Meet the Characters: Simone Furlong, Leeuwin Estate
Simone Furlong grew up on the family vineyard, ...
As we tentatively start to comtemplate life after isolation, now is a great time to plan some short trips, closer to home. One of the many blessings of Australia's wine regions is that very few of them are located more than an hour or two from major cities. Based in urban Sydney, Melbourne, Adelaide, Perth or Brisbane? No problem, it's still possible to take a mini winecation without straying too far from the living rooms we've all become quite attached to.
While we would always recommend two or three nights to take in the beauty and personality of a wine region, we recognise that this is not always possible. Whether you have a only one spare day on your holiday itinerary, fancy a jaunt out of the city but need to be home by tea time or just have a hankering for a really extravagent lunch, here are some Ultimate Winery Experiences that, including travel time, fit neatly into a single day...and better still, transfers can be arranged so you can take full advantage of your time in wine country.
The Hunter Valley lies just over two hours north of Sydney and, with a designated driver, is a viable option for a day trip. Alternatively, to really maximise your time and fabulousness, a heli-transfer from Sydney Airport is also possible. In just 45 minutes you can be basking in looks of envy as you head beyond the cellar door to enjoy a behind the scenes experience at Audrey Wilkinson, Brokenwood or Tyrrell's. Our recommendation is to fit in all three. Start as you mean to go on with a VIP Premium Tour & Tasting at the iconic Tyrrell's - tour the vineyard and winery, taste wine directly from the barrel, and enjoy a tutored tasting of Tyrrell’s award winning wines, including current vintages and museum wines, carefully selected from the Tyrrell family’s private cellar. Next, head to Brokenwood Wines for The Brokenwood Journey - a private tasting with canapés followed by a tour of the working winery and perhaps linger here for a casual lunch at onsite eatery Cru Bar & Pantry. Complete your day of indulgence with a visit to Audrey Wilkinson's heritage-listed museum space for the Fortified & Fromage experience - a private tasting of premium wines and three generous fortified wine tastings direct from the barrel, delicately matched to local cheeses.
The Yarra Valley is only a half an hour drive from Melbourne CBD yet has the ability to make you feel nestled in nature, far from the pace of the city. Famous Yarra Valley pit stops - Healesville Sanctuary, De Bortoli Wines and the Yarra Valley Chocolaterie & Ice Creamery have created the perfect Yarra Valley one day itinerary. The Wine and Wildlife package begins at the iconic Healesville Sanctuary, one of Australia’s most loved tourist attractions and the best place in Victoria to see and interact with native Australian wildlife in a stunning bushland setting. Next, after a leisurely 20 minute drive through the picturesque Yarra Valley, arrive at De Bortoli Yarra Valley Estate to enjoy a two course lunch at onsite restaurant Locale and a tasting at the Cellar Door. Round out the perfect day at the Yarra Valley Chocolaterie & Ice Creamery. In the stunning showroom indulge in abundant free chocolate tastings and choose from over 250 handcrafted chocolate products.
Slightly further but still easily accessible in a day, Victoria's Mornington Peninsula offers idyllic day trip conditions with spectacular coastal vistas, charming cafés and restaurants, and an assortment of high quality wineries and gourmet food producers to explore. Start the day at Montalto with a stroll around the beautiful Sculpture Trail followed by the Perfect Pairing experience - you'll discover how food can transform the smell, taste and even texture of wine, and how to perfectly match your food and wine choices at home or dining out. Sample four award-winning wines, expertly matched by Montalto's head chef with snacks from the restaurant. Your next stop is Pt. Leo Estate. Select from one of three different culinary experiences - intimate two-hatted restaurant, Laura, bistro-style one-hatted Pt. Leo Estate Restaurant or the all-weather Wine Terrace and Cellar Door, followed by a Wine Tasting and Vineyard Tour (with cheese plate accompaniment, of course) and finish as you began with a relaxing stroll through the impressive 16 acre Sculpture Park.
Adelaide is blessed with multiple wine regions within easy distance. You won't even need to leave the city to enjoy an Ultimate Winery Experience at Penfolds Magill Estate. Spend the day discovering a South Australian icon with the Penfolds Iconic Experience - a journey through Penfolds’ history including a visit to Grange Cottage, the vintage cellar and the underground drives to see the original hiding spot of Max Schubert’s Grange, followed by a structured tasting and 3-course lunch at Magill Estate Kitchen.
Venturing slightly further afield will take you to McLaren Vale. Here, the perfect trio of experiences await at Wirra Wirra, Gemtree and d'Arenberg. Make the d'Arenberg Cube your first stop for the famous Blending Bench - a hands-on, interactive winemaking experience where you will create a blend that is truly unique. The experience includes admission to the Alternate Realities Museum and a 750ml bottled and labelled sample of your wine to take home and show off to your friends. From d'Arenberg, head to Gemtree for a bit of a Wine and Wander - learn about biodynamic grape growing and wine making at the Biodynamic Hut, before taking a self-guided tour of Gemtree's beautiful Ecotrail, enjoying a tutored tasting of Gemtree’s regional and fine wines, and grazing over a secluded picnic under the majestic gum trees. Complete your McLaren Vale jaunt with a stop at Wirra Wirra. Enjoy a tasting at the cellar door then head next door for coffee and a treat at Harry's Deli to fortify for the journey home. The coffee served and sold here was created by Dawn Patrol Coffee, who worked with Wirra Wirra winemakers to make a coffee that reflected the flavour profiles of Wirra Wirra's two best know wines. Select from either the 'Church Blend' or the 'Original Blend' which are both exclusive to Harry's Deli.
A leisurely 60 minute drive from the city is the world-renowed Barossa region. If you can only spare one day in the Barossa, we recommend dividing your time between must-visit Barossa wineries: Jacob's Creek, St Hugo, Seppeltsfield and Yalumba.
Located just 25 minutes’ drive from Perth, Western Australia’s oldest wine region, the beautiful Swan Valley, surrounds the upper reaches of the Swan River. Perched beside the river, Mandoon Estate has developed a reputation as one of the Swan Valley’s best wineries and most popular destinations.
On the Meet the Makers experience, take an in-depth guided tour of Mandoon Estate’s working winery with a member of the winemaking team, taste some award-winning wine straight from the barrel and discover the flavours of the onsite German Brew House as you take a tour and sample Estate made beers with the Head Brewer. Finally, a 6-course degustation lunch awaits, paired with Mandoon Estate wines at fine dining restaurant, Wild Swan.
Conveniently located just 45 minutes from both Brisbane and the Gold Coast, and boasting numerous activities onsite, Sirromet is the day out you can take on a whim. Book ahead however and you can enjoy the full VIP treatment on the Best of Queensland experience - a journey of pure indulgence with a Tutored Premium Tasting followed by a deliciously decadent 5-course Tasting menu.
If you are lucky enough to either live or be travelling to Tasmania, both Hobart and Launceston are located on the outskirts of beautiful wine regions so you will be tripping over magnificent vineyards at every turn. Make sure visits to Moorilla at Mona in Hobart and Josef Chromy Wines near Launceston appear at the very top of your Tasmanian check list.