New World wines of Australia and New Zealand are flourishing, and a focus on excellence and experimentation, rather than tradition and convention like their European counterparts, means produce varies as dramatically as the landscape.
If you’re visiting Australasia this year, and you’re a self-confessed a wine enthusiast or simply fancy a sip, why not take a tour or visit one of these remarkable wineries? Whether it’s a Riesling in the Clare Valley or Pinot Noir in Central Otago, you’ll find your favourite amidst New Zealand’s 1000 miles of vineyards and Australia’s 2400 wineries.
Best of Barossa Valley, Australia
Embraced by a rich Germanic heritage, Barossa Valley offers verdant knolls aside Gothic church steeples and quaint cottages, meaning its acclaim for fine wines is matched by that for its beauty. Join the 30 million others sipping a glass of Australian wine every day on the Best of Barossa Valley day tour, where your knowledgeable guide will take you through some of South Australia’s best-known wineries. Traverse through the natural chasms and valleys of Torrens Gorge, with chance to stop at a local bakery to sample delightful German pastries, before moving on to Henschkes Winery, a fifth generation, family-run winery, fusing old world tradition with contemporary methods. The historic stone cellar door, built by Johann Christian Henschke in the 1860s, offers charmingly handcrafted wines from Barossa Valley, available to purchase as a gift, or simply sample for the experience. Combine your wine tour with an exquisite evening dinner at The Louise Barossa Valley, who place an emphasis on freshness, seasonality and regionalism, curing their own meats and baking their own bread for a memorable dining occasion.
Chard Farm, Queenstown, New Zealand
Brave the drive along the daunting cliff edge, for the wine is worth it at Chard Farm! Nestled within the serene back-country between Queenstown and Cromwell, the farm itself was formerly a market garden set up in the 1860s to feed local gold miners, today fondly yet strenuously transformed by the Hay family into a collection of vineyards. An ideal environment for viticulture, the Southern Lakes’ harsh winters mean pests and diseases are kept to a minimum, yet the warm summers allow thriving canopy development and complex flavours during ripening. The result is aromatic Pinot Noir and premium Reisling, perfectly paired with spicy foods and Asian cuisine – so purchase a bottle to take home and enjoy the tasting experience for free!
Yarra Valley Wineries, Australia
Just an hour out of Melbourne, Yarra Valley is the perfect rural day trip to add on to your city break, boasting vine-strung hills and blue mountain backdrops. On this trip through four different wineries, you’ll master the art of the tasting technique – swirling, sniffing, and slurping a variety of styles, from Domaine Chandon Champagne to Estate Shiraz from 40-year old vines in Bendigo. A la carte lunch is included, with spectacular vistas across the lush landscape, where you can get to know your fellow travellers over a glass of fine Balgownie Estate wine.
Mission Estate Winery, Hawke’s Bay, New Zealand
Coined as the birthplace of New Zealand wine, Mission Estate Winery was founded by French Missionaries in 1851, who raised a glass to merging age-old French winemaking techniques with advanced technologies. Surrounding the community cottages, Church, school and study hall, vines were planted to produce both sacramental and table wine, aimed at bringing locals together in conversation, an aim which has been fulfilled and excelled. Their enchanting cellar has survived earthquakes, fires, expansion and more, yet twice daily tours still run to showcase the beauty of the historic seminary, the history of the Mission and a tasting of selected Mission wines.
Moorilla Wine meets MONA Art, Australia
The brain child of Tasmanian gambler David Walsh, the Museum of Old and New Art (MONA) is often labelled as a ‘subversive adult Disneyland’, showcasing ancient and contemporary local and international masterpieces. Sat beside the mighty River Derwent, it stands out amidst its picturesque location – pair the art and setting with vibrant vineyards and you have a time-honoured match. A tour here will begin with an art fix, before wandering up to the Wine Bar to witness the winemakers craft first hand. Behind the scenes, you’ll following the trail of the 10 different grape varieties through the vineyards, as they are handpicked, crushed, pressed, fermented and matured to create graceful, classical flavours. Taste, interpret and take home one of Moorilla’s Cloth Label, Muse or Praxis series’ specials, from a zesty Pinot Gris to an elegant, golden Chardonnay.
Amisfield, Queenstown, New Zealand
Whether you choose to drive through the mountains interlaced with lakes, or soar above the deep river gorges on board a luxury helicopter, you’ll be in awe as you approach Amisfield’s Pisa Winery. The estate is not open to the public, so you can be assured that your private winery experience will be intimate and insightful; witness hand-picked fruit being transformed into premium wines by the winemakers and vineyard management team, before sampling it for yourself. Amisfield Bistro is set along the shores of the glistening Lake Hayes, and provides a seasonal Trust the Chef tasting experience, with 4 signature courses selected by the Chef, complemented by a matching wine.
Highfield Estate, Blenheim, New Zealand
Inspired by Tuscan architecture and enhanced by the peaks and troughs of its vibrant landscape, Highfield Estate stands proudly on the Brookby Bridge overlooking Wairau Valley. A short climb up the central tower rewards you with sweeping views across the beautiful Pinot Noir vines, as well as a sneak peek into the workings of the winery with a walk over the footbridge. Established in 1989, staff here are knowledgeable and more than happy to let you sample their fine wines for free, including their flagship wine, Elsetree Cuvee Brut. Their intense fruit aromatics and fine minerality are owed to the Wairau River, with comes from the Maori word ‘many waters’, and runs gently from the foothills of the Richmond Ranges aside the Estate’s largest vineyards. Nestled within 16 acres of hidden parklands, The Marlborough Lodge can be found in the heart of the wine region, providing a tranquil retreat to indulge in New Zealand’s finest wines and gourmet delicacies.
Audrey Wilkinson Winery, Hunter Valley
After assuming the daunting role of running the family’s vineyard aged just 15 years old, Audrey committed to the wine making legacy that it’s ‘all about the taste’. Within Australia’s oldest continuous grape growing region, the Audrey Wilkinson winery boasts a long history of producing fine Semillon since it was established in 1866. Visitors can still see the collection of original wine making equipment in the museum, an intriguing insight into how the process has developed, or if you’d prefer to make a whole day out of it, then embark on the Picnic Escape experience! Soaring above the valley’s amber and green-hued landscape, you’ll have aerial views of the 130 wineries found here from the luxury of a private helicopter, before landing at Audrey Wilkinson’s vineyard for a gourmet lunch hamper and a bottle of in-house wine.