It feels like you can’t open your Instagram right now without seeing at least one of your friends sipping a glass of red wine on an Amalfi Coast beach or sipping actual champagne in Champagne. But just because you may not be able to jet set to Europe right now doesn’t mean you can’t live your best vino life right here in Australia.
While many of us are keen to get abroad after years locked in our homes, we can’t ignore the incredible wine regions sitting right in our own backyards. Australia is the fifth largest exporter of wine in the world, and with such a vast range of climates, we are blessed to have wine regions that mirror the climates that make the Mediterranean and French wine regions so good at their craft.
From the Barossa in South Australia to New South Wales’ beloved Hunter Valley, you’re never that far from some of the country’s best wine, so if you don’t quite have enough annual leave to book a European holiday, you can book a cheeky weekend wine tour without even needing to take a day off work.
To get you inspired, we’ve rounded up some of the best wine regions that may leave you with a hangover, but won’t have you jet-lagged upon arrival.
Hunter Valley, NSW
Situated just three hours north of Sydney or two hours outside of Newcastle, the Hunter Valley is Australia’s oldest wine region. You can hop on a bus tour from either Sydney or Newcastle for a day trip, or stay overnight for a weekend getaway.
With more than 150 cellar doors to choose from, you can taste the region’s best shiraz, cabernet sauvignon, and chardonnay.
The region is bustling all year long, with different seasons offering different experiences, from a glass of red by the fire in winter to glorious summer days sipping chardonnay while listening to live music.
Try: Audrey Wilkinson Winery for breathtaking views and a delicious shiraz.
Yarra Valley, VIC
The Yarra Valley is just an hour west of Melbourne, making it easily accessible, even if you’re only in town for a few days. While there are bus tours, it may be worth hiring a car service if you’re planning on curating your own tour.
The region is most famous for pinot noir, chardonnay, and cabernet sauvignon when it comes to wine, but is also popular for chocolate, cheese, and craft beer, so you’ll be eating and drinking well!
If you’re flexible with time, it’s worth visiting during the cherry blossom festival from September 24 to October 4 for a truly Instagram-worthy experience.
Try: De Bortoli Yarra Valley Wines for a great cab sav and a delicious feed at the Italian restaurant.
Barossa Valley, SA
If you’re making a trip to Adelaide, you’d be silly not to take a day trip out to the picturesque Barossa.
It’s one of the world’s best regions, specialising in shiraz and riesling, with approximately 150 wineries calling the Barossa home since its inception in 1842.
The region is particularly nice for a romantic getaway, with sunrise hot air balloon rides over the vineyards for some of the best views money can buy. Although, it’s worth doing this before a day of drinking because we can’t guarantee your head will be feeling up to a sunrise flight after a day of consuming wines that are far too easy to drink.
Try: the Old Vine Grenache at Bethany Wines. It’s actually famous for the shiraz, but trust us on the grenache.
McLaren Vale, SA
Just 45 minutes from Adelaide, McLaren Vale is also well worth a visit. It’s slightly smaller than the Barossa with about 80 cellar doors, but it’s arguably just as good.
The shiraz and the grenache are your best friends in the region, and there are plenty of delicious wood-fire pizza options to keep you satiated while you’re sipping.
The region focuses on sustainability and making the most of local ingredients, so you can expect to be eating local produce while sipping wine made of the grapes you can see in the vineyards surrounding you.
Not to mention, you can take the typical South Australian Instagram photo outside of the d’Arenberg Cube, which is a rite of passage for anyone visiting the region, really.
Try: Alpha Box and Dice, where you can taste the alphabet — with a different wine style to reflect each letter. It’s immersive and educational, with some of the best wines you could possibly get your hands on.
Tamar Valley, TAS
Our tiny island state is filled to the brim with delicious vineyards to choose from, but if you can only do one, the Tamar Valley is the region you need to try.
The climate rivals Burgundy, France, which means its a great place to find a sparkling wine, chardonnay or sauvignon blanc.
Located just 30 minutes from Launceston Airport means you can explore the region without having to travel too far from the city centre.
You can also take a bicycle tour through the vineyards for a nice daytime outing in the sun, or can try your hand at making your own sparkling wine in a masterclass. It may not technically be “champagne”, but it comes pretty close!
Try: Small Wonder Wines, which is run by two local families with a passion for great wine and supporting the local community with regular music, art, and food events at the cellar door.
Margaret River, WA
More than 20 percent of Australia’s premium wine comes from the Margaret River, which means it’s well worth the hike across to WA.
Most wineries are close together, which means you can hop from one to another without needing to travel too far. And with a climate rivalling the Mediterranean, it’s a great place for a chardonnay or cab sav.
Wine tasting aside, the region is also a picturesque holiday destination for whale watching, surfing, and snorkelling, so you can make a whole trip out of it.
Try: the Cellar d’Or’s winery tour, which takes you on a 7-hour trip through the wine region for $135 per person.
Situated next to a dormant volcano, Orange is truly unique wine region known for its chardonnay and shiraz. Either a short flight or a three and a half hour drive from Sydney, Orange is close enough to be convenient, but far enough away from the hustle and bustle of the city to be a true escape.
It’s a small and relatively new region, only really popping up in the 1980s, but with 60 vineyards to choose from, there’s no shortage of options to choose from.
There are very few places in the world where you can look out at a volcano while sipping your chardonnay, and Orange is one of them.
The region is also full of fine dining options, with many farm-to-table restaurants offering food to perfectly compliment your glass.
Try: Heifer Station Winery for a glass of wine and a petting zoo, because the only thing better than wine is wine with a side of alpaca petting.