You’ve been in traffic Friday night to get to the Mornington Peninsula, you’ve joined the hordes on a pilgrimage to the Barossa, and seen and seen in the Hunter Valley.
Now you’re in the mood for some hidden wine region gems, where you can get off the beaten track, hear stories from winemakers not told a thousand times before and pet the odd vineyard dog.
There is a new peninsula in the city. It has wild surf beaches, peaceful coves, views across the bay to Melbourne and wineries on every dirt road, but it’s not the Mornington Peninsula.
Demanding wine aficionados should instead head west from the city, turning left at Geelong and reaching the Bellarine Peninsula. Or better yet, take the 70-minute ferry from Docklands in the CBD to Port Arlington and be picked up by one of the many winery tour companies.
In one compact region, you can visit the oldest winery in the district, Scotchmans Hill, a James Halliday Top 100 fixture, Jack Rabbit Vineyard, and the beautiful glass-walled restaurant overlooking the You Yangs and beyond, Terindah Estate, and its restored W-Class tram bar, or new kid on the block, Yes Said the Seal, among others.
Think NSW wine regions and you probably think of the Hunter Valley, but head southwest instead and you’ll find the wine village of Mudgee, surrounded by 35 cellar doors and best known for its cabernet sauvignon.
For something more rustic, head to Lowe Wines and its wisteria-draped patio, then stay for its signature three-hour lunch.
For cutting edge architecture, don’t miss Logan Wines. Burnbrae Wines is one of the area’s oldest wines, with a cellar door in a historic dance hall converted, and if you’ve got a four-legged friend in tow, head to Moothi Estate, known as the region’s most dog-friendly winery.
The drive to Mudgee takes about four hours from Sydney, or you can skip the drive and be there in 50 minutes with FlyPelican.
Let’s face it, all of Queensland’s wine districts qualify as hidden gems because while the state is over-represented for tourist attractions, it’s not known for its vineyards.
The two official districts are the Granite Belt, in the south near the border with NSW and the city of Stanthorpe, and South Burnett, an island of the Sunshine Coast.
In the Granite Belt, one of the highest wine regions in Australia, you will find shiraz, chardonnay, cab sav and merlot.
The Granite Belt produces about 60 percent of Queensland’s wines and has over 50 vineyards and cellar doors, including Ballandean Estate and the contemporary Italian-Australian restaurant The Barrel Room.
South Burnett specializes in cab Sav and merlot.
From the Sunshine Coast, visit Ocean View Estates, an hour northwest of Brisbane, for its cellar door and restaurant, plus accommodation, or check out the state’s largest vineyard, Clovely Estate, a five-star James Halliday winery .
Or make it a road trip. In 2020, the state launched its Wine and Shine Trail, a self-guided tour of the wine regions.
Most wine hunters visiting Tassie head north from Hobart. The Tamar Valley, or closer to the capital, the Coal River Valley, together produces about half of the island nation’s wine.
But discerning wine enthusiasts are increasingly moving south from Hobart to the Huon Valley. Only one percent of the state’s wine comes from here, but it’s one of the closest wine districts to Hobart and also offers spectacular coastal and woodland scenery.
Here you’ll find Home Hill Winery and its award-winning pinot noir, and Kate Hill Winery, which focuses on sparkling, chardonnay, pinot noir and riesling.
On the way back, circle to Mewstone Wines, once a former cherry orchard, for its views of Bruny Island and its acclaimed single-site wines.
You’re going to Margaret River. In fact, if you’re a true wine lover, you probably already have been.
But now go a little further afield and make tracks for the Great Southern wine region, the largest wine district in mainland Australia.
Located at the foot of WA you will find wineries and vineyards clustered around Albany, Denmark, Frankland River, Mount Barker and Porongurup.
With a climate that ranges from Mediterranean to maritime, there are 51 different wineries to choose from, as well as wild ocean beaches and spectacular hikes.