A Coast-to-Coast Guide to Australia’s Best Wine Regions

Consider this your go-to guide to wineries in the Land Down Under.

A kangaroo standing in a patch of grass between rows of grapevines

You never know who you might run into among the grapevines in Australia.

Courtesy of Tourism Australia

Australia’s wine industry is big business, with exports hitting AU$1.9 billion, or $1.25 billion in U.S. dollars, last year. And while a Barossa Valley shiraz or Hunter Valley sémillon tastes perfectly great on your couch at home, nothing can match heading out to one of Australia’s 65 wine regions to experience its 2,400-plus wineries.

The beauty of an Australian wine trip is that you can find vineyards all over the country—from the Indian Ocean coast in Western Australia to high-altitude vineyards in the Queensland bush to edge-of-the-world terrain in Tasmania. And the cellar-door experiences are equally diverse: Some viticultural areas are tradition-bound, with fifth- and sixth-generation winemakers championing old-world grape varietals, while others attract young guns who are pushing boundaries with their organic and biodynamic methods, unexpected varietals, and cutting-edge blends.

Here are seven of the best Australian wine regions, plus suggestions on wineries to visit and varietals to sample. And, remember, you just might run into a kangaroo among the vines.

Three barrel-shaped cabins surrounded by vegetation

The uniquely shaped accommodations at Barrel View Luxury Cabins are one of the coolest places to stay in Queensland’s Granite Belt.

Courtesy of Barrel View Luxury Cabins

The Granite Belt, Queensland

Queensland may be known for its tropical rainforests and reefs, but its southern stretches are also home to a burgeoning cool-climate wine region, centered around the apple-growing hub of Stanthorpe. Catholic priest Father Jerome Davadi first began growing grapes in the area in the 1870s, and other pioneering Italians followed his lead in the postwar era, opening family-run estates like Ballandean and Golden Grove. Many of the vineyards sit at about 3,000 feet above sea level, putting them among the country’s highest-altitude growing spots, and signature grapes here include shiraz, chardonnay, cabernet sauvignon, and merlot. Drop into Twisted Gum Wines, which occupies a 1920s Queenslander, a local style of home known for its wraparound verandas, or a newcomer like Art of Krupinski Family Vineyard & Estate, which celebrates the owners’ Polish heritage in its branding and winemaking style. The Granite Belt is also home to the Strange Bird Wine Trail, stringing together wineries that grow “alternative” grapes, such as fiano, marsanne, durif, or tannat; to be included, the variety must account for less than 1 percent of the grapes grown across Australia. Overnight visitors shouldn’t miss the new Barrel View Luxury Cabins, three barrel-shaped suites named for some of these “strange bird” varietals and sunken into a hillside overlooking Girraween and Sundown National Parks.

A modern building with glass and arching metal overlooking hot-air balloons in the background flying over rows of vines

A majestic way to take in the Yarra Valley and wineries like Levantine Hill is from the basket of a hot-air balloon.

Courtesy of Tourism Australia

Yarra Valley, Victoria

Befitting its proximity to cultured Melbourne (about an hour’s drive away), it should come as no surprise that the Yarra Valley has emerged as a sophisticated day-trip destination, known for its elegant chardonnays and pinot noirs. There’s a long history of winemaking in these parts, but growers gradually shifted away from grapes for decades; then, in the 1960s and ‘70s, there was a renaissance of sorts, with the opening of soon-to-be-legends like Yarra Yering and Mount Mary. Word spread, and soon, even the French were taking notice: In 1986, Chandon opened an outpost to make méthode traditionnelle sparkling wines here in the valley. And Yarra Valley continues to change and grow with new experiences that entice Melbourne visitors to head east. Helen & Joey Estate, for instance, recently welcomed a 16-room boutique hotel and a restaurant that nods to its owners’ Chinese heritage with a menu of regionally inspired dishes like cumin lamb skewers and buckwheat “gnocchi.” And Levantine Hill, just down the road, is working on accommodations of its own from the architecture firm behind Hobart, Tasmania’s Museum of Old and New Art. Expect luxury: After all, this is a winery where the excellent on-site restaurant serves caviar bumps and where it’s not uncommon to see guests arrive by private helicopter.

Buildings with colorful roofs scattered on a tree-covered hillside next to a brown river

A gateway town to the Tamar Valley wine region, Launceston was named a UNESCO City of Gastronomy in 2021.

Photo by Ian Woolcock/Shutterstock

Tamar Valley, Tasmania

Food lovers know that (sorry, Hobart!) Launceston, in the north of the island, is Tasmania’s culinary capital, and it was even named a UNESCO City of Gastronomy in 2021. The surrounding fertile valleys are filled with farms producing lavender, strawberries, and black truffles, as well as more than 30 wineries. If one style of wine has come to define Tamar Valley, it’s undoubtedly sparkling, with many critics making the bold claim that the wine is perhaps second only to Champagne’s in terms of quality. In fact, House of Arras won the title of world’s best sparkling wine in 2020. Elsewhere, you’ll find noteworthy bubbles at spots like Jansz Tasmania, Apogee Tasmania, Delamere, and Clover Hill, and many of the best wines in Tamar Valley are made in the traditional Champagne method. You’ll find a different kind of effervescence at Swinging Gate, which produces earthy, funky pet nats—one made from riesling, one made from pinot noir—and has a series of geodesic domes called Domescapes for in-vineyard glamping among the vines.

Rows of grape vines with trees and a building in the background

Vasse Felix is Margaret River’s oldest commercial vineyard, with grapes first planted here in 1967.

Courtesy of Vasse Felix

Margaret River, Western Australia

Less than 60 years have passed since the first winery was planted in this coastal stretch of Western Australia, but in those few short decades, the area has emerged as a winemaking powerhouse, known for its peachy chardonnays and refined cabernet sauvignons. A former hub for surfers and dairy farmers, three hours south of Perth, this isolated growing region is marked by some of the oldest soil in the world and a Mediterranean climate with strong maritime influences that render it similar to Bordeaux in France. Beyond pioneering cellar doors like Vasse Felix and Cullen Wines, there are roughly 200 wineries in greater Margaret River, and many newcomers are pushing the envelope at spots like Blind Corner, which has a podcast about the Aussie wine industry, and L.A.S. Vino, where Nicolas Peterkin is known for his wildly inventive blends based on the ethos of “luck, art, and science.” Woman winemakers have played a pivotal role almost from the start, and the next generation includes such boundary-pushing stars as Jo Perry at Dormilona and Sarah Morris at Si Vintners, both of whom skew toward minimal-intervention wines. One of the coolest ways to experience nature here is a stay at the new Edge Luxury Villas, which are cantilevered over a lake in Wilyabrup, adjacent to an old-growth forest that’s home to red-tailed black cockatoos, kangaroos, and critically endangered western ringtail possums.

A helicopter flying over brown hillsides

The rolling hillsides of the Canberra District wine region are right in the backyard of the national capital—and feel even closer if you arrive by helicopter.

Courtesy of Tourism Australia

Canberra District, Australian Capital Territory

Think of the 910-square-mile Australian Capital Territory as the Down Under version of the District of Columbia. Despite its relatively small footprint, you’ll find more than 40 wineries within a 35-minute drive of the capital city of Canberra, and its wide diversity in temperatures, elevations, and soil types has yielded a surprisingly robust lineup of grape varietals. Among the standout wineries in the ACT and just across the border in New South Wales are Clonakilla, which for three decades has been known for its unique shiraz-viognier blend, and Mount Majura Vineyard, which leads the charge on Aussie tempranillos. For a fun taste of regional history, stop by Helm Wines, which occupies the heritage-listed 1888 Toual Public School House—which is, ironically, the same building where the Temperance League met to wage the good fight against alcohol consumption.

A historic hut surrounded by flowers and trees

The ironbark slab hut at Tyrrell’s stands as a reminder of the Hunter Valley’s long history of winemaking.

Photo by Stephanie Owen/Shutterstock

Hunter Valley, New South Wales

Australia’s oldest wine region has been growing grapes since the earliest days of white settlement in the area, in the 1820s, and today it’s an elegant weekend getaway spot for Sydneysiders, thanks to its acclaimed roster of paddock-to-plate restaurants and innovative wineries. The signature grape in these parts is sémillon, an underrated white wine that starts out crisp and citrusy and mellows beautifully with age. With more than 150 wineries in the area, Hunter Valley has a bit of a choose-your-own-adventure vibe, with experiences that range from rustic to refined. A strong starting point is Tyrrell’s, which has been family-owned since 1858, and where the founder’s one-room ironbark slab hut still stands as a monument to that history; the winery’s Vat 1 Hunter sémillon has been called the country’s most-awarded white wine. Elsewhere, you can plan tastings in an original homestead building (Mount Pleasant), a historic schoolhouse (Gundog Estate), or a multimillion-dollar modern complex with in-the-round tasting pods (Brokenwood). If you’re traveling with family, don’t miss Tulloch Wines, which offers guided soft-drink and kombucha tastings for kids and teens.

Five cyclists riding through vineyards lined with trees

The Barossa Valley has become known worldwide for its bold reds.

Courtesy of Tourism Australia

Barossa Valley, South Australia

In terms of sheer production, South Australia is the nation’s undisputed wine capital, and Adelaide is a convenient hub for exploring buzzy growing places like Clare Valley, McLaren Vale, and Adelaide Hills, 20 minutes away from the city. Perhaps the most famous area internationally is the warmer-climate Barossa Valley, which is synonymous with its bold reds—especially earthy shirazes, with tasting notes of blackberry, currant, and plum. One of the valley’s centerpiece producers is Seppeltsfield, which was established in 1851 and is now practically a theme park for oenophiles: Experiences include Segway vineyard tours, barrel-making workshops at the cooperage, and even a Taste of History tour that allows guests to sample 100-year-old tawny port. And if you fancy yourself a bit of a connoisseur, you can try making your own blend at the Penfolds Barossa Valley Cellar Door. This year, the area welcomed a gorgeous new lodging option, The Station at Kapunda, a seven-bedroom villa carved out of a 163-year-old railway station, where you can book master classes and tastings with winemaker-in-residence Jeremy Ottawa.

Nicholas DeRenzo is a freelance travel and culture writer based in Brooklyn. A graduate of NYU’s Cultural Reporting and Criticism program, he worked as an editor at Arthur Frommer’s Budget Travel and, most recently, as executive editor at Hemispheres, the in-flight magazine of United Airlines. His writing has appeared in the New York Times, New York, Travel + Leisure, Condé Nast Traveler, Sunset, Wine Enthusiast, and more.
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