McLaren Vale, SA © The Vineyard Retreat McLaren Vale
Australia’s most well-designed winery experiences
Australian wineries are global pioneers; blendings wine experiences with immersion in art and design.
By Ralph Bestic
Here’s how to find the visionary Australian wineries engaging with artists, architects and storytellers to complement their cellar door and vineyard experiences.
Thinking outside the box in the McLaren Vale, South Australia
The wonderfully unconventional d’Arenberg Cube at the d’Arenberg winery is one of the most recognisable attractions in the fertile McLaren Vale wine region, less than an hour’s drive south of the South Australian capital of Adelaide.
Sitting like an uncompleted Rubik’s cube (its inspiration), this is a hands-on art gallery, sensory-focused wine tasting room and casual dining space all rolled into one, housed in an extraordinary five-storey glass structure.
Unconventional designs featuring acute angles and gleaming finishes combine with a host of celebrated wines to make this an astonishing venue. The winery is also home to the acclaimed d’Arry’s Verandah Restaurant, in a restored 19th-century homestead. The winery is an absolute must for all culture vultures and Instagram-happy travellers.
Pods amid the vines in McLaren Vale, South Australia
Local produce, premium wines and futuristic accommodation will surely tempt you to The Vineyard Retreat in the McLaren Vale region, less than an hour’s drive south of Adelaide.
Here, alongside charming guesthouses overlooking rows of vines, are two smartly designed studio pods, the Cadole Sierra and Cadole Avalon, both offering log fires, outdoor decks and minimalist style. Don’t forget to ask about the Vineyard Retreat’s luxury concierge service, which can organise a grand tour around this most attractive wine region. A wine-meets-design experience you’ll want to take full advantage of.
High design in the Hunter Valley, New South Wales
The quirky roof of the winery and some intriguing courtyard sculptures set the scene for an elevated cellar-door experience at Hungerford Hill in the Hunter Valley wine region, two hour’s drive north of Sydney. Take a tour of the main winery building, designed by distinguished Sydney architect Walter Barda to resemble a wine barrel with the lid raised, before enjoying a tasting.
Sheltered in the foothills of the Broken Back Range, Hungerford Hill also boasts the award-winning restaurant Muse – make sure you secure a table here for a memorable lunch after the tasting experience.
Australian art meets wine in Margaret River, Western Australia
A foodie, wine-lover and art-aficionado’s winning trifecta. Combine your passions for wine and art with a visit to the masterful Leeuwin Estate in the Margaret River wine region, south-west of Perth in Western Australia. The winery’s former barrel room has been transformed into the Leeuwin Art Gallery, which houses an eclectic collection of works by significant Australian artists including Albert Tucker, Fred Williams, Arthur Boyd, Lloyd Rees and Sir Sidney Nolan.
Book the Ultimate Leeuwin Tasting Experience and after a hosted morning tea you’ll be escorted through the gallery before sampling the estate’s magnificent wines. Suitably tingling with wine warmth,Then you’ll move on to the estate’s award-winning restaurant for a seven-course tasting menu featuring premium West Australian produce, paired, of course, with Leeuwin wines.
Country-style luxury in Margaret River, Western Australia
The owners of the Empire luxe homewares stores in Perth, Western Australia, have stamped their design flair on the Empire Estate Vineyard in the Margaret River wine region, a three-hour drive to the south.
In the most productive corner of the property there’s a cosy little vineyard, but the real drawcard here is the Empire Retreat and Spa, set in a stone and timber farmhouse reimagined into an exquisite 11-suite boutique hideaway.
If you love design as much as your wine, you cannot miss a chance to immerse yourself in its country-style design spa setting, informed by soft palettes and light-filled spaces mixed with some big city flourishes.
A winery designer hotel in Victoria’s Goulburn Valley
A comfortable 90-minute drive north of Melbourne brings you to Mitchelton winery – you’ll know you’ve arrived when you spot the estate’s distinctive 55-metre (180-foot) tower. Overlooking the fruit-growing Goulburn Valley in Victoria, the tower soars above the cellar door, tasting rooms and the renowned Mitchelton Gallery of Aboriginal Art, a space celebrated for its stunning works by Indigenous artists.
Try some exceptional vintages from the sustainable winery estate, then wander a winding riverbank lined with stately red gums and native bushland. When the day’s over, retire to the Mitchelton’s luxury boutique hotel.
A modernist holy grail for art, design and wine on Victoria’s Mornington Peninsula
Jackalope hotel and vineyard in Victoria’s Mornington Peninsula, a one-hour drive south-west of Melbourne, is an art and design lover’s idyll.
For starters, you’re greeted by a seven-metre-tall (23-foot) sculpture of a mythical creature sitting in the forecourt. It’s a “jackalope”, a mythicalcross between a jackrabbit and an antelope, and it’s a great introduction that really sets the tone to this modernist, whimsical wonder.
For an immersive experience, stay in one of the hotel’s luxurious suites overlooking rows of vines, and explore the property and its numerous immersive and interactive artworks. Wander the vineyards with their panoramic views of gently rolling hills to work up an appetite before dining at Jackalope’s stylish Doot Doot Doot restaurant. An absolute must-do for trend-setters and style-o-philes alike looking to combine luxury with high-concept design and wine.
A museum with its own winery in Tasmania
Perhaps the ultimate wine-meets-design experience is a visit to the Museum of Old and New Art (MONA) in Hobart. This remarkable privately- owned museum has transformed Tasmania’s capital into a burgeoning creative hub and a must-see on the international art circuit.
Here, you can combine a visit to MONA’s on-site Moorilla winery for a wine tasting with a luxury stay at MONA’s stunning riverfront pavilions, each named after an influential Australian artist or architect; a little thrill for the art-world purists among you. .
Make sure you take a tour of the fascinating subterranean art museum and enjoy lunch at MONA’s excellent restaurant, The Source, paired with Moorilla wines, to top off an extremely memorable visit you’ll be dreaming of long after.