(Photo Modified: flickr/badjonii)
It is certainly no secret that Australia is home to beautiful wine regions, from Hunter Valley to the Margaret River — even Tasmania offers wine tasting! But it’s far-flung locale and ample other draws, from its beaches to fantastic city life, have kept the country from becoming a really wine-focused destination.
So, here are a handful of reasons why Australia should be your next wine tasting destination; you’ve done Napa, you’ve tasted Tuscan chianti straight from the source, and you’ve spent a week swirling and spitting in Bordeaux. It’s time for new terrain.
Arguably the best-known wine region of Australia is the Hunter Valley, just a few hours’ drive from Sydney. Rolling hills covered in vines are the backdrop for tasting local semillon, sauvignon, and shiraz, and with winter approaching in Australia (technically June through August), it’s the perfect time to start sampling. The valley is divided into the Upper and Lower Hunter Valley, across which there are more than 70 wineries that open their doors for either "cellar door" tastings or full winery tours.
Some of the best wineries in the region to visit include David Hook for sauvignon blanc, the long-standing Hungerford Hill at the start of the valley, and Audrey Wilkinson for their well-loved rosé. The best sustenance in Hunter Valley can be found at Elizabeth’s (located inside the iconic Mount Pleasant Estate winery), Harvest Restaurant (in the Hope Estate winery), or Esca Bimbadgen.
The Barossa Valley definitely gives the Hunter Valley a run for its money. A few hours from Adelaide, the Barossa Valley has the stunning rolling hills and lush greenery of Hunter Valley, but a richer history. It was proclaimed a prime wine-growing region more than 150 years ago and was largely cultivated by English settlers in the region. The region is best known for its cabernets, sauvignons, shiraz, and grenache, as well as reislings and even semillon. And with more than 80 wineries, there are ample opportunities to sip, swirl, and spit.
Some of the best wineries to check out in the region include Bethany Wines for dessert wines, Peter Lehmann for rosé and their gorgeous surroundings, and Eden Hall for reisling, shiraz, and cabernet sauvignon. Find some of the valley’s best food at the classic 1918 Bistro & Grill, Vintners Bar & Grill, and Lyndoch Bakery.
Book a room at the modern, hillside The Louise for a luxurious retreat in the valley. (Photo courtesy of The Louise)
A few hours from Perth, Margaret River offers endless wine tasting options with its own distinct landscape. This is wine tasting on the coast; it’s akin to California’s more laid-back wine regions, with locals’ penchants for yoga, surfing, healthful cuisine, art galleries, and the salty smell of the ocean in the air. It’s also the newest of these three Australian wine regions, though it now boasts more than 120 wineries to visit. The area specializes in cabernet and chardonnay, as well as viogniers and shiraz.
Stop for tastings at some of the region’s best wineries, like Leeuwin Estate for cabernet blends, the award-winning Vasse Felix for their cabernet sauvignon, and Cullen Wines for sauvignon blanc or semillon. While there, refuel at Flutes Restaurant on the Brookland Valley Winery’s property, at the restaurant at Vasse Felix, or at the casual-chic Bathers Café.