Planning a romantic getaway? Look no further than Australia’s top wine regions. Whether you’re a wine connoisseur or simply enjoy a glass every now and then, these picturesque destinations are perfect for a romantic weekend.
From the stunning Mornington Peninsula in Victoria to the renowned Margaret River region in Western Australia, Australia’s wine regions offer a delightful blend of scenic beauty and exquisite wines. With ideal winemaking conditions, it’s no wonder that food and wine are cherished in Australia. So why not indulge in the best of both worlds? Here’s our guide to some of the most beloved wine regions in Australia.
Mornington Peninsula, Victoria
The Mornington Peninsula (an hour south of Melbourne) is home to some of the most visually arresting landscapes in the world. Often overshadowed by other, better-known wine producing areas, the region offers perhaps more for couples than any other wine area. Plus, with rolling hills of vines right next to dramatic coastline, it definitely deserves its own spotlight.
Best known for: chardonnay, pinot noir, viognier and pinot gris.
Must-visit winery: With spectacular views, the Montalto Winery and Olive Grove is great for antipasto paired with one of the estate’s best drops.
Don’t miss: Make your way to the Mornington Peninsula’s western coast and visit some of its seaside resort towns, like Portsea and Sorrento. Designed by mother nature for long lazy days filled with sunbathing and swimming, these coastal gems are also where you’re likely to see wild dolphins and seals.
Yarra Valley, Victoria
International wine writers compare this scenic spot to Burgundy in the south of France and Tuscany in northern Italy, and with rows of vines emerging from mist-shrouded valleys it’s easy to see why. The Yarra Valley (an hour north of Melbourne) is best seen with dawn and dusk drives through its rambling vineyards and out to the mountains beside Healesville.
Best known for: chardonnay, pinot noir, merlot, shiraz and cabernet sauvignon.
Must-visit wineries: Domaine Chandon and De Bortoli are stunning, and the views they offer – over hectares of rolling vineyards and up to the dwarfing mountains behind – mean you often catch yourself staring in awe, ignoring conversations around you. While at Yering Station– on the site of the Valley’s first vineyard planted in 1838 – the winery, restaurant and wine bar are pure sophistication.
Don’t miss: Check out the amazing art collections at the TarraWarra Museum of Art on the Tarrawarra Estate, or visit the Yarra Valley Dairy for homemade farmhouse cheeses and more gorgeous scenery. Also, be sure to stop in at the Healesville Sanctuary with its sweet-faced creatures and amazing animal encounter experiences.
RELATED article: Regional Victoria is Foodie Heaven!
Hunter Valley, New South Wales
Framed by the Barrington Tops ranges, the Hunter Valley is an incredibly picturesque area, located two and a half hours north of Sydney. With a range of spas, health retreats, golf courses and national parks, it’s a too-pretty-for-words destination with something for everyone.
Best known for: semillon, shiraz and chardonnay.
Must-visit wineries: There are almost too many to count in the Hunter Valley, but great options include Brokenwood, Hungerford Hill and Tempus Two. Fans of an organic drop? Visit Krinklewood Biodynamic Vineyard.
Don’t miss: Taking a horse-drawn carriage through NSW’s beautiful Hunter Valley is about as idyllic as it gets. Huge clydesdales pull you past narrow clear creeks, up driveways beside fields of grapes, past gum trees and into the tasting rooms of the Hunter’s many world-class wineries. Book a trip with one of the operators in the area.
Mudgee, New South Wales
One of New South Wales’s oldest wine-growing regions (making the Hunter seem like a baby in comparison), Mudgee (roughly four hours north-west of Sydney) is also home to some of the state’s best-preserved colonial architecture. Many of its Victorian-style homes date back to the 1850s, so you’ll be treated to plenty of charming scenery here.
Best known for: its reds – cabernet sauvignon and shiraz, also chardonnay and semillon.
Must-visit wineries: Some of the best wineries to try in the area include Huntington Estate, Short Sheep and Bunnamagoo Estate Wines. For a real foodie experience, stop in at Lowe Wines. With a restaurant that’s been named in Gourmet Traveller WINE Magazine‘s ‘top cellar door awards’, it’s beloved for its enchanting gardens, generous country-style platters and certified organic, small-batch wines.
Don’t miss: The Mudgee area is an action-lover’s playground and is home to the Wollemi National Park – the beautiful wetlands and waterways there are perfect for bushwalking, camping, canoeing, swimming and fishing. Or if you prefer something a little more laid-back, check out the Mudgee Farmer’s Market every third Saturday of the month.
Southern Highlands – NSW
A mere ninety minutes south of Sydney sits the Southern Highlands, known for English inspired hamlets and a distinct four seasons. Oft known as Australia’s Cotswolds, expect manicured gardens, winter log fires and tulips in spring. Romantic accommodation options range from quaint bed and breakfasts to country lodges, horse studs and wineries – a mere stumble from the cellar door to the guest bedroom.
Foodies won’t get a better insight into the local produce than local epicure, Jill Dyson’s Food Path Tours for workshops with local chefs, long table dining and private farm tours.
If roses be the flower of love then take a turn around any of the region’s public gardens. Get lost in the maze with your lover at Harper’s Mansion’s grounds in Berrima and Greenbrier Park Garden in Mittagong combines English style with Australian native.
Best known for: Chardonnay, riesling, sauvignon blanc and cabernet sauvignon.
Must Visit Wineries: Many of the region’s land owners have in recent times turned to planting grapes, contributing to a burgeoning wine industry with sixty vineyards and sixteen cellar doors. Try Mt Ashby Estate run by Chris Harvey and Sally Beresford, head to Southern Highland Wines for vineyard vistas from the in house restaurant, Tertini Wines for international recognition, and celebrate Italian heritage at the family owned St Maur Wines.
Centennial Vineyards in the gateway town of Bowral boasts an impressive restaurant menu with local produce. Check the calendar as international artists often perform in the grounds – Lionel Richie performed at their Day on the Green.
Don’t miss: Head to the heritage town of Berrima for some old world charm and channel your inner Darcy and Elizabeth at Berkelow antiquarian book barn, grab a bite to eat in the café and sup of the Bendooley Estate Wine cellar door while you are there.
Related Article: A Southern Highlands Fling – Food, Wine and Luxe Stays
Margaret River, Western Australia
Margaret River really is like nowhere else in Australia, situated just over three hours south of Perth. A short drive west to the beach and nothing can prepare you for what you’ll witness. It’s wild here in the west – six-metre waves break on the reef and surfers actually ride these waves, precariously. The salt spray forms low clouds that travel for kilometres back to town. And yet, three minutes from here, long rows of grapes ripen on the vine, in valleys so green and fertile it looks like the Bordeaux region of France.
Best known for: world-class chardonnay and cabernet sauvignon.
Must-visit wineries: Stop in at Vasse Felix, Evans & Tate and Devil’s Lair for tastings and sharing stories with passionate winemakers. At Evans & Tate they’ll tell you of the time a plane (yes, they have landing strips beside wineries here) had to overstep the runway to miss a roo and ended up taking out the winery. Thankfully, everything’s fine now.
Don’t miss: There’s so much to do here – massive underground caves to be explored, empty beaches to walk on and lakes to have picnics by. There’s also great local produce to sample here: cheeses, chocolates, fruits and seafood to-die-for, including the local delicacy, marron.
Swan Valley, Western Australia
The most remarkable thing about the Swan Valley is just how close it is to Perth – just 20 minutes north-east of Perth’s CBD. One of Australia’s oldest wine regions, it’s home to more than 50 vineyards, many still family owned. Plus, the Swan Valley’s warm, dry climate makes the area ideal for ‘stickies’, meaning you’ll come across some of the best fortified wine in the country here.
Best known for: fortified wines, ports, muscats, shiraz, cabernet sauvignon and verdelho.
Must-visit wineries: At Coward & Black you can take part in wine and chocolate masterclasses, while at Ugly Duckling there’s a range of wine-infused gourmet pies to feast on. Steak, mushroom and shiraz pie, anyone? Or, set your sights for Lancaster Wines, with its open-air tasting shed – it’s a blissfully laid-back setting for enjoying the local produce.
Don’t miss: One of the best things about the Swan Valley is the food and you can sample everything from Mongolian barbecues to local cheese and chocolates here. The area is also nationally renowned for its locally brewed beer, with everything from red German beers to Belgian wheat beers served throughout the region.
Barossa Valley, South Australia
The Barossa Valley winds its way through some of South Australia’s most fertile soil, an hour’s drive north of Adelaide. Its landscape varies between the high, barren landscape of Mengler Hill Lookout with its sweeping views over the entire region, to the rich chocolate soils of the wineries in the region’s north-west corner, to clear rivers that flow past narrow country roads, to the gorgeous heritage architecture of the town of Angaston.
Best known for: its stunning shiraz blends, also its cabernet sauvignon, semillon and chardonnay.
Must-visit wineries: The Barossa boasts some of the country’s biggest names, like Penfolds, Jacob’s Creek and Peter Lehmann. Visit their wineries to see why they’re so beloved in Australia and around the world, or stop in at some of the smaller producers, like Two Hands in the settlement of Marananga.
Don’t miss: Food in the Barossa is second to none and you’ll be able to sample it all at the Barossa Farmers Market near Angaston. Held every Saturday morning, it’s a foodie’s heaven and you simply cannot miss it while in the area.
McLaren Vale, South Australia
McLaren Vale, situated near Adelaide in the Mount Lofty Ranges, is a stunning region renowned for its sustainable wineries. Visitors can indulge in tasting robust red wines and exploring the variety of grapes grown in the area. McLaren Vale is conveniently located just a 40-minute drive from Adelaide CBD, making it an ideal destination for a day trip or a stay in a nearby beach town.
Best known for: McLaren Vale holds the distinction of being the birthplace of the state’s wine industry. It is also known for its vineyards, some of which are among the oldest in the world.
Must-visit wineries: One of the highlights is the d’Arenberg Cube, a unique winery that offers a tasting room and restaurant with breathtaking views of the valley. Chalk Hill Wines is another notable winery, featuring a distillery called Never Never and an Italian cantina called Cucina di Strada, created by the talented team behind nearby Pizzateca. Other well-known wineries in the region include Chapel Hill, Hugh Hamilton Wines, Serafino Winery, Down the Rabbit Hole, Coriole Vineyards, and Penny’s Hill.
Don’t miss: If you’re looking to stock up on fresh farm produce and artisan foodstuffs, head over to the Willunga Farmer’s Market on Saturday mornings. With over 80 stalls, you’ll find a wide variety of seasonal fruits and vegetables, as well as unique items like fresh buffalo mozzarella and alpaca mettwurst. The market has a lively atmosphere with buskers providing entertainment, and it runs until noon (although some popular stalls may sell out early).
Kangaroo Island – SA
The uber cool super lodge, Southern Ocean Lodge, announced Kangaroo Island to the world and won a cabinet of hotel design awards in the process, but South Australians have long known the true beauty of this once secret island.
Picture an island chipped off the Australian coast, add a plethora of wildlife from fur seals to penguins to the namesake kangaroos, throw in some rolling green hills and rugged coastline and dot the island with home style hospitality with a dash of the eccentric thrown in. This is Kangaroo Island.
The burgeoning wine industry of Kangaroo Island sits side by side with bee keepers, cheese makers, fishermen, abalone divers, organic devotees and a thriving arts community. With only five thousand residents couples can expect plenty of hidden places for alone time.
There are thirty wine grape growers on the island and around eighteen labels on offer. Locals support locals so expect to find Kangaroo Island wines on the menu at most dining establishments.
Best known for: Cabernet blends, shiraz and chardonnay.
Must visit wineries: Revered wine writer James Halliday awarded Islander Estate Vineyards five stars in 2012 for good reason. French winemaker Jacques Lurton has over sixty vintages under his wine-making belt and brought his expertise to Kangaroo Island in 2000 planting his first vineyard.
Also try Bay of Shoals Wines cellar door for views over the bay for which it is named. Dudley Wines was founded by fifth generation Islander, Brodie Howard, and the family run cellar door perches on a spectacular cliff top. Take some time at Two Wheeler Creek Wines and Andermel Maron Farm. The rural café served up fresh maron from the farm with matching wines from the vineyard. Bliss.
Don’t miss: It would be rude to visit Kangaroo Island and not indulge in some wildlife play. Fish at Emu Bay, trek the national parkland at D’Estrees Bay, sail the waters of Nepean Bay, take a night tour with penguins or simply put your feet up and lose yourselves in the sunset.
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Helpful links:VIC: Montalto Winery and Olive Grove // Domaine Chandon // De Bortoli // Yering Station// TarraWarra Museum of Art // Yarra Valley Dairy // Healesville Sanctuary NSW:Brokenwood Wines // Hungerford Hill // Tempus Two // Krinklewood Biodynamic Vineyard // Huntington Estate // Short Sheep // Bunnamagoo Estate Wines // Mudgee Farmer’s Market WA:Vasse Felix // Evans & Tate // Devil’s Lair // Coward & Black // Ugly Duckling // Lancaster Wines SA:Penfolds // Jacob’s Creek // Peter Lehmann // Two Hands // Barossa Farmers Market // Cariole Vineyards // Chalk Hill Winery
Image credit: MJK Creative, Visit Victoria, Destination NSW, Vasse Felix, Tourism Western Australia, South Australian Tourism Commission and sourced via