Music, wine and conversation flow freely at Mudgee’s Mecca of chamber music.

A toast: to getting sloshed in the name of high art. I’ve just returned from four days of being serenaded, dined and thoroughly wined at Musica Viva’s Huntington Estate Music Festival. It’ll be another four days hence before I can get Dvořák’s A-Major Piano Quintet out of my head… And that’s not the Shiraz talking.

The local drop here in rural New South Wales’ Cudgegong River valley was once derided as “Mudgee mud”, but in just a few short decades, the winemakers in these parts have risen above the slur to count themselves among the cream of the Australian crop. The 40-year-old Huntington Estate is one of many vineyards responsible for the rebirth of the area, but for more than half of its life has boasted a unique drawcard over its competitors: an annual, world-class festival of classical chamber music.

Nestled in Eurunderee wine country, Huntington is one of eight or so vineyards I passed on the leisurely 6km bike ride out from the town square. Making the trip there and back twice a day, I couldn’t help but get acquainted with the road kill in various states of undress....