Wineries, such as Lowe Family Wine Co, are keen for visitors.

NEW SOUTH WALES

Canberra District

Sarah AND Anthony McDougall, Lake George Winery

This is the first cellar door to greet you when entering the Canberra District from Sydney – and what a welcome. After purchasing the local icon in 2018, Sarah and Anthony McDougall have brought new energy to the region’s oldest winery, implementing organic and sustainable practices on the estate.

Where’s your favourite place to spend a Sunday afternoon with family and friends?

We love The George Bar & Dining in Bungendore – it’s always a relaxed dining experience. We enjoy taking our children down to the kids play area if the weather is good or if it’s not, sitting in a chair near the fireplace enjoying the garlic bread.

What are your top three must-do experiences to try in the district?

We suggest to people to take a Vines & Wines tour to soak up the local history of the Canberra District. It’s a lovely introduction to the region and is great to have a designated driver.

Out Yass way, YazzBar is this hip and happening wine bar located on the main street. Winemakers frequent the venue and you might just bump into one of them for a chat.

For a slower pace, the stars you can view with us at Lake George Winery are just spectacular.

We host A Night Under the Stars, which is a pop-up, glamping experience where you can enjoy wine in the day and a sparkling star performance at night.

Lake George Winery’s pet ‘dog’ is a sheep called Harry.
Lake George Winery’s pet ‘dog’ is a sheep called Harry.

Which are some of your favourite wineries to visit in the Canberra District?

High on the list would be Collector Wines. Kate McKay is a wonderful host in their super-quaint and fabulously styled cellar door. Kate also sells her ceramics and we have become keen collectors.

Pizza and wine at Four Winds Vineyard is fantastic, with their margherita pizza and award-winning sparkling riesling the highlights.

Brindabella Hills has amazing views of the nearby hills and mountain range, and it’s the perfect spot for watching the sunset.

Just next door is Pankhurst Wines – check our their award-winning arneis.

What are some of your go-to family-friendly spots in the region?

East Hotel or Canberra Rex are great places to use as a base to explore the Canberra District.

There are also several wineries that are kid- and dog-friendly, such as Contentious Character, Tallagandra Hill Winery and Gallagher Wines.

What are some of the Canberra District’s best-kept secrets?

The Vintners Daughter is a must visit. Steph Helm is a second-generation winemaker and makes some serious wines that often sell out.

If you’re feeling energetic, there is a wonderful walking track between Lerida Estate and Lake George Winery.

And there are plenty of places where you can literally wake up in a vineyard. For starters, there’s our own Little George accommodation at Lake George Winery.

You could stay at Tallagandra Hill Winery or Surveyor’s Hill Vineyard, and of course glamping with Naked Cubby Collective at Mount Majura Vineyard is a must.

Winemaker Steph Helm of The Vintner’s Daughter.
Winemaker Steph Helm of The Vintner’s Daughter.

Mudgee

Ella Stening, DRNKS & AJ Wine Merchants

Ella Stening works with online wine retailer DRNKS and Andrew Jamison Wine Merchants, which means she loves to chat about Australian wine. She’s also keen to talk about her favourite region – her beloved Mudgee.

Your favourite foodie experiences in Mudgee?

The farms practically overflowing with produce strike me every time. Suss out what is in season, pick your spot to forage and call the farmer to go say g’day– you’ll make a mate for sure.

Try Jannei Goat Farm for cheese, or Curra Creek for figs when they’re in season. Oh and the cheese! Good grief. Make sure you try High Valley Mudgee Cheese Co. Also get a pie from Peter’s Hot Bread on the main drag – the steak and mushroom pie is special.

What are some of your favourite wineries to visit in the area?

The most important thing for me when searching for wineries to visit is to find those dedicated to sustainable viticulture. Lowe Wine is incredibly special, just the sheer brilliance of seeing great farming and viticulture all on display. I also have a soft spot for Gilbert Family Wines. The tasting room is lush and slick, modern yet warm. Vinifera Wines is great too, especially if you’d like to play a spot of badminton.

You have a day to spend in Mudgee doing whatever you wish, how would you spend it?

I’d book an Airbnb on one of the sprawling, verdant farms. Then, I’d go for a morning fish or kayak near Ganguddy-Dunns Swamp or Lake Windamere.

After that I’d grab a coffee from Alby & Esthers, then spend the day visiting some wineries. On the hit list would be the classics; Logan Wines, Lowe Wine, Gilbert Family Wines and Eloquesta Wines.

I’d also visit Burnbrae Wines, I have heard a lot about owner Trine Gay. I like the way she speaks and we need to support more women in the wine industry. In the evening, I’d go to Roth’s Wine Bar and Cellar and drink some really old Mudgee cabernet sauvignon.

Gilbert Family Wines.
Gilbert Family Wines.

Orange

Ben Svenson, De Salis Wines

If you’ve ever visited De Salis, you’ve probably had the pleasure of chatting with Ben ‘Sweet Talker’ Svenson (right, pictured with head winemaker Mitch Svenson). He’s the marketing brains and the guy pouring your tastings.

Any tips for visitors planning a trip to Orange?

Orange is cool so always pack a jacket, beanie and warm shoes. If you need more warmth, check out Racine Bakery. They offer the best house-made croissants plus soups and crusty sourdough breads.

What are some of your favourite wineries to visit in the area?

Bloodwood Wines and Patina Wines are two wineries that offer an experience that is intimate and authentic. You’ll find yourself talking with the owner and winemakers themselves, which is something I love about the cellar doors in Orange.

Wine to try from this region?

I’ve always been a fan of chardonnay and here in Orange there are some producers making world-class examples. But you can’t go past the Canobolas Smith Shine Chardonnay.

Your ultimate Sunday afternoon?

After a big day hosting guests at our cellar door, it’s a freshly made mojito by the pool at The Oriana. It’s a touch of Palm Springs with a 1950s’ vibe, making for the perfect afternoon getaway.

If someone had a day in Orange, how would you suggest they spend it?

Wake up in the gorgeous Willow House and then take a walk through Cook Park, before a coffee at Good Eddy. From here, make sure you’ve organised a private tour with Lauren from Winery Experiences Orange.

First stop is a tasting with Rhonda and Stephen at Bloodwood. Then enjoy a seasonal share lunch in the courtyard of The Union Bank.

Next is the recently opened Strawhouse Wines. Their mature vineyard is dry-grown, cropped low, and produces brilliant shiraz, semillon and sauvignon blanc.

The final tasting, is with us at De Salis Wines. Bubbles, chardonnay and pinot – you can’t go wrong! Have a pre-dinner cocktail at The Oriana, before enjoying dinner at Charred Kitchen & Bar for three courses and the wine list of your dreams. Nightcap is at Washington & Co. Just ask for Felix, you won’t miss him; that strapping lad knows his whiskies, has terrible banter and plays swinging tunes.

Ben hosting a tasting at the De Salis Wines cellar door.
Ben hosting a tasting at the De Salis Wines cellar door.

Shoalhaven Coast

Brent Strong, Head chef at Bangalay Dining

Growing up on a farm in Jasper’s Brush, the Shoalhaven Coast has always been home for Brent Strong. His love for the region is apparent in his menu at Bangalay Dining – a fresh and exciting showcase of native ingredients and the quality produce found in the area.

What are some of your favourite food producers from the region?

I can’t go past Schottlander’s Wagyu. We have been using their product in the restaurant and I believe it really is world-class wagyu. Pasture-raised on the hills of Rose Valley gives it an amazing flavour profile.

I also like Kangaroo Valley Pastured Eggs, and the milk and cream of South Coast Dairy. We are lucky to have such great products on our doorstep.

What are you favourite wineries and restaurants to visit in the area?

I really enjoy a visit to Cupitt’s in Ulladulla. They have a great selection and I’m a big fan of their nebbiolo. They also make some really nice cheese – try the Tomme de Chèvre, and don’t forget to try the beer too. Cupitt’s Restaurant does great quality, produce-driven food, some of the best on the south coast.

When we do get out to eat, South on Albany in Berry is a favourite, their service and food are always on point.

Cupitt's.
Cupitt's.

What is one of your not-to-be missed food and wine experiences in the region?

The South Coast Food and Wine Festival is a great way to experience the best the region has to offer. The event coordinates the coast’s food and wine providers all in the one location, including those who don’t have an outlet to sell their product to the public.

What does your ultimate one day in Shoalhaven Coast itinerary look like?

Get up early and enjoy a walk along Seven Mile Beach, and then head over to Kangaroo Valley to grab a fresh baked pastry and coffee from Hampden Deli. Take a trip into Berry and walk through the historic main street to experience the retail and café scene. Alternatively, take the trip down south and visit Cupitt’s to enjoy all their offerings of wine, beer, cheese and the restaurant. On the way back, stop in to Coolangatta Estate and make sure you try the semillon. Then to finish the day why not stop in with us at Bangalay Dining to enjoy our six-course tasting menu with paired wine.

Bangalay Dining showcases the NSW South Coast’s premium produce.
Bangalay Dining showcases the NSW South Coast’s premium produce.

QUEENSLAND

PENNY GRANT, Shaw + Smith

Penny Grant is known for her award-winning wine lists at some of Brisbane’s top venues including Donna Chang. Now she’s started a new role as Market Manager at Shaw + Smith, in the Adelaide Hills, but the Queensland wine scene is a place she knows and loves.  

Why is the Granite Belt a great place for a weekend away?

In Queensland it is easy to head to the coast for the weekend, but I think we sometimes forget that we have a wine region on our doorstep. Unfortunately the region has been hit with fires and the longest drought in 120 years, so supporting local has never been more important.

What are some unmissable experiences in the south-west Queensland region?

The Tamborine Mountain Distillery has a new tasting room open. I love their gins and vodka made with indigenous Australian ingredients like Davidson Plum.

Witches Falls Winery source most of their fruit from the Granite Belt, and their Wild Ferment Chardonnay has long been a feature on any wine list I have written. At the winery you can put together a local cheese board and sit among the vines.

At The Overflow Estate 1895, Richard Ousby (former head chef at Stokehouse Q) has some on-point food and a great range of Mediterranean varieties on pour.

Essen offers home-style food cooked with love. They are also BYO so you can take your wine purchases out to dinner.

Which are some of your favourite wineries across the state?

Golden Grove Estate has excellent wines, like the vermentino and tempranillo. Ray Costanzo has a great take on these varieties.

La Petite Mort is by appointment only, and Andrew and Glen have a different approach in the region, which is gaining an amazing amount of followers. They do skin-contact wines from mostly Mediterranean varieties. If the Severn River is flowing, make sure you go check it out at the back of their property.

Wine to try from Queensland?

2020 Golden Grove Estate Vermentino. This wine delivers every year; it’s crisp, dry, has floral and stone fruits with textural mineral qualities.

In 2020, they had to source fruit from interstate due to relentless drought but it still reflects the house style.

Andrew Scott and Glen Roberts of  La Petite Mort.
Andrew Scott and Glen Roberts of La Petite Mort.

SOUTH AUSTRALIA

Adelaide Hills

Charlotte Hardy, Charlotte Dalton Wines

The Adelaide Hills is a special place for Charlotte Hardy. It was in the small town of Basket Range that she started her much-loved label Charlotte Dalton Wines. While she’s recently made the move to Port Elliot to open her cellar door The Joinery at Factory 9, Charlotte says she’ll always be a Hills dweller in spirit.

What do you love about the region and do you have a favourite winery to visit?

I think the most awesome thing about the Adelaide Hills is the diversity in wine styles, varieties and beliefs – it’s a melting pot of greatness.

How on earth do I choose just one. I couldn’t pick a bad winery or even my favourite but the cellar door of Murdoch Hill is great. It is a place that showcases their wines so well. There is no distraction when visiting. The experience is the wine, place and people. I love it.

What is one of your must-have experiences in the Adelaide Hills?

A pint at the Uraidla Hotel, then over the road to Lost in a Forest for a Negroni and delicious pizza (the ‘Shroom and Buzzbomb are my favourites) paired with some tasty, vinous drops – finish with a mezcal.

Lost in a Forest.
Lost in a Forest.

Which are some of your favourite producers and wines from the region?

Anything from the Adelaide Hills subregion Kuitpo is exciting, like Golden Child Wines or the XO Wine Co – go for their pinot noir. Also pick up a bottle of The Hills & Back Sangiovese Rosé from the Stanley Bridge Tavern who are independent and support local producers. Plus Pablo, Mel and Frank are legends!

If you were to play tour guide for someone who had not visited the Hills before, where would you suggest for their visit?

Start at the Crafers Hotel and buy a bottle of NV Deviation Road Altair Sparkling Brut Rosé (actually, buy two bottles). Drive up to Mount Lofty to take in that view before heading to Balhannah to have a browse thorough the awesome Balhannah Op Shop (don’t forget to look in the little front room). Visit the town of Hahndorf, established by Lutheran migrants, before walking the trail up to the Mount Barker Summit.

If you are lucky, the Ngeringa Cellar Door may be open. Stop here to learn about the beautiful biodynamic way of life of Janet, Erinn and their family.

Next stop is Golding Wines for a tasting and a quite confronting glimpse into the bushfire destruction. Drive through Lenswood and look at all the amazing orchards – a huge piece of the Adelaide Hills story.  

Head up to Mount Lofty Ranges for a mind-blowing lunch and wines.

Then travel through the towns Forest Range, Basket Range and Marble Hill towards Norton Summit to see why the Adelaide Hills is sometimes referred to as a fruit bowl. Finish the day on the verandah at The Scenic Hotel @ Norton Summit where you will be treated to yet another incredible view of the region.

Charlotte Hardy suggests a visit to Golding Wines in the Adelaide Hills.
Charlotte Hardy suggests a visit to Golding Wines in the Adelaide Hills.

Barossa Valley

Andrew Quin, Hentley Farm

Andrew Quin took on the role of head winemaker at Hentley Farm in 2008 and has brought a new edge to this Barossan favourite. He also keeps himself busy with his own label Quin Wines as well as running Cambourne Boutique Accommodation in Seppeltsfield.

What’s your ideal way to spend a Sunday afternoon in the local area?

Kaiserstuhl National Park is a great place for a bush walk with amazing views of the valley below and wildlife everywhere. For those into adventure sports, there is also an array of mountain biking trails that keep my boys and I amused for hours. Once we are finished there, we head down the hill to Tanunda Pines Golf Course and sneak in nine holes before heading up to Ember Pizza in Nuriootpa for an early dinner.

When celebrating a special occasion, where are some of your favourite places for a perfect meal with family and friends?

Vintners Bar and Grill near Angaston is a local icon, where you can expect to dine alongside some of the Barossa’s finest winemakers.

FermentAsian is another great venue, with its fresh and vibrant take on South-East Asian cuisine combined with one of the most extensive wine lists in the country.

Our own Hentley Farm restaurant is also a good place for a special meal with views of our vineyard and a degustation menu that never fails to amaze.

What wineries do you like to visit in the Barossa Valley and what experiences do you enjoy there?

With more than 100 cellar doors in the Barossa Valley there is no shortage of options for visitors. One of my favourites is Henschke, to do the Hill of Grace Experience – a tasting through several vintages of one of Australia’s rarest and most-celebrated wines.

Another favourite of mine is Elderton Wines. You can enjoy a Taste, Set & Match experience, which is a private tasting followed by a tennis match on the estate courts.

There’s also Artisans of Barossa, Kalleske, Seppeltsfield and Yalumba.

Elderton Wines.
Elderton Wines.

Can you give us a rundown of your ideal day in the valley?

Get picked up from a night at Cambourne Boutique Accommodation and enjoy an early-morning hot air balloon ride with Barossa Valley Ballooning.

After that, head to the Barossa Farmers Market for breakfast before travelling to Angaston for a visit to Taste Eden Valley where you can enjoy a wide variety of local produce.

Next stop is Elderton Wines housed in their recently renovated homestead. Then travel into Tanunda and visit Artisans of Barossa, a group of small wineries from the region. Lunch is an option here, too, at the on-site Vino Lokal.

Then make a visit to us at Hentley Farm. If you haven’t eaten, have lunch here otherwise head into the cellar door housed in the original 1840’s cottage for a tasting.

Seppeltsfield is next on the list and where you need to do the Taste Your Birth Year Tour. A tip is to pretend you are much older than you are!

If you have the time and energy left, head into the small town of Greenock for a visit to organic producer Kalleske and a tasting. After that, pop next door to The Greenock, for a pint and parmi.

Hentley Farm.
Hentley Farm.

TASMANIA

Jen Doyle, Jansz Tasmania

Jen Doyle’s wine career has seen her work across Western Australia and New South Wales, but now she calls Tasmania home where she is viticulturist for iconic sparkling house Jansz. Her elegant wines express the Tasmanian terroir – it’s an area she loves for its mix of natural beauty, quality produce and sense of community.

What do you love about Tasmania?

Tassie is small enough for you to find tranquility in a remote location, but large enough to support a vibrant restaurant and cafe culture, a rich music scene and is overrepresented when it comes to literary talent. It also punches above its weight for festivals, and celebrations of food, wine, art and culture. We are part of a tight-knit community that loves to share what our island cultivates.

Which are some of your favourite producers and wines coming out of Tasmania?

I have always been a fan of chardonnay and Tasmania does it beautifully. Try the Dalrymple Vineyards Cave Block Chardonnay, Sinapius Home Vineyard Chardonnay, Pooley Wines Cooinda Vale Chardonnay, or Frogmore Creek Chardonnay.

Your top wine from the region?

What a difficult question to answer. I’ll relate it to a memorable experience, which cemented my love for Tasmanian wine – a vertical tasting of Frogmore Creek rieslings. It demonstrated to me the seamless ability for Tasmanian riesling to age with both power and elegance. But for red wines, it is hard to go past the classic Freycinet Vineyard Pinot Noir, from Tasmania’s east coast with the 2017 vintage a cracker.

If someone had a day in Tasmania, how would you suggest they spend it?

If that was all the time you had, make a day visit to the Tasman Peninsula from Hobart. Pack a picnic lunch with sourdough, cheeses and other treats from Pigeon Whole Bakers, which you can source from the Argyle Street shop, or try the wares at Lipscombe Larder. Match all this with a local wine from Cool Wine and Gasworks Cellar Door.

Drive to Boomer Bay for breakfast at Phoenix Farm, with views from Maria Island across Marion Bay, the Narrows and the Forestier Peninsula. For coffee, visit Eaglehawk Neck Lookout and discover the Cubed Espresso van.

Take a 90-minute return walk along the sea cliffs to Waterfall Bluff with a picnic spot option at the end.

Then head east into the beautiful Fortescue Bay in the Tasman National Park before walking along the silky white beach toward Bivouac Bay. Another great picnic spot option and place to swim.

Visit Remarkable Cave then Roaring Beach for your third picnic spot option. I suggest choosing a spot dependent on the wind direction – we are in the Roaring Forties after all.

If you don’t take a picnic, then go back to Dunalley for local oysters and seafood at Bangor Vineyard Shed, or fish and chips at Dunalley Fish Market.

If the weather is not great, spend a day at Mona for a world-class experience enjoying art and relics through the centuries, wine, food and spectacular views of the Derwent River.

Frogmore Creek.
Frogmore Creek.

VICTORIA

Grampians

Nancy Panter and Adam Louder, SubRosa

After meeting in California, Nancy Panter and Adam Louder returned to Adam’s home town in the Grampians and started their label SubRosa. Now with their two kids in tow, they have created a portfolio of region-expressive wines, while Louder juggles being chief winemaker at Mount Langi Ghiran.

What do you love about the Grampians?

AL: I grew up here in the Grampians. I really love the wide open spaces, mountains, bush, wildlife and clean air; it’s a beautiful part of Australia.

NP: I love the sunsets, crisp mornings in autumn and spring, and our beautiful warm sunny days. And in winter there’s nothing better after a walk in the bush than the warmth of a fire with a beautiful glass of Grampians shiraz.

Where are some of your go-to destinations in the region?

The Royal Mail Hotel has one of the best local wine lists, and you can take a tour through their cellar. They have a massive kitchen garden as well, amazing food, and really knowledgeable and friendly staff with a spectacular Grampians backdrop.

There’s also a new bottle shop, Grampians Wine Cellar that Simon Freeman has opened in Halls Gap. It is focusing on both local and regional wine, and we can’t wait to check it out.

We love Red Rock Olives. It’s a great spot to stop to pick up local organic olive oil.

What are some experiences you’d recommend for families with kids?

The Grampians National Park is beautiful. In summer, we like to take the kids on the Venus Baths walk where they love playing on the rocks and in the water, followed by a stop for ice cream.

Pomonal Estate has a massive outdoor area with views of the Grampians. Other places that are fun for kids are the Halls Gap Zoo and the Halls Gap Swimming Pool in summer.

What are some of your favourite wineries to visit in the Grampians?

Mount Langi Ghiran, where Adam is chief winemaker, is surrounded by spectacular nature, and is one of the most stunning and unique wineries in
Australia. Take a picnic lunch and enjoy the views and wildlife (eagles, black
cockatoos and more) among the vines.

Best’s Great Western is a big slice of Australian winemaking history; it’s family owned and has been around since the 1860s. They have a great cellar door with plenty of history, a self-guided underground cellar walk and the wines are awesome, too.

Fallen Giants is only a few minutes from Halls Gap. It has a playground that the kids can enjoy while you sit on their deck in the sunshine and enjoy their wines.

Any advice for visitors to the area?

Stock up on local wine and produce, and just spend a day at your accommodation doing very little. Enjoy the bush, the wildlife and just be.

What are some local wines to try?

2015 SubRosa The Aristocracy Grampians Shiraz. It’s a beautiful Grampians shiraz that has delicious complexity. It was made to cellar, so each time we open a bottle we enjoy discovering how it has evolved.

Fallen Giants.
Fallen Giants.

Rutherglen

Amy sutherland Smith, Warrabilla Wines

It is evident what a love Amy Sutherland Smith has for her home town. She is general manager at her family winery Warrabilla Wines, but as a sixth-generation winemaker, she also likes to drop into the cellar to help her father make and blend the wines.

Where are your favourite local spots for unwinding on the weekend?

Local wine bar Thousand Pound is ideal for Friday nights. They have a great wine list featuring producers who don’t have a cellar door. My go-to order is a Simāo and Co shiraz. Saturday evening is at the Rutherglen Brewery with a wood-fired pizza and some live music, while my Sunday afternoon will be reserved for the James & Co cellar door. Try their sangiovese rosé with lunch.

If you were visiting Rutherglen as a guest, where would you choose to stay?

Basq Stays is a new addition to town and ideal when travelling with family and friends. Otherwise Amberesque is hard to beat for a romantic weekend away with the significant other. It’s a stunning residence with a log fire and some of the most talked about breakfasts going. I often suffer food envy following their Instagram.

Thousand Pound.

Tell us about your top three food and wine experiences in the region.

Campbells of Rutherglen offer the Muscat and Topaque Classification Tasting, which, if you’re just getting to know fortified wines or want to know more, is a memorable experience. Or if you’d prefer something a little more hands on, head across the road to Stanton & Killeen Wines to blend your own bottle.

Attend a festival if you can while visiting. There’s the Tastes of Rutherglen, held in March each year, or the Winery Walkabout.

And grab a pie! Might sound silly, but Parker Pies Rutherglen is an institution. Ask for the chicken, ham and mustard pie. You can thank me later.

How would you suggest visitors spend a day in the Rutherglen?

Start your day with breakfast at The Other Place at Rutherglen or Pickers Cafe & Collectables, followed by a walk down Main Street and around Lake King.

Visit the Rutherglen Lolly Shop, Rutherglen Provedore, Tapsell’s Books and Music and the gift shop at the Rutherglen Wine Experience and Information Centre.

If you need a driver to pick you up, try Old School Cruises or, if you’re a group, call Lil Tipsy Tours.

First winery of the day is John Gehrig Wines followed by Pfeiffer Wines, to try the Pfeiffer Seriously Fine Apera. For lunch, stop at Lake Moodemere Estate for beautiful waterfront views, an estate-grown menu and honest wines.

In the afternoon, come visit us at Warrabilla Wines before visiting the De Bortoli cellar door and their Aboriginal art gallery.

Pre-dinner drinks are at James & Co, which also has an excellent gin selection if you need a change of pace. For dinner, head to Taste @ Rutherglen and at the adjoining Rutherglen Brewery, there is often live music playing.

Stanton & Killeen Wines

Yarra Valley

Imogen Hayes, Handpicked Wines

Originally from the Sunshine State, Imogen Hayes loves the warm and welcoming vibes of the Yarra Valley. In her role as marketing manager at Handpicked Wines, she gets to visit the region for both work and leisure – meaning she’s found all local hot spots as well as racking up her own favourites.

What makes the Yarra Valley special to you?

The first thing I noticed working in the Yarra Valley is the strong sense of community between producers, and the sense of pride in their wine, produce and culture. It’s a community that has been through ups and downs, and always bands together.

It also gets cold so I love how cosy and inviting many of the eating and drinking spaces are. It’s the kind of place that you go on weekends to drive through ancient forests or get rugged up by the fire with a nice glass of wine.

What are some must-have experiences in the region?

Definitely drive through the winding hills of the Yarra Ranges National Park, where you can get a real sense of the terroir and climate of this pristine region.

The Four Pillars Gin Distillery is the perfect end of day pit stop. Be sure to nominate a designated driver as the gin tastings are not to be missed.

A ‘locals only’ experience is a visit to the Healesville Hotel for delicious pub food by the fire with plenty of great value local wines by the glass. A truly comforting experience.

Four Pillars
Four Pillars.

Places to stay in the Yarra Valley?

I recommend Balgownie Estate Vineyard Resort and Spa if you are after a luxe weekend treat. They have a lovely day spa to round off a couple of days of indulging.

Where do you enjoy a meal in the region?

I love the relaxed but refined atmosphere in the Graceburn Wine Room. It’s also the urban cellar door of Mac Forbes, and his wine tastings explore the Yarra Valley sub-regions in a clear and educational way.

You also can’t go past Innocent Bystander for a grazing plate or a wood-fired pizza on a Sunday afternoon.  

Do you have any Yarra Valley producers and wines for people to visit and try?

So many! The Yarra Valley has a great community of innovative winemakers and growers. It’s good to see the work the region is doing in terms of championing itself as a top Australian pinot noir and chardonnay region. Try examples from Giant Steps, Oakridge, Handpicked Wines, and Luke Lambert Wines. For something classic go for Yarra Yering or for something funky and weird try Patrick Sullivan.

Imogen Hayes recommends a visit to Giant Steps to try their pinot noir and chardonnay.
Imogen Hayes recommends a visit to Giant Steps to try their pinot noir and chardonnay.

WESTERN AUSTRALIA

Margaret River

Mijan Patterson & Livia Maiorana, South By South West Wines

Mijan Patterson and Livia Maiorana or, as many may know them, Mij and Liv, are the dynamic duo behind small-batch artisan label South by South West Wines. They love the region’s mix of natural beauty, surf coasts, eateries, walks – oh, and of course the bunch of incredible wine producers found in Margs.

Where’s your go-to for your morning coffee or brunch with friends?

Yardbyrd for their tasty coffee and amazing savoury muffins. It’s family operated and has an awesome local crew, cottage garden and characterful furnishings, all of which make it a super friendly place for a morning coffee and a dose of daily banter.

What are some of your favourite wineries in the region?

Note that many of the smaller batch winemakers don’t generally have cellar doors, but it’s worth a phone call to see if they’re doing tastings by appointment. These impromptu tastings can be a lot of fun. Just picture yourself amongst the tanks in the winery then in the back of a ute in the vineyard.

Some smaller producer mates that do appointment tastings are the legends Sarah and Iwo at Si Vintners, Dylan and Taryn at LS Merchants, and the leader in Margaret River’s natural wine movement Sam Vinciullo.

Thankfully, Settlers Tavern are also champions in supporting local producers and always have a great selection of wines on pour.

For more traditional wineries, try Woodlands Wines for a cheese and charcuterie tasting that really showcases the regional grape varietals. Mr Barval is also great. Rumour has it Skigh Wines are opening a cellar door soon that will be well worth checking out.

Woodlands Wines.
Woodlands Wines.

Will you let us in on some of the Margaret River’s hidden treasures?

There are lots of spectacular secret spots and hidden coves along the coastline that you can find while hiking the Cape to Cape Track. Boranup Beach (although not secret) is well worth the effort to get to.  

As far as hidden treasures go, Yallingup Wood Fired Bread. Nestled in the forest behind the town of Yallingup, the bread is baked to be ready at precisely 3.30pm. The key is to time your afternoon surf with baking time to have hot bread to devour on the ride home. Make sure to buy two loaves as only one will make it home.

If you had to take someone on a whirlwind trip around the region in a single day, how would you spend it?

We’d start the day by picking up a coffee on our way to Redgate Beach. Then head for a wander around the beautiful Boranup Forest and part of the Cape to Cape track.

Next it’d be Si Vintners to check out their biodynamic vineyard.

We’d then jump back in the car and enjoy cruising up the picturesque Caves Road, en route to Wyadup Rocks and Injidup Natural Spa.

Then we’d pick up a selection of local craft beers from Wild Hop Brewing Company or Beerfarm to enjoy while watching the sunset at Surfers Point. For dinner it’s a late sitting at Miki’s Open Kitchen. While covering quite a bit of ground, we think this would give any visitor a real feel for the region.

Sarah and Iwo of Si Vintners.
Sarah and Iwo of Si Vintners.

Swan Valley

Garth Cliff, Vino Volta

The Swan Valley is home for Garth Cliff, where he runs his label Vino Volta. Garth loves the proximity of the Swan Valley to Perth, as well as the varietal styles of grenache and chenin blanc found in the region. His wines play homage to the Swan Valley roots, as well as including a few innovative gems with some pét-nat and natural styles.

What are some of your favourite food and wine experiences in the region?

Taylor’s Art and Coffee House is great for a casual breakfast or lunch – BYO your favourite Swan Valley wine. For some local produce, try Fiori Coffee at Oakover Grounds, The House of Honey, as well as Mondo Nougat.

What’s your ideal way to spend a Sunday afternoon in the Swan Valley with the family?

Mandoon Estate produce some of the best wines in the Swan Valley. Check out their Old Vine Shiraz and Old Vine Grenache. The estate is also home to Homestead Brewery and The Llawn, which is a great kid-friendly area and overlooks the Swan River.

Wines to try from the area?

From us at Vino Volta, it’s our Funky and Fearless Chenin Blanc. But be sure not to miss out on the Pedro Ximenes Liqueur from Talijancich Wines.

Can you tell us about your ultimate Swan Valley itinerary.

There are so many possible itineraries for the Swan Valley. How about working up a thirst with a 4.5km morning walk around Bells Rapids? The walk provides some of the best views of the Swan Valley and Perth, and it’s a great way to start the day.

After that, race around a few cellar doors, including Swan Valley Wines for your lo-fi wine fix and Sittella Winery, which I reckon is making the best sparkling wines in Western Australia.

Then visit a couple of traditional producers such as John Kosovich Wines and Faber Vineyard. Then call through Old Young’s Distillery – caution is required as you can be assured you won’t leave without Ryan selling you a bottle or two.

After that, make a visit to the Maalinup Aboriginal Gallery, where you can browse art, learn about bush foods and the history of the region from Aboriginal elder Dale Tilbrook. Finish off with a sneaky burger and beer from Mash Brewing.

Any spots to visit that people wouldn’t usually see on the tourist guides?

Don’t miss Battistessa Studio. Antonio Battistessa is a master forger and artist who combines metal, wood, glass and stone. It’s inert media but somehow he makes it organic and full of life.  

Mandoon Estate makes excellent reds and is also home to Homestead Brewery.
Mandoon Estate makes excellent reds and is also home to Homestead Brewery.