There aren’t many wineries that can claim their viognier is one of the best in the country. In fact, there’s only one. Orange Mountain Wines is a boutique winery in the state’s central west that’s responsible for one of Australia’s best drops, the 97-point Orange Mountain Viognier.
Terry and Julie Dolle are the husband-and-wife team behind the award-winning winery. In 1997 Terry had the foresight to establish a vineyard in Manildra, just 40 minutes outside Orange, where he could grow shiraz and viognier grapes. As one of the first in the region to feature viognier, they soon discovered the varietal’s natural affinity with Orange’s unique cool climate, producing elegant wines that display intense varietal characters.
In 2001 the duo established a second vineyard on the slopes of Mount Canobolas, just 10km west of Orange, and set up Orange Mountain, taking their location as suitable inspiration for a name.
As a self-taught winemaker, Terry is always looking for ways to improve. However, his viognier discovery was no stroke of luck. Prior to planting the very first vines, he researched the wine grape industry extensively, deciding that growing viognier in the Central West could deliver something special. This passion and ability to embrace new ideas saw him recognised both at home and overseas as a fantastic cool-climate winemaker, a reputation that’s been cemented by a host of awards, not least a feature in the Top Cellaring Section of the James Halliday Wine Companion.
While specialising in shiraz and viognier, Orange Mountain’s range extends beyond the two varietals. Terry and Julie also produce riesling, sauvignon blanc, chardonnay, rosé, pinot noir, sangiovese, cabernet sauvignon, merlot and dessert wines.
They grow pinot noir, chardonnay and viognier grapes on the two sustainable vineyards, where the fruit is hand-picked and pressed using old basket presses. Terry and Julie recognise the importance of operating with the environment in mind, so avoid using chemicals and herbicide, hand-prune the vines and only produce low crop yields to ensure the highest quality.
From the vineyards, the fruit is moved to the purpose-built storage shed on the Orange property, where the wine can mature in French oak barrels and the bottle can be stored at an optimum temperature, allowing Terry’s vision to be fully achieved.
The same building holds the Cellar Door, where Orange Mountain’s full range of wines are on offer. As a boutique winery, visitors have access to Terry’s unsurpassed knowledge – don’t be surprised if a quick visit results in a tour of the winery and maybe even a taste from the oak barrels!
The must-sip is the flagship drop: the 1397 Shiraz Viognier. The 2012 vintage is an elegant style that displays a silky and savoury palate, with raspberry and cherry flavours. In contrast, the 2015 Orange Mountain Viognier displays a floral aroma of spice, musk, apricot and pear, with stone fruit and citrus flavours.
The Cellar Door is also home to a number of events throughout the year, including food and wine dinners with local chefs and screenings of Australian films with supper and a bottle of Orange Mountain’s nest. With such an exciting selection on offer, it would be silly not to visit.