You could travel to Italy’s Chianti region or the vineyards of Bordeaux, France to experience some of the world’s best wine. OR you could save your frequent flyer points, cash and annual leave, and opt for a top drop much closer to home. Within driving distance (for designated drivers, of course!) to major cities, here are our recommendations for the best short-escape wine regions of Australia.

Yarra Valley, Victoria

More than 800 wineries are dotted around Victoria, but those in the Yarra Valley – all 160 of them – are among the state’s best. Cooler climates provide perfect conditions for this region to produce some of the best sparkling Chardonnay, Cabernet Sauvignon, Shiraz and Pinot Noir in the world. An easy day trip from Melbourne, the Yarra is an excellent destination to experience the hard work of winemakers who are renowned for their use of revolutionary production practices, while also continuing to maintain a respect for the land.

Be sure to leave a little time between taste-testing tours to check out the region’s excellent restaurants and art-galleries, too!

 

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Hunter Valley, New South Wales

If the wines of this iconic region taste world-class, it’s because their roots lie in Europe and South Africa – literally. In fact, it is somewhat poetic that many of the flourishing vineyards were first planted by cuttings from Cape Town’s “Cape of Good Hope.”

Today, the wineries of the Hunter, 3.5 hours from Sydney, are known for their Chardonnay, Shiraz and Semillon. Among the most popular, are drinks from the cellars of De Bortoli, Bimbadgen, Tyrell’s and Tempus Two.

As well as vineyards, the Valley is also home to artisan cheese manufacturers, fudge factories and a number of festivals, events and famous performances throughout the year.

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Barossa Valley, South Australia

The rolling hills of South Australia’s largest wine-production region lie a short 45-60 minute drive away from the State capital Adelaide.  
Barossa ’s isolation from the rest of the world means its soils produce the most organic of grapes – and as a result, some of the best Shiraz, Chardonnay, Eden Valley Riesling and Cabernet Sauvignon you’ll ever drink.
While easily reachable in a day, with more than 150 wineries and 80 cellar doors, the vineyards of Barossa (some of them centuries old) are best enjoyed over a leisurely long weekend.

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Margaret River, Western Australia

It has taken less than half a century for the Margaret River to forge the kind of reputation its long-established winemaking peers can only aspire too.

Set across the scenically beautiful Cave’s Road, the approximately 215 boutique vineyards are responsible for producing 20 percent of Australia’s premium wines, including Sauvignon Blanc, Cabernet Sauvignon and Chardonnay.
Three hours from Perth, and with the most marked Mediterranean climate of any other major Australian region, it’s little surprise that Margs’ wines have been compared to those of Burgundy France, and celebrated for bringing a taste of Western Europe to Western Australia.

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South Burnett, Queensland

South Burnett is putting the sunshine state on the world wine map! While grapes were first planted in the region in 1898, production didn’t start until 1993. And although a relatively new player in the grape game, the area is home to Queensland’s biggest vineyard – Clovely Estate.

Located north west of Brisbane, bordered by the Great Dividing Range and surrounded by lush olive groves, timber plantations and orchards, the 25 vineyards of Burnett are using their emerging status to produce some of the most experimental wines in Australia.

Among these, are varieties of Chardonnay, Verdelho, Sangiovese, and Merlot so good they have been served at State Parliament dinners and many of Queensland’s finest restaurants.

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Tamar Valley, Tasmania

Tiny Tasmania may traditionally be known as the Apple Isle, but grapes are quickly growing in popularity. (Barley too, if the number of emerging craft beer breweries are anything to go by!).

In a state that is home to seven distinct subregions producing a range of wine styles, Tamar Valley is the oldest and largest, and offers visitors an excellent selection of sparkling wines, Pinot Noir and Sauvignon Blanc.

Stretching from Relbia, near Launceston Airport, to north past Launceston on both sides of the Tamar River, some of Tamar Valley’s best known wineries are Tamar Ridge, Stoney Rise and Holm Oak. However we suggest taste testing a few and judging for yourself!

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