An unexpected adventure for boutique brewery & winery aficionados on the South Coast
Love your small-scale brewers, distillers and winemakers? It might not seem the obvious spot, but on the NSW South Coast, business is booming. With dozens of vineyards, breweries and distilleries dotted along the drive between Sydney and the Victorian border, there’s something for every thirsty traveller on the NSW South Coast. Here’s our plan for you, in four parts.
It’s worth driving down the dramatic escarpment into Wollongong to see what’s brewing in this regional powerhouse of a city. Drop in to Headlands Distilling Company in North Wollongong on a Friday or Sunday for a tour and tasting. The company’s products draw on grains from the Riverina and include a vodka and a gin steeped in Illawarra plums. In 2021, Headlands plans to launch an Illawarra Plum Cask whisky.
Nearby is the Illawarra Brewing Co’s low-key Brewhouse, where you can enjoy a cold one in the sunshine. It’s not to be confused with Five Barrel Brewing, with 12 rotating taps and a kitchen turning out burgers and snacks Thursday to Sunday, while in Bulli, just up the coast a little, Resin Brewing is a beer brewery and brewpub., which offers a range of local and Australian craft brews, plus an ocean view. In the city centre is
Kiama to Nowra
Now it’s the turn of wine-lovers, with a constellation of vineyards concentrated in this area (beer aficionados can drop in to Stoic Brewing at Gerringong).
Roselea Vineyard, still a working Gerringong farm, produces sparkling, red and white wines and two vintage ports (tastings by appointment only, minimum six people). Crooked River Wines is located just off the Princes Highway but skewed towards a bucolic view of vines and rolling green hills. Take time to enjoy its wines over a meal in the restaurant, where you can kick off lunch with oysters from Tuross Head in the Eurobodalla region.
Near Berry is Woodhill Mountain Wines, which specialises in chambourcin – a varietal that’s perfect for the Shoalhaven’s balmy climate as it’s resistant to downy mildew. Continue past Berry to (also home to super-fast EV charging stations and a helipad). Fashioned from a 19th-century dairy farm, the estate incorporates a cellar door and cottage-style accommodation.
Feel like making a slight detour inland? Yarrawa Estate is tucked into the Upper Kangaroo Valley – book ahead to add a cheese platter to your tasting. From the valley, head back towards the coast via Lyrebird Ridge Organic Winery and the highly Instagrammable Cambewarra Estate Winery, which serves delicious high teas (with an intriguing range of tea blends on offer).
Trace the Shoalhaven River’s northern bank east to reach Two Figs Winery, with extraordinary hilltop views over the river, and , the South Coast’s most-awarded winery. Coolangatta Estate occupies the site of the first European settlement on the South Coast. You can stay in one of the convict-built rooms or suites, or bed down in the converted stables, which were also frequently home to the first winner of the Melbourne Cup, Archer.
At Shoalhaven Heads near the southern end of Seven Mile Beach National Park is Mountain Ridge Wines (as the name suggests, it’s perched on a slope of Coolangatta Mountain). Plan a lunch or, if you’re staying nearby, you can book a return transfer in a solar-powered Jaguar.
Jervis Bay to Batemans Bay
At Huskisson (famous for winter whale-watching), head to Jervis Bay Brewing Co. for live music, food trucks (there’s a different one each day) in the beer garden and the intriguingly named brews that reference local history and landmarks. True adventurers can even slurp a pomegranate sour.
Tucked into the hinterland behind Mollymook is Cupitt’s Estate, where an abandoned creamery dating from 1851 has become the estate’s cellar door. Enjoy views of Burrill Lake and Pigeon House Mountain as you explore this popular family-run enterprise that includes an on-site winery, brewery and fromagerie. The fine-dining restaurant showcases produce from the on-site organic kitchen garden. There’s also more casual lawn and deck dining (think pizza, grazing boards and cheese platters). If you want to indulge and not drive, stay at the two-bedroom renovated heritage cottage and wake to a breakfast hamper that includes eggs from the estate chooks.
Inland from Cupitt’s is Stone Cottage Vineyard – make a booking to taste the boutique wines crafted from chambourcin and pinot gris grapes, or stay in the stone cottage that sleeps up to six people.
On the way to pretty Bawley Point is the family-friendly Bawley Vale Estate. It features a dramatic high-ceilinged modern-industrial cellar door, a tranquil lake, picnic lawns and adorable farm animals such as alpacas, goats, deer and cows. The cellar door is only open on Sundays and bookings are essential.
Moruya to Pambula
At the small town of Dalmeny near Narooma is Big Niles Brewing Co. Match the Lawnmower Lager – or a cold one from the guest taps – to whatever’s being served up by that day’s food truck. Just south of Narooma at Central Tilba is Tilba Valley Winery and Ale House, which regularly hosts live music.
While travelling through the region, keep in mind that several wineries are still recovering from the devastating bushfires of 2019-2020. Near the village of Cobargo and within sight of Mt Gulaga is . Post-bushfires, vigneron Gary Potts has been busy re-establishing and restoring his vines, and plans to have wine available from spring 2021. Nearby , known for its organic, vegan-friendly wines produced from chambourcin vines, is being renovated and plans to reopen for tastings in late 2021.
East of Cobargo at Wallaga Lake is Camel Rock Brewery – unusually located within a BIG4 Holiday Park. It brews everything from pale ales to porters, and incorporates intriguing local ingredients such as wattleseed and pigface flowers.
Near Bermagui is Mimosa Wines and Restaurant, a popular spot for weddings thanks to its picturesque hilltop setting. The drawcard restaurant is much-lauded for its talented chefs who turn out meals that might include yellowfin tuna tartare, fish with Jervis Bay black mussels, and olive oil panna cotta with strawberry sorbet, basil foam and candied olives.
Bookending this South Coast drinks adventure is Longstocking Brewery in Pambula. Billing itself as The Biggest Little Brewery and Oyster Bar on the NSW Sapphire Coast, it alone is worth the epic 456km drive from Sydney. Taste-test the dark and pale ales, lagers, pilsners and ciders while sampling the inventively topped local oysters. Cheers!