Though regions like France and Italy first spring to mind when wine becomes a point of conversation, Australia continues to quietly work away to solidify its position as one of the world’s best.
The Southern Hemisphere’s location and diversity of climate make it a prime spot to produce some of the finest drops, and many of the best regions throughout the country easily compete alongside other world-renowned wine producers.
Nailing both the classics and the more boundary-pushing wines, the wine region scene of Australia is extremely exciting, producing more than 100 grape varieties in huge numbers. Chuck in some postcard-perfect scenery, divine dining and landscapes you won’t find anywhere else, and you can see why we wine fanatics are massively in love with Australia.
Here are the best wine regions in Australia to stop by.
1. Barossa Valley
If you’re talking wine, Barossa Valley is never to be without a mention.
Not only one of the best wine regions in Australia, but The Barossa is also internationally recognised as one of the finest in the world. Located less than an hour’s drive out of Adelaide in South Australia, the cool climate makes for a perfect environment to churn out its world-renowned shiraz, grenache, and cabernet sauvignon.
You’ll find some of the world’s oldest vines located here, all producing fine wine since way back in 1842. Come to the current day and there are now over 150 wineries sprawled among the rolling hills and valleys alongside a thriving food scene and historic villages.
Some of the more standout wineries to visit here include Yalumba, Chateau Tanunda, Peter Lehman, Jacob’s Creek, Wolf Blass, and Bethany Wines – although there’s every chance you’ll stumble upon a hidden gem you might not have tried before.
2. Margaret River
Margaret River is the wine capital of Western Australia, producing some of the finest drops of cabernet sauvignon and chardonnay.
This region has some of the oldest soil in the world, and many of the winemakers champion practices such as natural fermentation, organic and biodynamic. Aesthetically it’s also one of the most stunning areas to visit, sitting between rugged coastlines, ancient forests, colourful wildlife and lush rolling greenery. The local produce here also makes way for an outstanding food scene, and much of their ethos focuses on the nation of farm to plate.
In terms of where you should pop in, more popular wineries include Vasse Felix, Cherubino, Xanadu, and Wills Domain – but we’d also highly recommend two of our personal favourite smaller spots Snake & Herring or Jarvis Estate.
To get here you’ll need to travel about three hours south of Perth, but there are plenty of stop-ins along the way to make the journey that extra bit enjoyable.
See a full rundown of all the best Margaret River wineries here.
3. Hunter Valley
Rest assured the folks of the Hunter Valley region know what they’re doing when it comes to bottling the good drops, given they’re the oldest wine region in Australia.
A three-hour drive north of Sydney, it’s home to more than 150 cellar doors famous for producing the age-worthy Semillon along with shiraz, cabernet sauvignon, and chardonnay. It also doesn’t hurt that it’s a known gourmet hot spot as home to some of the top restaurants around the state set among picturesque scenery.
As far as wine icons go, Tyrrell’s Wines is just about as big as labels get, or leaders in the industry like Lindeman and Gwyn Olsen. If it’s nostalgia you’re after, Boydell’s Winery is a family-owned property that was settled in 1826 and is believed to be the first vineyard site in New South Wales.
While you’re at it, we’d also recommend seeing this region by hot air balloon for a truly magical experience.
4. Clare Valley
The charming Clare Valley is tucked away among South Australia’s Mount Lofty Ranges, quietly producing absolutely world-class riesling.
Its vibe is relaxed and rural, offering many wine enthusiasts and general tired of that 9-5 escapees the chance to retreat from city life in the postcard-perfect setting.
To get here one simply needs to drive about two hours north of Adelaide until the sight of stone-cottage buildings and gum trees enters. In between sips, there’s plenty to see and do, with country pubs and restaurants covering you on the dining front, scenic walking trails in abundance, and lots of history to discover.
Top picks here include Sevenhill Cellars, O’Leary Walker Wines, Taylors Wines, and Kilikanoon Winery.
5. McLaren Vale
McLaren Vale is essentially the birthplace of wine in South Australia, rivaling even the superiority of Barossa.
You can find the region just a mere 45 minutes out of Adelaide, and it’s best known for its shiraz as well as bottles of cabernet sauvignon and grenache. Home to more than 80 cellar doors that are some of the most progressive and environmentally sustainable in the country, the wines produced here are extremely diverse and nationally revered.
Taste world-renowned drops from the unique d’Arenberg, take in the views and small-batch reds at Samuel’s Gorge or experience exceptional fine dining at Mitolo.
6. Yarra Valley
Yarra Valley is famously known for cool climate wines and is in the business of producing some seriously world-class pinot noir, chardonnay, and alternative varieties like Nebbiolo and Arneis.
Among its talent for producing wine, it also pumps out top-of-the-range artisanal cheese, rich chocolate, and craft beers, and being just an hour’s drive west of Melbourne it’s very accessible weekend getaway to locals and tourists alike.
Major stops to tick off your itinerary include De Bortoli Yarra Valley Wines, Hubert Estate, Helen and Joey Estate, and Rob Dolan Wines.
7. Tamar Valley
Tasmania hosts a whole heap of vineyards through its rugged landscape, but Tamar Valley tops the lot.
Though significantly smaller than some of the other regions mentioned with some 32 vineyards, it’s quality over quantity here. It shares a similar cool climate to that of Burgundy in France, making it the ideal location for sparkling wine, chardonnay, riesling, sauvignon blanc, and pinot grigio to thrive.
Located less than an hour out of Launceston, wineries that show off the best of the region include Swinging Gate Vineyard, Bay Of Fires Winery, Tamar Ridge, and Loira Vines.
8. Mornington Peninsula
For a particularly boutique experience, Mornington Peninsula is where those go to indulge in elegant wines, delicious food and seaside settings.
Just over an hour outside of Melbourne, it’s a popular spot for a short two or three-day escape to explore the many award-winning wineries and restaurants amongst quaint country villages.
The fact that it’s surrounded by three bodies of water means cool breezes provide the setting for a long grape-growing season that builds intense yet elegant flavours. Pinot noir and chardonnay steal the show here, and some of the more popular cellar doors for a tasting include Montalto, Pt Leo Estate, and Ten Minutes by Tractor.
You may not be so familiar with the region of Orange just west of Sydney, but if you’re a fan of a nice glass of chardonnay and shiraz a trip here should be on the agenda.
It sits 2,000 feet above sea level and shares its space with the dormant volcano Mount Canobolas. The elevation combined with soil and a mild to warm climate make Orange a prime wine-producing destination.
Orange is among the more recent small wine regions, popping up in the 1980s and now hosting some 60 vineyards and 40 cellar doors. The country atmosphere is strong here, and their culinary scene certainly puts on a fine show.
Among the wineries and cellar doors most visited, stop in at Heifer Station Wines, Swinging Bridge, Ross Hill Wines, and Philip Shaw Wines.
Get even more Australia travel inspiration on So Where Next.