
All of these places had no idea we were coming, we funded this trip ourselves and we’re here to share our recommendations. Just so we’re clear that none of these tips are paid for or influenced by perks. Safe travels to Bowral, feel free to add your own tips in the comments section below.