FOOD AND DRINK

Greenhill Wines Cellar Door

Credit: Isaac Forman

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The best wineries to visit in Australia

Thinking about planning a holiday to visit the best wineries in Australia? It’s sometimes hard to decide which region to visit and when to go. Understanding which wine regions in Australia are known for which varietals is a good place to start, as well as having a handle on some of the most popular wineries to visit while you’re there. And with BIG4, you’ll always have a comfortable place to stay at the end of a long day of tasting! Learn more about some of the best wineries Australia has to offer below.

A grape sunset. Credit: Jacob's Creek

Jacob’s Creek in the Barossa Valley

The Barossa Valley is arguably Australia’s most famous wine region, known for big, bold shiraz, exceptional farm-to-plate cuisine and sweeping views of rolling hills. There are over 150 wineries and 80 cellar doors to visit, so a short trip might not be enough to get around to them all. Full-bodied reds and fortified wines are the name of the game in this part of the world and big-name wine brand Jacob’s Creek does them as well as anyone.

Jacob's Creek in the Barossa Valley has so much to see. Credit: Tourism Australia

Beloved internationally and closer to home, you simply can’t miss visiting Jacob’s Creek cellar door on your next South Australian winery escape. The cellar door offers a range of tasting experiences where you can sample different wines (including their well-loved shiraz and chardonnays) and learn more about this historic, internationally renowned business. This is one of the better places to enjoy views of the Barossa, so sit back and relax.

Sharing is caring at Jacob's Creek. Credit: John Montesi

Signature wine: Shiraz and fortified wines

Price: $

Where to stay: BIG4 Barossa

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What could be better than a ride around the Jacob's Creek grounds? Credit: John Montesi

De Bortoli Yarra Valley Estate

Known as Australia’s premier cool climate wine region, the Yarra Valley is only just over an hour from Melbourne, making it the perfect weekend getaway. The misty green hills make it popular with couples, families and international tourists alike. There are over 160 wineries in the region and a wealth of award-winning restaurants and cellar doors to visit. Vines have been grown in the Yarra Valley since the early 1800s, so there are many decades of winemaking experience in the air. 

Sample De Bortoli's wares right from the source. 

Undoubtedly one of Victoria’s biggest wine brands, De Bortoli has multiple cellar doors across Victoria and NSW, but its Yarra Valley outpost is the most iconic. It’s a beautiful place to visit, with an Italian restaurant that celebrates the family heritage of the winemakers. Book a tasting at the cellar door to try their range (especially the famous Noble One Semillon) before your lunch so you can decide which bottle to order with your meal.

De Bortoli is fun for those on two legs or four!

Signature wine: Pinot noir and chardonnay

Price: $$

Where to stay: BIG4 in the Yarra Valley

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All smiles at De Bortoli, Victoria.

Audrey Wilkinson in the Hunter Valley

The Hunter Valley is the jewel in the wine region crown of New South Wales. As Australia’s oldest wine region, a visit to the Hunter Valley is more than just a gourmet experience, it’s also a history lesson — albeit a fun one! With over 150 cellar doors to visit, you’ll want to base yourself in the area for a while. Not just a wine region, the Hunter is also known for farming, meaning there is a whole lotta delicious paddock-to-plate cuisine to enjoy along with a tipple.

The countless vines of Audrey Wilkinson. Credit: Destination NSW

Known for unparalleled views of the famous wine region, Audrey Wilkinson is still owned and operated by Audrey and her husband, Bob Wilkinson, who started the winery in 1969. A visit to the cellar door will give you a chance to taste their famous chardonnay and semillon wines against the backdrop of the spectacular vista and you can always add some matched cheese or sweet treats to the mix if you feel like something to snack on.

Audrey Wikinson is picture perfect. Credit: Destination NSW

Signature wine: Semillon

Price: $$

Where to stay: BIG4 in The Hunter

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The rolling plains of Audrey Wilkinson. Credit: Hugh Stewart; Destination NSW

Ballandean Estate Wines in the Granite Belt

The heart and soul of Queensland’s wine country is the Granite Belt region. As Australia’s highest wine region, this small but mighty area packs a punch with plenty of boutique wineries and family-run farms to visit. The region is best known for shiraz, although it’s slightly different to other famous shiraz’s from around Australia. Unlike the Barossa which produces big, full-bodied shiraz, the Granite Belt is a cooler-climate, producing wines more similar in style to the Rhone Valley. A little slice of France in Queensland — who knew?

From vine to wine at Ballandean Estate. Credit: Tourism and Events Queensland

Of the wineries in the area, Ballandean Estate Wines is one of the most popular. Known for their award-winning wines (the reds and sparkling are real crowd-favourites!) you can enjoy a tasting in the cellar door or indulge with a glass and a cheese platter by the fire or out on the lawn.

Here's cheers! Ballandean Estate. Credit: Tourism and Events Queensland

Signature wine: Shiraz

Price: $

Where to stay: Country Style Holiday Park

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Nothing better than sampling the goods at Ballandean Estate. Credit: Tourism and Events Queensland

What is the best season for wine in Australia?

That depends on where you want to go, although generally speaking autumn (March to May) and spring (September to November) are both great times to travel as you avoid the extreme heat of summer and the icier winter months in the southern states.

September to November is touted as the best time to visit the Barossa Valley, not only for the weather but also for the gorgeous blossoms on the fruit trees and the bright yellow canola fields in bloom. 

Howard Vineyard in the Adelaide Hills. Credit: Josh Geelen

March to May is most popular in the Hunter Valley because of the mild autumn weather that causes the landscape to be draped in orange, gold and red. It’s also the Hunter Valley Harvest Festival, a three-month celebration of food, wine and the arts, with more than 50 events.

Similarly, autumn is a great time to visit the Yarra Valley as it’s harvest season, which is perfect for tasting really fresh wines. Given that Victoria is quite far south, you can normally get away with visiting in the warmer months too as there aren’t too many really hot days per year.

Simon Tolley Wines in the Adelaide Hills. Credit: South Australian Tourism Commission

Early spring (around September) is definitely the best time to visit the Granite Belt. Queensland can get hot, hot, hot, so you don’t want to leave it too close to summer. The wildflowers will be in bloom and the nights will be cool enough that you can enjoy a glass of shiraz by an open fire.

The delighful Tobin Wines in Queensland's Granite Belt. Credit: Tourism and Events Queensland

Australia's best non-alcoholic wines

Love a winery visit but aren’t a big drinker? Increasingly there are more and more wine producers dabbling with non-alcoholic wines.

If you find yourself in South Australia make sure you visit Grant Burge’s cellar door in Krondorf and give their NV Grant Burge Prosecco Zero a try. It’s 0% alcohol and a really great alternative to the real deal. If you want a de-alcoholised sparkling, prosecco is the way to go, as it’s generally a lighter, fruitier sparkling wine that still tastes great without the booze.

Eldredge Vineyards in the beautiful Clare Valley. Credit: Josh Geelen

While this Adelaide Hills winery doesn’t have a cellar door you can visit, Plus & Minus’ Premium Rosé

is 0% alcohol and a tasty drop. This rosé might not contain alcohol but it looks (and tastes) like it does thanks to the not-so-secret ingredient of grape skin extract.

Or, if you’re looking for a lower but not no-alcohol options, here are a couple of great ones.

A Small Batch Wine Tours group exploring the Fleurieu Peninsula. Credit: Small Batch Wine Tours

It’s really hard to find a fully alcohol-free shiraz that gets the job done, but the next best thing is a low-alcohol option. If you’re in the Barossa, swing by Pepperjack’s cellar door in Angaston and give the Pepperjack Mid-Strength Shiraz a crack. The advertising promises “all the big fruit flavour of Barossa shiraz with half the booze”, so try it and see if you agree.

Two other great low-booze reds are Tread Softly’s Grenache and Pinot Noir. Another drop without a cellar door, Tread Softly is naturally lower in alcohol thanks to being picked early and fermented for a shorter period of time than normal wine.

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