I’ve said it before and I’ll say it again – wine is good enough reason to travel! 😉
The search of wine of course can take you all across the globe but certain places just stand out for their amazing wines and Australia is just one of those places. Australian wines are pretty well renowned the world over and so it was only a matter of time before your search for the best wine (even if you didn’t know you were on said search) took you down under to Australia!
With over 60 designated wine areas across the country, it can be difficult finding just the right experience you’re looking for and so, to help you on your merry, no doubt wine-addled, way here are 10 vineyards you should definitely check out when you’re in Australia.
1.) De Bortoli: Yarra Valley, Victoria
De Bortoli is one of the largest and oldest of over 80 vineyards in the Yarra Valley. The Italian owned estate was purchased in 1987 and has grown to a size of nearly 600 acres (240 hectares). Visitors can take a behind-the-scenes tour of the vineyard and winery, tasting the maturing wines from the barrels, and ending with a seated gourmet cheese and wine meal in the Trophy Room.
Their specialty is the ‘Noble One’ dessert wine (I’m a sucker for the stuff – my sweet tooth means that dessert wine is my favourite kind of wine rivalled only by my pretentious snob-tooth which like to pretend like champagne is my favourite). The Yarra Valley is known for its pinot noir, sparkling wines, and cool-climate wines. De Bortoli is located just northeast of Melbourne and worth planning a visit if you’re gonna be around the area.
2.) Vasse Felix: Margaret River, Western Australia
The region of Margaret River, located three hours south of Perth in Western Australia, is home to over 120 wine producers and is renowned for its food and wine. Cabernet, sauvignon, chardonnay, semillon, sauvignon blanc, merlot, and shiraz wines are all specialties in the region.
Vases Felix began in 1965, when Dr. Thomas Cullity tried experimenting with planting grapes in Australia. Around the same time, a study was published saying South Western Australia had a climate and soil similar to that of Bordeaux (whoever did that study – thank you!). This inspired Cullity to continue growing his grape vines, and his first wine was produced by 1972.
Behind-the-scenes tours are available at Vasse Felix, as well as private wine tastings. Visitors can learn how to match foods and wines (I’ve never fully understood the art behind this though this may be in part due to my attempting to learn while simultaneously guzzling my way through the pairing wines) while enjoying the onsite art gallery, local gardens, sculpture walk, restaurant, and gorgeous beaches nearby.
3.) Jacobs Creek: Barossa Valley, South Australia
In 1842, the first European immigrants to the Barossa Valley arrived, and within a short time, 150 wineries and vineyards emerged.
Located northeast of Adelaide, Jacobs Creek was the first commercial vineyard to open in the Barossa Valley. Food and wine master classes are offered here, as well as tasting workshops and cooking classes. Visitors can picnic in the vineyards and cycle through the Barossa Valley area, taking in the gorgeous scenery surrounding Jacobs Creek. Various tours are offered, including a vineyard tour accompanied by wine tasting and a two-course lunch.
This is easily one of the more famous wines here in the UK (its in stores everywhere and I’m pretty sure I even have a couple of bottles stashed away in the cupboards) yet despite how easily accessible the wine is here, a trip the vineyard is one absolutely spectacular and rather indulgent experience!
4.) Penfolds Magill Estate: Adelaide Hills, South Australia
This vineyard and winery, which was established in 1844, is unique in that it is one of a few urban vineyards in Australia. Located just on the eastern edge of Adelaide, the Penfolds Magill Estate is known for its Grange wine, which is supposedly the greatest wine in Australia.
The estate includes underground tunnels, a cottage, and bluestone cellars, as well as a premium wine collection and award-wining restaurant. Visit the estate for tours and stunning views of the iconic vineyards… oh, and to drink your weight in delicious wine (though kinda took it for granted that you’d be doing that last one anyway 😉 ).
5.) d’Arenberg: McLaren Vale, South Australia
For traditional wine making practices, head to d’Arenberg in South Australia’s McLaren Vale region.
Home to some of the oldest grape vines in the world, McLaren Vale’s 65 wineries specialize in Shiraz wine thanks to its Mediterranean-like climate. d’Arenberg, established in 1912, uses traditional processes for creating its wine, including the use of small batches, basket-pressed grapes and foot-treading. Along with the stellar d’Arry’s Verandah Restaurant, visitors can try The Blending Bench, where they can blend their own wine and name it (I think mine would be called “The Drunken Horse” though I couldn’t give you any logical reason why…).
d’Arenberg is located just 22 miles (35km) south of Adelaide.
6.) Audrey Wilkinson: Hunter Valley, New South Wales
Established in 1866, Audrey Wilkinson vineyards specializes in handmade wines, and has an on-site museum displaying original wine making equipment. This historic vineyard and winery is one of the oldest in the area. The Hunter Valley region has the oldest vineyards in Australia, dating back to the 1820’s.
Audrey Wilkinson’s beautiful vineyards are located on the foothills of the Brokenback Mountain range and its cellar door is located at the top of one of these foothills. While enjoying the vineyard, visitors can stay in one of the two cottages available: Mulberry Cottage and The Dairy.
7.) Montalto Vineyard and Olive Grove: Mornington Peninsula, Victoria
Mornington Peninsula, located just south of Melbourne, has over 200 vineyards surrounded by hills, olive groves, orchards, and historic mansions. Montalto is one such vineyard with an accompanying olive grove.
Known for its beautiful architecture and intimate cellar door, the picturesque grounds of Montalto are home to a restaurant, cafe, sculpture walk, and wetlands. Visitors can choose from three amazing tour options. The “Golf” package includes 18 holes of golf followed by a culinary feast at the vineyard.
The “Estate-to-Plate” option gives a full tour of the grounds, as well as a fantastic meal. The “Behind-the-Scenes” tour includes a tour of the winery, followed by a three-course lunch and matching wines. (On account how terrible I am at golf, I’d skip that one and go one of the other two tours 🙂 ). Montalto is located in the town of Red Hill South, Victoria.
8.) Sevenhill Cellars: Clare Valley, South Australia
A Jesuit monastery from 1851 in Clare Valley is the home of one of the most beautiful and historic vineyards in South Australia. Self-guided tours, as well as staff-guided tours, are available at Sevenhills. The tour takes visitors to the underground cellar, old vineyards, St. Ignatius of Loyola Shrine, and St. Aloysius’ Church and crypt.
Initially, the monastery originally only made altar wine but later on began making popular table wines as well. Settled in the 1840’s by English, Irish, and Polish immigrants, the Clare Valley is now known for its Riesling wine, 40+ wineries and beautiful weather.
9.) Lancaster Wines: Swan Valley, Western Australia
Just 20 minutes from the center of Perth, visitors will find the famous outdoor tasting shed and bar of Lancaster Wines. Located on the banks of the Swan River, Lancaster Wines is part of the Swan Valley Food and Wine Trail, a 20 mile (32km) loop that visitors can drive. 150 other food and wine spots are located along the route, which is sure to please even the pickiest of eaters.
The area, which was first settled by Croatian and Italian immigrants in the 1920’s, has become known for its verdelho, chenin blanc, chardonnay, shiraz and cabernet wines.
10.) Josef Chromy: Tasmania
This award winning vineyard is located in Relbia, on the island Tasmania off the coast of Australia. Home to cool-climate grapes, vineyards, a lake, cellar door, restaurant, and old English gardens, Josef Chromy is pretty much guaranteed to please all those who visit. Pinot noir, chardonnay, riesling, pinot gris, and sauvignon blanc are the specialties here, while sparkling wines are particularly popular across all of Tasmania.
Visitors to Josef Chromy can enjoy the cellar door, located in the original 1880’s homestead, as well as schedule a Sunday tour of the winery and vineyards. The most popular activity is the tour and lunch, which shows the ‘grape-to-glass’ process, ending with a two-course meal of delightful Tasmanian produce and delicious wines.
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