Best Australia Wineries & Tours 2023: Complete Wine Tasting Travel Guide
Last Updated on September 30, 2023.
Australia Wine Tasting Travel Guide for 2023 and 2024: Sipping the Best of Australian Wine All Over the Country
Are you a wine lover looking to explore new and exciting wine regions? If so, Australia is the perfect choice! With its diverse climate, soil, and topography, Australia boasts some of the world’s best winemaking regions. From the fertile landscape of the Barossa Valley to the cool, coastal vineyards of Margaret River, Australian winemakers are producing some of the most exciting and innovative wines on the market today.
But with so many regions to choose from, where do you start? In this guide, we’ll take you on a journey through the top winemaking regions in Australia, highlighting each region’s unique characteristics and the exceptional wines they produce. Whether you prefer a full-bodied Shiraz or a crisp Chardonnay, there’s something for every palate in Australia’s wine country. So, sit back, pour yourself a glass, and let’s explore the best Australian wineries, tours, and experiences together!
- Australia Wine Tasting Travel Guide for 2023 and 2024: Sipping the Best of Australian Wine All Over the Country
- History of Winemaking in Australia
- Prominent Australian Wines
- Wine Regions of Australia
- Travel to and Within Australia
- Top Guided Australia Wine Tours
- New South Wales Wine Region
- Victoria Wine Region
- Best Yarra Valley Wineries to Visit
- Mornington Peninsula
- Best Mornington Peninsula Wineries to Visit
- South Australia Wine Region
- Barossa Valley
- Best Barossa Valley Wineries to Visit
- McLaren Vale
- Best McLaren Vale Wineries to Visit
- Best Coonawarra Wineries to Visit
- Coonawarra Wineries Walking Trail
- Western Australia Wine Region
- Best Wineries in Swan Valley to Visit
- Margaret River
- Where to Taste in Margaret River
- A Different Way to Travel to Australian Wine Regions
- Frequently Asked Questions about Wine Tasting in Australia
History of Winemaking in Australia
Winemaking in Australia dates to the early 19th century when the first vines were planted in New South Wales. In the 1950s the industry really took off with the discovery of gold in Victoria. Many of the miners who flocked to the gold fields were of European descent. With a love of wine, these early settlers began planting vineyards and establishing wineries throughout the country. This laid the foundation for what would become one of the world’s most exciting wine industries.
Today, Australia is one of the world’s top 10 wine producers, producing over one billion liters each year, while supplying about 4% of the wine distributed worldwide. Australia’s most famous wine regions include Barossa Valley, Coonawarra, Hunter Valley, and the Margaret River.
Prominent Australian Wines
Australia, like the United States, follows the New World tradition of categorizing wines by grape variety. Australia’s top five varietals are Shiraz (known as Syrah to much of the world), Cabernet Sauvignon, Merlot, Chardonnay, and Semillon. Winemakers from “Down Under” also produce sparkling wines in a range of styles, from classic blends of Champagne varietals to unique off-dry sparkling Shiraz. Excellent sweet and fortified dessert wines (known as “stickies”) are also produced throughout Australia’s wine country.
All these varietals can be found in the country’s most prominent wine-producing areas, concentrated coincidentally in Australia’s most viticulturally diverse states: New South Wales, Victoria, South Australia, Western Australia, and Tasmania. The three major Australian wine regions, by sheer volume, are South Australia, New South Wales, and Victoria.
Wine Regions of Australia
Within New South Wales, there are 14 wine regions. In Victoria, there are 21 wine Regions. In South Australia, there are 14 wine regions, and in Western Australia, there are nine wine regions. Tasmania, off the mainland of Australia, has seven wine regions.
All these areas are accessible by airplane or train and by car or wine tour once you get there. All are within easy reach of major city centers, all are connected by good roads with light traffic, and all are along the journey to some of Australia’s other iconic attractions and experiences.
From 65 wine regions in Australia, the choice of where to begin can be overwhelming. But we narrow it down to some of the better-known wine regions that are also within proximity to major metropolitan areas.
For example, the popular Hunter Valley in New South Wales can be accessed from Sydney. The wine regions in Victoria, including the popular Yarra Valley and Mornington Peninsula can be accessed from Melbourne. Adelaide, in South Australia, is the gateway to the well-known Barossa Valley and McLaren Vale wine regions. And in Western Australia, Perth is the logical starting point for the Swan Valley and Margaret River.
Aussies call their wine-tasting rooms “cellar doors” and Winetraveler has visited many. We suggest itineraries for visiting the country’s wine-producing areas on the mainland. And although Tasmania is an important wine region, we have intentionally excluded Tasmania as it deserves its own itinerary.
For a comprehensive guide to Tasmania wine tasting, travel, and experiences, read Best Tasmania Wineries & Tours: Complete Visitor’s Guide on Winetraveler.com.
Travel to and Within Australia
Most visitors arrive in Australia via airplane. Major international airlines fly to the largest cities including Sydney, Melbourne, Brisbane, and Perth. Check and compare flight prices on Kayak, get yourself there and begin your wine tasting adventure. However, there are also cruise ships that travel from other countries such as the US, UK, and China to Australia.
Australia sprawls for thousands of miles and unless you fly from region to region, it would be time-consuming to wine taste your way through the country. Jetstar, Virgin Australia, and Qantas all fly into major cities. Regional carrier Rex Airlines flies into Mt. Gambier in the Coonawarra wine region.
Top Guided Australia Wine Tours
Simon and Kerry Meares, owners of Coonawarra Experiences, take pride in offering an authentic, unique, and enriching travel experience in the Coonawarra Wine Region. Not only will they take guests behind the scenes to meet the winemakers or introduce them to unique wine-tasting experiences, but they help craft customized itineraries for other activities on the Limestone Coast. They offer both half-day and full-day immersive wine tours of the region.
For example, they recently added indigenous tours led by Uncle Ken Jones who is an elder of the Boandik people. Ken takes guests along the Port MacDonnell coastline (one hour from Penola), and spends time foraging for bush tucker, edible leaves, berries, etc. He’ll also tell many stories about the way of life of his people, sing songs, and even cooks local seafood on the beach for the guests.
This all-inclusive tour company even runs a Airbnb boutique apartment for guests who wish to stay in the delightful town of Penola.
Cellar Door Tours
A favorite tour operator in South Australia, Cellar Door Tours offers small group outings to Barossa Valley, and elsewhere in South Australia, at a reasonable price. The company works with customers to create an itinerary. But Cellar Door Tours is also happy to craft an itinerary that takes guests to those little gems that provide a much more intimate and relaxed wine-tasting experience. The premium tour includes a sit-down lunch with an appetizer and a main meal.
Chooks Little Winery Tours
In the McLaren Vale wine region just 40 minutes south of Adelaide, Chooks Little Winery Tours is the tour to book. Chook and his wife Kerry (“Mrs. Chook”) offer unique tours in this bucolic wine region by taking guests to some of the best boutique wineries. Guests may get a chance to taste with the winemaker, walk the vineyard, and learn more about wine production. But guests can also plan their own itinerary, including a visit to the famous “Cube.” A day tour includes a visit to 3 – 4 wineries and includes a full lunch.
New South Wales Wine Region
Most visitors to Australia begin their trip with a tour of Sydney in New South Wales (NSW). And conveniently, the most popular wine region in NSW, Hunter Valley, is just a two-hour drive from the city. Australia’s oldest wine region, the Hunter Valley, or “the Hunter,” as locals call it, is famous for its Shiraz and Chardonnay. Home to 150 cellar doors, the Hunter makes a popular destination for Sydneysiders and international wine lovers alike.
In Australia, cars are driven on the left side of the road (like in the UK). For car rentals from Sydney, you can check prices here.
For those who do not want to “drive on the opposite side” of the road, there are alternatives. Visitors can take a NSW TrainLink regional train from Sydney to Hunter with stops in Mailland, Singelton, Muswillbrook, Aberdeen, and Scone. Or you can book a day tour out of Sydney with Jimmy Henry, a true Sydney local, chef of 20 years and tour guide of 12 years, with transportation, wine tasting experiences, unique pairings and kangaroos out in the vineyard included.
For travelers who choose to design their own itinerary in the Hunter Valley, a convenient Hop-on Hop-off bus runs out of Pokolbin. It operates Thursday through Monday, on a continuous hourly loop, and makes 14 stops that feature 40 different venues.
And where there’s good wine, there’s plenty of gourmet cuisine. Hunter’s well-known food and wine trail is filled with 60 tempting restaurants. The region also offers boutique shops, the acclaimed Hunter Valley Gardens, and nearly 200 places to stay. Below is a list of favorite places to taste wine.
Top Hunter Valley Wineries to Visit
Leogate Estate Wines
1693 Broke Road, Pokolbin
What Guests Like Best About It: The award-winning restaurant, food and wine pairing option, onsite accommodations
Leogate, a five-star winery, prides itself on providing a luxurious cellar door and tasting room experience. Built as a centerpiece in the middle of the original Brokenback Vineyard, the cellar door is housed in a white-columned cloistered facility. Its restaurant features regional flavors, textures, and innovative dishes that pair nicely with their premium wines.
The Vicki’s Choice Reserve Chardonnay reflects the excellent Chardonnay produced in the Hunter. It displays the complexity of fruit and oak with elegant peach flavors, complemented by a soft and creamy finish. Open daily, reservations required. Tasting fee $10 (AUD) per person.
179 Gillards Road, Pokolbin
What Guests Like Best About It: The views, complimentary cheese platter, premium Chardonnay
This family-owned business is one of the leading names in quality Hunter Valley wine, specializing in Chardonnay. Guests are wowed by the distinctly regional wines and sweeping views. The bright modern cellar door offers a relaxed, seated tasting with a complimentary cheese platter. For the Scarborough family, it’s not just winemaking; it’s a way of life that they generously share with visitors.
The Yellow Label Chardonnay (not to be confused with Yellow Tail Chardonnay) is their flagship wine. It tastes rich and generous, with opulent fruit and cashew-like complexity. Scarborough produces wines under four different labels, including red wines like Pinot Noir (not commonly grown in the Hunter) and Shiraz. Open Thursday through Monday, reservations encouraged. Tasting fee starts at $20 (AUD) per person.
697 Hermitage Road, Pokolbin
What Guests Like Best About It: Unpretentious atmosphere, tasting with the winemaker
A sharp contrast to many of the larger, contemporary, opulent cellar doors of the Hunter Valley, Piggs Peake prides itself on being different. At the entrance to this boutique winery, a weathered life- size copper pig greets visitors. The cellar door is in the middle of the winery’s production operation surrounded by cardboard cases of wine stacked against walls, giant chalkboards, winemaking equipment, and makeshift counters.
This place has real character, and so does winemaker Steve Langham, but the wine is outstanding. Piggs Peake is well worth a stop, especially if you’re looking for unusual varietals.
The House of Sticks Shiraz, a soft but delicious wine, is one of the most popular in this down to earth winery. The Big Pig is the winery’s biggest Shiraz, fermented in newer oak, with higher alcohol. The winery is dog friendly and if you’re lucky, you’ll get to taste with Steve and his faithful sheepdog.
Open daily. Reservations encouraged, limited to groups of six or less.
Victoria Wine Region
Of all of mainland Australia’s wine regions, Victoria is the smallest and most southern (except for Tasmania just south off the coast of Victoria.) The wine regions within Victoria are accessible from Melbourne, but differ considerably in climate, terrain, and soil depending on what side of the mountainous Great Dividing Range they are on and their proximity to the Great Southern Ocean. The Yarra Valley and the Mornington Peninsula are close to the ocean and, hence, benefit from the cool sea breezes that drift up the river valley and across the rugged peninsula. They are also two of the most popular and well-known wine regions in Victoria.
Like California, Victoria became a wine region after a gold rush. Farming and winemaking sprung up to support the new communities of miners in the early 1850s. Today, Victoria’s wine regions are well established including more than 820 local producers spread over several small wine districts in both the Yarra Valley and Mornington Peninsula.
The Yarra Valley region is just a half-hour drive from Melbourne. It is recognized as one of Australia’s foremost producers of Pinot Noir and Chardonnay wines of great elegance and delicacy.
The Mornington Peninsula, however, is famous for Pinot Noir. It differs from Pinot Noir in the Yarra by offering a high diversity of styles that are typically lighter red wines with zingy acidity and complex fruity flavors of cherry and strawberry. About an hour’s drive from Melbourne, there are 60 wineries and 50 cellar doors to choose from in Mornington.
The best way to get to the Victoria wine region is to fly. Its capital city, Melbourne, has three airports. Check and compare flight prices on Kayak to plan your travel.
The best way to get to and around the Yarra Valley or the Mornington Peninsula is via car. Rental cars are readily available at the airport. You can compare car rental options here.
Top Victoria Wine Tours
However, if you’d prefer to have a tour operator plan your visit to the Mornington Peninsula, you can research, plan, and schedule wine tasting with various companies. Day tours out of Melbourne’s CBD are readily available. For a limited time, Winetraveler readers can get 15% off all Victoria wine tastings & tours through our partner Viator made through this website, using code WINETRAVELER15 at checkout.
Best Yarra Valley Wineries to Visit
The Yarra Valley has long been part of Australia’s wine history. It’s the site of the first vineyards planted in the state of Victoria in 1838. Just a bit inland from Australia’s southernmost coast, the Yarra Valley produces excellent cool-climate wines – elegant and dry styles made from slow-ripening grapes.
In the 1960s a new generation of winemakers began planting more vineyards in the Yarra Valley, expanding the region’s reputation as one of Australia’s best sources for the Burgundy varietals of Pinot Noir and Chardonnay. Today there are 80 wineries to choose from. Below are three popular wineries to visit.
727 Maroondah Highway, Coldstream
What Guests Like About It: The “Garden Spritz,” a blend of sparkling wine and orange bitters
This place sparkles in the French style of Methode Traditionelle. The sparkling wines at Chandon Australia are complex, expressive, and reflective of their origins. Established in 1986, this winery offers a tasting bar, restaurant, lounge bar, retail boutique, and the largest range of sparkling wines in the country. Architecturally a formal, classic designed building houses the modern looking tasting room décor inside.
Cellar door and restaurant open daily. Reservations recommended.
58 Pinnacle Lane, Dixons Creek
What Guests Like About It: An opportunity to taste the “Noble One” and eat at Locale
De Bortoli, as the name implies, reflects family-owned winery’s Italian heritage and by reputation, the quality estate-grown wines. With over 90 years of winemaking experience and striving for a sustainable future, this winery knows that great wine begins in the vineyard. Tastings of Durif, Tempranillo, and Shiraz are offered daily at the cellar door. The winery also produces white wines like Chardonnay and the award-winning “Noble One,” a sweet botrytis semillon.
Delicious lunches and dinners are available at De Bartoli’s “Locale” restaurant. Cellar door and restaurant are open daily. Reservations encouraged.
Yering Farm Wines
19-21 St. Huberts Road, Yering
What Guests Like About It: A peaceful, pastoral setting, and friendly, down-to-earth staff
Established in 1989, this family-owned and operated business is a small, single estate winery and orchard that consistently produces a distinct and highly respected collection of wines and cider. The rustic cellar door is housed in a classic farmhouse model of wooden coziness and comfort. At Yering Farm, visitors can enjoy a glass of wine in front of the fireplace or sit on the verandah and take in the majestic, sweeping views of the vineyard and valley beyond. The emphasis at this small estate is on Chardonnay, Pinot Noir, and Cabernet Sauvignon. Open Thursday through Sunday.
A luxurious, self-contained farmhouse, known as “The George” is available for rent and is within walking distance of the cellar door.
Mornington Peninsula, Melbourne Australia’s summertime playground, is also a thriving wine region. And it’s only an hour’s drive south from the city center. Visitors can be on the beach in the morning, and within a few minutes later be tasting wine in the afternoon.
Surrounded by ocean on three sides, the Mornington Peninsula is one of Australia’s few true maritime wine regions. Similar to Burgundy, France or Oregon’s Willamette Valley in climate, soils and wine produced, cool climate, late-ripening varietals do well here, like Chardonnay and Pinot Noir. Vineyards can be seen growing from the gentle, undulating countryside of the north through the rich fertile wooded uplands tumbling down to the southern plains.
Today 200 vineyards and around 50 wineries make some of the most desired, cool-climate wines in the country. Almost 50% of the plantings are Pinot Noir, around 25% Chardonnay and about 11% Pinot Gris, a grape recently introduced to this region.
In this green and still very rural hinterland, the Mornington Peninsula wine renaissance started back in the 1970’s. Below are three cellar doors that showcase the brilliance of this region’s wine.
Best Mornington Peninsula Wineries to Visit
Ten Minutes by Tractor
1333 Mornington-Flinders Road, Main Ridge
What Guests Like About It: Cheese and wine pairings on weekends, the onsite restaurant
As the unusual name implies, Ten Minutes by Tractor is about time and distance as measured by farm equipment. The winery’s story began in 1997 with three family-owned vineyards in the stunning Main Ridge area of the peninsula, each 10 minutes apart by tractor. Over the years, the winery has grown to include three additional vineyards and produces some of the finest cool-climate wine in the region.
A visit to the cellar door leads guests through an in-depth tasting to discover wines that express the true character of the winery’s surrounding vineyards. The Wallis Chardonnay is popular with guests. But the Single Vineyard Pinot Noirs earn high praise from the Australian wine writing community. Open seven days a week except public holidays. Reservations recommended.
Ten Minutes by Tractor also features an onsite, award-winning restaurant. It offers a five-course seasonal tasting menu and optional wine pairings. Reservations highly recommended.
10 Shoreham Road, Shoreham
What Guests Like About It: The restaurant’s warm, relaxed ambiance and attentive staff
Pier 10 offers an informative yet fun experience in wine tasting. Guests can taste house-made sparkling wines (all Methode Champenoise), followed by aromatic whites including Riesling, Pinot Gris and Chardonnay. The tastings are matched cleverly to the seasons of the peninsula. For example, a new Rosé for the summer might be a unique blend of Pinot Noir and Pinot Gris. The hero of the peninsula, Pinot Noir, is also well showcased here.
Pier 10 sources fruit from other wine-growing areas of Australia so you can also enjoy tasting a warmer climate Shiraz or Cabernet Sauvignon. The Coutta Block Chardonnay Reserve, elegant and smooth with a lovely soft texture on the palate, is a favorite with visitors. The restaurant and cellar door are open Thursday through Sunday. Reservations recommended.
53 Main Creek Road, Red Hill
What Guests Like Best About It: Intimate tasting experience with the owners, gorgeous gardens
John and Julie Trueman, two retired teachers, do it all at Myrtaceae. They grow the grapes, make the wine and guarantee a warm welcome. Although the smallest vineyard on the peninsula with a cellar door, the Truemans are dedicated to producing wines that provide true expressions of the varietals in their little vineyard.
Located near Arthurs Seat on the Main Ridge of the peninsula, the winery and tasting room are art-deco inspired with blue and teal fittings and features. Tastings of elegant Chardonnay, Pinot Noir and Rosé are served in Riedel rolling tasting glassware. To aerate the wine and bring out its bouquet, guests are encouraged to roll these perfectly sized glasses across the tasting bar or nearby covered barrels. Rolling a Pinot Noir unleashed a bouquet of berries, earthiness with a hint of pepper.
Take some time to wander the well-maintained sloping gardens planted proudly with native Myrtle varietals by the owners and take in picturesque views of their small valley location. Open weekends, tasting fee $5 (AUD). Reservations recommended.
South Australia Wine Region
South Australia, a state in the southern central part of Australia, plays an important role in the country’s wine industry. Its capital city, Adelaide, is one of the Great Wine Capitals of the World, which is a global network of ten major cities throughout the world.
South Australia has been producing wine since the early 1840s. According to the South Australia Wine Industry Association, “Eight of the 13 oldest wine companies or continuously operating brands in Australia are South Australian. Established between 1841 and 1853, they include the household names of Penfolds, Orlando, Seppeltsfield, and Yalumba.”
There are eighteen sub-wine regions within South Australia. Some of them are close enough to Adelaide that a visitor can easily hit two or three over a long weekend. The best way to get to Adelaide is by flying to its main airport.
Most visitors will want to include the world-renowned Barossa Valley as one of their tours. Nearby McLaren Vale, a bucolic wine region near the coast is very popular. And Coonawarra, one of Australia’s most important wine regions, provides visitors an opportunity to experience uncrowded wine tasting in a lovely rural region.
Barossa Valley, Australia’s most famous wine region, is a must-visit for any wine lover. Home to some of the oldest living vines in the world, Barossa produces big, bold Shiraz along with delicious Cabernet Sauvignon, Grenache, and Mataro. Some of the best red blends also come from the Barossa. With more than 150 wineries, including famous ones and hidden gems, the region offers visitors plenty of choices.
Most visitors opt for a day trip out of Adelaide to Barossa Valley. However, the small towns of Seppelsfield, Angastun, and Tenunda also provide a good base for exploring the wine region.
Barossa Valley Wine Tours from Adelaide
For a tour out of Adelaide, See Adelaide offers day trips to some of the most interesting wineries in Barossa. Trail Hopper also offers a fun way to see the valley with their Hop-on-Hop-off tour from Adelaide, allowing you to travel at your own pace.
Here is a guide to three wineries you’ll want to include on your visit to Barossa Valley.
Best Barossa Valley Wineries to Visit
Murray Street Vineyards
Murray Street, Greenock
What Guests Like About It: The tasting room atmosphere feels like being invited into someone’s home
Murray Street Vineyards in Barossa Valley’s Western Ridge sits among the winery’s Greenock hillside vineyard. A warmly furnished tasting room resembles a comfortable living room. The adjacent brick structure and trellis covered patio both provide ample seating with room for larger groups.
The small batch winemakers produce only estate grown wines. Expect a knowledgeable wine ambassador to walk guests through a comprehensive wine tasting that includes where the grapes were grown, the varietal, the wine’s characteristics, and other useful information to understand more about the wine being tasted. The flight starts with a Semillon guaranteed to wake up your taste buds. Next, guests taste a Provence style rosé, then on to Murray Street’s rich, luscious reds. The Artisan Cabernet Shiraz remains the Murray Street favorite. Platers of local artisan cheese and produce are available. Open daily, reservations encouraged.
1 Adelaide Road, Greenock
What Guests Like About It: Tasting with the winemaker/owners in an unpretentious setting
This is not your traditional cellar door. Instead, Ballycroft is a working winery, where groups of one to eight guests are invited into the production facility to taste wine. In a unique and personal experience, guests learn more about wine production with either Joseph or Sue Evans, winemakers/viticulturists/owners. These two do it all at this boutique winery.
Joseph says he makes “old-school style wines.” From the Montepulciano to the Mataro, to the Cabernet Sauvignon, each of the Ballycroft wines reflects a labor of love. Reservations highly recommended. Otherwise, as Joseph says, “With no bookings, we might just head to the beach for the day.”
131 Krondorf Road, Tanunda
What Guests Like About It: The historically maintained buildings and grounds
A favorite Barossa winery, this 1850s cellar door sells traditionally made, small-range wines, including sparkling reds. It’s known as the “School of Rockford” because so many Barossa Valley winemakers got their start in the wine business by working and training here. True to its history, Rockford continues to employ old-fashioned techniques to make their wine.
The winery makes an excellent Semillon and Riesling. The Alicante Bouchet is their best-selling wine. Open daily. Walk-ins and reservations both accepted.
The McLaren Vale wine region is patterned with vineyards that are located out on the Fleurieu Peninsula just 40 minutes south from Adelaide. The region is well-established with wineries producing gutsy reds to rival those from Barossa Valley. Flanked by wheat colored Willunga Scarp and encircled by vines, McLaren Vale offers some easy access to some excellent winery doors. Four “wine and wander” trails offer visitors an opportunity to hike through the breathtaking beauty of vineyard covered rolling hills or lush national parks with coastal views on their journey to wineries in this bucolic region. You could spend days here doing nothing else!
Top McLaren Vale Wine Tours
While most people visit McLaren Vale on a day trip out of Adelaide, there are plenty of bed and breakfasts and Airbnb rentals throughout the region. For an insider’s look at McLaren Vale, Wine Diva Tours offers small group, customized tours to hidden gems in the area. Alternatively, you can also schedule a Hop-on-Hop-off wine tour of the region with Trail Hopper. McLaren Vale can also be explored by bike, which we highly recommend for more active Winetravelers.
Best McLaren Vale Wineries to Visit
Hugo Family Estate
246 Elliot Road, McLaren Flat
What Guests Like About It: The beautiful grounds, guided tasting, cheese and Ploughman’s platters
The 50-acre Hugo Family Estate is one of the most eastern in the McLaren Vale region, at 180-meters above sea level. As a result, conditions are remarkably cooler and ideal for premium grape growing and hence, the production of fine, well-balanced elegant white and red wines.
The Hugo family has utilized this climatic advantage to ensure a high level of consistency across vintages and by selectively hand picking from the vines. Expect elegant and subtle Chardonnays, Shiraz that is spicy yet soft with tannins, and herbaceous earth Tempranillos. The cellar door features nearly 360-degree gorgeous views of the surrounding vineyards. Open daily, $15 (AUD) refundable tasting fee. Reservations encouraged.
Kangarilla Road Cellar Door
44 Hamilton Road, McLaren Flat
What Guests Like About It:
The list is long here at this cellar door, but well worth wading into for depth and unusual varieties available. One of the best things about Kangarilla Road Wines is that although they could easily wear much bigger price tags, they don’t! Fantastic value given the quality and there is no set tasting menu. Guests are welcome to try any wine that Kangarilla produces.
A well-appointed tasting room is adorned with unique artworks. Open daily. Reservations preferred but walk-ins welcome.
38 Dyson Wines
38 Sherriff Road, Maslin Beach
What Guests Like About It:
Wholly grown, owned, and handcrafted under the skillful winemaking techniques and passion of Allan Dyson, and his wife, Colleen, 38 Dyson Wines has been around since 1976. True artisans with a lifelong infatuation and obsession with crafting wines of exceptional character and complexity, Allan and Colleen welcome visitors like they are inviting them into their home. Guests are seated at a well-decorated dining room table and served sumptuous cheese platters, complimentary, as part of their tasting. Guests will find one visit or sip will never be enough!
Sangiovese, Pinot Noir, Viognier, red blends, and a remarkable 40-year-old port are among some of the best to be sampled! Reservations required.
“Coonawarra is revered around the world for its cool-climate wines and especially its Cabernet Sauvignon, but it’s so much more than just our wines and amazing local produce. Coonawarra is such a welcoming region that it’s the people here that continually draw visitors back time and time again. You’re greeted as if you are family and there is a genuine appreciation that you have made the effort to come visit.
Almost every review we receive from our guests mentions the people they have met, and the warmth shown to them at our cellar doors, restaurants, and accommodation properties. Without doubt, this is a major factor when it comes to repeat visitation to the Coonawarra Wine Region.” – Simon and Kerry Meares, Directors, Coonawarra Experiences.
Coonawarra produces some of the most famous Cabernet Sauvignon in the world. The region, shaped like a cigar, is known for its rich red “terra rossa” soil. It lies on a bed of ancient limestone. In addition to Cabernet Sauvignon, Coonawarra produces excellent Shiraz, Riesling, and Chardonnay.
The region has been producing wine since the late 1800s. It’s about a four-hour drive southeast from Adelaide, but it’s worth the trek. Or visitors can fly into Mt. Gambier Airport where rental cars are available. Coonawarra Experiences not only offers customized wine tours but will help customers craft an itinerary to visit other attractions in the Limestone Coast. Mt. Gambier, about a thirty-minute drive from the Coonawarra wine region, offers several choices for lodging. Penola, just minutes from the majority of wineries offers limited motels and Airbnbs.
More than 25 cellar doors exist in this rural region, many still family-owned, and scattered along one stretch of road known as the Riddoch Highway. Uncrowded, in a relaxed country atmosphere, Coonawarra exudes a real feeling of community and friendliness. It’s also a huge agricultural region and the breadbasket of Australia.
Sue Hodder, Senior Winemaker at Wynns Coonawarra Estate says, “Coonawarra is an unassuming wine region. We all live here, and we help each other. We’re not commuting in. We’re a community, with generations of farmers living and working here.”
And visitors to this wine region will agree. The welcoming attitude of the people who live and work here helps to make visitors fall in love with the region and return time and time again.
Best Coonawarra Wineries to Visit
Wynns Coonawarra Estate
77 Memorial Drive
What Guests Like About It: The history, the wine, and the blending experience
Wynns Coonawarra Estate, a brand known throughout the world, is an icon in the wine world. The oldest and longest continuing wine producer, Wynn’s put Coonawarra on the map. The vineyards were first planted in 1891 by Scottish pioneer John Riddoch on a small strip of soil, the terra rossa. Sue Hodder, Senior Winemaker at Wynns, says, “This was the first wine region settled in Australia, but now it’s a destination.”
The Wynns’ cellar door resides in the winery’s historic brick building on immaculate grounds surrounded by vineyards. Guests can choose from a variety of experiences showcasing current and back vintages. One experience popular with guests is the opportunity to blend your own wine using a variety of single varietal Wynns wines. The wall on one side of the cellar door is lined with posters describing the winery’s history plus artifacts from prior years of wine production.
Wynn’s two flagship wines include the John Riddoch Cabernet Sauvignon and the Michael Shiraz. The winery has been making its Black Label Cabernet Sauvignon for 64 years. Open daily.
14944 Riddoch Highway, Coonawarra
What Guests Like About It: The Zema Estate Museum – filled with history of the winery, the region, and the family
Zema Estate, a family-run winery has a strong Italian heritage. For more than four decades, Zema Estate has been producing premium quality wines. Its Cabernet Merlot blend is a perfect expression of the Zema vineyards.
After you’re done tasting, be sure to pop around to the winery’s intimate museum. Here you can see family photos and learn more about the winery’s roots and the importance of family. Open daily, complimentary tasting. Large group bookings available.
15741 Riddoch Highway, Penola
What Guests Like About It: The large tables that accommodate groups of friends and family, kid friendly
Raidis Estate, a family-owned winery with Greek heritage, provides a convivial setting to enjoy its wines among friends and family. Its large, open tasting room looks out over the vineyards.
The Emma sparkling wine, named for owner/winemaker Emma Raidis, is a delightful blend of chardonnay and barrel fermented pinot gris.
And when you’re done tasting, you just might be invited by Chris Raidis, the family patriarch, to enjoy a cup of specially blended coffee. Open daily. Reservations recommended.
14183 Riddoch Highway, Glenroy
What Guests Like About It: Rustic cellar door, overnight camping
Bellwether Wines is a labor of love. Housed in a former sheep shearing shed, Bellwether offers visitors an unpretentious wine tasting experience in a rustic setting. The grapes used to produce its handcrafted wines are sourced from premium vineyards across Australia. Bellwether commissions the artwork for its wine labels from local artists. Many of the original paintings are on display in the tasting room. The Ant Series (named for the art on its wine bottle labels) and the Premium Cabernet are Bellwether’s most popular wines.
Sheep roam the property in this sustainably managed environment. The property also includes space for RVs or caravans to camp, tents for glamping, and a community kitchen where overnights guests cook over an open fire. Whether you come for a week of camping or an afternoon of tasting, you’ll appreciate all the passion that Sue Bell, owner and winemaker, has put into Bellwether. Reservations recommended.
Balnaves of Coonawarra
15517 Riddoch Highway, Coonawarra
What Guests Like About It: Views of the pond from the cellar door and patio
The Balnaves of Coonawarra cellar door overlooks a tranquil pond full of native bird life, surrounded by vineyards. The estate also features over 900 rose bushes, offering another layer of beauty to this already gorgeous property. From the Chardonnay to the Cabernet Shiraz blend, expect every wine tasted at Balnaves to meet the standard for quality Coonawarra wine.
The Cheeky Red, a refreshing Rosé, is the perfect afternoon sipper for this lovely setting. Picnic cheese boxes are available for purchase. The winery donates the $5 tasting fee to charity. Reservations recommended.
Patrick of Coonawarra
15598 Riddoch Highway, Coonawarra
What Guests Like About It: Food and wine pairings, dog-friendly
Patrick of Coonawarra is housed in a historic brick and stone building reminiscent of the region’s architecture from the late 1800s. Inside, the cellar door features brick walls and wooden tables. It feels warm, welcoming, and spacious.
Its signature wine is the Grande Reserve Cabernet Sauvignon. Only the best fruit from the best vintages from the winery’s Home Block Vineyard go into this wine.
The winery offers a generous charcuterie board and two glasses of wine for $49 (AUD). Or choose the chocolate and wine paring for $25 (AUD) per person. No tasting fees or reservations required for groups under nine people. Open seven days a week.
When visiting the Coonawarra wine region, be sure to stop for lunch at Ottelia in the tiny town of Coonawarra. It’s the kind of gourmet restaurant you would expect to find in Napa Valley. Rated one of the Top 10 South Australian restaurants, Ottelia offers a variety of wines from their own label, and a four-course meal that includes a starter, two sides, and a wood-fired pizza. The daily menu changes to reflect what’s in season and available locally.
The meal includes a glass of wine, or you can ask for a tasting of different wines to pair with each course. Call ahead for reservations as this cellar door and restaurant is very popular at lunchtime.
Coonawarra Wineries Walking Trail
The Coonawarra Wineries Walking Trail is an easy walk through vineyards and between six wineries. It is just a little over three miles. The six wineries on the trail are open seven days a week (except for public holidays.) They include Wynns Coonawarra Estate, Brand’s Laire Coonawarra, Redman Wines, DiGiorgio Family Wines, Zema Estate, and Ottelia.
Western Australia Wine Region
No doubt about it, Western Australia is a long way from Sydney and Australia’s eastern coast. It’s like traveling from New York to San Francisco. But a direct flight from Sydney transports passengers to Perth, Western Australia’s capital, in about 5 hours and it’s definitely worth it to explore this delightful sun-drenched part of the country.
There are nine wine regions in Western Australia. Margaret River is the most well-known and popular for holiday vacations. Swan Valley, Western Australia’s oldest wine region, is an easy thirty minutes from Perth.
Swan Valley, Australia’s second oldest wine region, is just 25 minutes from Perth, Western Australia’s capitol city. Like so many wine regions throughout the world, Swan Valley’s scenery is idyllic. Vineyard-covered hills, small rustic towns, and welcoming wineries, their picnic grounds surrounded by green grapevines and bubbling brooks, invite visitors to slow down and stay awhile.
With more than 40 wineries to choose from, wine lovers can make a full day of it here or stay for a while in one of the region’s boutique hotels.
But Swan Valley is not just about wineries. Breweries, cideries, distilleries, gourmet food shops, fine dining restaurants, and salt-of-the-earth pubs provide plenty of choices for food and drink. A 20-mile drive winds through the valley. Roadside stands selling just picked local produce dot the drive during summer months. Customers stop and linger at art galleries and specialty shops along the way.
Plentiful sunshine for most of the year makes Swan Valley an ideal wine region to visit anytime. The valley’s warm, Mediterranean style-climate and rich, fertile soils provide an ideal growing climate. The region is known for growing Shiraz, Chardonnay, Cabernet Sauvignon, Verdelho, Chenin Blanc, and Petite Verdot. Sparkling wines made in the Methode Traditionelle are also popular here.
Public transportation via bus or train is available from Perth to Swan Valley. You’ll need a car or bicycle to get around. Or a hop-on hop-off bus called the Swan Valley Explorer starts at the Guildford train station. It operates seven days a week.
Swan Valley Wine Tours from Perth
Alternatively, wine tour companies that depart from Perth are also available. Some of these offer blended day trips that include river cruises and stops for wine tastings. For a limited time, Winetraveler readers can get 15% off all tour bookings through our partner Viator made through this website, using code WINETRAVELER15 at checkout.
Most people start in the town of Guildford where the Visitor Center, open 7 days a week, can supply visitors with maps and recommendations.
Best Wineries in Swan Valley to Visit
3210 West Swan Road, Caversham
What Guests Like About It: Beautiful grounds and tasting room, onsite restaurant
Visit Sandalford for a taste of their luscious estate Chardonnay. Aged in French Oak, aromas of stone fruit and honey, followed with a layer of vanilla and toasty notes add to its complexity.
One of Australia’s oldest and largest family-owned wineries, this place sports a fun and friendly vibe. If you need a bit to eat before you start wine tasting, their onsite multi-award-winning restaurant serves lunch daily. Reservations accepted.
10 Harris Road, Caversham
What Guests Like About It: Multiple restaurants, outdoor seating, and onsite lodging
Mandoon Estate’s stunning grounds overlook the banks of the Swan River. Mandoon is known for its Verdelho, with aromas of tropical fruit and undertones of fresh lime and rockmelon.
Mandoon also features its Homestead Brewery. With an onsite restaurant, 32 beautifully appointed rooms, and its popular Llawn-Beer Garden, Mandoon makes an ideal home base for a long weekend. Open daily. Reservations accepted.
100 Barrett Street, Herne Hill
What Guests Like About It: Beautiful grounds, vineyard views from the restaurant
Voted Best Swan Valley Cellar Door in 2018, Sitella Winery is named after a small bird that lives in the nearby tree-lined Swan River. Highly regarded for their sparkling wines, the Sparkling Shiraz is made like a red wine but with bubbles. Perfect for holiday celebrations, this sweet scented, fruit driven, red sparkling wine is made from grapes that come from 50-year-old Swan Valley vines.
Enjoy an ala carte lunch or set menu at the onsite restaurant. Reservations recommended for the restaurant. Walk-ins welcome for wine tasting up to parties of five. Six or more, reservations recommended. Cellar door and restaurant open Tuesday – Sunday.
The Margaret River wine region is one of the most isolated wine regions in the world, with ancient forests, pristine beaches, and plants and wildlife. It’s also home to passionate winemakers crafting premium wines. Three hours south of the coastal city of Perth, this hidden oasis was once known for timber, dairy farms, and surfing. However, in the 1950s and 1960s, scientists discovered that gravelly soils along the river, coupled with a moderate marine influence, were ideal for growing high-quality grapes. Today it is home to 150 wineries renowned for making elegant Cabernet Sauvignon and full-flavored white wines which has earned the region the nickname of “little Bordeaux.”
Margaret River Wine Tours
Most visitors rent a car in Perth and drive to Margaret River. However, Cellar d’or Winery Tours offers full-day excursions to the region, including cheese, olive oil, wine tasting, chocolate tastings and lunch. They’ve received numerous badges of excellence thanks to their engaging and knowledgable local guides.
Where to Taste in Margaret River
659 Boodjidup Road, Margaret River
What Guests Like About It: The Amazing, knowledgeable commentary and lots of good humor that comes with each tasting
One of the earlier pioneering wineries in the region, Redgate Wines was established in 1977. Since then it has earned a reputation not only for premium quality wines, but also as the “friendliest” cellar door in Margaret River. This family-owned and operated winery is located less than an eight-minute drive from the town of Margaret River.
Bill Ullinger, founder and proprietor passed on his passion for making good wines to his son-in-law Ray. Ray continues to run the winery today with the same warm and friendly reception for visitors and attention to making award-winning wines. Open seven days a week.
316 Boodjidup Road, Margaret River
What Guests Like About It: The delicious food prepared onsite and paired with your choice of estate wines
Like its poetic name implies, this winery is a place of spectacular beauty where the maritime influence on the vineyards creates an extraordinary beneficial effect for producing great grape growing. Since 1997, Xanadu has produced both exceptional award-winning reds and white wines from its unique vineyard “ranges.” Its idyllic cellar door is a cavernous, light-filled space with timber and stone décor coupled with expansive vineyard views. This family-owned winery also features a critically acclaimed restaurant offering indoor and outdoor seating and a two or three course set menu.
Cellar door is open seven days a week. The restaurant is open Wednesday through Sunday.
331 Wallcliffe Road, Margaret River
What Guests Like About It: Seated tasting in the barrel room underground cellar, tutored wine and food pairing experience
Founded in 1970 by one of the pioneers of the Margaret River region, Cape Mentelle focuses on Bordeaux varieties rather than Shiraz. Today, Cape Mentelle, a leading winery, produces Semillion/Sauvignon Blanc blends and structured, yet elegant Cabernet Sauvignons.
Cape Mentelle provides guests with tours and tastings along with a pétanque court (think French bocce ball) and a “rammed” earth cellar door. Cellar door is open daily. $10 (AUD) tasting fee, refundable with purchase.
A Different Way to Travel to Australian Wine Regions
For travelers who are looking for a mode of transportation that not only takes them to different wine regions in Australia but also allows them to see more of the country, Journey Beyond offers three amazing train trips. Best of all, Australian wines from several of the most famous wine regions are served aboard all three train routes.
The Indian Pacific travels from Sydney in New South Wales to Perth, the gateway to Western Australia’s wine region. The Indian Pacific also stops in Adelaide, so passengers who wish to get off and explore South Australia’s wine region for a few days can take advantage of that option, too.
The Great Southern
The Great Southern departs out of Brisbane, with stops in Hunter Valley and Melbourne, where guests can enjoy wine tasting at local cellar doors. It terminates in Adelaide. Over four days and three nights, Great Southern guests see some of Australia’s most spectacular coastal and inland scenery. Journey Beyond also offers the option to add on three different packages in Adelaide to explore more wine and culinary adventures.
Australia’s most iconic train ride, The Ghan, travels from Darwin in the Northern Territory to Adelaide, the gateway to South Australia’s wine country. A unique and epic experience, the Ghan explores the vast interior of Australia.
Australia, marvelous, enigmatic, and beautiful, begs to be explored, engaged, and experienced. This massive continent in the Southern Hemisphere offers inexhaustible horizons stretching across glistening bays on its coasts to barren, red dirt landscapes in its rich, indigenous heartlands, verdant forests, and vistas of Blue Mountains, as well as vineyard-covered river valleys, and maritime-influenced coastal plains. Australia is a place as untamed as it is civilized, as barren as it is cultivated.
Yet despite its vastness and contradictions, this country “down under” has established itself as a world-class destination with 65 wine regions. Some are major geographically recognized regions, some are lesser-known, and some are emerging wine regions. And all are waiting to be explored!
Frequently Asked Questions about Wine Tasting in Australia
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