Some families find joy in nature, others prefer the artistic things in life. But for the Stein family? It’s always been about winemaking.
It’s not every day you wander into a cellar door to discover its wine-growing roots date back hundreds of years, passed from one generation to the next since the 1800s. After hearing that, you’d no doubt feel an excitement brewing in your belly. “The wine must be amazing”, you ponder to yourself.
You’re not wrong. Since the cellar door opened in 1976, Robert Stein Winery has brought home accolade after accolade. These days, the celebrated Mudgee vineyard is rated as a Red Five Star Winery by James Halliday Wine Companion.
If you’re looking for a slice of history served with an award-winning selection of wines – and perhaps a side of farm-fresh food – then you’ll want to make way for this particular Mudgee dirt road fringed by vines. Your end destination, a rustic meets eclectic cellar door, conceals more than meets the eye.
If you were to follow the Stein family tree, you'd eventually discover relatives far from Australia. While Germany isn't commonly known for wine production, it is the birthplace of one of Europe's oldest wine companies, Staffelter Hof, and home to the wine varietal, Riesling.
It was in Germany where it all started. In 1838, Johann Stein accompanied the Macarthur family on their voyage to Australia, carrying with him cuttings of Rhine Riesling that would be the first to survive in Australia.
From there, the family’s Australian wine growing began. In 1976, Robert Stein laid foundations in the picturesque Mudgee region, home to viticultural soil and at that time, a handful of pioneering Mudgee wineries. As the winery has grown and flourished with time, so has the Stein family. These days, Jacob Stein – the third generation of Stein winegrowers – is now running the show as Chief Winemaker.
While Jacob thanks Mudgee’s “continental climate with warm days and cool nights, combined with excellent soil profiles”, for Robert Stein’s successful wines, the junior Stein’s accomplishments are far from mediocre. While gaining global winemaking expertise, Jacob rekindled his family connection to Germany’s Riesling, where he fell head over heels for the varietal.
Arriving back in Mudgee with global expertise and a burning passion for Riesling, combined with over 200 years of family knowledge, there’s little wonder Robert Stein Winery soon became known for one of New South Wales’ leading Riesling varietals. In 2012, Jacob was awarded the Gourmet Traveller Young Winemaker of the Year, a reflection of the sensational wines he’s produced in the Mudgee region.
Among fabulous Riesling, Jacob and his team specialise in Shiraz, Chardonnay, Cabernet Sauvignon and Montepulciano. You can sample them all at the charming cellar door, nestled between Mudgee’s rolling hills.
Take a seat at a wine barrel table in the rustic cellar door, decorated with retro wall hangings, or in the picturesque outdoor space overlooking Mudgee’s undulating landscape. The cellar door offers four wine-tasting experiences, from small tastings of six varietals to The Riesling experience, The Reserve, or if you’re looking for something a little different, the blu hen tasting.
For those after some food to soak up the wine, order a dish or two from the cellar door’s food truck, serving seasonal farm-fresh produce from the winery's regenerative farm. Think Stein pulled pork tortillas and arancini balls accompanied by spicy red pepper sauce. You’ll also find local businesses, Three Tails Brewery beers and High Valley Cheese on the menu. (If you haven’t been already, stop by on your getaway – you won’t regret it!)
It’s not just food and wine that you’ll find at this winery; Robert Stein’s second love is on display at the back of the cellar door in a large warehouse. It’s called the Robert Stein Motorcycle Museum, and it’s just as impressive as it sounds. What started as one 40th birthday present has transformed into a whopping collection of sparkling vintage motorcycles, lined up among rare motorcycle collectables and photographs. It’s not what you’d expect at a cellar door, which makes it all the more fun.
Tucked away overlooking the vineyard’s farm sits one of the Mudgee region’s most prestigious restaurants. Pipeclay Pumphouse champions the flavours of the region with its relaxed seasonal degustation menu, designed by celebrated local Head Chef, Sean. Make a booking before you arrive (tables fill up quickly!) and prepare for a fresh feast featuring kangaroo carpaccio with lemon myrtle and carrot, Mushroom duxelles tart with raisin and pinenut and to finish, Passionfruit and local Spencer Cocoa chocolate parfait with hazelnut.
Bring your appetite, Robert Stein Winery will take care of the rest.
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