Tumbarumba in the Snowy Mountains is not the first place you think of when you think of wine regions in New South Wales, but it is widely becoming known for it’s award winning cool climate wines.
It is probably one of the newest wine regions in NSW if not Australia. Originally chosen as a base for sparkling in the early 1980’s, chardonnay is now the flagship variety of the region. It’s an area that’s 30 years old now, but is still relatively young in the Australian wine industry and very young in the world scene.
Tumbarumba is quite a large and diverse region. In the foothills of the Snowy Mountains, it’s vineyards range from about 350 metres to 820 metres in altitude.
At 730 metres is Courabyra Wines. Cathy and Brian Gairn were in cut flower production and commercial strawberry growing before being offered a contract to grow grapes in 1992. Cathy then studied viticulture, went into grapes and has never looked back.
Courabyra wines have won many awards for their sparking, including best wine of the show Australia and best sparkling NSW in 2012, 2013 and 2015. Their Cellar Door has also been awarded amoungst Gourmet Travellers Best Cellar Doors.
But it hasn’t all been smooth sailing for Courabyra Wines. With the altitude and climate of the region there is also high risk. Courabyra are fortunate that they are on a sloping block with really good air drainage. Having only two big hits of frost in 20 years, they’ve been quite lucky.Frost wiped them out in 2006. In 2008 they decided to have another go, but the winemaker didn’t cold stabilise the wine. It had a lot of sediment through it so they didn’t brand it, they just drank it and gave it away. After having another go in 2010 they got their first release of chardonnay, which sold out.
Their winemaker uses minimal techniques throughout to keep it clean and crisp and true to the grape variety rather than being manipulated. “These are the styles coming back” Cathy tells me, “people love sauvignon blanc because it’s light and crisp and clean in the summer. Chardonnay’s out of cool climates are like that now. The sparkling is typically a French style that we make, with traditional ferment in bottle.”
Being a bubbles girl, Cathy hopes that with award winning sparkling getting out there, Tumbarumba might be known for that again.
Courabyra Wines cellar door and restaurant is open to the public 7 days where you can try their award winning wines matched with seasonal local produce. Bookings encouraged