Hilltops wines to try

By Halliday Promotion

28 Mar, 2023

The Hilltops wine region is NSW's hidden gem – get to know these three producers.

The Hilltops wine region has cemented itself as a key producer of cabernet sauvignon and shiraz, but Italian varietals like sangiovese, nebbiolo, tempranillo, fiano and corvina are bolstering the region's reputation. Thanks to its high altitude, Hilltops is a cool-climate region and the soils are predominantly red granite clays with basalt.

Below, we highlight three Hilltops producers and their key wine to try. Get to know FREEMAN Vineyards, Hungerford Hill (who is based in the Hunter Valley but source grapes from the region), and Moppity Vineyards.

Freeman vineyards

FREEMAN Vineyards

FREEMAN Vineyards specialises in Italian-inspired wines and boasts Australia’s original and rare plantings of two northern Italian varieties – corvina and rondinella.

The portfolio showcases award-winning wines ranging from prosecco, fiano and pinot grigio to sangiovese, nebbiolo and four wines made from corvina and rondinella: FREEMAN Rondo Rosé, Rosso (a blend of both varieties), the flagship amarone style Secco and Robusta (100 per cent Corvina). FREEMAN also produce cabernet sauvignon, shiraz and tempranillo. 

The FREEMAN estate is comprised of several cool-climate vineyards, and all wines are estate-grown and made. The red granitic loam soils and elevation – at 560 metres – ensures a desirable diurnal range. The terroir is suited to the Italian varieties that thrive in the Hilltops region.

Visitors can experience a tasting at the rustic cellar door. Tastings are often hosted by Brian Freeman – the founder and winemaker of FREEMAN Vineyards – and include complimentary cheese and salumi platters. Take in the spectacular vineyard views and, in winter, taste wine by the open fire. Tastings are by appointment only. FREEMAN Vineyards is dog friendly.

Wine to try

2017 FREEMAN Secco Rondinella Corvina

2017 FREEMAN Secco Rondinella Corvina

In a generous glass this mid-weight FREEMAN Secco displays garnet red hues and attractive enveloping aromas of spiced berries, earthy cacao aromas and lingering umami notes that lead to a mellow and balanced palate. This mature wine is inspired by northern Italy’s classic ripasso styles. The wine opens as a lighter red then reveals itself – beguiling flavours draped over a savoury tannin frame. With an elegant, captivating charm, the 2017 will continue to evolve for many years to come.

Food pairing suggestion: Slow-cooked veal neck with mushroom and star-anise jus.

RRP $50 | Drink to 2035 

101 Prunevale Road, Prunevale | 0417 733 715 |

Hungerford Hill

Hungerford Hill

While the Hungerford Hill cellar door is located in the Hunter Valley, the winery sources some of its grapes from the Hilltops wine region. 

Hungerford Hill has been sourcing fruit from the same vineyards – from some of the oldest vineyards in the Hilltops wine region – for more than 10 years. Winemaker Bryan Currie visits the vineyards through the year to check the fruit quality and ripening process.

When it comes to what sets the Hilltops apart, Bryan says the fruit is the key. "It has nuance to it that can be lacking in the more extreme climates. The soil and climate combination allow for a great range of varietals to be grown. Long gone are the days of just shiraz and chardonnay being planted. The land is ambitious and so are we."

In the Hunter Valley, at the Hungerford Hill cellar door, guests can take part in guided wine tastings to experience wines from both the Hilltops and Hunter Valley wine regions. Try a Hilltops tempranillo up against a Hunter Valley shiraz.

Wine to try

2022 Hungerford Hill Hilltops Tempranillo

2022 Hungerford Hill Hilltops Tempranillo

Tempranillo ripens early and is perfectly suited to the cool climate of the Hilltops region near Young, NSW. The hillside vineyards of red soil ensure intense black cherry fruit and a lush and savoury palate characteristic of the variety. The 2022 Hungerford Hill Hilltops Tempranillo has also been awarded the inaugural Best Hilltops Wine Trophy.

Food pairing suggestion: Smoky American-style ribs.

RRP $45 | Drink to 2035

2450 Broke Road, Pokolbin | (02) 4998 7666 |

Moppity vindeyard

Moppity Vineyards

Moppity Vineyards is a hidden gem boasting some of the oldest vines in southern New South Wales. Moppity is situated at 600 metres above sea level (an elevation shared by less than one per cent of Australian vineyards).

The high altitude, cool to moderate climate and dry summer and autumn provides excellent ripening conditions. It represents a perfect marriage of cool and warm climate growing conditions, which enables Moppity to make wines with power and elegance.

Vigneron Jason Brown says since 2013 Moppity has been continuously searching for ways to improve. The winery has introduced new clones of existing varieties as well new varieties, and are now producing 32 different grape varietals and many more clones.

Jason says he strongly believes that when it comes to wine, the 'where' is more important than the 'how'. "Processes can be replicated but place is as unique as DNA. I was drawn to our special site in the Hilltops because I believed it could produce world-class shiraz in a style that is truly unique."

Wine to try

2015 Moppity Vineyards Escalier Shiraz

2015 Moppity Vineyards Escalier Shiraz

A nose of vibrant black fruit. The 2015 is complex with evolving notes of brambly fruits, graphite, pepper and spice. The palate is deceptive – incredibly smooth and refined yet packed with flavour. Layered with sweet black fruits, dark chocolate and spice box. This is super intense yet highly polished, finely focused and exceptionally long. Low production and limited availability. Winner of the Great Australian Shiraz Challenge – Moppity’s second win and the only winery from NSW to win.

Food pairing suggestion: Grilled lamb backstraps dusted in Moroccan spices.

RRP $130 | Drink to 2045

Moppity Road, Young | (02) 6382 6222 |