Australia produces over one billion litres of wine every year, from sparkling whites to deep, velvety reds. But it’s not just the obvious big name wine regions that do all the hard work. Scattered across the country there are many smaller, not-so-famous regions brimming with top-notch wines worth taste-testing. Getting off the beaten track also means the chance to enjoy authentic local experiences and often, meet the winemaker at work. So instead of heading to Margaret River, the Hunter Valley or the Barossa, why not consider one of these great unsuspecting Aussie wine regions?
Nestled in the far southwest corner of Western Australia amongst towering Karri forests, stunning waterfalls, rivers and lakes, Pemberton is one of the country’s newest and most isolated wine regions. While the first vines were only planted in these red, fertile soils in the 1980s, it has quickly built a strong reputation for its whites and reds and now produces many high quality blends. Elegant but flavoursome Chardonnay, Sauvignon Blanc and Semillon are highlights, as well as Pinot Noir, Shiraz and Cabernet Sauvignon. Many of the wineries are family-owned and quite spread apart, making for a lovely intimate experience and the chance to soak up the stunning scenery between stops.
Top wineries: Bellarmine, Lost Lake, Salitage, Merum Estate, Silkwood
Kangaroo Island is famous for its stunning landscapes and wildlife, but lately it’s also garnering attention for its wines. One of the cleanest and greenest slices of real estate in the country, the cool maritime climate ensures a slow ripening process, resulting in particularly impressive reds with beautiful earthy tones like Cabernet Sauvignon and Shiraz that sometimes come with a hint of spice. The whites aren’t as prominent but there are some interesting varietals on offer, such as Sangiovese and Tempranillo, as well as some lovely Chardonnays. By far one of the best things about taste-testing your way through Kangaroo Island is the incredible side of scenery – many of the wineries and restaurants overlook the island’s natural bounty of sights.
Top wineries: Bay of Shoals, Dudley Wines, Rookery Wines, The Islander Estate.
If you’re looking for wine that’s in sync with the heavens, head to Orange in regional New South Wales. Touting some of the nation’s highest altitude cool climate vineyards, up to 1120 metres high, this is the place to go for elegantly well structured yet intensely juicy flavours. Indulge in crisp and fruity whites – particularly Chardonnay, Sauvignon Blanc, Riesling and Pinot Gris – as well as a fine line up of vibrant and flavour-packed reds from maturing vines. Just a three hour drive from Sydney, it makes for a wonderful weekend getaway. Head to Orange in time for one of the many fabulous food and wine festivals throughout the year to truly make the most of it.
Top wineries: Angullong, Belgravia, Cargo Road, Mayfield, Philip Shaw, Printhie, Ross Hill.
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Granite Belt wines have been around for a while now, but it’s a region that’s increasingly worth visiting. One of very few areas in Queensland that feels the four seasons and with high lying vineyards, winemakers have had to experiment over the years and so today, there’s a great range of unique drops on offer. Try a Viognier or Mourvedre along the alternative Strange Bird Wine Trail, or keep your eyes peeled for whites like Verdelho and Chardonnay, some Rose or a nice Shiraz. Centred on the town of Stanthorpe, the Granite Belt region produces over 60% of Queensland’s wine and is home to over 50 wineries worth taste-testing.
Top wineries: Ballandean Estate, Boireann Wines, Golden Grove Estate, Sirromet Wines, Symphony Hill Wines.
If you’re looking for glass of something a little different, the Canberra District delivers distinct Australian wines that have garnered attention both nationally and internationally. Encompassing vineyards at various elevations and temperatures and with differing soil types, the range of varietals, styles and influences is broadly tempting to say the least. Try a new style of Australian Shiraz, elegant Cabernets and everything from Sangiovese to Riesling and Pinot Noir, all within a 35 minute drive of Canberra. There are over 140 vineyards and 35 cellar doors to knock on.
Top wineries: Brindabella Hills Winery, Clonakilla Winery, Helm Wines, Eden Road, Pankhurst Wines.
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