A vintage wine is indeed loved by many of us, and Australia’s rich wineries, spread across 60 designated wine-producing regions, produce some of the most exquisite ones that are renowned worldwide.
Each vineyard here has a speciality, which is sure to captivate your senses while you pamper your taste buds with its fresh local produce. From Barossa Valley and Yarra Valley to the Margaret River region and the McLaren Vale, these Australian areas produce some of the best wines that are known globally.
That’s not all, with gorgeous locations offering scenic views, these wineries are no less than a paradise for wine connoisseurs and regular travellers. A pleasant walk in the setting sun through the vineyards, holding a glass of wine, can be a perfect way to unwind and immerse yourself in the calming environs of these places.
Additionally, if you are visiting with your special someone or friends or family, these wineries can make up for great picnic spots. They also house fine-dining and gourmet restaurants that offer signature dishes made from homegrown produce. What’s more? You can learn about the history of these wineries from their guided tours and all about the craft of winemaking.
Here are some of Australia’s best wineries that should be on your must-visit list
One of the first and finest wineries in Victoria, Yarra Yering offers some of the most delectable and complex wines. A fresh drink from this vineyard can age beautifully in the bottle.
Planted in 1969 by Bailey Carrodus, the vineyard is spread across the foothills of the Warramate Hills in the Yarra Valley. In 1973, Carrodus produced the first set of commercial vintage wines — Dry Red Wine No.1, a Bordeaux-inspired blend, and Dry Red Wine No.2, a northern Rhone blend. For the next three decades and more, he dedicated himself to making the vineyard a whole new commercial and critical success.
Such is its popularity that The Real Review listed it among the top wineries of Australia in 2021. Today, Yarra Yering winemaker Sarah Crowe honours the heritage and carries the legacy of Carrodus forward. She was titled the Australian Winemaker of the Year in 2017 by James Halliday.
You cannot miss out on stepping through the cellar doors for a tour of the winemaking process. While here, you must sample the award-winning Cabernet Sauvignon and Bordeaux-style red blends, Shiraz and Pinot Noir wines, among others.
What started as a family business of jams and small scale wines in 1928 in the Riverina region of New South Wales soon became one of Australia’s most well-known family-run wine estates. The estate is spread across the Yarra Valley.
Surrounded by rolling hills, this winery is a must-visit destination to simply enjoy the mesmerising views. Post World War II, the De Bortoli wine business flourished under Deen De Bortoli. Under him, the company grew uninterrupted, and Australia witnessed the first major ‘wine boom’ in the 1970s.
In 1987, the family purchased a winery and a vineyard and established a restaurant in the Yarra Valley. They expanded the business to every corner of the country and beyond to give customers a taste of ‘cool climate’ wines.
The family is also behind the award-winning Noble One wine. Third-generation member Darren De Bortoli created it in 1982 and to date, it remains one of the most highly regarded and internationally acclaimed wines, with numerous awards to its credit.
The Noble One, which set a benchmark in Australian ‘Botrytis’ dessert wines, celebrates its 40th anniversary in 2022. You can also try Pinot Noir and Chardonnay, among other ranges of whites and reds.
When in Australia, include this winery in your must-visit places list and indulge in Italian hospitality and gourmet dishes at their deli. You can also experience wine-tasting and get a Melba Wine Club membership.
For over 175 years, the Penfolds Magill Estate, located very close to the city of Adelaide, has been acing the winemaking game. Making the best use of the cool climate and high altitude of the Adelaide Hills, it produces some of the richest and most supreme quality wine in Australia.
Founded by Christopher and Mary Penfold in 1844, the wine company became a known name by the 1870s in the island country. They forayed into claret and riesling grape varieties, which gave new impetus to the business. Over the years, Penfolds became pioneers in winemaking and received several awards and recognitions. The Real Review also listed them among the top wineries in Australia in 2021.
This Australian winery is also known for its award-winning Grange wines. It is the only one to receive a perfect 100 points from Wine Spectator (US) and Robert Parker’s Wine Advocate (US) for the 2008 Grange. The 2016 Grange also received The FINE Wine Magazine‘s 2021 Best Syrah of the Year.
If these classic ageless wines are still not enough for you, Penfolds’ top-class Magill Restaurant will surely entice your taste buds and take you on a gastronomic journey with locally sourced produce. Those looking for a classic Australian country flavour can try the decadent Quantum and Yattarna wines.
When a Bavarian named Jonathan Gramp began to miss the fine wine from his homeland, he decided to set up a winery along the banks of Jacob’s Creek, which still flows through Barossa Valley. Following his vision to create delectable wines infused with flavours of the grapes found on the land, Jacob’s Creek was founded in 1847 and has become a globally recognised brand.
Jacob’s Creek offers a range of the finest wines. These include Barossa Signature, A.J., 1847 Range and Classic. Its sparkling wine range is regarded as one of the best in Australia and visitors must try the Pinot Noir and Chardonnay.
To enjoy the scenic environs of the place, take a bicycle ride through the vineyard or go for a classic wine-tasting experience and learn about pairing the right wine with your favourite foods. Jacob’s Creek also offers a unique picnic experience overlooking the vineyard and hills.
So when you visit this place, make sure to stop by to enjoy classic Australian wines and gourmet dishes from its kitchen gardens.
Situated amid the greenery of Mount Lofty Ranges and surrounded by the azure waters of the Gulf St Vincent, the McLaren Vale is the cradle of amazing wines in South Australia. A 45-minute drive from Adelaide will bring you to this wine paradise.
Mediterranean climate and an array of soil profiles make McLaren Vale’s d’Arenberg winery ideal for Shiraz and ultra-premium Grenache and Cabernet wines. Along with these, Vermentino, Tempranillo and Sangiovese wines offer a completely different flavour palate.
The Osborn family has been looking after the vineyards in McLaren Vale since 1912. However, they forayed into winemaking in the 1920s, years after founder Frank Osborn married Helen d’Arenberg. In 1984, Chester Osborn took up the reins as chief winemaker and was joined by d’Arry Osborn, who has won several accolades for his contribution to the Australian wine industry.
Besides perfecting the craft of winemaking, the House pushed its boundaries in offering the experience to visitors. This is where the idea of the d’Arenberg Cube came in.
It was conceived by Chester in 2003. Taking inspiration from the complexities of producing wine, the structure is built like an incomplete Rubik’s cube. Each of the five stories showcases the intricacies involved in winemaking as well as entices your taste buds with the produce. Visitors will find alternate reality museums and other art installations here, too.
Don’t forget to try the award-winning Burgundy wines, Rhine Riesling, those from the Nobles line and the Vintage ports.
Additionally, if you want to try your hand at making wine, you must visit the Blending Bench where you can name wines as well. The inviting food at the d’Arry’s Verandah Restaurant makes for the perfect reason to visit this age-old wine heritage site.
Western Australia is also home to some of Australia’s classic elegant wines, and only a few do it as well as Vasse Felix. The company controls every aspect of the production process in its estate in the Margaret River region. Interestingly, though the region produces just three percent of Australia’s wines, it holds over 20 percent of the premium wine market that sets international standards.
Vasse Felix was founded in 1965 by Dr Thomas Cullity who experimented with planting grapes. He had decided to set up a winery in Australia when he came across fine table wines of Europe while working at Britain’s National Heart Hospital in the 1950s. Today, a three-hour drive to the south of Perth can get visitors to this winery to taste some of the finest wines in the region.
From Cabernet, Sauvignon, Chardonnay and Sémillon to Sauvignon Blanc, Merlot and Shiraz, Vasse Felix has an array of wines you can try. Along with these, you must try the Icon, Filius and Idée Fixe collections, which are aged to perfection at the estate itself.
Situated in Wilyabrup within the Margaret River region, Cullen Wines is a reputed name in the Australian wine arena. Touted as the only winery that is carbon-positive and biodynamic in the region, Cullen Wines offers a unique tasting experience in its biodynamic wine room.
Seated exclusive tasting experiences, tours of the biodynamic gardens, learning the intricacies of wine production and a lot more await visitors, who can also try some of the most inviting dishes made from the garden produce.
Incorporating philosophies of soil sustainability with viticulture is an essential element at Cullen Wines. Since its establishment in 1971 by Kevin and Diana Cullen, the state has maintained minimal chemical use and has sustainable production at its core.
Although the winery business here has been growing since its founding years, it was only in 2005 that the iconic Diana Madeline Cabernet Merlot gained massive attention. It bagged several accolades and was elevated to the highest ‘Exceptional’ tier of Langton’s classification category — a spot reserved for only 11 Australian wines. This was followed by the success of the Kevin John Chardonnay 2007, which was awarded the World’s Best Chardonnay at the 2010 Decanter World Wine Awards.
Besides these classics, a sip of the Malbec, Vanya or Sauvignon is a must-try along with dining at its well-known gourmet restaurant.
Located about 3.5 hours from Sydney by road, the Hunter Valley is one of Australia’s most flourishing wine-producing regions. This is where Audrey Wilkinson’s winery is situated — at the foothills of the Brokenback Range. It offers a wide range of delicious handcrafted wines.
With an earthy taste, its award-winning Sémillon wine is an absolute must-try. Its exotic lines of Shiraz, Chardonnay, Tempranillo and Sauvignon make the Audrey Wilkinson winery a haven for wine lovers and visitors alike.
The legacy began in 1866 when the Wilkinson family bought the land in Hunter Valley and set up the winery. Down the ages, they modernised and incorporated technology to boost production. By 1903, Audrey Wilkinson was charting Australia to collect awards and recognitions for his hock, claret and fortified wines. The 2006 Museum Semillon is one of Audre Wilkinson’s most celebrated wines, and it has bagged 12 trophies and 20 gold awards.
While here, you must join the gourmet picnic for a relaxing wine and unwind experience while taking in the panoramic views of the rolling hills.
If you are interested in its history, visit the museum here. For connoisseurs of food and wine, a well-curated wine tasting menu is something to definitely try. The cellar door is perched atop the foothills and offers a beautiful view of the entire valley. You can also stay overnight at one of the three stunning cottages — Mulberry, Oakdale and The Diary.
Another Barossa Valley gem is the Seppeltsfield winery, which is located on the Western Ridge of the valley. Visitors approaching the winery will be enthralled by the roads leading to this spectacular location as the avenue is lined with Canary Island Date Palms.
Seppeltsfield tells its story through its wine, and it follows the principle that ‘place over person’ is pivotal in winemaking. The unique 1888 Gravity Cellar plays a significant role in crafting the handmade wines to age perfectly in bottles. On the other hand, its still wines “celebrate the re-imagining of traditional fortified varietals,” the website reads.
2022 marks the centenary year of its Para Vintage Tawny from 1922, and the company is celebrating its 45th release. You must taste this classic, which was awarded a perfect 100 points by a renowned Master of Wine, Andrew Caillard. Although its incredible range of fortified wines is the star attraction, the Barossa Grounds series and the cellar door line of Shiraz and Shiraz Magnum are equally tantalising to the taste buds.
The legacy began in 1850 when Joseph Seppelt, an emigrant of Silesia, purchased land in this region intending to farm tobacco. The family later ventured into growing grapes and wines. Currently, Warren Randall, a highly qualified viticulturist and winemaker who worked for the Seppelt family during the 1980s, holds the custodianship of the estate.
While here, indulge in some gastronomical delights at the estate’s fine-dining restaurant — FINO Restaurant. If you want to learn more about the craft of winemaking, the unique tours are a great option that offers sampling at tasting rooms. You can also stay overnight at the beautiful accommodation on the estate itself.
(Main and feature image credit: Kym Ellis/ @kymellis/ Unsplash)