Best Food and Wine Experiences in the Australian Capital Territory

Exploring Canberra’s thriving restaurant scene, mixing with innovative winemakers as they harvest premium cool climate wines and stopping by a dedicated smokehouse cafe specialising in smoked meats are just some of the must-do food experiences you should add to your list when visiting Canberra! There is plenty to see, do, taste and experience and best of all, it’s usually all happening within a short drive of the city centre. Even Canberra’s famous wine district is only a 35-minute drive from the city centre. These are some of the top food and wine experiences to try next time you’re passing through the capital. Best Food and Wine Experiences in the Australian Capital Territory
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Best Food and Wine Experiences in the Australian Capital Territory

There is plenty to see, do, taste and experience in Canberra, and it’s usually happening within a short drive of the city


Exploring Canberra’s thriving restaurant scene, mixing with innovative winemakers as they harvest premium cool climate wines and stopping by a dedicated smokehouse cafe specialising in smoked meats are just some of the must-do food experiences you should add to your list when visiting Canberra! There is plenty to see, do, taste and experience and best of all, it’s usually all happening within a short drive of the city centre.  Even Canberra’s famous wine district is only a 35-minute drive from the city centre. These are some of the top food and wine experiences to try next time you’re passing through the capital.

Helm Wines,
Murrumbateman, NSW

1. Boutique ‘meet the winemaker’ experiences

Respected Australian wine critic, James Halliday, named 11 Canberra District vineyards among his best wineries of the region in his Australian Wine Companion 2014 edition. The following received five star ratings: Capital Wines, Clonakilla, Collector Wines, Eden Road Wines, Four Winds Vineyards, Helm Wines, Lark Hill Winery, Lerida Estate, Mount Majura Vineyard, Nick O’Leary Wines and Ravensworth.

The Canberra District wineries are small enough to have an intimate cellar door experience and meet the winemaker, yet large enough to find all the varieties of a premium wine-growing region.

The region’s 140 vineyards are home to more than 30 cellar doors that produce distinctive award winning cool climate wines. Sprinkled in all directions around Canberra, the wineries are ideal for visiting on a self drive journey taking you from Pialligo in the ACT to the neighbouring wine districts of Hall, Murrumbateman, Bungendore, Wamboin and Lake George.

Clonakilla winemaker, Tim Kirk, is considered a leader in Australia in the production of Shiraz Viognier. He is currently Australian Gourmet Traveller WINE magazine’s Australian Winemaker of the Year. Langton’s Andrew Caillard has described Clonakilla’s Shiraz Viognier as ‘one of the most important advances in the development of Australian Shiraz since the release of 1952 Penfolds Grange Hermitage.

Kirk attributes the diverse styles of wines produced in the Canberra District to the differing soil types, altitudes, micro climates, grapes and people combining to produce a unique geography – something he calls liquid geography. “We don’t make very big, robust wines,” he says, “we make very finely tuned, subtle and enduring wine.”

Capital Region Farmers Market,
Canberra, ACT

2. Taste Canberra’s freshest produce

An early morning wander around the Capital Region Farmer’s Market is the perfect way to indulge in your love of food with a journey of discovery of the breadth of regional produce available in the Canberra region.

This Saturday morning local institution is thedestination for food lovers, offering fresh produce direct from local and regional growers, makers and farmers. You’ll find everything from in season fruit and vegetables to meat, seafood, cheeses, nuts, baked goods, biodynamic wine and pre-made food. And what makes the experience special is talking direct to the producer, knowing what you are buying is produced with quality, freshness and low food miles in mind.

In her book titled It tastes better, Australian chef Kylie Kwong lists the Capital Region Farmers Market among the best farmers markets in the country, while Australian food, wine and travel journalist Christine Salins ofhttp://www.foodwinetravel.com.au/ said: “Having visited a lot of markets around the country, I can happily say that the one at Exhibition Park in Canberra is one of the best.”

Poacher's Pantry,
Poacher's Way, ACT

3. Sample the delights at smokin’ hot Poachers

After exploring Australia’s capital, take a short drive to the picturesque rural setting of Poacher’s Pantry, home to the award-winning Smokehouse Cafe and Wily Trout Vineyard located in a beautifully restored 1930s weatherboard farm cottage. You’ll soon discover why Australia’s leading restaurants and chefs use Poacher’s Pantry smoked meats.

Here, you can sample smoked meat platters matched with the cafe’s wine range or enjoy a sit down meal featuring kangaroo, lamb or duck prosciutto and chicken breast while enjoying the rural scenery on this working farm.

Grazing,
Gundaroo, NSW

4. A grazing you will go

The quaint country town of Gundaroo – a leisurely 30-minute drive from Canberra – is home of Grazing at Gundaroo, an award-winning restaurant within the Capital Wines Epicurean Centre. Grazing has a focus on using the best of the Canberra district’s food and wine including produce from its own kitchen garden, which provides organically grown heirloom vegetables and fruit – offering an authentic produce to the plate experience.

Grazing chef Kurt Neumann promises good, wholesome food, saying, “Our philosophy is simple: we aim to serve good size portions of great food, made with the freshest possible ingredients. We don’t serve anything too fussy, just combinations of flavours and textures that appeal to the senses.”

Capital Wines – using grapes from the nearby Kyeema vineyards – have won many wine awards and their Ministry Series is a cheeky nod to Canberra being the home of Parliament House and Australia’s seat of government.

National Arboretum Centre,
Canberra, ACT

5. Dine among the forests

Located three and three-quarters miles (six kilometres) from the city centre, the National Arboretum Canberra’s Conservatory Restaurant offers a new edge to dining in the Canberra region – all from Canberra’s newest attraction, which offers sweeping views of the city.

The Arboretum features 94 forests of rare, endangered and symbolic trees from Australia and around the world. It’s the perfect setting for chef Janet Jeffs’ contemporary Australian cuisine that has been developed to support Canberra region’s finest local farmers.

Fresh regional produce is sourced with an emphasis on organic and biodynamic growing of heirloom meats, vegetables, sea and sweet water foods. You may even get the chance to sample Jeffs' organic Wessex Saddleback pigs, which she breeds on her own farm.