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A little star twinkles brightly in the Orange vineyards of NSW

by Diana Streak
Lee Bell of Dindima vineyard

With its eye-catching red and black logo with a sprinkle of gold stars, Dindima vineyard is punching above its weight and holding its own among the big players in Orange’s competitive wine industry.


There are some big names out there, plus a mid-range selection of cellar doors firmly planted along Orange’s five major wine routes. But Dindima is one of those rare destinations where personalities are as much the attraction as the products. The effervescent Lee Bell, husband David Bell and son and winemaker James Bell  have owned and managed Dindima for 20 years.

Dindima is Wiradjuri word which means group of stars. Lee (pictured above) tells us that the ‘dindima’ they chose nearly two decades ago is the southern cross and its pointers which traverse the night sky above Mount Canobolas.

“When we first came here we wanted to acknowledge the Indigenous owners in some way,” says Lee. However, years later a Wiradjuri dictionary defined it as the Pleides or Indigenous ‘seven sisters’ songline. But after careful consideration,  the Bells opted to keep their original logo which remains timeless in its striking simplicity.

Cool climate is the key

Orange is only one of a handful of areas in Australia which fall into the category of cool climate region, generally defined by large diurnal variation, long cool autumns, and distinct seasons. Surprisingly, Orange is also the highest wine growing region in Australia.

The Bells have four hectares under vine, harvest about 10 tonne of grapes and bottle approximately 6000 bottles per vintage.

Dwarfed by some of its larger neighbours, the Bells are perfectly content with their modest output, favouring pleasure over profit. “We work crazy hours, are sometimes exhausted but we are always doing something interesting and meet some fascinating people, including young international backpackers who come for seasonal work,” says Lee.

Dindima’s range is just a dozen wines, all barrel-aged, which include a deep coloured rose made from a muscat varietal, superb cabernet sauvignons and red blends, all of which have a traditional cork instead of a modern screw top. Their showpiece, “Stardust”, is a sparkling blanc de blanc made from 100 per cent chardonnay using the méthode traditionelle technique.

“We prefer a drier rose and this one has a really beautiful aroma,” says Lee. “With this particular varietal we have the nice nose and can ferment until it’s it dry and savoury. The unusual colour is because we don’t take it off the skins immediately. It’s a complex rose and one of our best sellers.”

Perhaps, it’s closer to the stars because it’s in Australia’s highest wine producing region, but just maybe its success owes something to the pact Dindima struck with the land on which the vines grow.

Fabulous flavours at Ferment

Vineyards still smaller than Dindima have outsourced their cellar doors to Ferment, the Orange Wine Centre, which acts as a one-stop proxy cellar door for 18 vineyards. Visitors strapped for time can sample local wines or enjoy Country Food Trails’ short walking tour of Orange, which culminates at Ferment and includes a magnificent platter of local produce. TTW

Photos © Zora Regulic and Dindima. Diana Streak travelled with assistance from NSW Central West and Country Food Trails. More at Visit Central NSW.

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