Australia’s oldest wine region, the Hunter Valley deserves its accolades. But away from this pocket of grapes northwest of Sydney you’ll find more than a dozen dazzling NSW wine regions, each with distinct terroir and equally distinct drops. Go at your own pace and drop into cellar doors for a wine flight, or linger over vineyard tours, wine-blending sessions, wine and food pairings, and appreciation courses. Cheers to that!
The cool-climate region surrounding Canberra is actually NSW soil. Among the district’s pioneering wine estates isClonakilla, known for its small-batch Hilltops Shiraz as well as oh-so-drinkable chardonnay and riesling. Tasting the terroir while sitting amid the Murrumbateman landscape is magic. Nearby is The Vintner's Daughter, another small-batch winery run by husband-and-wife team Stephanie Helm and Benjamin Osborne. Stephanie learned how to make wine from her dad Ken, who runs Helm Wines, just around the corner.
Shaw Wines isn’t your average Canberra District winery: it offers a private tasting room, as well as a cosy lounge area with a roaring log fire in the winter months. Ask to try a glass of the exceptional 2019 Reserve Semillon. Poachers Smokehouse & Vineyard is an artisan smokehouse with an excellent restaurant alongside its cellar door, flanked by beautiful gardens.
There are around 40 vineyards dotting Cowra in NSW’s Central West. Among them is Rosnay Organic Farm and Vineyard which produces memorable wines and grows olives and figs using biodynamic methods. Visit the cellar door or stay overnight in the 1910 farmhouse. Book an appointment at Wallington Wines’ cellar door to taste yet more biodynamic wines and learn all about the property’s history as a lookout for bushranger Ben Hall.
Northwest of Canberra in southern NSW, the Hilltops region is known for its plump cherries and juicy stonefruit. Oh, and grapes. Get a taste for the offerings at the Hilltops Region Wine Cellar located within the historic Young Railway Station. In addition to celebrating local vintners through an impressive range of traditional drops, it also serves up cherry wines and liquors. Linger over the Italian-inspired wines at Freeman Vineyards, including varietals like rondinella and corvina.
Couple enjoying a wine tasting experience with chief winemaker Stuart Hordern at Brokenwood Wines, Pokolbin
The indecisive will not know which direction to look when landing in the Hunter Valley, a bucolic pocket of the state, home to more than 150 cellar doors, not to mention boutique restaurants and providores. Enjoy a personalised wine tasting at Wombat Crossing Vineyard, overlooking Barrington Tops National Park; visit the architect-designed cellar door at Brokenwood Wines; or get creative at Vamp, a highly stylised, arty cellar door curated by winemaker Lisa McGuigan.
Sample brandy as well as wine at Millbrook Estate overlooking Wollombi Brook, or enjoy a tasting of Semillon and chardonnay at Krinklewood Biodynamic Vineyard with its dreamy Provencal-style gardens and courtyard. Hanging Tree Wines’ cellar door is located in a converted cow shed, with sprawling gardens that are home to winery dogs: Vodka, Muscat and Bundy.
Around 300 kilometres inland from the Hunter, Mudgee is home to some of Australia’s oldest vineyards, as well as the nation’s highest. You’ll need a long weekend to sample everything on offer here. Begin your tour at Lowe Wines, specialising in small-batch organic vintages that you can sample at the cellar door while admiring views over terraced vineyards. Lovers of French styles of wine should book an immersive private wine experience at De Beaurepaire Wines’ cellar door, located in 170-year-old stables in nearby Rylstone, or enjoy a glass or two on the terrace at Burrundulla Wines, where the Cox family has lived since 1821. Art enthusiasts will also appreciate the sculpture garden at Rosby Wines Cellar Door.
The New England region may be the youngest of its kind in the state, but it’s catching up to other NSW stalwarts with more than 40 vineyards now under its belt. Follow the meandering road to Merilba Estate Wines in Kingston and you will be rewarded with sweet views over the Honeysuckle Range from the cellar door, housed in a heritage building that was originally a stable and later a shearing shed. Visit Topper’s Mountain Vineyard by appointment for a private wine tasting at the property, its bucolic grounds just made for postcards.
Some 250 kilometres northwest of Sydney, Orange is a dreamy union of vines, deciduous trees and upscale restaurants. The drops here take home global awards – deservedly, as you’ll discover while savouring a glass of wine at Nashdale Lane. The cellar door was once an apple-packing shed, and you can stay the night here in luxury glamping tents and cabins overlooking the vines and orchards and beyond to Mount Canobolas..
If you’re hopping between estates, enjoy a sit-down cellar door experience at Swinging Bridge Wines while ensconced amid vines. Then step back in time at Heifer Station Wines, set within a 100-year-old shearing shed – kids will be kept happy petting the Polish hens, alpacas and highland cattle at the adjacent Funny Farm. The cellar door at Philip Shaw is also a slice of history, occupying a charming 130-year-old bluestone barn at the Koomooloo Vineyard.
The Riverina is in the heart of Australia’s food bowl, home to some of Australia’s biggest (and most well-known) wine producers and companies including Casella, makers of Yellow Tail Wines. Italian heritage is strong here, with many vintners growing grapes that hark back to the motherland and stay true to blending traditions.
Visit the De Bortoli Bilbul cellar door for a taste of the award-winning Noble One Botrytis Semillon – which has won 104 trophies and 352 gold medals – and enjoy a picnic in the secluded winery gardens. Calabria Family Wines has a beautiful Tuscan-style cellar door and serves a variety of wines including prosecco, vermentino and montepulciano. Yarran continues the tradition, but also brings in bolder New World styles, including a punchy and award-winning shiraz. Sit down to a wine flight, or ease into a ‘Cheese and Chill’ session, replete with a grazing platter loaded with local Coolamon fromage and Kadino family meats.
Sun rising over a vineyard in Perricoota
The Murray & Perricoota
Temperatures can soar in the Murray River region in the south of the state. The heat makes for some very interesting wines, as you’ll discover at family-owned winery Trentham Estate, set on a bend of the Murray south of Mildura. If the visiting paddlesteamers aren’t tied up, you can dock your houseboat right out front and wander up the bank for a bottle of wine and cheese on the lawn. Don’t miss St Annes Winery, which produces excellent shiraz and chardonnay, and family-owned Wilksch Estate cellar door, where bud-to-bottle wines are produced using traditional techniques.
The small grape-growing region of Perricoota, just northwest of Echuca Moama, is becoming known for its shiraz, cabernet sauvignon and chardonnay varietals, which you can sip in the cellar door at Morrisons Riverview Winery, also home to a standout restaurant and brewery.
Take the guesswork out of your visit by following the Echuca Moama Food and Wine Trail, linking purveyors like Pacdon Park, My Dad’s Honey and Echuca Chocolate Factory.
Why choose between an escape to wine country and a coastal getaway when you can marry the two? Cupitt's Winery is a family-run boutique winery, cellar door, restaurant, bar, microbrewery and fromagerie in Ulladulla that spills down the hills to the coastal plains. Spend a relaxed afternoon here overlooking the vines while sampling exceptional produce. Then check in to one of the sleek cabins – because you won’t want to leave, believe us.
The Southern Highlands is the closest grape-growing region to Sydney, just 120 kilometres south of the city. Vintners here like to experiment with alternative cool-climate varietals, like arneis, lagrein and refosco, among others. Visit Tertini for wines that are just as dreamy as the setting, a patchwork of grapes as far as the eye can see. Then try premium pinot noir and wood-fired pizzas on Sundays at Artemis Wines or high tea and sparkling wine (there are eight on the menu) at Centennial Vineyards, outside Bowral. Take your knowledge up a notch over a tutored tasting at the charming St Maur cellar door in Exeter, once part of a dairy farm. And discover how to appreciate the flavours of wine over a tasting session at PepperGreen Estate in Berrima.
Tree church with scenic views across the Snowy Mountains region from Obsession Wines, Maragle.
You’re well and truly in the Snowy Mountains here, so expect stellar cool-climate wines. Sample outstanding cab sav and shiraz at Allegiance Wines’ Tuscan-style cellar door (by appointment only), or try the seasonal lunch menu at family-owned Courabyra Wines, which has made its mark in the foothills of the Snowy Mountains. Obsession Wines is known for its fruit-forward Semillon and pinot grit, while Johansen Wines also comes with on-site accommodation on a working farm.
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