Australia is a wine-lovers dream destination. Australian wineries have a glowing reputation around the world for their top-quality grape varieties grown in perfect climates and picturesque settings. No matter where you find yourself across the southern part of the country, you won’t be too far away from a wine-growing region.
Australia’s viticulture began back in the 1800s with the arrival of the First Fleet. Since then, the country has expanded to growing over 100 different grape varieties across more than 65 designated wine regions.
South Australia is considered the heart of the country’s wine industry with some of the oldest and best wineries in Australia. However, you can’t ignore the other states, with Victoria, Western Australia and New South Wales also boasting some impressive vineyards amongst stunning landscapes.
Exploring wine regions in Australia was one of our favourite adventures when we lived in Australia. So, we can attest that visiting one or more of the following wine areas in Australia is one of the best things to do on any trip to Australia!
Hunter Valley, Australia
Location: New South Wales, an hour’s drive east from Newcastle and two hours northeast of Sydney.
Wine Varieties: Best known for Semillon, but it’s shiraz, is also highly regarded.
Harvest Season: Summer (December-February)
Famous wineries: The historic Audrey Wilkinson offers a range of Semillon wine in its idyllic setting. Brokenwood Wines has a stand-out, award-winning chardonnay to sample. Tyrrell’s Wines is another historic vineyard that produces incredibly good shiraz amongst other grape varieties.
The Hunter Valley is the oldest wine region in Australia, with a viticultural history dating back to the 1800s. There are now more than 120 wineries in this Sydney wine region. Also, a weekend there spent tasting a variety of Australian wine is one of the best things to do in New South Wales.
Most large cellar doors charge a fee of around $5 per person for a tasting, which is often waived if you purchase a bottle. However, the Hunter Valley has plenty of small boutique cellar doors that offer free tastings, which makes it one of the more affordable wine regions to tour in Australia.
Along with some of the top Australian wineries, Hunter Valley offers the perfect place to indulge in some relaxation. The region is home to day spas, wellness retreats, high end dining experiences as well as even hot air balloon rides.
How to Get There/How to get around: It’s best to hire a car to explore Hunter Valley. This gives you the freedom to stop wherever you like and stay for as long as you please.
Don’t Miss: Apart from the wine, there are also a number of excellent day spas to relax in, try Chateau Elan or Elysia Wellness Retreat.
Barossa Valley, Australia
Location: South Australia, around 70km or an hour’s drive north of Adelaide.
Wine Varieties: Barossa Valley is best known for its red wine, especially shiraz, but there has been a new wave of Mediterranean grapes introduced to the region.
Harvest Season: February – April
Famous wineries: Jacob’s Creek, considered Australia’s most successful wine brand, offers a cellar door experience so you can learn where it all began. Another iconic brand, Wolf Blass is an award-winning label that has now spread across nine wineries. Penfolds Wines is one of the oldest in the country and regularly considered one of the best Australian wineries.
The Barossa Valley is the most famous of the wine regions in South Australia. Its history of viticulture dates back to the 1840s with many estates run by sixth-generation grape growing families. The region now has more than 150 wineries with 80 cellar doors to explore. Thanks to its proximity, just an hour from Adelaide, Barossa Valley makes for a popular weekend getaway from the city.
Out of all the South Australian wine regions, Barossa Valley is home to some of the most recognized labels in the business. These include, Jacob’s Creek, Wolf Blass and Penfolds. However, you can also find plenty of smaller, boutique wineries that offer a more secluded feel.
As well as being one of the best wine regions of South Australia, it’s also a great champion for local produce with a weekly farmers market and numerous farm shops and artisanal factories. You can easily pick up local cheese and pastries that are perfect for a picnic amongst the vines.
How to Get There/How to get around: The most common way of exploring Barossa Valley is by car. This gives you the ultimate freedom to move around and hop between wineries. However, it’s also possible to reach Barossa Valley by public bus. Then, rent a bicycle from your hotel to get around the wineries for a more environmentally friendly approach.
Where to Eat: Maggie Beer’s Farm is an Australian household name and you can visit the farm in Barossa Valley to see where it all began. Try all of her local products and even sit down for lunch, before watching a daily cooking demonstration.
Don’t Miss: Yalumba Winery is a picturesque estate that was established back in 1848 and is still family-run despite the big private companies overtaking the surrounding estates. This is the ultimate Australian winery experience.
Yarra Valley, Australia
Location: 1-hour drive northeast of Melbourne, Victoria
Wine Varieties: The Yarra Valley is famous for its world-class Chardonnay and Pinot Noir.
Harvest Season: March, however, it can change depending on the given year’s weather.
Famous Wineries: De Bortoli is one of the largest wine-producing companies in Australia. Other big names in the region include Domaine Chandon, Yering Station and Rochford Wines.
The Yarra Valley was the first wine-growing area in Victoria and is now one of the best Australian wine regions. This popular Melbourne wine region is especially known for its innovation in grape growing. Also, the valley has expanded to different grape varieties beyond its more traditional chardonnay heritage.
The area is now home to over 120 vineyards. This includes some of the top wineries in Australia with big names in the industry. However, for a more intimate experience, you’ll also find plenty of smaller boutique wineries and family-run cellar doors down the country back roads. For example, as Boat O’Craigo, Soumah of Yarra Valley and Pimpernel Vineyards.
The small towns of Healesville and Yarra Glen at the heart of the region are also gastronomic centres with plenty of other local produce including artisan cheese, fresh berries, organic honey and homemade bakery goods.
How to Get There/How to get around: The best way to explore the Yarra Valley is by car. We recommend staying in the region for at least a night. However, there are also day trips and tours from Melbourne which visit a handful of well-known wineries.
Where to Eat: Many of the vineyards offer a lunch and dinner menu, however, Healesville and Yarra Glen are also home to great cafes and restaurants. Try Mocha and Lime in Healesville, a rustic cafe with local produce, or the new 400 Gradi pizza restaurant at Rochford Wines.
Don’t Miss: Apart from wine, the Yarra Valley is becoming known for a variety of spirits and beer too. Try the award-winning Four Pillars Gin, Alchemy Distillers and White Rabbit Brewery, all in Healesville.
Margaret River, Australia
Location: 230km south of Perth in Western Australia
Wine Varieties: The king grape variety in the region is Cabernet Sauvignon. Shiraz and Sauvignon Blanc are also common.
Harvest Season: Fall (February- April)
Famous wineries: Vasse Felix is the founding wine estate of the area. Voyager Estate is one of the big names in the region and has recently announced its move to full organic certification. Cullen Wines is another of the original wineries in the region and is still run by the Cullen family.
Despite producing only a small amount of the total of Australian wines, it’s Margaret River’s world-class quality that makes it one of the best wine regions of Australia. In just over 50 years, the region has exploded to become home to more than 200 boutique wine producers.
Margaret River wineries charge around $5-10 for a tasting if you don’t walk away with a bottle or two. It’s certainly not the most budget-friendly wine region, but the high quality of Margaret River wine makes an indulgent trip to the area worth every cent.
Margaret River offers a popular weekend or week-long getaway in Western Australia. Similar to the Victorian wine regions, Margaret River is a gastronomic centre that includes great food and local produce beyond the wine. You’ll find craft breweries and distilleries and farmers’ markets throughout the region.
How to Get There/How to get around: It’s best to hire a car, as the area is a decent 3.5 hours from Perth. There are also plenty of things to see along the way, so it’s worthwhile making it a coastal road trip.
Where to Eat: The small town of Margaret River has great restaurant options in the main street. Try Morries for high quality modern Australian food with a cocktail or Sidekick Cafe for a cozy setting with good coffee.
Don’t Miss: Margaret River is also widely known to be a place for outdoor activities. From surfing in some of the best surf beaches on Australia’s west coast to hiking along the Cape to Cape track, there’s much more to the area than the wineries.
McLaren Vale, Australia
Location: South of Adelaide in South Australia.
Wine Varieties: McLaren Vale is best known for its dry red wines, especially the Shiraz variety but also Cabernet and Grenache.
Harvest Season: Summer (January – April)
Famous Wineries: d’Arenberg is considered one of the best wineries in the region. Coriole is one of the oldest estates and also has an exceptional restaurant on site.
McLaren Vale is considered the birthplace of the wine industry in South Australia. It’s home to some of the oldest vineyards in Australia. The Mediterranean climate of the region has helped create some of the highest quality wines. Particularly, in the dry red variety. More than half of the vines in the area are shiraz. However, you can also try other alternative Mediterranean red and white varieties.
There are now over 160 wineries in McLaren Vale with small family-run estates to large expansive companies. The Mclaren Vale wineries list includes Wirra Wirra, Coriole and Hugh Hamilton Wines, all with interesting and long-standing viticultural histories. Tasting fees start from around $5 and can be as much as $15 per person unless you decide to purchase.
How to Get There/How to get around: If you can hire a car, a drive from Adelaide to McLaren Vale takes just an hour and makes for a great weekend getaway. However, you can also join McLaren Vale tours from Adelaide which takes you to the regional highlights in just a day.
Where to Eat: You can’t beat eating at Coriole Vineyards, with local produce and their very own olive oil which you can also purchase.
Don’t Miss: For something a little cutting-edge, you have to visit d’Arenberg’s new five-storey modern cube building. Inside, you get an incredible view over the vineyard, plus restaurants, bars and private tasting rooms.
Adelaide Hills, Australia
Location: East of Adelaide city in South Australia.
Wine Varieties: Sauvignon Blanc, Chardonnay, Pinot Noir and Riesling.
Harvest Season: Fall (February – April)
Famous Wineries: The most famous Adelaide Hills wineries include Hahndorf Hill Winery which specializes in Austrian grape varieties and K1 by Geoff Hardy run by a fifth-generation wine family and regarded as one of the best cellar door experiences in Australia.
The Adelaide Hills is one of the largest and most diverse wine regions in Australia. It’s most known for its distinctive cooler climate and creative grape growers and winemakers. They have turned the area into one of the best South Australia wine regions. You can sample most of the popular wines of Australia in Adelaide Hills. For example, Sauvignon Blanc, Chardonnay and Pinot Noir.
It’s the most accessible of all the Adelaide wine regions, with more than 50 cellar doors within half an hour from the centre of Adelaide. This means that you don’t even need an entire weekend to get around multiple estates and wine tastings. Most cellar doors charge $5-10 per person unless you purchase a bottle or two. It’s similar to most other wine regions in Australia.
How to Get There/How to get around: It’s just a 20-minute drive from the heart of Adelaide, making it one of the most accessible Australia wine regions from a major city. There are daily public buses from Adelaide to the Adelaide Hills area. But, for the ultimate freedom, hiring a car is the best option.
Where to Eat: Most of the cellar doors also have a lunch and dinner menu with some exceptional dining experiences. Try The Lane Vineyard for a luxury contemporary restaurant with stunning vineyard views.
Don’t Miss: There are plenty of annual festivals celebrating the food and wine of the region that make for a fun experience, including CRUSH in January, Winter Reds Weekend in July and Adelaide Hills Wine Show in November.