Whilst Australia is portrayed as a nation of beer swillers, it is its wine industry that has boomed over the last 10 years, outselling French wines in British supermarkets and rising to become the seventh largest wine producer in the world. Due to its diverse geography and climate, the country produces a wide range of wines across each of its states, and luckily for the visitor, this means there are plenty of wonderful wine regions to explore when on holiday in Australia.
Here are our pick of the top five wine regions in Australia:
1. Margaret River, Southwest Australia
Home to a number of world-class wine producers, many of which are family-run organisations, the Margaret River region is a place of natural beauty, where colourful landscapes and sleepy towns offer a peaceful respite from nearby Perth. The area is famous for its outstanding blends of Sauvignon Blanc and Semillon, but in recent years has seen some exceptional reds coming through such as the local Cabernet Merlot. Local cellar doors well worth a visit include the Sandalford and Leeuwin Estate wineries.
The best time to visit Margaret River is during October and November, when the area’s wildflowers are in full bloom. A walk along one of the region’s many walking trails is a welcome addition to any visit.
2. Clare Valley, Southeast Australia
The Clare Valley, close to Adelaide in southeast Australia, is a strong contender for Australia’s most beautiful wine region. Despite being one of the lesser-known areas, Clare holds its own against the likes of the Margaret River and Hunter Valley, presenting the visitor with a delightful combination of iconic Aussie bush, traditional stone architecture and enchanting vineyards. The oldest winery in the area, Sevenhill, was established in 1851 by fleeing priests.
Hop on a bicycle and take off along the famous Riesling Trail, following an old railway line through picturesque countryside to the small town of Auburn where you can learn about mining and settler history in the area.
3. Tamar Valley, Tasmania
You can expect not only award winning wine, but also some amazing, locally produced food on a visit to the Tamar Valley in Tasmania. The area is fast becoming the region to beat where cool climate wines are concerned, producing some world-class Pinot and Riesling varieties. Don’t miss Three Wishes and Holm Oak vineyards if you intend to visit the region.
At the northern tip of the region sits Launceston, Tasmania’s second largest city making the area very accessible and easy to incorporate into any trip to Tasmania.
4. Hunter Valley, Southeast Australia
Renowned throughout the world and located less than two hours’ drive from Sydney, the Hunter Valley is Australia’s oldest wine region with the country’s first commercial vineyards being established here in the 1830s. It is now one of the more accessible wine regions in the country and home to some well-known names, such as Lindemans and Tyrrells.
The scenery in this region is lush and fertile with the north of the valley being flanked by the impressive Barrington mountain range, a World Heritage listed national park that is a paradise for walkers, climbers and bird watchers. It is also one of the highest points in Australia. Take to the air in a hot air balloon for a bird’s eye view of this area’s stunning topography.
5. Yarra Valley, Southeast Australia
The Yarra Valley is Victoria’s most well-known wine region and is easily accessed via a one hour drive from the state’s capital, Melbourne. The landscape is peppered with picturesque wineries and its cool climate is famous for producing some superb examples of Sauvignon Blanc, Chardonnay and Shiraz.
As well as being home to some of Australia’s largest wine companies, such as Rochfords and Yering Station, the Yarra is also a great place to discover a great range of rustic family-owned cellar doors and small boutique wineries, such as the Sutherland Estate, offering a unique experience.
Craig Burkinshaw is a Founder Director of Audley Travel.