11 wine destinations to add to your winter hit list

Posted by Casey Warrener on Wednesday, December 7, 2016

In a country filled with incredible wine regions, why visit for a day when you can stay a whole weekend? Because 1. There’s a LOT you’re going to want to fit in and, 2. Escaping to a beautiful countryside sure beats winding buses and weary travels home.

Lucky for you, we’ve rounded up 11 luxe retreats right on the doorstep of Australia’s top-rated wineries (and in some cases, with the winery onsite). While we have the scoop on the awesome accommodation, we wanted to ask someone who knows better the cellar doors to visit and wines to sample while there. So we enlisted James Halliday – an unmatched authority on all things Australian wine – to weigh in with his recommendations. Prepare for your trip with James’ expert tips, and we promise you’ll be sharing some very special bottles by the open fires and rolling views of these boutique beauties.

Pyrenees, VIC

Stay: In the breathtaking Pyrenees wine region, relax in minimalist, modern style at the Eco-Luxe lodges at Mount Avoca Estate. The architecture is inspired by the landscape, and the interiors both complement and draw in the stunning surrounds.

Visit: Dalwhinnie | Summerfield | Mount Avoca | DogRock Winery

Sip: The 2012 Estate Range Pyrenees Merlot – 96 points

James says: “Matured in Hungarian and French oak. Bright crimson; the wine has a deliciously spicy/savoury caste to its bright redcurrant and cassis fruit; it is medium-bodied, but is so light on its feet that the fruit has an ethereal quality to it, making the wine even more enjoyable.”

Tamar Valley, TAS

Stay: Fall asleep to the sound of waves crashing. Travel through the Tamar Valley, chatting to friendly winemakers and sampling their wares. Return to drink your stockpile of local bottles on the beach (or while sitting on Tam O'Shanter's huge deck and taking it in, if you’d rather not get sandy).

Visit: Tamar Ridge Pirie | Bay of Fires | House of Arras | Josef Chromy Wines

Sip: The 2004 House of Arras Blanc de Blancs – 97 points

James says: “Pale straw-green, notwithstanding 8 years on tirage in traditional method; it has extraordinary balance, finesse and varietal citrus blossom and white peach purity.”

Barossa Valley, SA

Stay: South Australia is known for its beautiful churches, and this is your opportunity to sleep in one. The Kirche, German for ‘The Church’, delivers all that you would expect in grand, high-ceilinged comfort. With an attic bedroom, a deep soaking bath, and sprawling vineyard views, this is one for romantic hearts.

Visit: Charles Melton | Turkey Flat | Hentley Farm | Penfolds

Sip: The 2012 Charles Melton Nine Popes GSM – 96 points

James says: “GSM matured for 26 months on lees in French barriques (25% new). Always a trailblazer, and remains so today with the vibrancy of its multifaceted, predominantly red-fruited palate.”

Yarra Valley, VIC

Stay: Just an hour from Melbourne, the Yarra Valley is Victoria’s best-known wine region and perfect for Melburnians short on time. The spacious suites at Balgownie Estate are subtly lit and softly furnished, and the estate’s wine selection can be sampled via room service. That’s right – delivered straight to your door.

Visit: Balgownie Estate | Domaine Chandon | Coldstream Hills | Yering Station

Sip: The 2012 Yering Station Reserve Shiraz Viognier – 96 points

James says: “The vibrant colour heralds an equally vibrant bouquet and palate, with coruscating red berry fruits, silky tannins, and that fragrant lift that is the mark of all high quality shiraz viogniers.”

Hunter Valley, NSW

Stay: When you’re choosing from just three luxe rooms – the original retreat with lake views, the cool Scandinavian-style studio, and the ‘Champagne Room’ – you know you’re in for a treat. Hunter Valley Cooperage B&B is set in a gorgeously landscaped vineyard and winery in Pokolbin, and it comes complete with gourmet breakfasts, complimentary port and chocolates, and hosts ready to divulge their winemaking knowledge.

Visit: Tyrrell’s | Brokenwood | Mount Pleasant

Sip: The 2010 Tyrrell’s Vat 1 Hunter Semillon – 94 points

James says: “The wine has very good structure to its citrus and mineral flavours; despite its alcohol, is very tight and focused, ready for the decades to come.”

Clare Valley, SA

Stay: Beginning its life as a bare paddock and a rundown cottage, a re-imagination has seen this cosy stay lovingly restored. Think pathways, archways and a bubbling fountain, all set within a garden of roses, perennials and quince orchards. The Heritage Garden is English in style with a native Australian edge, and it’s in the heart of one of the country’s most-loved wine regions.

Visit: Kilikanoon | Grosset | Wendouree

Sip: The 2014 Grosset Polish Hill Riesling – 97 points

James says: “A super-elegant, beautifully balanced and poised riesling that becomes steadily more impressive with each sip, the flavours of lime and lemon wreathed by slatey acidity.”

Mornington Peninsula, VIC

Stay: This renowned winery, restaurant, hotel combo is the ultimate in indulgence, and just a stone’s throw from Melbourne, it's great for a weekender. With elegant furnishings, big, inviting beds and acres of manicured English-style gardens; you won’t question why you came. A day-spa, indoor pool and tennis court add to the plethora of options for your leisure time at Lindenderry.

Visit: Lindenderry at Red Hill | Moorooduc Estate | Port Phillip Estate

Sip: The 2009 Lindenderry at Red Hill Peninsula Pinot Noir – 90 points

James says: “Deep, dark crimson; has the fingerprints of maker Lindsay McCall all over it: that extra layer of colour, flavour and structure to its rich, spiced plum palate.”

McLaren Vale, SA

Stay: Located in the hills of the Southern Vales, Mt Bold Estate is a vineyard and farm, and a contemporary escape surrounded by scenic tranquillity. With big picture windows and French doors throughout, plus a loft bedroom, sun-drenched balcony and double spa with views, you’ll find plenty of chances to appreciate the landscape.

Visit: d’Arenberg | Hardys | Wirra Wirra

Sip: The 2012 d’Arenberg The Feral Fox Pinot Noir – 89 points

James says: “Crushed and taken to open fermenters with a small amount of whole bunches added; foot stamped, pressed, thence to used French oak for 12 months.”

Margaret River, WA

Stay: Molloy Island is south of the Margaret River and easily accessed by ferry. You really can’t blame the friendly Molloy Islanders for wanting to keep this gem a secret; the three-bedroom house is spacious, welcoming and overlooks bushland on every side. This is perfect for a secluded getaway to unwind, and if you’re bringing the family, there are plenty of activities to occupy the kids while you soak up the scenery and wine.

Visit: Voyager Estate | Cape Mentelle | Vasse Felix

Sip: The 2012 Voyager Estate Shiraz – 95 points

James says: “Bright crimson-purple; the bouquet offers red and black fruits plus French oak, and sets the path for the palate to follow, which it duly does; the tannins are still to fully settle down, seemingly part fruit, part oak-derived.”

King Valley, VIC

Stay: This quaint cottage in the heart of the King Valley used to be the Politini family home. Now, this two-bedroom getaway boasts a wood-fire and a cosy setting for a wine-filled winter escape. If we had to choose, Casolare would be our pick for gathering up provisions and bunkering down for a relaxing weekend.

Visit: Brown Brothers | Chrismont | Politini Wines

Sip: The 2005 Politini Merlot – 89 points

James says: “Bright colour; a surprise packet, with deep, dark fruit on both bouquet and palate, the latter with black olive notes on a substantial finish. Value.”

Want more recommendations for your winery escape? Visit WineCompanion.com.au for access to over 100,000 tasting notes of Australian wines.