Nothing heals the stress of a hectic day like a glass of your favourite vino; especially if you consider yourself to be a bit of an oenophile. As you take a generously large sip of Shiraz, you begin to wonder about its origin. You start picturing grape farmers harvesting grapes from vineyards in full bloom, antique wine cellars abound with barrels of fermenting wine, lush greenery and rolling hills – and delicious food to boot. But why leave it to your imagination when you can experience it all in person?
Whether you’re a wine aficionado or have a case of wanderlust, here are five of the best wine-centric holiday destinations in Australia. Guaranteed to please your palate and more.
The Hunter Valley
Just a mere two-hour drive to the North of Sydney, the Hunter Valley is Australia’s first commercial – and oldest wine-growing region. Home to over 150 wineries and more than a century of wine-making history, it comes out on top for both wine aficionados and tourists alike. The Semillon and Shiraz are the Region’s most famous wine products, enjoyed on every continent around the world.
Driving from one end of the Hunter Valley to the other only takes about 40 minutes, leaving you with plenty of time to explore some of the Region’s traditional villages and townships. Visit different vineyards and cellar doors, witness the wine-making process and sample a glass or two of top-notch local Hunter Valley wine. An absolute must-visit is Pokolbin, hailed as the wine capital of the Valley with more wineries than anywhere else in the Region.
The Hunter Valley also is famous for its booming food scene, offering an epicurean paradise for foodies. There are many fantastic places to grab a bite to eat, whether you’re craving Italian, Japanese, Thai or traditional Aussie cuisine. Taking pride in the abundance of fresh and locally grown produce, the Hunter Valley is also teeming with artisanal shops offering gourmet cheese, relishes, sauces and oils, which you can take home to recreate your favourite local dishes.
The best place to stay when visiting the Region is at Crowne Plaza Hunter Valley. The resort is loaded with facilities, amenities and activities, from wine tours inside the hotel grounds to hot air ballooning over the Region’s vineyards, bushlands and local scenery. Located in Lovedale – the heart of the Hunter Valley – enjoy teeing off at the 18-hole championship golf course. Relax at Ubika Spa. Soak up the rays from the outdoor pool and sample locally at award-winning restaurants and bars.
Back in the 1890s, Victoria’s Yarra Valley served as the primary food production region for Melbourne. The Yarra Valley was also Victoria’s first wine-producing district, with the first vines planted by the Ryrie brothers as early as 1838. Now it is celebrated as one of Australia’s most popular wine regions, with over 80 wineries and cellar doors to its name. Pinot Noir and Chardonnay are the most famous varieties to be produced in the Yarra Valley.
In addition to vineyard tours and great food, the Yarra Valley also offers many activities to enjoy, including hot air ballooning at sunrise, bonding over farmgate meals at the picnic grounds, cycling or hiking one of the many bike trails or playing a round of golf on the greens. If you have kids travelling with you, there are also plenty of adrenaline-fuelled kid-friendly activities like zip lining or a visit to the zoo.
Located in South Australia and just an hour and a half north of Adelaide, the Clare Valley is another top holiday pick for vacationers and locals with a fondness for wine. The Region is home to more than 50 wineries and is renowned for its crisp, signature wine, the Riesling. The Clare Valley also produces a variety of other impressive wines, including Shiraz, Cabernet Sauvignon and Malbec.
When you arrive in Clare Valley, don’t miss hiring a bike from a local business so you can cycle the iconic Riesling Trail. Traversing the trail on two wheels takes less than three hours. But there’s no need to hurry, along the trail’s 35-kilometre corridor you’ll find many of the Region’s top wine producers and cellar doors, especially between the towns of Clare and Auburn.
If you want to dig deeper into the Clare Valley’s rich culture and history, pay a visit to the historic towns of Burra and Mintaro or stop by the many art galleries in the Region before heading to a local cellar door for a much-deserved glass or two of bubbles.
Barossa Valley is another wine region located near to Adelaide. In less than an hour’s drive northeast, you’ll discover the postcard-perfect vineyards of the Region. The Barossa Valley, which encompasses the towns of Tanunda, Angaston and Nuriootpa, has more than 150 wineries and 80 fantastic cellar doors to explore.
The fertile grounds of the Barossa Valley were once a settlement for British and German immigrants in the 1840s, which is why Barossa radiates such European charm. Why not take a tour around Barossa by car or bicycle and follow the Barossa Heritage Trail? The 38-kilometre trail guides you through the Region’s main towns, giving ample opportunity for you to explore the wineries, restaurants, cafés, stone cottages and antique shops along the way.
If you happen to be planning a visit in the spring, make a stop in Lyndoch for a scenic walk in the intoxicatingly fragrant lavender farm. Another famous attraction, especially for kids, is the Whispering Wall at Williamstown. When you speak at one end of the wall, you can be heard at the other end, which is more than 140 metres away. Great fun for the whole family – especially those looking for an ice-cold glass of dry white.
Swan Valley, Western Australia’s premier wine region, lies just 25 minutes north of Perth. Other than being the most visited and oldest wine-producing region in Western Australia, what makes the Swan Valley so special is its soil. It is so fertile (which is uncommon in the Perth Region), that it provides a conducive environment for growing wine-making grapes and other organic produce.
If you’re travelling to the Swan Valley, the best way to explore the region is by following its Food and Wine Trail. You can ride a bike or drive yourself around the 32-kilometre loop, which is lined with wineries, restaurants, galleries and roadside stalls. If you want to relax as you go wine-sampling, why not rent a chauffeured classic car, a horse-drawn carriage or even a party bus?
Exploring Swan Valley is not limited to land, you can also hire a private boat tour and cruise the Swan River with friends or family, soak up the views – and a bottle of two of the finest plonk around.
Stay in the Heart of the Hunter Valley
While these destinations are perfect for enjoying a wine-focused holiday in Australia, the Hunter Valley is the crowning glory of them all. And if you’re as serious about your luxury accommodation as you are about your Shiraz, you’ll fall in love with Crowne Plaza Hunter Valley.
Check-in to your very own private villa in the heart of the vineyard land. Travelling with kids? Not to worry. We have the only Kids Club in the Hunter Valley – letting you get down to sampling local Hunter Valley wines while they burn off excess energy, meeting new friends and having the time of their lives.
Tee off on our 18-hole championship golf course. Pamper and indulge your senses at Ubika Spa. Enjoy a dip in our two pools, including our adults-only pool. And most importantly, treat yourself to award-winning menus, locally produced wines and gourmet meals that will have you returning year after year. Don’t forget to swing by Sydney Brewery to indulge in some of the finest beer!