Local wine legend Nick O’Leary jokes that travelling to the Tumbarumba wine region “smells like a deodorant commercial”.
The basalt rock, flinty mountain air and crystal clear waters make this region a stellar wine-producing region, but Tumbarumba has flown under the radar when compared to the popularity of other local wine regions. The winemakers and vignerons of Tumbarumba are looking to turn this around and put their wines on the map.
The Tumbarumba region was hit hard during the 2020 bushfires. Several vineyards were partially burned, homes were lost, and those lucky enough to keep their vines still lost the fruit to smoke damage. No crops were harvested in 2020, and COVID also smashed the region with fewer visitors to cellar doors.
Thanks to a bushfire recovery grant, Tumbarumba is putting on a food and wine festival to celebrate the best that the region has to offer.
A showcase lunch held at the Arboretum gave Canberrans earlier this month gave a sneak preview of what to expect from the festival on 28 and 29 October.
The Tumbarumba region is a cold climate region, making it ideal for producing chardonnay and pinot noir varietals. If chardonnay reminds you of Kath & Kim, let the Tumbarumba winemakers reassure you, chardonnay has changed a lot in the past few years. The sophisticated whites produced these days bear little resemblance to the super-oaked ‘chardys’ your aunt was drinking in the 90s.
The wild yeast fermented 2018 Obsession Chardonnay is crisp with a fine flinty taste and well-rounded finish. There’s a touch of French oak, but it doesn’t overwhelm the palate.
Some Tumbarumba chardonnays lean more towards the citrussy end of the spectrum and may convert a few riesling fans. In contrast, others showcase the buttery tones of old-school ‘chardys’ with a modern sensibility.
Over a lunch of smoked Snowy Mountain trout, local winemakers explained that the ‘tighter’ nature of the chardonnay produced in Tumbarumba makes it ideal for ageing as the natural acidity holds better than other warmer climate chardonnays that tend to be fruitier, sweeter and less complex.
The region is also well known for its pinot noir, with well-known brands like Eden Road Wines producing wines using Tumbarumba grapes. Interstate wineries like Penfolds have also been known to buy grapes from the Tumbarumba region, a prestigious vote of confidence in the quality of the area.
Internationally renowned wine critic Jancis Robinson has also judged Tumbarumba wines to be of exceptional quality.
With all these accolades, the Tumbarumba Vignerons Association hopes to attract more visitors to their beautiful town in the Snowys. The Tumbarumba Tastebuds Festival on 28 and 29 October will feature cellar door tastings from five local wine producers, a Spring degustation dinner at Nest Cinema Cafe and a Garden Party at Ladbroken Distilling Co.
The Tumbarumba District Garden Club is also hosting the Spring Flower Festival on the same weekend with open gardens and a flower show, so there will be plenty to do in town!