6 great wine regions in Australia

Visiting vineyards, tasting the vintages and, on many estates, enjoying a superb meal in an on-site and often al fresco restaurants, is one of the great pleasures of a visit to Australia. Whether you are focussing on a trip to one particular region, or planning a broader itinerary, hopping from place to place, the chances are that you’ll be within doorstep range of more than one of the country’s ‘top drop’ districts. Here’s our pick of the best:

The Barossa, South Australia

Probably the best known of all the wine growing districts (and yes there really is a creek called Jacobs!), the Barossa lies less than an easy hour’s drive from Adelaide. Aside from the wine, the region is also home to historic houses, golf courses, walking trails and plenty of shops (antiques a speciality). First established by Prussian immigrants in the mid 19th Century, there is still evidence of its Germanic roots, including Lutheran churches and even the occasional oompah bands.

Barossa Valley, South Australia

The Hunter Valley, New South Wales

Just under two hours from Sydney, crossing the Harbour Bridge and continuing through national park landscapes, the Hunter is Australia’s oldest wine region. Even if you had little interest in its produce, it would still be a destination worth visiting for its setting, a horseshoe of mountains which encases both woodland and winelands plus lots of activities from spas to golf. Its meadows are also home to one of the world’s top horse breeding centres.

Margaret River, Western Australia

It’s hard to believe that it was not until the 1960s that the first vines were planted in the region south of Perth that was to become known as the ‘Bordeaux of the New World.’ There are around 80 boutique wineries which produce less than 5% of Australia’s wine, yet more than a quarter of its premium bottles. Best bet are its chardonnays and cabernet sauvignon. If you don’t want to drive you could consider booking Nola and her 1955 year old Bentley to ferry you between tastings. And save time for lounging on the region’s world class beaches.

Margaret River, Australia

Clare Valley, South Australia

The delightful landscape of rolling hills is home to a compact collection of around 40 vineyards that produce, in particular, excellent Rieslings as well as more than acceptable cabernet sauvignons and shiraz. Plan on lunch (or a night) at Skillogalee a stone cottage, the original home of a Cornish miner.

Yarra Valley, Victoria

The Yarra is to Victoria what the Barossa is to South Australia although it welcomes far fewer visitors. Its boutique wineries produce cool climate wines, with pinot noirs the speciality. Although you can reach the Yarra in around 30 minutes from Melbourne you should plan on spending a night ‘on location’ (at Chateau Yering maybe) and consider a dawn ride by hot air balloon.

Dawn in the Yarra Valley, Australia

Tasmania

Australia’s largest island is a temperate wilderness that is both rich in history as well as natural assets. Being the most southerly of Australia’s wine regions, its cool, late harvest wines are distinctly different, with pinot noirs and chardonnay (the latter in still or fizzy form) among the best. In terms of production, Tasmania’s quota is very small but punches well above its weight.

David Wickers is Director of Bridge & Wickers.

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