Mudgee is just over the Great Dividing Range from the famous Hunter Valley, but here the sun is brighter, the nights are colder, and there is less rainfall (what a difference a mountain range can make). The speciality is cabernet sauvignon, with shiraz a close second. The vineyards and over 35 cellar doors form a wide circle around the town and are mostly nestled in a valley between two lines of hills. Winemaking began here in 1858, kick-started by three German families. One of the original wineries continues today under the name Poet’s Corner (Craigmoor Rd, Mudgee, (02) 6372 2208). The cellar door also represents Montrose, one of the largest wineries in the region and one of the first in Australia to plant Italian varieties such as sangiovese, barbera and nebbiolo. Botobolar (89 Botobolar Rd, Mudgee, (02) 6373 3840) was one of the first organic vineyards in the country.