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Saturday, May 15, 2021

Getaway: Tallagandra Hill Winery

Just a half-hour drive from Canberra, yet a world away from the busyness of city life, beckon the charming new vineyard cottages at Tallagandra Hill Winery, between Gundaroo and Murrumbateman.

I’ve been to the cellar door several times since owners, Mary McAvoy and David Faulks (an ex-colleague from my years at Austrade in 1987-1995), bought the vineyard three years ago. Since then, the industrious couple have been busy: rebranding their wines to reflect family personalities, upgrading the cellar door, undertaking extensive landscaping, dotting artworks and salvaged treasures around the vineyard, creating a stunning event space for weddings, parties, corporate or music gigs for up to 170 seated guests (200 in the forecourt), and adding boutique accommodation on site.

I stayed in The Prodigal Daughter vineyard cottage, which is named for Mary and the Vermentino labelled in her honour. The two nearby cottages are: The Great Ron, named for David’s late father and the iconic Shiraz that’s developed a cult following; and The Favourite Son, a nod to David’s sons, Ben and Sam, and Tallagandra’s popular Tempranillo. Well-spaced for privacy, but close enough if you’re staying as a group with friends or family, the three cottages share a communal barbecue spot and a fire pit area (subject to fire bans).

Flanked by the picturesque vineyards to the west, our one-bedroom ensuite cottage was stylish and cosy, with a well-appointed kitchen, a selection of books and board games – and, quite deliberately, no television or radio, so guests can enjoy a digital detox and embrace the serenity.

That evening, we shared delicious gourmet pizzas taken away from nearby Gundaroo, fittingly accompanied by a splash of The Prodigal Daughter Vermentino. Alternatively, we could have chosen to dine at any of the nearby Gundaroo eateries, to pre-order a cheese or charcuterie platter from Tallagandra’s own cellar door, or to bring our own supplies to cook on site.

Next morning, I woke to the sounds of silence, punctuated by bird calls and made good use of the kitchen appliances and continental breakfast supplies –a selection of teas, freshly brewed coffee, cereals, juice, milk, toast and spreads – to eat on the sunny covered deck.

David and Mary also invite guests to take a guided tour through the vines to learn about the varieties, seasons and labour of love required to transform their precious fruits into wine.

Julie Samaras stayed as a guest of Tallagandra Hill Winery, 1692 Murrumbateman Road, Gundaroo NSW 2620. To book accommodation, email [email protected], call 0434 041 915 or find them on Airbnb.

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