Charming landscapes, exquisite food, and world-class wines. It all comes together at wineries across Australia.
By Leah Dobihal
Australian wine ranks among the world’s best. Whether you like to sit and sip among the vines or dive deep into the winemaking world, there’s a cellar door in Australia to suit. Unwind with a glass of red in the Barossa Valley or wander through the vines in the Adelaide Hills. Whatever your style, start with these top wineries located across the country.
Western Australia is known for producing some of the most elegant wines in the country. Margaret River, a three-hour drive south of Perth, is the state’s most famous wine region. Cullen Wines, an established estate in the area, offers both a simple tasting and a Food and Wine Experience, which offers up their top drops matched with exquisite dishes from their award-winning restaurant team. At Vasse Felix, every aspect of the winemaking process is controlled within the Vasse Felix estate, allowing every batch to be carefully crafted. Visit the cellar door to sample a selection, or book an in-depth tasting experience in the exclusive vault. Don't miss the equally impressive experiences at the Leeuwin and Voyager Estate cellar doors.
The Swan Valley, located just 25 minutes from Perth, is ideal for experiencing Australia’s wine without going far. Home to over 40 wineries, six boutique breweries, cideries and distilleries, highlights include Mandoon Estate, Ugly Duckling Wines, Sittella and Faber Vineyard. Buy a pass for the Swan Valley Hop On/Hop Off bus to easily create your own winery tour.
South Australia is home to some of the oldest continuously producing vineyards in the world, so it’s no surprise that its regions are regarded as some of the country’s best. In the Barossa Valley, you’ll find the region’s claim to fame - big, bold shiraz that’s exceptionally smooth. Seppeltsfield, one of the most historic wineries in the Barossa, is the only winery in the world to release a 100-year-old vintage wine every year. They also offer unique experiences, including the opportunity to taste wine made in the year you were born straight from the barrel.
The Adelaide Hills, less than an hour from the city, has a cool climate and an elevated altitude that makes wines distinct from others produced in the state. Expect complex, medium-weight wines at wineries like Ashton Hills, renowned for its pinot noir, and Shaw + Smith, a large cellar door offering up standard and limited release wine flights. One of Australia’s most notable estates also resides in the Adelaide Hills, just eight kilometres (five miles) from Adelaide. Penfolds’ Magill Estate cellar door allows you to expand your palate with a range of iconic wines. Look out onto Penfolds’ first vineyard as you taste vintages that weave a winemaking story of over 175 years. Before leaving the Adelaide Hills, stop by the heritage town of Hahndorf, where you’ll not only find wine but a unique combination of German and Australian history.
Nestled between the lush green of the Mount Lofty Ranges and the striking blue of the Gulf St Vincent, McLaren Vale is the birthplace of wine in South Australia. Drive just 45 minutes south from Adelaide to taste the region’s innovative drops at its many world-renowned wineries like Wirra Wirra, which produces the much-acclaimed Church Block label, and Hardys Tintara, boasting a legacy of over 160 years. One of the most unique winery experiences in Australia is an architectural anomaly set within the vines of the picturesque landscape of McLaren Vale. d’Arenberg winery is a top spot for wine tasting, but its hero is the d’Arenberg Cube, an impressive five-storey structure fashioned after an unfinished Rubik’s Cube. Stay for lunch to dine on convention-breaking dishes and gaze out at the surrounding vineyards.
Situated east of Melbourne, the Yarra Valley is the state’s oldest growing region, with the first grapes planted in 1838. Although the industry dates back over 170 years, the Yarra Valley is still known for its revolutionary winemakers that craft boundary-pushing bottles while respecting the traditions of the region. Oakridge Winery, located less than a one-hour drive from Melbourne, produces world-class chardonnay and pinot noir ready for tasting. Book one of Oakridge’s masterclasses to hone your wine tasting skills. Drink up at Dominique Portet Winery, which serves celebrated sparkling wines, or soak up De Bortoli’s philosophy of sharing good wine, good food and good times. Step through the unique cellar door at TarraWarra Estate for a stunning tasting experience underneath a grassy hill.
In the Mornington Peninsula, you’ll find rolling hills and charming pastures that match the beauty of the wine produced in the region. Drive just over an hour south of Melbourne and you’ll be at the doorstep of must-visit wineries and restaurants. Ten Minutes by Tractor has a name as unforgettable as its wines, with the family’s three vineyards separated by a ten-minute tractor ride. The cellar door serves up chardonnay, pinot noir and pinot gris you won’t want to miss. Wind past romantic rows of vines to reach Pt. Leo Estate, home to single-vineyard, hand-harvested wine. After you’ve tasted your way through Pt. Leo’s vintage range, dine at Laura, an intimate and refined dining offering.
Known for its unique expression of semillon, the Hunter Valley is the oldest wine region in Australia. Just under 3.5 hours from Sydney by car, the Hunter is home to some of Australia’s most famous winemaking families, like Tulloch and Tyrrell, as well as new names in the game. At Audrey Wilkinson, you can expect to taste rich semillon and earthy shiraz as you enjoy a view of the expansive valley dotted with vineyards. Tyrrell’s Wines offers a daily winery tour that takes guests behind the scenes of one of the region’s oldest estates as well as premium private tastings that allow you to savour each sip.
Thanks to its cool climate and volcanic soils, Orange has become a major player in New South Wales wine. Situated 3.5 hours west of Sydney by car, Orange serves up cellar doors, degustations and countryside views that are worth the drive. Elegance and delicacy are the heroes at Swinging Bridge, which offers a sit-down tasting of a distinctive range of reds and whites. Head to Highland Heritage Estate for sprawling vineyard views and a sampling of award-winning wines as well as unique fortified styles. Known for its premium handcrafted wines, De Salis offers minimalist wines of exceptional quality. You can taste top drops from several wineries at once at Ferment, a wine centre that hosts tastings for nearby estates such as Cooks Lot and Cumulus Wines.
Tasmania’s climate and soil make for some of the best chardonnay, pinot noir and sparkling wines in the country. The Tamar Valley, located less than an hour from Launceston, is home to several wineries that show off the best of the region. Visit Tamar Ridge high in the hills to taste exquisite sparkling wines and aged pinot noir exclusive to the cellar door. Home to an onsite cafe, ocean views and pioneering wines, Pipers Brook Winery is one where you can spend the day.
While the Canberra wine district may not be Australia’s most well-known, it is creating waves in winemaking, with new varietals coming to the forefront. Located just outside the city of Canberra, Mount Majura is known for crafting the region’s favourites - shiraz and riesling - but also experimenting boldly to produce something special. Every bottle produced comes exclusively from their vineyard, making their cellar door experience both intimate and impressive. Although the vines at Clonakilla were only first planted in 1971, they’ve grown to produce something truly unique: a blend of shiraz and viognier described as an “icon wine” by famed Australian wine critic James Halliday.