Facts and History

The Cowra Wine Region is part of the Central Ranges Wine Zone of New South Wales, Australia. The official GIC region is located south of the Orange Wine Region and north of Hilltops Wine Region.

Cowra is 4.5 hours (330km) due west of Sydney and 2.5 hours (200km) due north of Canberra.

2008 R45 ROZARIO Rosnay HomesteadAttractions of the Cowra Wine Region include:

  • Japanese Gardens, Cowra
  • WWII Prisoner of War Camp, Cowra
  • Wyangala Dam
  • Regional Art Gallery, Cowra
  • Neila Restaurant, Cowra
  • Taste Canowindra, Canowindra
  • Ballooning, Canowindra
  • National Parks (Nangar, Conimbla and Weddin)
  • Farmers Market
  • Age of Fishes Museum,Canowindra
  • Rural History Museum, Canowindra

Early records show that as far back as 1865 there were 24 acres of grape vines planted in the Lachlan region, producing about 20 gallons of the first Cowra wine. By 1879, records show agricultural production in the region including 3,000 gallons of wine.

“…its principle feature is the vineyard, the returns from which show that the land in the locality is most suitable for wine growing. The vineyard and orchard embrace seven acres set on with four kinds of wine grapes, red hermitage and Tokay being the principle varieties. The wine from these grapes is pronounces excellent and has won for its maker much praise. Should the area under vine be extended and wine making worked on a large scale it would without doubt prove lucrative…” The Cowra Free Press 1893, James Ousby’s farm, Cowra.

The 1940’s saw a commercial winery owned by the Thomas family established on the site that was subsequently purchased by Edgells for their cannery operation.

_DSC3938In 1972 the search for alternative crops for the region spurred Alan Mitchell to plant a small trial area of wine grapes on his property on the banks of the Lachlan River, just downstream from the Cowra township. In that same year an American company commissioned a viticulture project on the slopes adjacent to the river south of the township. This venture was taken over by Sydney developer Tony Gray and the first vines were planted in 1973.

In the 1980’s Cowra Chardonnay grapes achieved legendary status after winemaker Brian Crosier, of Petaluma fame, produced nationally acclaimed wines from the fruit at the Charles Sturt University Winery. In 1981, Hunter Valley winemakers Rothbury Estate, eager to have access to Cowra Chardonnay fruit, purchased plantings from Tony Gray. These mature Chardonnay vines, now over thirty years old, are still producing wines today under the Cowra Estate label.

Pioneers of the modern Cowra Wine Region include John Geber of Cowra Estate, and the O’Dea family of Windowrie Estate, who also established the region’s first major winery. The next generation of growers are now focusing on the sustainability of what the pioneers began, having launched the Cowra Sustainable Wine Partnership in 2007, and now with more than half the wine producing members certified organic and biodynamic.