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Australia's Wine Trails | Insight Guides Blog

Australia's Wine Trails

Vineyard in Hunter Valley, (photo by Glyn Genin)
Vineyard in Hunter Valley

This month we head Down Under for our Destination of the Month – Australia. Here, we take a trip around the best of Australia's wine trails.

Australia’s size means it possesses huge variations in terrain and climate. The result is a profusion of fabulous wine-producing regions, all with distinct characters and specialities. Areas such as the Yarra Valley and Mornington Peninsula in Victoria, Tamar Valley in Tasmania, Hunter Valley in New South Wales, Margaret River in Western Australia, and Barossa Valley and Coonawarra in South Australia have built international reputations for the excellence of their wine industries. The country’s Shiraz (Syrah), Cabernet Sauvignon, Pinot Noir, Chardonnay and Semillon are particularly impressive, but there are also vintages of everything from Merlot to Mourvèdre. The best way to garner an understanding and appreciation of the local tipple is to embark on tours of cellar doors in specific regions. Visitors can tour these regions under their own steam or on organised tours, book into cooking or wine-discovery classes, attend a vineyard concert, relax in gourmet retreats or even sign up for hard yakka (Aussie slang for hard work) picking grapes or fruit.

 

Where to go to try Australian wines

Hunter Valley

Australia’s oldest wine region is known for its golden-hued Semillon and tannin-laden Shiraz wines, and is an easy day trip from Sydney, two hours to the north, in the New South Wales hinterland. Cellar doors well worth a visit include Audrey Wilkinson Vineyard, Brokenwood, Keith Tulloch Wine, McWilliam’s Mt Pleasant, Tulloch and Tyrrell’s. However, with over 130 wineries and a well-established trail including a vistor's centre and boutique cellars for those looking for unusual approaches to the craft, there is little chance of going home thirsty.

Hunter Valley wine

Yarra Valley wine


The Yarra Valley

This scenic region on the eastern edge of Melbourne is famed for intense and concentrated Chardonnay, elegant Pinot Noir and delicate sparkling wine. Try them at De Bortoli, Domaine Chandon, Tarrawarra Estate, Yarrabank and Yering Station. Yarra Valley contains the oldest vineyards in Victoria and there is a definite Mediterranean influence which reflects the approach by Italian winemakers who arrived in the 1860s.

 

Yarra Valley vineyard

 

The Mornington Peninsula

A string of gorgeous beaches and attractive, Mediterranean-style landscape endow the Mornington Peninsula with rock-solid tourism credentials. The sea spray does wonders for the Chardonnay and Pinot Noir grapes that this region one hour southeast of Melbourne is known for, and there is a cornucopia of local produce to sample, including berries, cherries and olives. Notable vineyards with cellar doors include Moorooduc Estate, Paringa Estate, Port Phillip Estate, Red Hill Estate and Stonier Wines.

 

Barossa Valley

This is the big daddy of them all. Home to over 700 wine growers, 150 wineries and 73 cellar doors, the Barossa has a long history as a food and wine nirvana. An hour's drive northeast from Adelaide in Southern Australia, the Barossa is home to Henschke, makers of the world-famous Hill of Grace Shiraz and a slew of top-notch Shiraz and Cabernet Sauvignon producers. It’s also blessed with abundant seasonal produce and speciality food products, including artisan cheese and breads, poultry, hare, yabbies (freshwater crustaceans), and smoked and cured meats. Among the many excellent wineries in this region, visit Penfolds, Grant Burge, Peter Lehmann and Rockford.

 

Barossa vineyard

 

Coonawarra

Love Cabernet Sauvignon? If so, you’ll be crazy about the Coonawarra, 440km (273 miles) south of Adelaide, on the way to Melbourne. Its secret lies in a marriage of rich red terra rossa soil, limestone, pure underground water and a long cool ripening season for the grapes. To sample the result of this amazing alchemy, make the pilgrimage to Bowen Estate, Penley Estate, Petaluma and Wynns Coonawarra Estate.

 

Margaret River

A three-hour drive south of Perth on Australia's west coast is magical Margaret River, blessed with a Mediterranean climate and a well-developed tourism industry. Known primarily for its Cabernet Sauvignon, this region also produces great Chardonnay, Sauvignon Blanc, Semillon and Shiraz. For top-notch tasting, make your way to Cape Mentelle, Cullen Wines, Leeuwin Estate, Vasse Felix, Voyager Estate and Xanadu Estate.

 

Tamar Valley

Over in Tasmania, the popular Tamar Valley Wine Route meanders 58km (36 miles) between the city of Launceston and Bass Strait, passing scenic vineyards, apple orchards and quaint villages along the way. The cool climate perfectly suits Chardonnay, Riesling, Pinot Noir and sparkling wines, and these varietals are produced by highly regarded wineries including Bay of Fires, Piper’s Brook and Tamar Ridge.

 

Wine tasting in Yarra Valley

  Wine barrells in Yarra Valley

   

Explore Australia's culture

Read about Australia's 5 greatest journeys

Visit Melbourne - Australia's food capital

Sink a pint at an Outback pub

 

Throughout October, we'll be posting articles on all things Australian; from the country's best beaches to experiencing Aboriginal culture and witnessing unique wildlife. 

 

 

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