- Australia is consistently ranked as one of the world’s top 10 wine producers, and the finest Australian wines are among the best in the world – a judgment that is consistently reinforced at international wine shows.
- Australia is the number four wine exporting country in the world and the number 16 wine drinking country. (i)
- Australian wines are now sold in around 100 countries and likely to be found in the finest restaurants the world over. (ii)
- The United Kingdom imports more wine from Australia than it does from France.
- Australian wines have won medals at almost every major international wine competition and set records for the price of a single bottle. (iii)
- Around 78 per cent of wineries have cellar doors, 29 per cent on-site dining, 11 per cent accommodation and some offer opera theatre and festivals. (iii)
- There are over 60 wine regions in Australia; this number keeps growing annually as more and more start ups fling open their cellar doors.
Australians love their wine. Though we have a reputation as a nation of beer lovers, wine has become an integral part of our relaxed social lifestyle.
We have a huge diversity of wine regions and wine types/styles – everything from beachside wineries to cool-climate wines, and our glasses overflow with everything from the hearty shiraz wines of the Barossa and Clare Valleys to the elegant dry whites of south-west Western Australia, regarded as some of the best in the world. And, we’re winning awards and medals in droves at international wine competitions. Our winemakers produce everything from the ever-popular chardonnay and sauvignon blanc, to the newer varieties such as pinot noir, viognier, merlot and marsanne. You’ll find a huge selection on the wine list of most Australian restaurants.
Wineries are cropping up everywhere - in unlikely places such as the Granite Belt and coastal hinterland of Queensland to the New England tablelands of NSW. It’s not unusual to find a working, productive vineyard almost anywhere in Australia. Even Alice Springs, in the dry red centre of the country, boasts a boutique vineyard. You can see snow covered vineyards in Orange, NSW and vineyards in the dry arid places such as Cowra and Gundagai. And, surprisingly, we even have a number of coastal wine destinations, such as the Limestone Coast of South Australia, the Mornington Peninsula, the Margaret River region and the Shoalhaven coast of NSW.
Food and wine trails are the ideal way to enjoy the best of Australian produce. Australia’s wine regions have a laidback atmosphere with fresh produce and fine food. Here, whole afternoons can be spent chatting over a bottle of wine and then meandering from cellar door to restaurant, then back again.
Apart from wine tastings and cellar door sales, many of our wineries offer food – everything from platters to full-blown gourmet feasts. And, being Australian, we like to offer you more than just wine. Many wineries can satisfy your hunger, put you up at night and even entertain you with music or other cultural events ranging from monthly jazz concerts to spectacular opera and musical events.
You can learn about wine through tasting, talking with the winemakers and touring the facility. Wander through vines, sample regional delicacies in the produce store, experiment with wine and food matching in the wine bar or restaurant, or sit in the sun or beside a river or lake and take in the views and vistas. Australia is full of small boutique wineries which you can find by exploring our wine regions by car or on an organised tour. Many of the owners are also the winemakers and they’ll be only too happy to show you around and talk about their wonderful wines and how they’re produced them.
- Be a winemaker for a day – at some wineries you can make your own blend. Try your hand at winemaking, be shown around by the winemaker or, if it’s a small family operation, by someone from the family.
- Stay overnight in a vineyard retreat or Tuscan-style lodge in the Hunter Valley, NSW’s premier wine region, with around 120 wineries and cellar doors and the country’s oldest winery. Learn the secrets of local winemakers at a wine school or spend a weekend perfecting your pasta at a cooking school. Be up early for a hot-air balloon flight, play a round of golf at a five-star course or relax in a stylish day spa.
- Cruise the Murray River and learn about our Italian heritage all in one spot. Discover why Mildura is one of Australia’s up and coming wine regions while you immerse yourself in Italian culture, food and wine. Hear stories from winemakers of how many generations have toiled the soil. Find out for yourself why Italian culture on a major river is a perfect recipe for great wine.
- Sample wetlands wine on a 1750-hectare property at Banrock Station Wine and Wetland Centre in South Australia’s Riverland, a unique wetland and wine ecotourism experience on the Murray River. Hike the 7-km environmental walking trail and the award-winning boardwalk to learn about wetlands conservation Australian style. Drink the wines and eat the fabulous food surrounded by vineyards, floodplains, wetlands and woodlands.
- Enjoy opera among the vineyards or international concerts in a sensational bushland setting at the magnificent Leeuwin Estate at Margaret River in Western Australia. The London Philharmonic Orchestra and Dame Kiri Te Kanawa have all performed at the estate’s outdoor concerts. Or, head to the vineyards of the Hunter Valley for Opera in the Vineyards.
- Participate in a wine festival. Almost every wine growing region has an annual wine festival where local wine, food and culture can be sampled – such as the Margaret River Wine Region Festival and the Barossa Vintage Festival. The largest is the biennial Tasting Australia, which showcases the very best the nation has to offer in food, wine and gastronomic hospitality.
- Take a long lunch (a day of leisurely food and wine tasting as you crawl from winery to winery) at the Lovedale Long Lunch in the Hunter Valley or the Capes Long Lunch in the northern Margaret River region.
- Follow the Great Grape Road touring route, a scenic circuit through the Pyrenees, Grampians and Ballarat wine regions of western Victoria.
Originally published 27 November 2009.
(i) Who We Are, David Dale
(iii) Winetitles Wine Industry Database