It’s been a long time since we traveled to Australia. But, we are looking to plan a trip, mostly to focus on wine. Of course, we know some of the biggest Australian wine brands. The ones that are available around the world. But, we want to know more. We want to experience some of the best Australian wine tours, and to visit the best Australian wine regions. But, we needed advice from some experts.
First off, Australia is big! Very big. And, much like the United States, wine is grown in several regions. There are six states in Australia: New South Wales, Queensland, South Australia, Tasmania, Victoria, and Western Australia. This Australian wine tourism guide includes wine tour recommendations in 5 of these states! That’s a lot to comb through.
We sought advice from some of our travel blogging friends, those who know a lot more about Australian wine than we do. After all, I wanted more than just some advice on basic Australian wines, or Australian wine tasting notes. I wanted to know which wine regions to visit, which Australian wineries to visit (or Cellar Doors as they are known down under), and which tours to take. In this guide, we include all of the wine tour advice we received to plan our trip, and hopefully to help other wine travelers.
Top Australian Wine Regions
There’s more to Australian wine than Shiraz, and there’s more to the wine country than drinking Shiraz while spotting kangaroos. Although, that could be entirely possible. Some of the most famous Australian wine regions include Hunter Valley Australia, the Barossa Valley, Yarra Valley, and Margaret River. And, our Australian wine experts offer recommendations for wine country trips for each of these well-known wine producing regions. But, they also offer tips for lesser known wine country getaways, some of which make me want to hop the next Qantas flight down under!
It’s also important to note that the Australian wine industry is not young. Many European wineries were wiped out in the 1860’s and 1870’s from a nasty little bug called phylloxera. This includes my local Catalan wine region, DO Emporda. But, because Australia is so remote, many of the wine regions have been active since the early and mid 1800’s, which is pretty cool for the wine historian nerds out there (I’m one!).
And, I might want to stay for awhile. Perhaps we can buy a luxury used car and explore the entire country in style (Learn more here)! Or, maybe just the east coast. That country is big!
Sydney Wine Tours
Even for travelers who only make it to Sydney during a trip to Australia, there are a few big wine tour destinations within a short drive from Sydney. Well, as much as any journey in Australia can be a short drive – remember, Australis is big! It’s possible to book Hunter Valley wine tours from Sydney, one of Australia’s best wine tours region. But, the lesser known Mudgee wine region is also just three hours from Sydney. It’s a lesser known wine holidays destination, which can often mean some more unique experiences.
*This post contains compensated links. Find more info in my DISCLAIMER.
Hunter Valley Wine Tours
Rohini from Why You Wander
Australia’s oldest wine region, the Hunter Valley wine region is situated only two hours from Sydney in New South Wales. The rich soil of Hunter Valley wine country means it is home to multiple boutique vineyards, family-owned vineyards, and popular Hunter wineries since the 1800s.
Thanks to the popularity of Hunter Valley vineyards tourism, and the distance from Sydney to Hunter Valley, there are multiple day tours from Sydney. Many of them are quite affordable too, and include optional extras like lunch and snacks. Another option is to drive down to Hunter Valley independently, which is also an easy transport option.
Hunter Valley also has a great food scene, a cheese factory, spas, hot air balloons, and an array of activities to make it a complete Hunter tour. Biking is also allowed at some of the wineries.
Rohini place Calais Wines on the top of her Hunter Valley wineries list, for their boutique wine offerings and colonial setting. It’s a busy Cellar Door, though, so booking ahead is essential. There are some great Hunter Valley wine tours from Sydney too.
Mudgee Australia Wine Tours NSW
Shandos from Travelnuity
Mudgee is a charming wine country town in inland New South Wales, just over 3 hours drive from Sydney. It’s also at the heart of a wonderful wine-growing region. Vines were first planted in the region in the 1850s. Many of the wineries dotted around the valley were established decades ago. Despite being a relatively unknown wine country outside of Australia, there’s a lot to offer. With its warm climate, the region is best known for its Australian red wine varietals. Although there are also white varieties such as Chardonnay grown in the area.
Shandos recommends a leisurely wine country tour through Mudgee. It’s actually difficult to book quality wine tasting tours during a day trip from Sydney (although it’s possible).
Start a wine tasting weekend with a visit to the Logan Wines Cellar Door, located on the approach into Mudgee. Ideally taste some of their delicious Australian sparkling wine. Then, check out some of the other highly-regarded Mudgee wine cellars, including Lowe Wines, Pieter van Gent, and Robert Stein. In between, try some of the local cheese, olives, and honey. If you don’t have a designated driver, Shandos recommend Mudgee Wine & Country Tours, which offers day tours leaving from Mudgee.
Winery Tours Western Australia
From Sydney, we head all the way west to another one of the top Australian wine regions. Outside of Perth, there are two primary Aussie wine regions, Margaret River and Swan Valley. It seems I can’t have a conversation about Australian wine with anyone without them mentioning Margaret River, with its luxury hotel properties and top-notch restaurants. Swan Valley is also quite popular, and a lot closer to Perth, meaning it’s easy to make it a day trip wine tasting weekend to Swan Valley.
Margaret River Wineries
Casey from Traveling Corkscrew
The Margaret River is one of the best wine regions in Australia. It’s situated only three hours from the state’s capital city of Perth, but it is on the far side of the country from the other famous Australian wine regions. The region is recognized internationally for its award-winning Chardonnay and Cabernet Sauvignon. However, that’s only the tip of the wine glass!
With over 120 wine producers in the area, there’s something for everyone. Not to mention the beautiful views and top quality local produce and food options in the area.
It may also be one of the only wine regions you can tandem skydive 15,000ft over and then taste wine afterwards! Local skydiving company, Skydive Geronimo offer a Skydive & Wine Tour package for all the wine lovers out there who love a bit of adrenalin. The tour runs only in the summer months and is a wine tour like no other.
After you jump out of a plane and enjoy the views of this world-class wine region, you’ll then jump onboard a Top Drop Tours – who specialize in small group wine tours around the region. A day in the region can’t get any more spectacular for sporty wine lovers.
It’s possible to book Margaret River Wine Tours from Perth, but you can make more of your time by launching from Margaret River.
Swan Valley Western Australia Wineries
Lyn Baker from A Hole in My Shoe
Even closer to Perth than Margaret River is the Swan Valley. Since 1830, it’s been recognized as one of Western Australia’s top wine destinations. The wine region’s beautiful warm climate, dry summers, and rich soils are the perfect combination for grape growing. From early colonial settlement, when the grape growing region was established, until the 1920’s, the southern European migrants of the region drew upon their wine making skills. The Swan Valley viticulture flourished. Located just 25 minutes from central Perth, today, day tripping in the Swan Valley’s world class wineries is Western Australia’s top tourist attraction.
The Swan Valley is WA’s oldest wine region, where the grapes are grown, picked, crushed, fermented, and produced into wine at more than 40 wineries. Swan Valley produced some of Australia’s best Chenin Blanc and Shiraz, along with Verdelho, a speciality of the area
Those with a penchant for wine can revel in some of the most famous Australian wine and wineries, like Houghton’s, Sandalford, and Olive Farm Wines. These well-known wineries, or the region’s new comers, can all be visited on vineyard tours and tastings. It’s also possible to take a wine appreciation and wine tasting class. It’s possible to make the 20 mile journey independently. Or book a tour with Taste Bud Tours or the new kid on the block, UberVINO.
Australian Wine Tours – Adelaide South Australia
Adelaide, a city on the water, is the capital of South Australia. It offers one of the most popular and well-known Australian wine region, Barossa Valley, as well as some top notch wineries in the Adelaide Hills. The wine regions surrounding the city of Adelaide, together, have such an amazing reputation that it was named one of the Great Wine Capitals of the World.
Barossa Valley Wineries
Kathy Morris from 50 Shades of Age
Geographically the Barossa Valley is located a mere 60 kms northeast of Adelaide, and encompasses towns such as Tanunda, Angaston, and Nuriootpa. Barossa Valley wine tours include an array of first-class wineries offering tours and Cellar Door tastings.
It is possibly one of Australia’s (and the world’s) most recognizable wine regions with a winemaking tradition dating back to 1840. The Barossa Valley is home to the most unique varietal style of Barossa Shiraz. There are around 550 grape growers who supply high quality grapes to more than 170 wineries in the area.
You can jump on one of the Barossa wine tours with one of the many tour companies. Or do what Kathy did and design your own itinerary of the Barossa Valley. But be warned, you need a designated driver that doesn’t drink!
The Barossa Valley is all about the wine and the elegant chateaus and wineries. But for some it may involve a combination of fine dining and tastings of the region’s wines. For whatever reason you want to visit the Barossa Valley, it will leave a lasting impression that will not only please your palate but also give your eyes a visual feast.
Adelaide Hills Wineries
Laura Lynch of Savored Sips
Located just 30 minutes from Adelaide, the Adelaide Hills wine region is incredibly easy to get to. And it is home to more than 60 Cellar Doors, making it a great wine travel destination. Most of the activity centers around the towns of Mount Lofty and the historic German settlement of Hahndorf.
A tour of Adelaide wineries in the hills will take you down windy roads, past stunning scenery, and into some of the oldest cellars in Australia. Expect to find cool-climate Australian white wine varieties, like Sauvignon Blanc and Chardonnay, in the Adelaide Hills. But you’ll also find some exciting varietals like Grüner Veltliner and Blaufränkisch. It’s like traveling to the Czech Republic for wines where you’ve never heard of the varietals before!
One of the must-visit wineries in Adelaide Hills is The Lane Vineyard. It’s possible to spend an entire day at this one winery, with wine tasting flights and indulgent food and wine pairings. Adelaide Hill is known as the land of the long lunch. Definitely try The Lane Vineyard’s exclusive 3-hour chef’s table lunch.
Because many of the Cellar Doors in Adelaide Hills are located relatively close together, it’s easy to hop around the Australian vineyards. You can easily string together a self-guided wine tasting itinerary. Adelaide wine country tours should visit a few of the best Australian wine producers in the Adelaide Hills, like Bird in Hand, Hahndorf Hill, and K1 by Geoff Hardy. If you prefer not to drive, there are dozens of small group and private wine tours available.
Australian Wineries – Victoria
There are a few great wine tour options in the Australian state of Victoria, some of which are a short ride from Melbourne. Another well-known Australian wine region, the Yarra Valley is an easy day trip from Melbourne. But, lesser-known wine regions are also great options for wine lovers.
Yarra Valley Wineries Tour – Victoria Wineries
Lisa Chavis and Cheryl MacDonald from What Boundaries Travel
Follow the Yarra River Valley toward Port Phillip Bay to find one of the richest wine producing regions in Australia. A popular day trip only 90 kilometers from Melbourne, a Yarra Valley tour is the perfect way to experience the natural beauty and delicious wines of this area.
The first vineyard of the Yarra Valley was started at Yering Station in 1838. Now there are over 300 vineyards and 160 wineries to choose from. A visit to one (or several) of the wineries offers something for everyone – whether you’re visiting for a gourmet restaurant experience, a Cellar Door tasting, or to buy wine to bring home.
Popular grapes produced in the cool climate of the Yarra Valley include Chardonnay, Pinot Noir, Shiraz, and Cabernet Sauvignon. This delicious mixture of white and red wines ensures all palates will be happy with their choices. Many Cellar Door offerings include local cheese and wine tasting options as well.
Most Yarra Valley wine tours travel through beautiful rolling vineyards, but also often included apple and pear orchards, strawberry fields, olive groves, herb farms, grazing pastures and many more farm-to-table producers. And the best wineries Yarra Valley has to offer are only about an hour from Melbourne.
Mornington Peninsula – Victoria Wineries
Katy Clarke of Untold Morsels
The Mornington Peninsula wine region is just one hour south of Melbourne. As well as producing elegant Australian wines, the area is home to spectacular beaches, undulating green hills, and luxury experiences. No wonder it is a favorite destination to explore close to Melbourne.
One of the premier wine regions in Australia, Mornington Peninsula wineries are famous for their Pinot Noir vintages. However they also produce some interesting dry and medium bodied Pinot Gris, Chardonnay, and Tempranillo wines
The best way to discover the Mornington Peninsula wines is to visit one of the 50 wine Cellar Doors from the 200 small scale vineyards in the area.
At Montalto it’s possible to take a walk along a sculpture trail in the estate before relaxing with a specially prepared picnic in the grounds. Their fine dining restaurant takes advantage of abundant local produce and is considered one of the best on the peninsula.
Another great wine tasting experience is at Ten Minutes by Tractor where you can match their outstanding single vineyard Australian wines with a bite to eat in their bistro overlooking the estate.
The best place to stay during wine vacations in the Mornington Peninsula is the luxurious Jackalope Hotel where art, nature, and wine collide.
Macedon Ranges – Victoria Wineries
Jean Cheney from Traveling Honeybird
Only an hour from Melbourne is a magical Australian wine area. An area that so many have never heard of. A cool climate wine area with even cooler wineries. With vineyard altitudes in the region ranging from 300 to 800 meters above sea level making it cool to cold by world standards.
With over 40 wineries, the Macedon Ranges is Jean’s favorite spot for Australian wine country vacations. Her favorite Australian wine maker in Victoria is Curly Flat, which produces a unique variety of Pinots, Chardonnay and Australian sparkling wines, just to name a few. Really though the main reason to go to Curly Flat is to see Chewie, a world famous Cellar Door kitty.
The Macedon Ranges isn’t just home to amazing wine. You’ll find yourself sneaking into cafes for coffee and restaurants for some delightfully local produce. And, there is no shortage of food and wine tours, but it’s also possible to do a DIY wine tour as well.
Australian Wineries – Tamar Valley in Tasmania
Rohini from Why You Wander
Tamar Valley is regarded as one the best Wine Routes of the World. Being a cool climate winery it focuses on producing excellent Australian white wines like Riesling, Chardonnay, Sauvignon Blanc, and Pinot Gris, as well as Pinot Noir. Some consider the Australian sparkling wines produced in Tamar Valley as next best to the Champagne from France.
The Tamar Valley wine route stretches over 170 KM with about 30 wineries. So, it’s not so easy to pick and choose which to visit and how to plan wine tasting trips to the region. Spoiled for options, it presents you with elegant classy ones to those rustic.
Tamar Valley Wine Route website offers a roadmap to plan your itinerary by picking and choosing your interested wineries. Rohini used it to plan and then drove around in search of the best. Her personal favorite was Tamar Ridge winery, which is nestled in the beautiful valleys overlooking a distant water view. Proximity is also great with it being close to Launceston and also a great visit throughout the year.
Australian Wine Map – Wine Country Australia
When looking to book Australian wine tasting vacations, it’s important to understand where the wine regions are. I’ve included each of the popular Australian wine regions on the map below (with the orange wine glass), along with the main city fro which the tours operate (with the orange star). The best thing is to consider which city and state you are most interested in visiting in Australia, and then choose a wine region (or two) to visit from that city.
*This post contains compensated links. Find more info in my DISCLAIMER.