Ultimate Winery Experiences Australia is a collection of premium award-winning wineries offering diverse experiences beyond the cellar door.
By Sue Gough Henly
Australia has more than 2,400 wineries in 65 wine regions around the country. These regions grow more than 100 grape varieties that end up in the more than 30 million glasses of Australian wine consumed around the world every day. Ultimate Winery Experiences Australia is a consortium of high-end, award-winning wineries offering behind-the-scenes wine, food and adventure experiences including barrel, private and structured tastings, food and wine matching, wine blending and cooking classes and picnics in spectacular locations. There are also easy-to-follow wine trail itineraries with suggestions from locals as to how to best explore Australia's wine regions.
Leeuwin Estate, located three hours from Perth in the Margaret River, holds events throughout the year, including cooking classes, wine dinners and an annual alfresco summer concert series. Enjoy regional cuisine at the award-winning Leeuwin Restaurant or visit the cellar door for an informal food and wine matching experience. Or go for the Ultimate Leeuwin Art, Wine and Cooking Experience, in which you enjoy a tutored viewing of artworks in Leeuwin's Art Series range, a guided wine tasting with matched seasonal foods and a private cooking demonstration featuring local produce.
Discover Margaret River's first wine estate, Vasse Felix. Go on a behind-the-scenes journey into the winemaking process and have a private tasting. Enjoy the regional flavours of the Vasse Felix Restaurant and learn the art of food and wine matching. Explore the on-site art gallery, gardens and sculpture walk.
Margaret River's Voyager Estate invites visitors to immerse yourself in a journey from the vineyard to the table. Tour the Estate to taste wine straight from the barrel and see the underground barrel cellar before indulging in a true degustation. In the stunning cellar door, surrounded by pristine gardens, take a private tasting that offers a fun and interactive way to learn more about wine.
Located beside the magnificent Swan River, Mandoon Estate has developed a reputation as one of the region's best wineries and most popular destinations. As well as the cellar door that showcases the Estate’s range of award-winning fine wines, the picturesque grounds are also home to a microbrewery and casual dining venue, fine dining restaurant Wild Swan, a gourmet deli and beer garden, as well as a contemporary art gallery. Luxury accommodation is available onsite at The Colony, 32 spacious rooms and suites overlooking a beautiful section of the Swan River and the property's original verdelho vineyard.
The Jacob's Creek Visitor Centre is the home of the Jacob's Creek wine brand in the heart of the Barossa, about a one-hour drive from Adelaide. Relax with a picnic under the shade of a river red gum or take a food and wine masterclass. Enjoy a vineyard tour, wine tasting and two-course lunch. Hone your sensory skills in an interactive tasting workshop. Or experience the life of a winemaker in a dynamic winemaking class, where you can create your perfect blend based on your preferences. Watch your bottle as its produced on site, or order a box to share with family and friends.
Seppeltsfield is considered the only winery in the world to release a 100-year-old, single vintage wine each year. Take a historic tour of one of Australia's most renowned wineries. Tour the Centennial Cellar and taste a tawny port, made in your birth year, directly from the barrel. Explore the contemporary craft and design studio on site and dine on local produce at FINO restaurant, in the original 1900s bottling hall.
You'll drive through one of only Australia's few cork tree plantations as you enter St Hugo. Enjoy a lunch, tour and tasting. Meet the chef and enjoy an eight-course dining experience matched with St Hugo's wines. Or take a scenic helicopter flight over the Barossa followed by a tasting of old vintages and special blends, an estate tour and lunch with paired wines.
Established in 1849, by Samuel Smith a British migrant, Yalumba takes its name from the Aboriginal meaning ‘All the land around’ and is Australia’s most historic family-owned winery. Yalumba’s magnificent estate is located near the town of Angaston in South Australia’s Eden Valley in the Barossa region, a scenic one-hour drive from Adelaide. Oak barrels, family artefacts and artworks line the walls of the famous Wine Room where passionate Wine Room Ambassadors introduce visitors to the wines and many stories of Yalumba.
Penfolds Magill Estate
Penfolds Grange is widely regarded as Australia's greatest wine. Immerse yourself in the history, philosophy and spirit of this world-famous brand on a historical tour of Penfolds Magill Estate, located just 15 minutes from Adelaide in the beautiful Adelaide Hills. See the fascinating underground tunnels, original cottage and heritage-listed bluestone cellars, before tasting your way through the famous Penfolds premium collection and dining in the award-winning restaurant.
The Lane Vineyard
Lots of winery experiences are on offer at The Lane. Enjoy a wine flight at a hilltop table in the middle of the vineyard, or do a barrel room masterclass to learn the impact of oak on wine. Blend your own wine or take a scenic helicopter tour to see the rolling Adelaide Hills from above. Enjoy locally sourced produce at the Lane Vineyard Restaurant, where wine tasting, long lunches and rambling views take centre stage.
At d'Arenberg, traditional winemaking processes are maintained with wines made in small batches and grapes basket-pressed. Reds are traditionally fermented and foot treading is still used. Taste wines at the new, quirky Cube tasting room and immersive art gallery. Take on the role of winemaker by blending and naming your own wine at the Blending Bench. Enjoy wine tasting masterclasses and cheese plates and spectacular vineyard views at d’Arry's Verandah, one of South Australia's most highly awarded restaurants. You can also choose a full-day experience flying over McLaren Vale wine region and beaches in an open cockpit biplane before playing winemaker and enjoying an eight-course degustation menu.
Gemtree's 306 acres of vineyards are certified organic and biodynamic. The sustainably-built Cellar Door takes in elevated views over McLaren Vale to the ocean beyond. Located at the cellar door is the Gemtree Biodynamic Hut, an informal interactive experience that provides visitors with a deeper understanding of biodynamic viticulture, while nearby the 1-kilometre (half-mile) Gemtree Ecotrail, a meandering path through 10 hectares (25 acres) of regenerated natural bushland, offers visitors a connection to the surrounding land that inspires Gemtree's guiding philosophies.
One of McLaren Vale's most loved wineries, renowned for its hero Church Block red wine blend, Wirra Wirra offers a range of immersive experiences. Go on a discovery tour of McLaren Vale's produce and red wine varietals. Enjoy a sausage making class, wine tasting and Aussie barbecue. Try an in-depth shiraz experience in which you'll learn about barrel ageing and taste Wirra Wirra shiraz matched with a regional chocolate platter. Or make a full day of it and enjoy a blending class, structured wine tasting and lunch of regional produce, as well as doing the silly things for which Wirra Wirra is famous, such as hurling watermelons from a giant catapult.
In the foothills of the Brokenback Ranges, Audrey Wilkinson offers 360-degree views of the Hunter Valley, a two-hour drive from Sydney. Meet the winemaker and enjoy a behind-the-scenes winery tour. Visit the museum housed in the historic old winery and enjoy a picnic overlooking the vines. You can extend your vineyard experience by staying in one of two guest cottages on the property.
Brokenwood has been one of the Hunter Valley's standout wineries for over 40 years. A sleek cellar door offers unique tasting 'pods,' a spacious terrace with valley views and private tasting and dining rooms. Take your experience a step further with a guided tasting of Brokenwood's premium single vineyard wines, then stop in for a seafood-focused meal at The Wood Restaurant. Be sure to indulge in a glass or two of premium and iconic Brokenwood wines.
De Bortoli Yarra Valley Estate
See how premium wine is made on a behind-the-scenes tour, sample the latest vintages at the cellar door and taste beautifully matured cheese from the cheese ageing room at De Bortoli Yarra Valley Estate, a one-hour drive from Melbourne. The on-site restaurant, Locale, reflects the family's rich Italian heritage and matches local produce with quality estate-grown wines. Take a self-drive Yarra Valley Wine and Wildlife tour, combining visits to Healesville Sanctuary, De Bortoli and Yarra Valley Chocolaterie and Ice Creamery.
Explore the olive grove, kitchen garden, sculpture walk and wetlands at stunning Montalto, a one-hour drive south from Melbourne on the Mornington Peninsula. Experience Montalto's estate-to-plate philosophy at a three-course lunch in the French-inspired Montalto Restaurant, with its floor-to-ceiling windows overlooking the rolling vine-covered hills. Or go for the ultimate golf and wine package, in which you can play 18 holes at Australia's renowned National Golf Club followed by a feast matched with fine wines hosted by Montalto's winemaker.
Lots of immersive experiences are available at the trailblazing Brown Brothers winery, where four generations of the Brown family have experimented with a wide range of grape varieties. Enjoy a tour, tasting and three-course lunch with matched wines. Embark on a gourmet discovery day in which you gain in-depth insights into winemaking. Tour the working winery and historic buildings. Or take part in a guided tasting session, make your own blend and feast on a gourmet three-course lunch with matched wines. Brown Brothers is located just under three hours from Melbourne.
Surrounded by spectacular alpine scenery about a three-hour drive from Melbourne, Pizzini Wines is a family-owned winery specialising in the production of if Italian wine varieties such as pinot grigio, arneis, prosecco, sangiovese and nebbiolo. The A tavola! Cooking School, run by Katrina Pizzini, offers a range of cooking classes throughout the year and the Pizzini family regularly host exciting food and wine events at the cellar door. Enjoy a picnic in the garden, an overnight wine and food escape or a private cooking class with friends.
Tahbilk, about two hours north of Melbourne, is one of Australia's oldest and most beautiful family-owned wineries with striking original buildings and underground cellars dating back to the 1860s and some of the world's oldest shiraz and marsanne vines. Take a guided winery tour to learn how Tahbilk combines modern winemaking techniques with traditional fermentation in historic vats. Do a wine blending workshop and take your bottle home. Or have a three-course lunch paired with current and mature wines at the Wetlands Café and enjoy a guided walk along the wetlands trail to learn about endangered species preservation and how the wetlands have impacted the wines.
Josef Chromy Wines
Taste wines and enjoy a winery lunch at Josef Chromy cellar door and restaurant, which overlooks vineyards, old English gardens, and a picturesque lake just south of Launceston. Learn how traditional sparkling wine is made then work with the winemaking team to produce your own bottle of sparkling wine. Try fly fishing and learn the art of fly casting. Or take a scenic helicopter flight over the Tamar wine region before a guided wine tasting.
Moorilla offers an exciting combination of wine, food, art and luxury accommodation. The estate shares a site with the Museum of Old and New Art (Mona), which houses Australia's largest private art collection. Stay in the modern, luxurious Mona Pavilions, dine on the French-inspired cuisine of The Source restaurant, enjoy shared plates in the Moorilla Wine Bar or eat at the more casual Mona café. Bespoke combinations of all the above, including a behind-the-scenes winery tour, are all possible.
Sirromet, Mount Cotton
Sirromet’s state of the art facilities provide food and wine lovers with a variety of immersive experiences just a 30-minute drive from Brisbane. From tours of the fully operating winery to tastings at the buzzing cellar door; fine dining at the acclaimed Restaurant Lurleen’s to relaxed al fresco fare at the Tuscan Terrace, Sirromet is a destination in itself, set against breathtaking natural scenery overlooking Moreton Bay. Extend your visit with an overnight stay at onsite luxury glamping accommodation, Sanctuary by Sirromet.