Australia’s wine regions are a perfect blend of idyllic scenery, history, fine accommodation and dining and, of course, outstanding viticulture. They are places to savour and explore at leisure, so plan to take your time as you travel through them, spending a night or two here and there, romantic evenings at local restaurants and days exploring the huge variety of attractions. For the very best of Australia’s wineries, try Margaret River in Western Australia, the Hunter Valley in New South Wales, the beautiful Barossa Valley in South Australia, and Victoria’s celebrated Yarra Valley.
Margaret River hotels offer some of the finest accommodation in the west, and a chance to enjoy stunning coastal scenery, caves, fossils, boutique breweries as well as the area’s vineyards. Although just a few decades old, the wine industry here has changed the life of the region, and more than 100 mainly small, family-owned vineyards produce a wide variety of wines, including award-winning chardonnay, cabernet sauvignon and Bordeaux-style reds.
Hunter Valley accommodation is a marvellous mix of rustic charm and sophistication, ranging from gorgeous historic guesthouses to wilderness retreats, vineyard cabins, apartments and sophisticated spas to country houses and modest motels. The Hunter’s many attractions include hot air ballooning, horse-drawn carriages, shops, cheese-making, galleries, antiques, cookery schools, horse riding, crafts and more. Shop for Shiraz and Semillon – the region’s two outstanding varieties – but don’t overlook the chardonnay, Verdelho and reds. The Hunter is the oldest and best known of all Australian wine regions; a must for any connoisseur.
Barossa Valley accommodation, in small, historic towns such as Lyndoch, Rowland Flat and Tanunda, includes country houses, relaxing resorts, vineyard cottages and convenient motor lodges, all well-placed for exploring this wonderful region and its many world-famous vineyards. Be on the lookout for big, beautiful reds here: the region is noted for them. Shiraz is the most famous, but don’t overlook the others. Then be surprised by the whites, including crisp Rieslings, and superb Semillons.
Yarra Valley accommodation includes some of the most appealing properties in Victoria – among them, the five-star luxury of historic Chateau Yering. There are farm cottages, resorts, lodges, suites and luxury spas, all set among gentle, vine-covered hills. Sample the superb Methode Champenoise, perfect pinot noir, excellent sauvignon blanc and other ‘cool climate’ wines for which this area is noted. Many of the wineries are open daily and all welcome visitors. The historic Yarra Valley is only an hour from Melbourne: the ideal relaxing retreat.
Known for its delicious sauvignon, semillion and chardonnay this region just east of Adelaide’s city boundary has more than 60 wineries and a great many other attractions, including historic towns and villages. Wine producers range from tiny boutique to premium, and many have welcoming cellar doors.
Your list of “musts” can include the charming Chain of Ponds, Petaluma’s at Bridgewater Mill, Hahndorf Hill Winery, Shaw & Smith, Longview, Sinclair’s Gully – or maybe music among the vines at Howard on a Sunday.
Follow the Boutique Wine Trail, pack a picnic and do your own thing, or spend the day with experts on a dedicated wine-tasting tour: it’s all on offer here, along with some of the Adelaide region’s finest restaurants, markets and bakeries.
This celebrated wine region is one of the world’s best, and a holiday here is something special indeed. Burgundy (Bourgogne) has five main wine regions: Cote de Nuits, Cote de Beaune, Cote Chalonnaise, Maconnais and Beaujolais – names that are familiar to connoisseurs world-wide. Base yourself in one of the wine towns – Beaune, Chablis, Joigny, Dijon (the capital), Cluny, or medieval Vezelay (a UNESCO World Heritage site), and allow ample time to enjoy all this amazing part of the world has to offer.
This is France, remember, so the food is fabulous and the scenery is sublime! You won’t need to travel far to encounter the Grand Cru vineyards such as Nuits St Georges, Montrachet, Domaine de la Romanée-Conti and many more. If you’re driving, why not plan to follow the 60km La Route des Grands Crus from Dijon to Santenay? The countryside along the way is as superb as the wines!
Argentina’s famous wine country is a two-hour trip by air from Buenos Aires or an even shorter flight from Santiago, but a world away in every other sense. In this hilly region at the foot of the Andes, the air is crisp and clear, and while summer days are hot, nights are pleasantly cool.
‘Bodega’ means vineyard here, and there are plenty to choose from. The wineries are easy to access, and divided into five main zones: Northern, High, Eastern, Uco Valley and San Rafael.
The chief wine to try is Malbec – which came originally from Bordeaux but is now associated almost entirely with this part of the world. The people of the region are very, very welcoming, and there’s a lot more to do than taste wine, because Mendoza is also a centre for outdoor and adventure tourism.
New Zealand’s meteoric rise in fine wines stems largely from this region at the top of the South Island: a broad, sunny basin, backed by the picturesque Wither Hills and watered by the Wairau River, just outside the town of Blenheim. To the east lies a stretch of coast which gave its name to one of the area’s most famous labels: Cloudy Bay.
It was Sauvignon Blanc which first drew the world’s attention to Marlborough, but wineries here also produce superb Pinot Noir and a number of other varieties, including excellent sparkling wines.
A number of the wineries offer excellent restaurants – notably Allan Scott, Hunters and Herzog. The annual Wine Festival in February brings visitors from around the world to sample wines and the region’s superb seafood, olive oils, cheeses and other gourmet delights. There are walking and cycling trails, plenty of places to stay – and you’ll even find New Zealand’s first Maori winery, Tohu.
In beautiful hill country just north-east of San Francisco, this is a perfect, romantic destination for lovers of fine wine, excellent food and a touch of luxury. The valley itself is just over 56 kilometres long but packed with famous vineyards, spas, restaurants, cafés and places to see.
Just northwest lies the tranquil Sonoma Valley; another great wine-producing region and well worth visiting after you’ve toured the Napa vineyards. There are far too many of these to list, but among the most spectacular are the stunning Castello di Amorosa at V. Sattui Winery, the Louis Vuitton Group’s Domaine Chandon, Charles Krug, Schramsberg, Spring Mountain, Chateau Montelena and Beringer’s Rhine House – and there are plenty more!
For eye-popping architecture, try Opus One or the Persian-palatial Darioush, and for pure fancy, try Quixote. There are many wine tours available in the Napa area, and a Wine Train runs round-trips from Napa to St Helena and back, stopping at several top wineries en route.