The term "moonshine" was actually brought to this country by British settlers who used it to describe various tasks that had to be done at night. flask.com
Address: 2369 Bells Line of Road, Bilpin
Phone: 02 4567 0704
Hours: Open daily, 10am–4pm
Set on historic Bells Line of Road and in the heart of apple country, Bilpin Cider puts those superb sweet and crisp apples to good use. Freshly crushed — no added sugar, concentrates or syrups — the apples are locally sourced from Bilpin and the Central Tablelands region.
Four alcoholic varieties and one without fermentation are available for tasting and, of course for purchase. The Bilpin Original Cider (non-alcoholic) is a winner. As the 'designated driver' of our group, we are allowed only the non-alcoholic tasting. We attest to its perfect balance — neither too sweet nor too dry — perfect for our palate!
Sample the flagship product, Bilpin Original Cider. Taste the sweet Bilpin Blush or dry Bilpin Archibald Cloudy Apple and you have sampled the primary product line.
However, if your palate tends toward dry, the Bilpin Pear is drier rather than sweeter and is 4.5%ABV. Moving up the alcohol content, the Bilpin Archibald Extra Brut is 9% ABV and sold in a 750ml bottled — dry and 'with a kick like a camel', the Bilpin Brut is perfect to share at that next party.
While you are tasting, take notice of the local products — seasonal produce and Bilpin Bush Honey lining the shelves of the old farm shed.
See Bells Line of Road for more about this charming and rustic cellar door.
The cellar door, built in 1887 by Florence-born surgeon Dr. Thomas Fiaschi, was a two-storied sandstone structure — living quarters and cellars. Alongside, a three-storied building processed the grapes. Fiaschi imported French and Italian wine cuttings, thus began the early stages of what we now call boutique wines.
Today, Tizzana Winery with its historic appeal could be the star of any movie — its stone cellar door is as beautiful inside as it is impressive outside. But in 1955, vandals set fire to the building and it was left for many years in ruins. In the late 60s, an adventuresome Sydney chemist, Peter Auld along with entrepreneur-minded wife, Carolyn, purchased the derelict building and began the long process of restoration of the historic building and the grape plantings.
Today the restoration is complete with a wing housing a beautiful B&B added. Tastings continue. In 2013 Tizzana introduced a new wine, a medium bodied dry red, Portland Head Tannat. However, in our household, the 2013 Clarissa is the winner. Named for Dr. Fiaschi's first born daughter, Clarissa blends the juice of three grapes: Shiraz, contributing the pepper heat, Tannat — a fruity grape and Petit Verdot, another fruity grape and with tannins. 'Smooth and pleasing to the palate' says our in-house connoisseur.
If you're seeking a lazy afternoon in the Hawkesbury, round up your friends and book a group luncheon. Scrumptious food will be served up by Carolina Auld — and if weather permits, indulge under the shady arboretum where the scenic backdrop overlooks the vineyards and a nearby lily-pad lagoon.
Address: 430 Bull Ridge Road, East Kurrajong, Ebenezer
Phone: 0422 348 244
Hours: Open weekends and public holidays, 11am–5.30pm
Only a short drive from Tizzana Winery and up the hill to East Kurrajong, we made our way to the Bull Ridge Cellar Door, a modern winery purpose-built a few years ago.
While we tasted his fortified Verdelho — a sweet dessert wine — we pried with curiosity about vintner, Ken Thorn. We learn that when Ken came of 'a certain age' he was not likely to retire. For many years his hobby was growing grapes, now it's his passion. In today's vernacular, he reinvented himself.
He bought and cleared additional acreage next to his property. Enrolling in a vintner class at TAFE followed, and to meet requirements, a tutelage under vintner Peter Auld (Tizzana). Here they experimented, with Ken learning about the chemistry of Hawkesbury soils and different grape varieties.
Every vintage is unique, affected by any unusual seasonal change and the rich river soil.
Bull Ridge Estate produces a delicate Verdelho and a Vermentino — whites with a hint of citrus along with several reds. Of the two fortified wines we tasted, the Verdelho is sweet and the Durif, semi-sweet. Perfect after dinner!
Tours for tasting groups can be arranged with Ken — we were impressed with the stainless-steel tanks. Packaging and bottles in the work space let us know this is a working winery.
Address: North Richmond
Phone: 0424 345 102
Hours: Call for hours
Much like the Australian wine industry of a decade or so ago, the craft distilling industry is beginning to emerge, bringing some truly world class spirits and unique avours to the table. Award-winning Ironbark whiskeys are popping up in many restaurants across New South Wales and Victoria.
In 2016 and in celebration of Australian heritage, Ironbark developed a handcrafted wattle seed gin to sit alongside its popular Crystallus Vodka. We think 'a name' says everything and so we understand why Corn Rye Moonshine is a best seller. This is a corn-based spirit reminiscent of bourbon and with a name like moonshine, it carries the history of prohibition through to today.
Call for tasting hours.