The Best Wineries in the Canberra District
As with most businesses in Australia, the COVID-19 situation continues to cause staff shortages in the wine industry. Before arriving at any winery, cellar door, or restaurant, please check their website, or call, for current opening times and booking requirements.
While we all know Canberra as the home of Australian politics, our capital is now also recognised for its flourishing food and wine scene. A curious feature of the Canberra wine region is that only one winery, Mount Majura, is actually located within the Australian Capital Territory, the others are located north of the city in New South Wales.
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How Many Wineries are there in the Canberra District?
Just a 30 minute drive from the heart of the CBD, the Canberra region wineries now number in their 40s, producing more than 150 wines and drawing an increasing number of tourists to picturesque cellar doors and restaurant tables each year.
“There is so much exciting stuff going on in the Canberra culinary scene, which plays in so nicely with the wine district,” says Andrew McFadzean from Lerida Estate. “It’s got a great food scene, and, obviously, the wines are outstanding. You can literally spend a week here exploring all the great food and wine that Canberra has to offer by visiting a new place each day.”
While there are few vines growing in the city proper, there is a busy and increasingly noteworthy network of winemakers in the villages of Murrumbateman, Bungendore, Gundaroo and Collector, and dotted around Lake George. The region covers a wide altitudinal range from 300 to 800 metres, and the variations in temperatures, elevations and soil types produce a delicious diversity of cool climate wines styles including Merlot, Shiraz, Sangiovese, Pinot Noir, Chardonnay and Riesling.
To help you make the most of your next trip to our nation’s capital city, we’ve put together a list of the wineries and cellar doors to visit in the Canberra District wine region, plus other interesting things to do, delicious places to dine at, and some perfect places to stay.
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Best Canberra Wineries to visit
Gundog Estate is a James Halliday-rated five red star boutique winery offering a wide range of premium wines. This includes a Cabernet-based Rosé, Shiraz and Riesling from Murrumbateman vineyards, plus their Hunter Valley Semillon and Shiraz, and Hilltops Shiraz.
This split regional personality extends to their cellar doors, with one in the Hunter Valley and the other in Gundaroo, a historic village, just north of Canberra. Set in old 19th century stables, the Cork St Cellar offers tastings of Gundog Estate wine range, plus cheese and charcuterie plates, coffee, and gourmet pantry items featuring local produce. And, if you’re after a leisurely long lunch or dinner, the award-winning Grazing Restaurant next door, is where you need to be.
Not only are Gundog Estate great at making wine, but they’re also contributing environmentally as a certified carbon neutral winery, plus they give back socially, partnering with Path2Change, a fantastic, unique not-for-profit organization based in Newcastle that seeks to prevent and reduce youth homelessness.
Open Thursday to Monday 10am–5pm.
42 Cork St, Gundaroo, NSW
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Shaw Vineyard Estate
The family-owned-and-operated Shaw Vineyard Estate is located in Murrumbateman, with around 70 acres of Riesling, Semillon, Merlot, Malbec, Shiraz and Cabernet Sauvignon vines.
You’re in for a real treat when visiting their beautiful new cellar door. The booked wine experiences include general wine tastings, wine flights, and wine and chocolate matching with plenty of choices of where to enjoy them. Plus, there’s a private cellar tasting room packed with prized wine and leather sofas you’ll want to sink into.
The idea is for people to find a space and take their time tasting before dining next door at Olleyville. Olleyville serves lunch from 11:30am Friday to Sunday, and dinner from 6pm Thursday to Saturday. Enjoy rustic shared dishes including local free-range chicken and lamb cooked in the wood-fired oven.
For those driving an electric car, don’t despair, Shaw Vineyard Estate has free charging stations.
Open 7 days, 10am–5pm.
34 Isabel Drive, Murrumbateman, NSW
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One of the region’s most notable local wines is from Clonakilla. Cambridge-educated biochemist Dr John Kirk moved his family to Canberra from Ireland in the late 1960s to take up a post at the CSIRO and planted the first Clonakilla vines in 1971. He knew that Murrambateman terroir offered something special, however, he had no idea that Clonakilla would one day be celebrated as one of the most iconic in the country.
His son Tim, who helped in the vineyard as a child, became chief winemaker in 1996, and their Clonakilla’s Shiraz Viognier is now one of the most collected wines in Australia, with Master of Wine, Andrew Calliard believing the wine “represents the most important advances in the development of Australian Shiraz since the release of 1952 Penfolds Grange Hermitage.”
Built in 2016, and crafted from local stone and reclaimed timber, the cellar door is the perfect place to encounter the Clonakilla story and to taste some of Tim’s many world-class wines.
Open Monday to Friday, 11am to 4pm. Saturday and Sunday, 10am to 5pm.
Bookings required for groups of 10 or more.
3 Crisps Lane, Murrumbateman, NSW
Any trip to experience food and wine in Canberra is not complete without a stop in Collector, a tiny town of nostalgia and gastronomy just off the Federal Highway. Alex McKay started Collector Wines in 2005 and now sources fruit from several vineyards in the region to craft classic cool climate Riesling, Chardonnay, Shiraz, plus the emerging varietals of Pinot Meunier, Grüner Veltliner, Fiano and Sangiovese.
A testament to the quality of Alex’s winemaking, Collector Wines was awarded four Trophies at the 2022 Canberra and Region Wine Show – the Tiger Tiger Chardonnay 2021 won Best Chardonnay, the Lamp Lit Marsanne 2019 was awarded Best Dry White – Other Varieties, and the Lantern Red 2019 was awarded the Trophy for Best Dry Red – Other Varieties, and the Chair’s Trophy.
Collector Wines’ cellar door was previously located in the Old Collector Inn but at the time of writing (mid-September 2022), it was being relocated down the road to the old Collector bakery. Dating back to the 1830s, the building, like the village, is packed full of character. The cellar door is due to reopen for tastings and share plates in late 2022 or in early 2023.
Please check their website https://www.collectorwines.com.au for updates and the opening date.
Cellar Door hours TBC upon re-opening
Visits to the vineyards and winery are by appointment only.
39 Murray St, Collector, NSW
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With a five red star James Halliday rating, Capital Wines is one of the quiet successes of the Canberra wine scene, producing some of the most exciting and awarded wines within the district. Their acclaimed Ministry Series makes a wry comment on our political masters and fittingly, given its close location to the political hub of the nation. Their single vineyard series are premium wines, handcrafted from the best grapes in the vineyard. The Kyeema Vineyard Shiraz vines are from an old South Australian clone sourced from vineyards used by Penfolds and are unique within the district.
The cellar door is located in the heritage village of Hall, only 15 minutes from the centre of Canberra, and offers a range of quality varietal wines that have been consistently awarded over the years. Epicurean tastings of four wines expertly matched to four tastes of food are a particular favourite. Group and private tastings are held in the Kyeema Gallery, which features monthly changing exhibitions of local and regional artists.
Open Thursday to Monday, 10:30am to 4pm. Group bookings essential.
13 Gladstone Street, Hall, ACT
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Mount Majura Vineyard
Mount Majura Vineyard lies near the top of the Majura Valley, just outside Canberra. Every Mount Majura Vineyard wine always has been, and always will be, made exclusively from their single vineyard. In 1988, the late Dr Edgar Riek (a viticulture pioneer in the Canberra District) and Mrs Dinny Killen (the then owner of the land) planted the first hectare of the Mount Majura Vineyard together.
“Edgar chose the site from a geology map and was attracted to a patch of limestone on an east-facing slope. It is quite a unique little patch of dirt, and a great site for vines,” says Frank van der Loo, winemaker at Mount Majura.
There is no doubting that Tempranillo is Mount Majura’s flagship wine. “Tempranillo, whether the varietal or the blend, really speaks to us of place,” Frank explains. “It’s a wine of the highest quality, and with a real sense of personality, and the three single sites within our vineyard consistently show different character.”
So, what better place to taste their wines, than in the winery that nestles at the foot of that vineyard? With several wines to taste side-by-side, it's a great educational experience for everyone from the wine novice to the serious connoisseur. The seated $20 tastings also include a small cheese and charcuterie plate with a vegan option available.
Open 7 days, 10am to 5pm.
88 Lime Kiln Road, Majura, ACT
Visit Mount Majura Vineyard
Helm Wines of Murrumbateman, established by Ken and Judith Helm in 1973, are pioneers of the Canberra District, specialising in Riesling and Cabernet Sauvignon. Over the years they have earned a 5-star Halliday rating and an enthusiastic fan base for their Rieslings.
“Ken is about as knowledgeable and passionate about Riesling as anyone I know and we’ve had many a long conversation about the many nuances of this wonderful varietal while sipping some wonderful examples from his winery,” says Wine Selectors Tasting Panellist, Trent Mannell.
Helm Wines’ tasting room is located in an historic old schoolhouse, and revered across the industry as he is, you are just as likely to get a personalised tasting from Ken.
The love of industry was passed down to his daughter Stephanie, who, at aged nine, made her first Chardonnay and at 13, won her first trophy at the Murrumbateman Cool Climate Wine Show. Along with her horticulturalist husband, she now owns and run The Vintner’s Daughter – also located in Murrumbateman
Open Friday to Monday, 10am to 4pm. Booking required.
19 Butts Rd, Murrumbateman, NSW
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Eden Road Wines
Eden Road is a relatively young, boutique wine producer with a fantastic reputation, and a very impressive collection of wine show awards including the prestigious 2009 Jimmy Watson Memorial Trophy which they won for their 2008 The Long Road Shiraz.
Award-winning French winemaker Celine Rousseau joined Eden Road Wines in 2017 and is now also the manager. “Our principles are of sustainability and organic practices,” she explains. “We aim to create wines that capture the diversity of the terroir in the purest form.”
Located adjacent to the bustling Murrumbateman winery, Eden Road’s open plan cellar doo has views across lawns and estate vineyards. In summer guests spill outside onto the adjoining gardens, while in winter there’s a lovely cosiness despite the grand size of the space. One of Eden Road’s best assets is its welcoming, attentive and knowledgeable cellar door staff. With over a dozen wines available to taste, the breadth of wines on offer allows for a definitive guide to not only Canberra District’s marque varieties of Shiraz and Riesling, but an overview of their wines made from fruit sourced from Tumbarumba, Gundagai and Hilltops.
Open Wednesday to Sunday, 10am to 4:30pm. Bookings required.
3182 Barton Highway, Murrumbateman, NSW
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Located just outside Bungendore village, Lark Hill was created in 1978 by statistician and physicist Sue and Dave Carpenter. Now largely overseen by their son Chris, the Lark Hill estate vineyard grows Riesling, Chardonnay, Pinot Noir and Grüner Veltliner, and amongst their many awards their Lark Hill Vineyard Riesling recently won Gold at the 2022 International Cool Climate Wine Show.
The Carpenters have a passion for Grüner Veltliner which grows well in high altitudes. In 2004, they planted the first of their Grüner vines, and in 2011 one of their expressions was placed 5th in a world-wide competition, beating long-established wineries from both Austria and Germany. Their second vineyard, Dark Horse Vineyard, sits at 600m above sea level, and its deep granite soils grow generous and rich Shiraz, Sangiovese, Viognier, and a small quantity of Marsanne and Rousanne vines.
Lark Hill has a stone-walled cellar door and restaurant set in what was the original winery. If you’re feeling like a light snack add a cheese to your tasting experience to make it a long, leisurely, and utterly enjoyable affair. A tasting in the sunny outdoor courtyard is also a lovely to pass some time.
At the time of writing this article (mid-September 2022), Lark Hill Vineyard Restaurant was closed for a complete renovation and refurbishment. It is due to re-open in spring 2022, so please check at Lark Hill Wine https://larkhill.wine for updates.
Open Thursday to Mondays, 11am – 4pm. Do not take bookings.
Cnr Joe Rocks & Bungendore Rd, Bungendore, NSW
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Lerida Estate Winery
Located just off the Federal Highway between Canberra and Goulburn, Lerida Estate sits comfortably in the lee of the Cullerin Range and offers great views of Lake George.
Lerida Estate was first planted to vines in 1997 and produces delicious estate grown Pinot Gris, Chardonnay, Riesling, Viognier, Shiraz, Merlot, Cabernet Franc and Pinot Noir.
Their onsite dining space, Café Lerida, is the perfect place to stop on your way in or out of Canberra – you can taste through Lerida’s range of full flavoured wines, while enjoying anything from a quick coffee to a full three course meal from their ever-changing menu.
“When people visit us, we want them to spend the afternoon whiling away the hours,” Andrew McFadzean of Lerida Estate explains. “You can taste the wines, have some food, even just stop in for a short break. We’re very much a destination for people to come and relax and take in the magnificent views of Lake George.”
Cellar Door and restaurant open 7 days, 10am to 5pm.
87 The Vineyards Rd, Lakes George, NSW
Visit Lerida Estate
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Best Things to do in Canberra Wine Region
Australian National Botanic Gardens
As if the region’s world-class wineries, cellar doors and restaurants aren’t enough to keep you busy, the Canberra District boasts incredible Australian institutions and monuments to visit, great architecture, gardens and waterways to explore, fun local festivals, and many markets with farm-fresh produce and arts and crafts to fill your basket. As a tourist destination it really does offer something for everyone. Here are some of the things we like to do when in the area.
- Australian National Botanic Gardens - If you’re a lover of nature and gardens, the Australian National Botanic Gardens should be on your list. The gardens are located on the lower slopes of Canberra’s Black Mountain and contain what is considered to be the largest and most varied display of living Australian native plants in the world. There are loads of opportunities to join tours and there are fun, educational and inspirational events held throughout the year. General entry into the gardens is free, however, you will have to pay for parking.
- Lake Burley Griffin - Whether you walk or cycle around it, or paddle boat or kayak on it, Lake Burley Griffin offers a wide range of wonderful recreational activities for locals and visitors alike. There are lovely park areas for picnics and family get-togethers, and for the more active types you can hire all kinds of sailing boats, windsurfers, canoes, kayaks, stand-up paddle boards and more. Or why not bring your fishing rod along and drop a line.
- National Gallery of Australia - A visit to the National Gallery of Australia is an absolute must-do. It houses over 155,000 works of art including the world’s largest collection of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander art, so make sure you schedule in several hours to wander the incredible halls and rooms. From early and modern Australian art to pieces from across Europe, America, Asia and the Pacific, and covering the full spectrum of art styles, you’ll be memorised by the collections on display.
- Capital Region Farmer’s Markets - On every Saturday from 7am to 11:30am, the Capital Region Farmer’s Market is a community project run by the local Rotary Club of Hall. The markets are held at the Exhibition Park in Canberra (EPIC) with over 100 stallholders selling their locally grown, freshly picked and hand-crafted goods. There are also plenty of tasty treats to enjoy while you peruse the produce.
- The Haig Park Village Markets - Held in the leafy grounds of Braddon’s Haig Park each Sunday from 8:30am to 2pm, these vibrant farmer and foodie markets are just moments from Lonsdale Street’s cafes. Enjoy loads of delicious cuisines, tasty treats, beautiful blooms, fresh produce, delectable charcuterie and artisan products.
- Experience Murrumbateman on horseback - Get in the saddle and explore the Aussie bush with Brunlee Excursions On Horseback. The horse-riding sessions are held on a local family property with all levels of riding abilities catered for from total beginners to the experienced. There are several options to choose from including a 2-hour bush experience, and a magical 2-hour twilight ride, or for the more adventurous why not join one of the special musters held to coincide with yearly farming event like shearing.
- Capital Food and Wine Festival - Held each year in April, the Capital Food and Wine Festival is great place to experience a heap of the region’s best wineries, breweries, and distilleries, not to mention a tummy full of delicious food while enjoying the talents of local musicians and artists.
- Truffle Festival - Mid-June to mid-August is to the time to get yourself to Canberra if you’re a black truffle fan. The gourmet gatherings bring together local truffle growers, plus other premium food and beverage produces from the region to showcase their exceptional goodies. Get into all the truffley action with fun truffle hunts, truffle and wine pairing masterclasses, truffle cooking classes, and dinners at local restaurants who hero the exotic and magnificent tuber melanosporum.
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Best Places to Eat in Canberra Wine Region
The Smokehouse Restaurant and Poachers Pantry
Feeling peckish? Whether you’re staying in the Canberra CBD proper, or the surrounding suburbs and villages, the Canberra District is blessed with fantastic places to dine. From great spots to grab a bite, have a drink, or treat yourself to a top-class restaurant experience, here are some of our current favourites.
- Bentspoke Brewing Co.- Wine tasting can make you thirsty, so it’s lucky there are several great pubs and breweries to be found, including the Braddon Brew Pub run by Bentspoke Brewing Co. There are 26 varieties of beers and ciders that are all brewed on the premise, so you’ll certainly find a few new favourites. And you can watch the brewers on the job while you sample a couple of pints and snack on something tasty from the classic pub restaurant menu.
- The Smokehouse Restaurant and Poachers Pantry - Located in the relaxed and rural setting of Poachers Vineyard, the Smokehouse Restaurant is just the spot to enjoy a tasty brunch or lunch. The menu changes regularly with a focus on seasonal and regional produce, plus organic herbs and vegetables that are picked daily from their kitchen garden. A delicious range of meats that are cured and smoked on the property are also featured on the menu, plus they can be enjoyed as a part of a picnic hamper. Tables are limited, so bookings, especially for a weekend, are suggested.
- XO - If Southeast Asian cuisine is your jam, don’t miss dining at XO. Located in Narrabundah, this popular restaurant serves up shared plates of traditional dishes with a modern, innovative and delicious new twist. Regular menu favourites include Oysters - sake, mirin, shoyu; Banh mi -pork katsu, carrots, cucumber, chilli mayo; Bò lá lõt - beef tartare, choko, betel leaf, mam nem, and for the most delicious desert, Pandan panna cotta with gula melaka.
- Grazing - Head out to Gundaroo to experience Grazing. Located in the historic ‘Royal Hotel’, this character-filled and charming restaurant serves up gorgeous dishes made with the freshest produce the region has to offer. The menu changes to reflect the seasonal produce and recent dishes included local pork belly, fennel, celeriac, Jerusalem artichoke; Whole roast spatchcock, bread sauce, cauliflower blossom, Bredbo black garlic; Black Angus beef flank, mash, portobello, brandy and green peppercorn jus.The extensive wine list features some of the Canberra District’s best-known and emerging wineries, and beautifully complements the innovative menu.
- Aubergine - Located in the Canberra’s suburb of Griffith, the moody and modern Aubergine serves contemporary dishes based on classic cooking. The five-course menu is updated daily with fresh produce supplied by local farmers and benchmark suppliers and examples from previous menus included: beetroot, smoked eel, raspberry; leather jacket, prawn, herb dressing; quail, grains, mushroom. Their award-winning wine list boasts over 500 labels and features Canberra District, regional Australian and international wines from the world’s leading wine regions.
- Pilot. - Seating just 30 diners, Pilot. has become a must-do dining destination since 2018 when it was opened by three mates who all met working at restaurant Eighty-six in Canberra’s city. It’s nestled in the suburban shops of the leafy inner-north Canberra neighbourhood of Ainslie and attracts people from far and wide. Rather than an a la carte menu, the Pilot. Menu is a seven-course degustation with dishes changing regularly. Dietary requirements are catered for with at least 24 hours advance notice, so it’s best to list any special needs when you make your booking. To take the guess work out of what wines to drink, Pilot. offers both a wine and non-alcoholic pairing option, or you can choose off the all-Australian wine and spirits list.
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Best Places to Stay in Canberra Wine Region
There are plenty of 3, 4 and 5-star hotels in the Canberra District to choose from, but if you’re looking for something a little different, our list of current favourites is a good place to start.
- QT Canberra - This quirky boutique hotel is one of our favourites at Wine Selectors and Selector, and a venue we’ve held several of our special dinners and wine masterclasses. Located in the heart of Canberra, it’s close to everything, and offers a range of rooms and suites all with their own unique personalities. For inhouse dining, the fun, funky and moody Capitol Bar & Grill offers up a taste of modern Canberra dining with the finest local produce sourced from as close as their rooftop garden. Try the Canberra truffles, natural oysters shucked to order, prime cuts that are perfectly prepared.
- Midnight Hotel - Located in the Canberra suburb of Braddon, the Midnight Hotel is positioned in a melting pot of local food, fashion, design and culture that just calls out to be explored. They have six room types to choose from, along with two excellent restaurants – the Midnight Bar and Braddon Merchant, and a wellness centre where you can be pampered after all experiencing all the Canberra sites.
- Naked Cubby Co. - Go glamping in style with Cubby and Co. Formally known as Naked Cubby Collective, Cubby and Co. offers two bell tents and one tiny house (on wheels) all located on the beautiful Mount Majura Vineyard. They were built and curated by local craftsmen and were designed to be cubbies for adults – ‘simple, intimate and small in size’ and perfect for a get-away to enjoy the ‘little things in life.’
- Jamala Wildlife Lodge - The African inspired Jamal Wildlife Lodge lies in the heart of Canberra’s National Zoo & Aquarium – both are owned-and-operated by a local family who have lived in the region for five generations. Discover the thrill of getting up close and personal with some of the world’s most dangerous and endangered animals, all while relaxing in one of three individually designed five-star accommodation precincts; uShaka Lodge, Giraffe Treehouses, and the Jungle Bungalows.
- Honeysuckle Cottage - If a retreat to a country cottage is on your wish list, then a stay at Honeysuckle Cottage in Binalong is a must-do. Surrounded by a gorgeous rambling garden, with all of the luxuries, these two bedroom cottages is full of charm and includes a fully equipped gourmet kitchen, a box fireplace in the cosy living room, and a fire pit outside to enjoy the fresh country air and a sky of stars. A quaint historic village, Binalong is centrally located to explore the Murrumbateman vineyards, plus surrounding towns like Young and Yass.
The Best that Australia's Wine Regions Have to Offer
Want to see more of what our great wine regions have to offer? Then don’t miss our comprehensive guide to Australia’s Best Wineries and Cellar Doors – from Hunter Valley in the east to Great Southern in the west, it’s the ultimate go-to guide for planning your next wine adventure.
For Wine Selectors Members, make sure to check out our Members Extras offers before planning your next trip, and discover what fantastic offers are available for your wine region destination!
Want to see what all the fuss about Canberra District wines? Order some for yourself, experience some of the finest examples of premium, cool climate winemaking this country has to offer and save with Wine Selectors.
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