Vintage Report 2023: Orange, NSW

The lessons learnt from 2021 and 2022 put the Orange winegrowers in a good position to ensure the grapes were in the best possible condition for vintage 2023. It was, however, a season marked by different stories from the winegrowers, with judicious work in the vineyards being a common thread.

The vintage experienced a delayed start, with a cool and wet spring. There were isolated hail events over different vineyards which also lowered the yields.

“Attention to detail in the vineyard was the key to success,” says Chalou Wines winemaker and owner Nadja Wallington. “It was a season where you needed to spend a lot of time in the vineyard (which sits at 900 metres). Diligence was required to keep on top of any pending disease and mildew issues. This has become somewhat of the norm over the past couple of vintages, so experience has certainly helped increased overall quality.

“Crop levels needed to be well managed to allow the fruit to ripen. We maintained lower than average crops especially with the later ripening varieties.”

During February and March, the region experienced consistent warmer weather. This extended the growing season and allowed the fruit to be both phenologically and flavour ripe. 

A mild April put pressure back on the winegrowers, with intermittent and patchy rain throughout the expanse of the region narrowing the window for picking. 

Overall, the yields were mixed, with some good yields of Pinot Gris and Riesling, average yields of Pinot Noir, and lower yields of Chardonnay. As is characteristic of the region, yields were dependent on site and management.

“We have some fabulous parcels of fruit in the winery, but it was certainly a vintage that we were happy to see the end of; it was long, with consistent pressure,” concludes Nadja.

See Saw Wines’ winemaker Monica Gray comments, “The season was a lesson in patience and holding your nerve. Sporadic rain was hard to predict at times, however, where the work had been put in during the season, with leaf plucking, thinning, focussed spray program, then it paid off.  

“Natural acidity levels were much easier to manage than in 2021 and 2022.  The stand-out variety for See Saw is Pinot Noir. The slow growing season was beneficial in developing intense flavours and clonal variation.  Shiraz at 700 metres performed well, showing classic blue fruit and spice; it’s one to watch.”

One of the region’s oldest vineyards, Canobolas Wines (formerly Canobolas Smith Wines, established in 1986), is now owned by Jonathon Mattick. “We run a fully organic program which in years like this is tested to its limits. Our hard work was rewarded with beautiful bunches and healthy canopies.

“It could be the best quality Chardonnay I have ever worked with. Small tight bunches, fine layered acidity, enough of a golden hue to show some flavour ripeness and lower sugar content (equivalent 11 to 12.5% alc.). 

“I thought I had landed in winemaking heaven. The wines, now resting in barrel are just begging to flesh out, showing what potential they have. I have very high expectations for Chardonnay from the whole region and it again has shown why it is the best white variety for the climate.”

The Canobolas Wines vineyard, sitting at 850 metres, patiently waited six weeks between harvesting the Chardonnay and their red varieties.

“The Cabernet Franc, Cabernet Sauvignon and Syrah are all deeply coloured, tannic and defy the season with their intensity and a feeling of ripeness. With low-mid range alcohols (13-13.8%), they are not big wines but the long ripening period, small berries, increased light interception and anthocyanin build up resulted in dense and energetic wines. 

“They occupy an interesting place right now as reds often do after primary fermentation. They are just starting malolactic fermentation and it is harder to determine their full potential. I would have liked some more sunshine and heat, but I am pleased with the wines we have in barrel.

“It will be a season for the record books, although not one that I’d wish to repeat. Give me a mild dry summer and I’d be a happy man,” Jonathon concludes.

For further information, interviews and images please contact:

David Cumming at Define Wine Marketing & Communications: 0414 736 342 or

Charlotte Gundry, Executive Officer at Orange Region Vignerons’ Association:

Tom Ward, President Orange Region Vignerons’ Association: 0409 246 609 or

Orange NSW is home to Australia’s highest elevation vineyards. Less than 1% of vineyards in Australia sit above 600m, positioning the region as a truly unique viticulture destination. From the peak of Mount Canobolas to the slopes of the Towac Valley, the diversity in elevation allows for a wide range of varieties to be grown. There are currently over 80 vineyards and 35 cellar doors in the region.