Australia may be known for its bombastic Shiraz and marsupial-laden wine labels, but recent years have birthed a new and exciting wine culture where elegance, freshness, and experimentation are in, and cutesy labels are out. Combine this with the loosening of small-bar licensing laws across many states, and the result is a positively thrilling Aussie wine bar scene.
Click through for ten can't-miss spots for your next jaunt down under.
- 1 / 10Gertrude Street Enoteca
This warmly lit wine shop-cum-bar is cozy yet buzzy. The floor-to-celling shelves (which resemble stacked wooden wine boxes) are lined with mostly artisan wines from Australia and around the world. The food is handmade (try the vitello tonnato), and the service friendly and knowledgeable. You’ll want to take this place home in your pocket.
229 Gertrude St, Fitzroy
Melbourne, VictoriaCourtesy of Gertrude Street Enoteca
- 2 / 10121 B.C.This tiny yet hugely popular enoteca is wine-geek heaven. It's cozy yet classy with expressive, wild wines from Italy’s vast array of native grape varieties and regions, along with delicious dishes like salumi misti or balsamic pork ribs whipped up in the tiny kitchen. Go early (or very late) for a seat at the bar and let the knowledgeable bartender take you on a magical mystery wine tour.
4/50 Holt Street, Surry Hills
Sydney, New South Wales
- 3 / 10Lalla Rookh Bar and Eating HouseA now well-loved staple of the Perth wine scene, Lalla is known for its pork-dominated Italian comfort food (try the incredibly addicting “nonna’s meatballs”) and weird and wonderful small batch wines from both local and international producers. The spacious dining room is welcoming, but real wine lovers perch on bar stools in the intimate, dimly lit shop at the back.
77 St Georges Terrace, Perth
Perth, Western Australia
lallarookh.com.auCourtesy of Lalla Rookh Bar and Eating House
- 4 / 10The Tasting Room at East End CellarsAn extension of one of Adelaide’s best wine shops, the stylish Tasting Room is the perfect spot for a thorough education in Australia’s most exciting winemakers. Featuring weekly tastings with the winemakers themselves and wine flights paired with cured meats and cheeses, ignite your passion for wine, and then hop in the car and drive to one of the country’s most famous wine regions—which is just under an hour away.
25 Vardon Avenue
Adelaide, South Australia
eastendcellars.com.au/the-tasting-roomCourtesy of East End Cellars
- 5 / 10City Wine ShopThis always-packed Melbourne wine mecca features 20 rotating wines by the glass from stellar global labels big and small, accompanied by tasty bar fare, including cheese matured at the shop next door. Buy a bottle off the shelf to take home, participate in a wine course, or tuck into a Champagne breakfast—whatever you fancy, City Wine Shop’s got it.
159 Spring Street
citywineshop.net.auBy Tess Kelly
- 6 / 10Cru BarThis may not be the place to go to in jeans and hoodie—or with a light wallet for that matter—but knowing that Cru has arguably the best wine cellar in all of Queensland should be reason enough to posh it up. Choose a bottle from the 30-page tome of a menu, which reads like a who’s who of Australian and European icons (1971 Dom Pérignon anyone?), or take one home from the shop.
1/22 James Street, Fortitude Valley
crubar.comCourtesy of Cru Bar
- 7 / 10The Wine LibraryEverything about The Wine Library is an homage to the fermented grape: from the retro ‘50s “wine wall” to the long zinc bar; from the over-500 strong wine list (featuring mainly small batch wines from France, Italy, and Australia) to the hearty, global food menu (try the grappa cured ocean trout or spiced lamb & ricotta gozleme), it’s understandable why Sydney wine professionals call this a “spiritual home.”
18 Oxford St, Woollahra
Sydney, New South Wales
wine-library.com.auCourtesy of The Wine Library
- 8 / 10FranklinFranklin's stark, industrial design may be achingly cool (think concrete bar and animal-hide rugs), but this former Ford Motors showroom-turned-restaurant and bar is a must-visit when in Hobart. With a strong seasonal—and sometimes foraged—seafood-focused menu, the concise wine list (made up exclusively of “natural” wines from Italy, France, and Australia) is curated to pair perfectly with the dynamite dishes.
28-30 Argyle Street
franklinhobart.com.auCourtesy of The Franklin
- 9 / 10Monster Kitchen and BarOn the ground floor of the boutique (and redundantly named) “Hotel Hotel” you’ll find Monster, an eco-chic gem with a design that manages to make industrial feel homey. The sizable yet wisely-chosen wine list features local Canberra producers along with other boutique Aussie and European labels, all expertly paired with eclectic modern Australian cuisine (Yabby jaffles? Why not!).
25 Edinburgh Avenue, Canberra
Canberra, Australian Capital Territory
hotel-hotel.com.au/eat-and-drink/monsterBy Lee Grant
- 10 / 10Fix St. JamesIts location and vibe feel more like a corporate lunch spot, but nonetheless, Fix is a haven for wine lovers. The staff goes the extra mile to ensure your palate is pleased yet challenged, and serving everything from European and American bottles to Oz’s trendiest labels. Whether you fancy Georgian “orange” wine or Finger Lakes Riesling, they almost always succeed.
111 Elizabeth Street,
Sydney, New South Wales
Christina Pickard is an American-born professional wine writer and educator who, after living abroad for 13 years in both Britain and Australia, recently made a move back to her home country.
>>Next: Everything You Need to Know About Australia's Coolest Wine RegionsCourtesy of Fix St. James