Our Top 12 Australian wine regions

Where to go and what to ask for

By Sara Schwarz
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Cellar door in the Hunter Valley, New South Wales

Cellar door in the Hunter Valley, New South Wales [©Tourism New South Wales]

Vines in the Barossa Valley in South Australia
Wolf Blass - Behind the Bow Tie
Clonakilla cellar door, ACT/NSW
Cape Mentelle, Margaret River, Western Australia

 

Australia has over 3000 wineries and vineyards spread across more than 65 designated wine regions. Within these, a range of factors – elevation, soil and climate amongst others, plus the people who grow and make the wines – result in a large array of wine varieties and styles.

With so many to choose from, it can be difficult to know where to go and what to try. This Top 12 Wine Regions guide may assist, but remember, it only just scratches the surface. Much more waits to be discovered.

 

ACT and New South Wales:

 

CANBERRA

Ask for: Rhone style shiraz-viognier blends, riesling

Famous for: Politicians and legal fireworks (amongst other things). Record queues at the Post Impressionist exhibition. The Old Bus Depot Markets.

We recommend: Clonakilla, Lake George Winery, Wily Trout, Helm Wines

Getting there: four hours' drive from Sydney. Numerous cellar doors within 30 minutes' drive of central Canberra.

Downloadable map (pdf) »

Regional Overview »

Wines and Vines » 

 

HUNTER VALLEY

Ask for: shiraz and aged semillon.

Famous for:  Hunter Valley Cheese Co. Flamboyant cellar doors. Doctors turned winemakers.

We recommend: Tyrrells (our number 1cellar door in Australia), Lindemans, Bimbadgen, Small Winemakers Centre, First Creek, Margan Family Winegrowers, Audrey Wilkinson, Scarborough (there are over 250, this is only a small selection.)

Getting there: 2.5 hours' drive north of Sydney.

Regional Overview »

Wines and Vines »

 

Queensland:

 

GRANITE BELT

Ask for: expand your taste buds with ‘strange bird’ varieties including verdelho, viogner, sangiovese and barbera.

Famous for: unique granite formations in the surrounding national parks. The Apple and Grape Harvest Festival biennially on the even years in March.

We recommend: Boireann, Robert Channon Wines, Ballandean Estate, Bungawarra

Getting there: a scenic 220km drive southwest of Brisbane. Stay overnight and make a weekend of it.

Downloadable map (pdf) »

Regional Overview »

Wines and Vines »

 

South Australia:

 

BAROSSA VALLEY

Ask for: shiraz and fortifieds. Riesling from the nearby Eden Valley.

Famous for: Maggie Beer, her pates and preserves. Penfolds, home of Grange. Unique German-Australian culture.

We recommend: Penfolds Barossa Valley, Peter Lehmann wines, Wolf Blass, St Hallett, Spinifex (there are over 180)

Getting there: 75km north of Adelaide.

Regional Overview »

Wines and Vines »

 

COONAWARRA

Ask for: cabernet sauvignon. Shiraz also making a comeback.

Famous for: Terra Rossa, the narrow strip of iron-rich red soil. Regional produce – emu sausages anyone?

We recommend: Wynns Coonawarra Estate, Katnook Estate, Balnaves, Hollick Wines, Bowen Estate, Leconfield, Punters Corner, St Mary's, Zema Estate

Getting there: five hours' drive from Melbourne or Adelaide. 

Regional Overview »

Wines and Vines »

 

McLAREN VALE

Ask for: shiraz and grenache.

Famous for: Willunga Farmers' Markets. Gorgeous coastal scenery around the Fleurieu Peninsula.

We recommend: Coriole, Shingleback, Chapel Hill, Maglieri, Penny's Hill and Mr Riggs Cellars, d’Arenburg

Getting there: an easy 40km road trip south of Adelaide. 

Regional Overview »

Wines and Vines »

 

Tasmania:

(The whole State is a designated wine region)

Ask for: sparkling wines, riesling, chardonnay and pinot noir.

Famous for: its wild and rugged beauty. Sumptuous seafood and fresh local produce. Dark convict past. Errol Flynn.

We recommend: Josef Chromy, Milton, Bay of Fires, Clover Hill, Freycinet, Goaty Hill and Rosevears in the north and east of the state.

In the south, Moorilla Estate, Clemens Hill, Bream Creek, Frogmore Creek, Domaine A, Puddleduck and Home Hill

Getting there: The majority of wineries are within a short drive of Launceston in the north and from Hobart in the south. Drive between the two along the East Coast highway for one of Australia's great coastal drives. Note that some cellar doors being small have limited opening hours or are only open by appointment, so check out their details first. 

Regional Overview »

Wines and Vines »

 

Victoria:

 

MACEDON RANGES

Ask for: sparkling whites, riesling and shiraz.

Famous for: Hanging Rock, home of the infamous picnic. The Spa Country surrounding Daylesford.

We recommend: Hanging Rock Wines and Granite Hills Winery.

Getting there: less than an hour's drive north-west of Melbourne.

Regional Overview »

Wines and Vines »

 

MORNINGTON PENINSULA

Ask for: pinot noir, pinot gris, chardonnay and cool climate shiraz.

Famous for: the wealthy beachside towns of Portsea and Sorrento. Golf, walks and the monthly  Red Hill Community Markets.

We recommend: Main Ridge Estate, Port Phillip Estate, Paradigm Hill, Montalto, 10 Minutes x Tractor, Eldridge Estate, Ocean Eight, Nazaaray, The Cups Estate, Willow Creek (nearly all of the 100+, really)

Getting there: 60 - 100km south of Melbourne .

Regional Overview »

Wines and Vines »

 

RUTHERGLEN

Ask for: muscats, tokays and durif.

Famous for: its goldmining past and Australia's most famous bushranger

We recommend: Pfeiffer Wines, Jones Winery, Stanton and Killeen

Getting there: three hours' drive north of Melbourne. 

Regional Overview »

Wines and Vines »

 

YARRA VALLEY

Ask for: pinot noir, chardonnay and sparklings in elevated regions. Cabernets and shiraz from the warmer valley floor.

Famous for: numerous annual events and festivals. James Halliday. Tarrawarra's amazing art collection,  the picturesque town of Healesville: home to the Healesville Sanctuary and Healesville Hotel.

We recommend: Domaine Chandon, De Bortoli, Yering Station, Coldstream Hills, Warramate, Innocent Bystander/Giant Steps, Mandala, Mac Forbes (there are over 280)

Getting there: One hour's drive north east of Melbourne.

Regional Overview »

Wines and Vines »

 

Western Australia:

 

MARGARET RIVER

Ask for: cabernet sauvignon, semillon-sauvignon blanc blends, chardonnay

Famous for: the Mediterranean-like maritime climate. Stunning surf beaches and towering kauri forests. Opera in the vines.

We recommend: Cullen Wines, Cape Mentelle, Voyager Estate, Amberley, Leeuwin Estate

Getting there: Three to four hours' drive south of Perth.

Regional Overview »

Wines and Vines »

 

See a selection of regional itineraries and more on each region in the related articles below.


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