Our Top 12 Australian wine regions
Where to go and what to ask for
By Sara Schwarz
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:
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.
Getting there: four hours' drive from Sydney. Numerous cellar doors within 30 minutes' drive of central Canberra.
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.
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.
Getting there: a scenic 220km drive southwest of Brisbane. Stay overnight and make a weekend of it.
Ask for: shiraz and fortifieds. Riesling from the nearby Eden Valley.
Getting there: 75km north of Adelaide.
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?
Getting there: five hours' drive from Melbourne or Adelaide.
Ask for: shiraz and grenache.
Famous for: Willunga Farmers' Markets. Gorgeous coastal scenery around the Fleurieu Peninsula.
Getting there: an easy 40km road trip south of Adelaide.
(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.
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.
Ask for: sparkling whites, riesling and shiraz.
Famous for: Hanging Rock, home of the infamous picnic. The Spa Country surrounding Daylesford.
Getting there: less than an hour's drive north-west of Melbourne.
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 .
Ask for: muscats, tokays and durif.
Famous for: its goldmining past and Australia's most famous bushranger
Getting there: three hours' drive north of Melbourne.
Ask for: pinot noir, chardonnay and sparklings in elevated regions. Cabernets and shiraz from the warmer valley floor.
Getting there: One hour's drive north east of Melbourne.
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.
Getting there: Three to four hours' drive south of Perth.
See a selection of regional itineraries and more on each region in the related articles below.
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