Bilpin Cider Cellar Door

Address: 2369 Bells Line of Road, Bilpin
Phone: 02 4567 0704
Hours: Daily, 10am to 4pm

Located on historic Bells Line of Road in the heart of apple country, Bilpin Cider puts superb sweet crisp apples to good use. Freshly crushed with no added sugar, concentrates or syrups, the apples are locally sourced from Bilpin and the Central Tablelands.

Seven alcoholic and two non-alcoholic ciders are available for tasting and, of course for purchase. We can attest to the perfect balance - neither too sweet nor too dry - of the Bilpin Original non-alcoholic version. Along with the sweet Bilpin Blush and dry Bilpin Archibald Cloudy Apple, it is part of the primary product line.

On weekends, visitors can relax on the beautiful pastoral grounds with a gourmet hamper, fresh apple pie or freshly brewed coffee, cider, beer or wine while musicians entertain.

Dogs-on-leash are also welcome, and children can meet the resident alpacas and sheep.

In 2018, owner Sean attached a terrific deck and bar area to the tasting barn, which is shaded by wonderful mature trees. outlook of changing seasons and colours.

While at Bilpin Cider Cellar Door, take notice of the local seasonal products and Bilpin Bush Honey.

See Bells Line of Road page 18 for more

Tizzana Winery

Address: 518 Tizzana Road, Ebenezer
Phone: 02 4579 1150
Hours: Open weekends and public holidays, 12pm to 6pm
Advance bookings required for tasting with light appetisers and luncheon

The History: Tizzana cellar door was built in 1887 by Florence-born surgeon Dr Thomas Fiaschi as a two-storey sandstone structure with living quarters and cellars. Fiaschi imported French and Italian vine cuttings and began the early stages of what we now call boutique wines.

Today, with its gorgeous sandstone and historic appeal, Tizzana could be the star of any film - its stone cellar door is as beautiful inside as it is impressive outside.

However, in 1955, vandals set fire to the building and it was in ruins until the late `60s when adventuresome Sydney chemist Peter Auld and entrepreneurial wife Carolyn bought the derelict building and restored it and the grape plantings.

The Wine: In 2013 Tizzana introduced a medium bodied dry red wine, Portland Head Tannat, which was quite the rage according to critics. However, in our household, the 2013 Clarissa is the winner. Named after Dr. Fiaschi's firstborn daughter, Clarissa blends the juice of three grapes: Shiraz (contributing the peppery heat), Tannat (a fruity grape) and Petit Verdot (fruity with tannins). "Smooth and pleasing to the palate," our in-house connoisseur says.

For a lazy afternoon in the Hawkesbury, book a group luncheon. If weather permits, indulge in Carolyn's delicious food under the shady arboretum where the scenic backdrop overlooks the vineyards and a nearby lily pad lagoon.

Tizzana also offers group historical talks with wine tastings and a two-hour group tour can include visits to the vineyard and/or winery.

Ironbark Distillery

Address: 4/37 William Street, 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 has emerged, bringing some truly world-class spirits and unique flavours to the table. Award-winning Ironbark gin is 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. Everything is in a name, 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.

Bull Ridge Estate Winery & Cellar Door

Address: 430 Bull Ridge Road, East Kurrajong
Phone: 0422 348 244
Hours: Open weekends and public holidays, 11am to 5pm

Only a short drive from Tizzana Winery up the hill to East Kurrajong, we made our way to the modern, purpose-built Bull Ridge Cellar Door, which opened several years ago.

While we tasted his fortified Verdelho, a sweet dessert wine, we chat with vintner Ken Thorn. We learn that when he came of "a certain age", Ken 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. He enrolled in a vintner class at TAFE and learned the ropes from vintner Peter Auld of Tizzana Winery. The pair experimented with grape growing during his tutelage, with Ken learning about the chemistry of Hawkesbury soils and different grape varieties.

Bull Ridge Estate produces a delicate Verdelho and a Vermentino (whites with a hint of citrus), along with several red wines. 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.