Top Food and Wine Destinations That Will Make You Hungry for a Gourmet Getaway
Posted by Stephanie Mikkelsen on Wednesday, July 12, 2017
Once upon a time, Australia’s culinary superpowers seemed limited to meat pies, Vegemite and shrimps, ahem prawns, on the barbie. Luckily, that is no longer the case, and the Land Down Under has established itself as a major player on the international gourmet stage. So where do you find the destinations guaranteed to leave you satisfied and wondering how you could possibly fit in one more bite? Right. Here. Here's the guide you need for your next gastronomic getaway. Food for thought.
The best part? This is only part one; featuring the heavyweights, the lead actors, the big cheeses. We know Australia is dotted with other lesser-known food and wine destinations and we’ll be sharing up-and-coming gastronomic regions soon, so watch this space. In the meantime, reach for your Esky and rummage for your stretchiest pants. Ready, steady, eat…
If wine-tasting was an Olympic sport, Victoria’s Yarra Valley would be a gold medallist. Only a 40-minute drive from Melbourne’s CBD, the Yarra Valley is a weekend destination for long lunches, farmers’ market strolls and visits to provedores all in the name of restocking your pantry. Home to award-winning cellar doors, acclaimed eateries and incredible local producers, it isn’t just recommended to bring your appetite on a trip to Yarra Valley – it is an essential.
Choices, choices, choices. Tuck into a wood-fired pizza at Zonzo Estate, or sit down to plates of creative cuisine from the Matt Stone-helmed kitchen at Oakridge Wines. Fans of fromage will love the selection at Yarra Valley Dairy, and chocolate-cravers can give their sweet-tooths a workout at Yarra Valley Chocolaterie & Ice Creamery. Feast on paella and cheese boards at casual diner Innocent Bystander, or delicately nibble on oven-fresh scones and housemade jams with a high tea at Coombe Yarra Valley.
Image: Zonzo Estate, Yarra Glen
Gather around the Tasting Bar at Domaine Chandon (yes, like that Moët & Chandon) to purse your lips around flutes of sparkling wines, cool-climate still wines and limited release drops. Hop between the cellar doors at Rochford Wines, Coldstream Hills, Levantine Hill, Yarra Yering and Yering Station. Into brews rather than bouquets? Swing past Napoleone Brewery & Ciderhouse or Coldstream Brewery. A visit to Four Pillars Gin might also take your fancy.
Early risers should make for Yarra Valley Organic Farmers Market or St Andrews Market on Saturdays, or time your visit with the third Sunday of the month for the Yarra Valley Farmers’ Market. The Yarra Valley Food and Wine Festival launched in April 2017, and the Yarra Valley Wine Show is pencilled in for 30 and 31 August 2017.
Once farming country, the Mornington Peninsula has exploded as one of the state’s favourite food and wine destinations. This slice of Victoria is scattered with food and wine trails, farmgate stalls, exceptional cellar doors and excellent eats – all less than a 90-minute drive from Melbourne. While away a day, a weekend or an entire week and never eat or drink at the same place twice. Sound good? Of course it does.
In the mood for white tablecloths and fine dining? Make a reservation at Petit Tracteur Bistro, Port Philip Estate's Dining Room, Max’s at Red Hill Estate, or the newly opened Doot Doot Doot. The Long Table has a relaxed lounge, outdoor deck and courtyard, making it a great destination no matter the time of day. Merricks General Wine Store is the ultimate gourmet hybrid: a cellar door that doubles as a bistro and provedore. For one of the best bakery bites on the Peninsula, hightail it to Johnny Ripe in Red Hill and be sure to leave with one of their apple pies. Main Ridge Dairy is a farmhouse-come-goat-cheese factory that offers cheese platters, tastings and milking tours.
The Mornington Peninsula has more than 50 cellar doors in its arsenal, not including the standalone wine bars. Foxeys Hangout in Red Hill pours award-wining cool-climate wines in a space overlooking the vineyard. Crittenden Estate puts a spin on a traditional cellar door by offering visitors curated wine flights. Polperro Wines, Paringa Estate and Main Ridge Estate are recommended pitstops, too. Seek out Red Hill Brewery or Bass and Flinders Distillery when you want to slurp craft beers or creative grape-based vodka and gin (keep an eye out for truffle gin!).
Image: Truffle Gin, Bass and Flinders Distillery, Red Hill
Fish and chips by the beach is a rite of passage for any Peninsula first-timer. Think Morgan’s Beach Shack or the Mornington pier kiosk for your fish-and-chips fix. Fill your car boot with a haul from Cellar & Pantry in Red Hill or Kings Market Garden, or pick your own goodies at Red Hill Cherry Farm and Sunny Ridge Strawberry Farm. If you want to learn a thing or two about preparing the goodies you’re taking home, sign up for a cooking class at Hart’s Farm or Georgie Bass Café and Cookery at Flinders Hotel.
Daylesford and Macedon Ranges
The Daylesford and Macedon Ranges region may be Victoria’s reigning spa centre but its gourmet credentials are as strong as its pampering prowess. Hatted fine dining haunts and gastropubs sit alongside gourmet pantries and vineyard eateries. Explore one town top-to-toe, or pick two or three to wind your way between. You might start with Daylesford, the jewel in the region’s crown, or discover Hepburn Springs, Kyneton, Woodend or Mt Macedon.
Alla Wolf-Tasker’s celebrated Lake House Restaurant is the gastronomic juggernaut in Daylesford. Perched on the banks of Lake Daylesford within the walls of a sumptuous hotel, the hatted restaurant plates up seasonal fare and an acclaimed wine list. Mercato is another excellent degustation dining spot. The Farmers Arms Daylesford lives in a red brick building and delivers gut-busting portions of above-average pub grub. Head to Sault Restaurant for modern fare and views across a lavender field, or move to Trentham for French farmhouse-style cooking by Annie Smithers at Du Fermier.
Cool-climate wines await for lunchtime drops and afternoon sundowners. Kyneton Ridge Estate boasts an award-winning drop, as well as sparkling and still wines. The rustic cellar door comes with a sun-kissed deck and vineyard views. Taste the signature Curly Flat Vineyard pinot noir in Lancefield, and current release wines from Passing Clouds can be paired with a family-style lunch in the dining room. Nibble on cheese platters in between sips of merlot and shiraz at Cloud 9 Farm. When you need to swap wine for caffeine or cider, head to Moto Bean Coffee Roasters or Daylesford Cider Company.
If you're in Daylesford for the first Saturday of the month, make the effort to get out of bed early and head to Daylesford Primary School’s oval for the local farmers’ market. Wander between stalls offering cheeses, fresh meats, jams, preserves and baked treats. Track down precious fungi by joining a truffle hunt with A Taste of Truffles by Black Cat Truffles, or learn the tips and tricks of local chefs for use at home by signing up for a cooking class at Life & Fork or Piper St Food Co.
New South Wales
Image: Racine Restaurant, Orange; Destination NSW
Gourmet powerhouses don’t come much more prolific than Hunter Valley: it holds a special place in the Australian food and wine vernacular. There is enough here to keep visitors fed and watered for weeks; dining at award-winning restaurants and sipping on acclaimed vintages. To reach the Hunter from Sydney calls for a two-hour drive but those in the passenger seat can make good use of that time by plotting out the perfect gourmand itinerary (perhaps by reading this article).
There is no chance of going hungry in the Hunter. Bistro Molines treats diners to French fare, crisp white tablecloths and stunning views across the vineyard. Muse Restaurant at Hungerford Hill Winery is a local legend that boasts a display case-worth of awards. Muse Kitchen is the sister European bistro-style diner located at Keith Tulloch Winery. Ask for a table by the fireplace for a romantic dinner at The Cellar Restaurant, or swing by Exp. Restaurant to work through one of the tasting menus. Café Enzo delivers great breakfasts and lunches in a casual setting.
Image: Bistro Molines, Mount View
With so many cellar doors – 150, to be exact – the best way to tackle a Hunter Valley wine-tasting excursion is to pre-empt an itinerary before you arrive. Take your pick from the heavy-hitters or boutique pitstops. Audrey Wilkinson has knockout views and a picture-perfect tasting room; head to Brokenwood for chardonnay. The cellar door at Harkham Wines is quirky-cool and offers tastings of bespoke chocolate liqueur and gold flaked mead as well as natural wine. McWilliam’s Mount Pleasant is James Halliday’s 2017 Winery of the Year.
Get the taste for the area’s most famous product with grape stomping or barrel rolling at Hunter Valley Resort. The Hunter Valley Wine and Food Festival takes places across May and June, and includes a calendar of gourmet dinners from famed restaurants, vineyard tours and winemaking masterclasses. As of June 2017, Tyrell’s Wines launched a monthly fine food market, happening the first Saturday of each month.
A cluster of award-winning restaurants and cellar doors make Orange in Country NSW the place to go when hunger strikes. Famed for its fresh produce and growing in reputation thanks to its cracking vineyards, Orange is emerging from the shadow of NSW’s other, more established food and wine destinations. No matter if you have a fondness for fine dining or a soft spot for casual cafes, the Orange area ticks both boxes. Explore this thriving epicurean epicentre by hitting one of the headlining food festival, or arrive in off-peak seasons to have eateries and cellar doors (almost) all to yourself.
Lolli Redini is Orange’s hatted offering with Italian-and French-inspired plates and a chic dining room. Slightly out of town is Racine, another haute cuisine hot spot that serves locally-sourced fare with a vineyard vista. The Racine Bakery once supplied local businesses and the restaurant with oven-fresh breads and pastries, and now has its own outpost in town. More beautiful bakes can be found at The Old Mill Café in Millthorpe. Tonic is also in Millthorpe and is a mainstay of the regional food scene. Head to the Agrestic Grocer for breakfast and lunch or to stock up on regional goodies including fresh produce, deli snacks and pantry must-haves.
Feeling thirsty? The Orange area is teeming with watering-holes, be it cellar doors, breweries or atmospheric wine bars. Philip Shaw is a beacon of the local wine industry where you can sample the cool-climate offerings from within the bluestone tasting room. Over at Patina Wines, a slightly unique experience is available; the cellar door is located within the winemaker’s actual house. The Printhie cellar door has a pretty verandah with vineyard views, and excellent cool-climate drops are poured at Bloodwood Wines. Make for Percy’s Bar & Kitchen for relaxed sips, good cocktails and a selection of craft beers and ciders.
Head to town for the Orange F.O.O.D Week held in April. The festival program covers night markets, delicious dinners and food-focused excursions. The Orange Wine Festival takes place in October, and this fortnight-long celebration is jam-packed with events and activities to celebrate the region’s wine talents. Visitors to the area on the second Saturday of the month can head to the Orange Farmers Market at the showgrounds. Fill a basket with some of Orange’s famed fresh produce by picking your own cherries, berries, figs or apples.
Image: Sven Kovac; South Australian Tourism Commission
Barossa. Even just a one-word mention of this world-famous destination is enough to conjure mental images of beautiful cellar doors, bustling farmers’ markets, sprawling vineyards and lauded dining spots luring foodies from every corner of the country. A healthy appetite is a must-have accessory for any visitor to the Barossa Valley, but an empty car boot or an extra suitcase to stash take-home goodies is recommended too.
Where to start in the Barossa? The kitchen at Hentley Farm uses produce from the farm’s gardens plus foraged ingredients to create a refined dining experience. The focus on provenance continues at Fino at Seppeltsfield where even the cutlery and tables have been sourced from Barossa locals. Appellation at the Louise is a regular fixture on many visitors’ must-eat lists. Head to Harvest Kitchen at Artisans Of Barossa for more casual shared plates, or seek out fermentAsian for punchy fusion flavours. When you’re on the hunt for new additions to your pantry, hot-foot it towards Allerlei on Murray Street in Tanunda, Maggie Beer’s Farm Shop and Barossa Valley Cheese Company.
Image: Barossa Valley Cheese Co., Angaston
Whether you’re tempted by seeing the big names or tracking down the smaller cellar doors, there are sips to tempt the tastebuds. It would take a fair chunk of time to visit them all – but that doesn’t mean you can’t try, right? Peter Lehmann Wines makes a lovely, leafy setting for visiting with friends and sampling more than 40 drops. Penfolds is an icon of the Australian wine world and a trip to this cellar door is your chance to taste Grange and other celebrated wines. Savour Henschke wines in an intimate space with walls lined by previous generations of the namesake family. More boutique cellar doors include those at Izway Wines, St Hugo and Charles Melton.
Saturday mornings should kick off with a wander around the stalls at Barossa Farmers Market in Angaston. Nurse a hot coffee as you mosey between producers selling meats and eggs, preserves and jams, fruit, vegetables and baked treats. If you need more than caffeine to get you going in the mornings, order a hearty plate from the market’s breakfast menu – think porridge, a breakfast burger and omelette. The Barossa has a year-round calendar of events and festivals, and foodie highlights include Barossa. Be Consumed in late July and Barossa Gourmet Weekend in September.
Don’t go thinking McLaren Vale plays second fiddle to its (arguably) more famous wine neighbour to the north. McLaren Vale lays claim to being one of Australia’s oldest wine regions, and the landscape of this area on the Fleurieu Peninsula are covered in vineyards. Plus when you need to work off any over-indulgence, a paddle in nearby ocean could be just the trick.
Casual spaces sit alongside refined eateries throughout McLaren Vale. For the former, check out Alpha Box & Dice and Penny’s Hill. Those keen on a picnic can throw down a rug on the lawns of Wirra Wirra and graze on local cheese platters. Harry’s Deli is here, too. Coveters of fine dining can book a table for two or three courses at d’Arry’s Verandah Restaurant at d’Arenberg. Menus change with the seasons and take advantage of stellar local produce. The fine diner at Serafino melds international flavours with an impressive location and excellent wines. At Woodstock Coterie, a degustation offering is described as a “Tasting Journey” plus there is a wood-fire pizza night every Friday evening.
While you may visit Primo Estate intending to sample the JOSEPH wines, don’t forget to pick up a bottle of the excellent olive oil too. Choose between a Cellar Door or Icon Tasting Experience at Chapel Hill. The first allows guests the chance to try eight wines, all handpicked by Chapel Hill’s winemakers according to the season and drinking style. The Icon Tasting Experience includes samples of flagship red wines plus a platter of charcuterie. Dedicated oenophiles can book a premium tasting masterclass at the Hardys Tintara Cellar Door or time your visit during harvest season (usually between February to April) for a tour. Head to Yangarra Estate Vineyard to while away an hour or two at this beautifully located cellar door and even take home your stemless wine glass as a momento. Expect top Shiraz and homemade beers at Ekhidna.
McLaren Vale celebrates its coastal location in June with the two-day Sea and Vines Festival. Among the event program, standouts include degustation dinners, in-depth winery tours, leisurely lunches and cooking demonstrations. Join the eight-kilometre Shiraz Trail to get your heart pumping. This route works for walkers or cyclists and winds alongside an old railway line that once connected McLaren Vale with Willunga.
Image: Vasse Felix; Tourism Western Australia Library
Leave tight belts at home; you’ll want no hindrances to indulging in everything Margaret River has to offer. With its Mediterranean climate and optimal growing conditions, wine is the backbone of Margaret River. Its chardonnay and cabernet sauvignon are world-class. It is little surprise then that, no matter where you look in Margaret River, there seems to be a vineyard or drinking-hole beckoning. Don't just come for the wine though; make the journey for the food, too.
Vasse Felix takes out the gong for being the region’s first vineyard, and the restaurant, with its daily menus and Modern Australia cuisine, is exceptional. Leeuwin Estate is another pillar of the area, and the kitchen here uses a paddock-to-plate philosophy throughout its seasonal menus. Pasta and pizza perfection is had at Olio Bello, or embrace Asian influences at Knee Deep Restaurant. Hay Shed Hill has a location that is as pretty as a postcard, and there are degustation or tapas-style dining options. Book a picnic at Eagle Bay Olives to enjoy on the beautiful grounds, or cocoa-fiends can follow their sweet-tooths to Bahen & Co. to indulge in heavenly artisan chocolates.
The Wine Room at Voyager Estate offers visitors wine flights with three sips from the vineyard’s full range of wines. Opt for one of the estate’s suggested flights or create your own. As well as a beautiful cellar door, Cape Mentelle present behind-the-scenes-style tours, food and wine pairing experiences, and even petanque courts. The Common Bistro is a great place for casual drink, and House of Cards pours eclectic-branded vintages in a space dressed with works from local artists. When you are in the mood for brews, check out Eagle Bay Brewing Co. for stellar craft beers, or Cheeky Monkey Brewery for a great line-up of ciders and blonde ales.
Image: Voyager Estate, Margaret River
Wine-tasting is the clear winner as far as must-do Margaret River experiences go, and visitors may choose to do it solo or join an organised tour. The Margaret River Farmers’ Market has been a fixture of the region’s gourmet bragging rights for more than 13 years, and it is one of the best places to launch a Saturday morning. The collection of breakfast vans and chatty stallholders plus energetic atmosphere are guaranteed to inspire a return visit. One of the biggest events on the area’s calendar is Margaret River Gourmet Escape in November, attracting international and local culinary personalities with a festival program of Q&A sessions, beach barbecues and intimate masterclasses. Tap into your inner forager by joining a truffle hunt at Truffle & Wine Co., or pick your own treats at Clyde River Berry Farm.
Image: Josef Chromy Wines Pty Ltd; Tourism Australia
Its moniker may be the Apple Isle but there is more to Tasmania than Granny Smiths or Pink Ladys. To the north is the Tamar Valley, a region that wraps around Launceston, along the banks of the Tamar River and up towards the coast. Among the sprinkling of vineyards, farmgate stalls and local markets are a string of small towns, each offering there own appetite-appeasing reasons for stopping off.
Make a beeline for Josef Chromy, where a gorgeous location and dishes using seasonal produce collide with the estate’s award-winning wines. The restaurant is open daily for lunch. Gourmet platters and heavily-laden cheese plates are available at the Goaty Hill’s cellar door and make a great relaxed sharing option for travelling friends and groups. Timbre Kitchen is brought to you by Velo Wines, and Stillwater on the banks of the Tamar River is one of the Launceston’s top destinations for elegant fine dining. The attached wine bar is also excellent.
Image: Stillwater, Launceston
More than 30 cellar doors are sprinkled across a 170 kilometre-long course in the Tamar Valley. Discover the region’s big names, swing past the up-and-comers or create an itinerary that is the perfect balance of both. The Jansz Tasmania Wine Room is an introduction into the world of Tasmanian sparkling wine, while Tamar Ridge is an offshoot of the esteemed Brown Brothers brand, and gives visitors the chance to sample the full range plus some exclusive to the cellar door. A white picket fence conceals the Bay of Fires Wines’ cellar door, nestled between the estate’s vineyards. Enjoy the stunning views at Moore’s Hill as you sip current releases and graze on fare-heaped tasting plates.
The Harvest Launceston Farmers’ Market happens every Saturday morning in the car park opposite Launceston’s Albert Hall. The rotation of stallholders is governed by the seasons, however there are week-to-week findings including preserves, baked goods and fruits and vegetables. Make for Hillwood Berry Farm in spring to get your hands on plump, ruby red strawberries. Visitors can pick their own raspberries, red currants and loganberries too.
The Huon Valley in Southern Tasmania doesn't just make for beautiful scenery: explorers and keen-nosed wanderers will find a bounty of apple orchards, farmers' markets and good local eats. The Valley covers a vast area, so there is plenty to taste, sip and savour. While the Valley makes excellent fodder for a day trip out of Hobart, it's worth sticking around for longer if possible. Your tastebuds - and tum - will thank you.
Lotus Eaters Café in Cygnet is a local hotspot that dishes up great coffee, filled paninis and delicious cakes. On a weekend morning feast on one of their delicious breakfast plates, or pick up a takeaway something to nibble on for the road. Cat’s Tongue Chocolatiers is another sweet stop for breakfast or lunch, and to indulge in delicate bite-sized chocolates and pralines. For something slightly more health-conscious seek out Meredith’s Orchard to pick up fresh produce and gourmet foodstuffs. Get your fill of the unique with a visit to Grandvewe and sample Tasmanian sheep cheese, watch sheep-milking demonstrations and linger at the cellar door space. Behind-the-scenes experiences that venture into the cheesery are also available. Finish the day on a fine dining note at Villa Howden’s Bruni’s Restaurant. The restaurant is open to the public for a la carte plus Devonshire tea and charcuterie-and-sundowner options.
Behind the doors of a rustic barn lies the Apple Shed, the home of Willie Smith’s Cider. The Shed is an institution on the Huon Valley visitor itinerary, and gives a great insight into the history of Willie Smith's and the cider-making process. Head down on a Sunday afternoon, grab a table outside and settle in for an hour or two to sip a brew and listen to live music. Mosey over to the cellar door at Frank’s Cider once you have the taste. Those with a soft spot for pinot noir should make a beeline for Home Hill Winery to savour the award-winning wines while overlooking the rolling vineyard. There is a restaurant onsite too.
The Huon Valley Mid-Winter Festival happens in the middle of July, and takes place across four different venues including Willie Smith’s Apple Shed. As well as opportunities to taste offerings from producers across Tasmania, there are live music events, storytelling performances and even costume competitions. Not in the area during winter? Stop off at The Cygnet Market, held on the first and third Sundays of each month throughout the year, to browse between stallholders selling fresh produce, knick-knacks, clothing, hot food and take-home treasures. The Huon Farmers’ Market happens every Saturday in Huonville.
Image: Noosa Farmers' Markets; Tourism Australia and Tourism and Events Queensland
There is more to the Sunny Coast than beaches and bronzed babes. It has established itself as one of Queensland’s top destinations for foodies and wine-lovers. Find fresh catches and lip-smacking seafood up and down the coast, or venture inland for hinterland vines and casual diners.
Use Noosa as your launchpad for exploring the Sunshine Coast’s dining destinations. Treat your tastebuds to refined Japanese at Wasabi. This award-winning den harvests seasonal produce from its own farm, and even offers diners the chance to brush up on their Japanese culinary skills with a class at The Cooking School Noosa. Other waterfront eats can be found at Rickys River Bay + Restaurant, Sails and Noosa Beach House Peter Kuruvita. Make for the area surrounding Maleny and Montville for more fine bites. The Long Apron is the acclaimed eatery located at Spicers Clovelly Estate presenting an European-inspired tasting menu. Little May Espresso does great brunch, and Brouhaha Brewery has a cool industrial-chic feel with a solid lunch and drinks menu.
Need a cool respite from the Queensland heat? Sunshine Coast Brewery has a bar open for drinks and lunches plus an ever-changing rota on craft beers on tap. Moffat Beach Brewing Co is a double whammy delivering brews and views of the beach. Head down on Friday or Saturday nights for live music. Ocean View Estates has a good cellar door and offers visitors the opportunity to take up winery and brewery tours, picnics on the grounds and walks through the vineyard accompanied by the winemaker. Sip on reds, whites and dessert wines in the impressive showroom at Maleny Mountain Wines, or take your wine overlooking fields of hazy purple flowers at the Kooroomba Vineyard & Lavender Farm.
Image: Maleny Mountain Wines, Maleny
The Noosa Food and Wine Festival is the region’s big-ticket item. This is a four-day food-and-wine bonanza that boasts more than 70 events and a line up of winemakers and chefs. If you can’t make it north for the festival, stop by the Noosa Farmers’ Market on Sundays. Eumundi Markets draw huge crowds on Saturday and Wednesday mornings.
Hero Image: Seppeltsfield, Barossa; Sven Kovac, South Australian Tourism Commission