Best Aussie wine regions to visit in winter
By: WineMarketDate: 08/07/2014
In the scheme of things, swinging through a wine region during a winter’s break isn’t such a bad thing. Cellar doors are equipped with fine liquids guaranteed to warm you up, and slow cooking something and matching it with a hearty red is one of those ‘bacon and eggs’ or ‘Kanye and Beyonce’ matches that just seems to work so very well. Cooler months sometimes keep us indoors, hiding away from the elements and reluctant to step out of our ugg boots, but a journey to an area bursting with vinous treats, great food and the chance of an open fireplace, is a pretty good motivation too.
Barossa Valley, SA
The historical wine region of the Barossa Valley is a lazy hour and a half’s drive from Adelaide, and a million miles from care. The patchwork of vineyards through the historical ‘parishes’ of the Barossa, make for a charming backdrop from which to start your wintery adventures
Rug up, the Barossa gets mighty cold during the day, and even frostier at night. Go further afield and into the upper reaches of the Eden Valley, and ski parkas might even seem appropriate. That being said, the crisp days do have great reward. One of the best places to taste wine would have to be infront of the roaring fire in the rustic cellar door of local legend Charlie Melton’s place. Charles Melton wines have been a stalwart in the premium wine scene, adored by collectors and stashed away for their ability to cellar, and of course to impress guests at dinner parties.
Winter doesn’t just have to be about fireplaces though, the Barossa Farmers Markets have a wealth of produce to warm you up – from Barossa Valley’s own coffee crew at Barossa Coffee Roasters, to herbal teas and famous bacon and egg rolls, there’s plenty of eating to power the warming cells in one’s body.
The Barossa Valley is big on charm in winter – stripped back trees and vines dot the landscape, small villages with cosy pubs are welcome respite from the cool outdoors, and a rugged up stroll around some of the ancient vineyards of the wine region, all work as winter charm.
Granite Belt, QLD
When most people think of Queensland, they’ve got in mind beaches and tropical holidays, not a wine region. And if they are aware of Queensland’s Granite Belt wine region, they’re thinking all that heat and sunshine surely can’t produce great wines. How very wrong.
The Granite Belt may not come with same kind of kudos as the Barossa Valley, and certainly doesn’t have the broad-reaching historical significance of the Hunter Valley, but in the scheme of things, and against the odds, it’s a super place to visit for a host of reasons.
First of all, the Granite Belt wine region is much colder than expected. Elevation plays a big role in this, and the cool upper reaches even see some snow in wintertime. Sure, a three or so hour drive east will have you at the sunny beaches of the Gold Coast, so if the chill gets you down to the point of Vitamin D depletion depression, you can always top up at Burleigh, Kirra or Surfers Paradise, but there’s great charm in the Granite Belt region to keep your cockles warm.
From the comfort of your car and a quick dash into one of the many charming cellar doors, you could follow the impressive wine route of ‘Strange Bird Alternative Wine Trail’. Here, the intrepid visitor can fly between cellar doors checking out some of the Granite Belt’s most interesting wines – try Sangiovese, Barbera, Viognier, Tempranillo, Nebbiolo and more. Some of the hottest red and white wine varieties are on display, and set to blaze a trail to your vinous heart.
The Hunter Valley maxes out in the peak holiday seasons, but also has a pile of things to do in winter. Sure, the golf courses might be a little breezy and cool, and having a crack at some of the world class Semillons with fresh oysters might just be a little too aspirational, but the warm shiraz wines and host of indoor activities will also have their benefits. The Hunter Valley is great in winter – from premier accommodation within spitting distance of vineyards, to cosy restaurants like Muse Restaurant tucked away in the Hungerford Hill winery, or enjoying some local fare in the nouveau-rustic embrace of Bistro Molines looking over hills and dales, there’s much more to the Hunter Valley than bus tours and putt-putt.
For those seeking some more wintery activities, wine tours inside wineries are available. Tyrrell’s winery, located in the beating heart of Pokolbin, offers a guided tour of their historic, dirt floor winery with its imposing, large format wooden barrels and old concrete fermenters, and the don’t skimp on the red wines at the end. Likewise, a visit to The Small Winemaker’s Centre, doesn’t involve a troupe of height-challenged winemakers offering you their wares, but some of the Hunter Valley’s best known boutique wine producers, and there’s even a private tasting lounge for those looking to upscale their cellar-door experience.
While the Hunter Valley may not turn into the winter wonderland we see in some of our cooler climates, the good dry weather tends to hold off for the season, and jumping from cellar door to cellar door comes with warmth from local producers, eager for winter trade. Don’t miss out on one of the less busy times of the year, and rug up for the adventure.