By Alissa Jenkins
Beat the crowds and discover these secret wine regions in Australia, where unique varietals are being produced by some of the best emerging winemakers in the country.
A tiny enclave of the Adelaide Hills, 20 kilometres east of the Adelaide CBD, Basket Range has traditionally been all about apple and cherry orchards. But some impressive wineries have recently sprung up in this country community, with a talent for producing natural, low-intervention wines.
Among the most successful is Ochota Barrels, which combines organic bush vines and wild yeast to produce an array of rave-reviewed vinos, such as the I Am The Owl and The Shellac Vineyard syrahs.
Similarly, BK Wines produces some of the finest single-vineyard wines around, all with a restrained approach to winemaking, relying on carefully selected fruit.
As the name suggests, Gentle Folk is well and truly on this minimalist winemaking journey too, producing generous flavours and interesting structure.
After a day of taste testing, stay in one of the charming bed and breakfasts in Basket Range, such as Willow Cottage at Bishops Adelaide Hills. Sleeping up to six guests, it has an open log fireplace, modern creature comforts and a wraparound veranda that overlooks cherry orchards.
Bordered by the famed Barossa wine region to the west and the Adelaide Hills wine region to the south, it’s not surprising that Eden Valley is home to a remarkable winemaking scene of its own.
The most recognisable name in the area is South Australian wine royalty, Henschke, whose iconic vineyards Hill of Grace and Mount Edelstone can be found here. The Hill of Grace Restaurant is especially impressive, with seasonal dishes that showcase local ingredients. It’s an idyllic setting at which to experience Henschke’s multi-award-winning wines.
Also keep look out for Brockenchack Wines, which produces a cracking variety from its 120-year-old single vineyard, home to some of Australia’s oldest riesling vines. Flaxman Wines is a charming boutique winery that’s worth visiting for its small-batch vino, upscale restaurant and rustic yet stylish cottage accommodation, which is a delight for couples.
Peter Seppelt Wines, another noteworthy local, also offers accommodation: a fully renovated homestead at its Grand Cru Estate. Dating back to the 1880s, this renovated property sleeps up to six and comes with all the stylish trimmings you’d expect of a boutique stay in wine country, including Chesterfield lounges, French lavender gardens and indulgent amenities.
Less than 70 kilometres south-east of the Adelaide CBD, the Langhorne Creek region has been producing wine for six generations, particularly red grape varietals. Sitting on the rich soil of the Bremer River flood plain, Bremerton is a local favourite, with a recently renovated stone barn cellar door, dating back to 1866. Come for the wine but stay for the regionally inspired restaurant and picnic spreads.
Lake Breeze Wines is another family operation and has been growing grapes on the same property for more than 125 years. Award-winning drops include the Arthur’s Reserve cabernet blend. Visit the winery’s contemporary cellar to sample wines, enjoy a regional platter and soak up views of river red gums along the Bremer. Also among the ranks of historic family operations is Bleasdale, with more than 165 years of winemaking experience. Visit the winery and see its enormous one-of-a-kind red gum press, built in 1892.
Stay at Alice's Bed and Breakfast, a former 1950s dairy that’s been stylishly turned into a two-bedroom abode amid the vines, complete with full kitchen, contemporary conveniences and an enviable deck with barbecue.
Wedged between inland lakes and the Southern Ocean, the Robe wine region makes up part of the celebrated Limestone Coast, 340 kilometres south of the Adelaide CBD. The cool climate, long seasons and acidic fruit give local wine a distinct flavour, with particularly fresh chardonnays and spicy, peppery shiraz.
Karatta Wines has two vineyards planted on Robe’s legendary red soil. The result is a portfolio of crisp whites and subtle, elegant reds. Woodsoak Wines produces a fine range of wines that are intense in aroma as they are in colour, thanks to the maritime conditions. You’ll find Governor Robe Wines in the heart of the region but its cellar door in the historic Attic House on Robe’s main street, offering wine tastings, cheese platters and local art.
Stay with Robe Retreats, which has three self-contained boutique options to choose from: a cosy lakeside cottage, a contemporary beach house and a coastal townhouse. Each has been tastefully equipped with plush bedding and modern appliances. For something more rustic, Honeyfield House promises a romantic escape in a French-inspired cottage, complete with secluded setting, stone open fireplace, spa bath and private courtyard.
Virgin Australia flies to Adelaide from all major Australian cities. Most major hire car companies are at Adelaide Airport.