Australia’s Finest: Top 5 Wine Regions to Turn You into a Connoisseur
_When you think of Australia, there are a few things that come to mind – amazing weather, stunning beaches, dangerous animals and amazing wonders of the world such as the Great Barrier Reef and Uluru. _
One thing many people may not realise Australia is famous for is its alcohol. When we mention alcohol and Australia, the first thing that probably pops in your head is Fosters but did you know an average of 30 million glasses of Australian wine are enjoyed worldwide every day?
Because of its climate there are many different regions that specialise in different types of wine, so you’ll find a type to suit every palate. If you are going to travel around Australia here are the top 5 wine regions you must visit!
**Very important message! Make sure you don’t drink and drive! All wine stops must be accompanied by a designated driver.
1. Margaret River
Margaret River is located south of Perth. This is beautiful coastal drive that you will want to do! It takes about 3 hours from Perth, but can be broken up with stops in the famous port city of Fremantle, or stops at the numerous beaches along the way.
What makes Margaret River so special is that it is a wine region very close to the sea. This results in some amazing scenery, and if wine is not your thing, then there are lots of great beaches and walks to explore. Margaret River is predominantly famous for its red cabernet sauvignon and white chardonnay wines. However, it does have many other excellent varieties.
2. Barossa Valley
The Barossa valley, located about an hour’s drive north of Adelaide is probably Australia’s most famous wine region. The Barossa is most famous for its red Shiraz and Cabernet Sauvignon as well as its white Riesling wines.
Many people will have heard or read about the Barossa valley because it is where the large exporters of Australian wine are based. You may be familiar with Jacob’s Creek and Penfolds to name just 2 of the major wine companies based here.
The reality is there are over 50 wineries in the region producing all sorts of wines from huge batches for export, to boutique wineries that only produce a few thousand bottles a year.
However, the Barossa is not just about wine. It’s a foodie’s delight with lots of farmers markets, fabulous restaurants and the famous Maggie Beer’s farm shop – which makes all sorts of pantry stables such as oils, jams and pastes.
3. Hunter Valley
Sydney has many iconic landmarks, such as the Opera House, the Harbour Bridge and Bondi beach. However, 2 hours’ drive North of Sydney is the picturesque Hunter Valley.
This wine region has many boutique wineries that supply restaurants in Sydney. International visitors will also recognise the famous McGuigan’s winery, who ship worldwide. Another favourite is the Peterson House winery, who specialise in producing sparkling wines.
The main wine produced here is the white Semillon. However, because of the variety of wineries there are wines to suit every appetite here.
Don’t like wine? Try the Hunter Valley Chocolate Company or The Hunter Valley Cheese Company. Also, if wine isn’t your drink, the Hunter Distillery produces flavoured Vodka, which you can do samplings of from test tubes! Beware though, the chilli vodka will blow your head off – you’ve been warned!
4. Yarra Valley
The Yarra Valley, is a lesser known wine region internationally. However, because it is only an hour's drive east of Melbourne, it is a very popular weekend activity for locals.
The friendly rivalry between Sydney and Melbourne as to who has the best city, means that often comparisons are drawn between Sydney’s Hunter Valley and Melbourne’s Yarra Valley. However, the wine regions are very different, and the Yarra Valley is best known for Chardonnay, Pinot Noir and Sparkling wine.
If wine is not your thing, the excellent Yarra Valley Chocolatier and Ice Creamery should get the taste buds flowing. Finally, if you’re looking for something unique to do, the Puffing Billy Steam Train Railway will provide entertainment for all ages.
5. McLaren Vale
If you’ve made it this far your reward is our favourite wine region in Australia. It’s the lesser known cousin of the Barossa, located about 45 minutes’ drive south of Adelaide.
This wine region is most famous for Shiraz, which is about 50% of all wine produced in the region. So, if you are a fan of red wine this region is a must visit.
Our favourite winery, and must do experience, is the d’Arenberg winery. Their fine wines are exported worldwide and are generally known for their distinctive label. The restaurant, d’Arry’s Verandah, at the winery is very popular for lunch and needs to be booked in advance.
Because the McLaren vale is near the coast, if wine is not your thing there are plenty of other activities that you can do. Horse riding and cycling are both very popular activities. The beautiful beaches close by also allow for fun for the whole family.
All of the above wine regions are between an hour and 3-hours' drive outside major cities. You will need a car when you are in these regions because there is very little public transport and taxi’s can be difficult to get.
Whether you are visiting on holidays or just planning a weekend break we recommend you rent a car. However, never, ever drink and drive.
We recommend you either have a designated driver for the day as you travel around the wineries yourself, or even more fun is to leave the car at your accommodation for the day and do one of the many bus tours that bring you on tastings that are both fun and educational!
All this writing about wineries has made me thirsty, so if you’ll excuse me I'm off.
Blog credit: Written by Owen Reynolds.