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Wine

Top Five Wineries and Cellar Doors to visit in Coonawarra

Discover the best of Coonawarra’s wineries and cellar doors to taste and experience the region’s delights with our guide and interactive map.

Australia’s ‘other red centre’, Coonawarra is 450kms from Melbourne and 370kms from Adelaide, and is located in the heart of South Australia’s Limestone Coast.

The region boasts some of the most sought-after vineyard soil in Australia, and with vineyards positioned just 80kms from the Southern Ocean, the vines are assured of a long, cool ripening period producing wines of fantastic balance, richness, intensity and longevity.

It’s thanks to Scottish pioneer John Riddoch, who noticed the fertility of the regions’ famed terra rossa way back in 1890, that we can enjoy some of the world’s best Cabernet Sauvignon and Shiraz.

Today, the region is home to a mix of old winemaking families and fresh new talent, and has over 25 cellar doors to visit which all offer wonderfully friendly and delicious experiences.

Here are our top five Coonawarra wineries

Di Giorgio Family Wines

Don’t miss out on visiting the family owned and operated Di Giorgio Family Wines. Their winery is the second oldest in the district, and their Coonawarra vineyard boasts some gnarly old vines that are over 115 years old.

Along with producing premium wines from Coonawarra and Lucindale, the DiGiorgio family sources specific varietal fruit from different areas of the Limestone Coast where they believe the terroir is best suited to the variety.

At Di Giorgio’s cellar door, you’re invited to taste a selection of premium wines from their extensive portfolio, plus don’t miss out on their delicious olive oils and the fabulous range of local cheeses. The shaded outdoor seating area is the perfect place to enjoy a glass of wine with a ‘pick your own produce’ platter.

14918 Riddoch Highway, Coonawarra

Open daily 10am to 5pm. Closed Good Friday, Christmas Day and Boxing Day

Visit Di Giorgio Wines website

Katnook Estate

Located just 6 kilometres north of Penola on the Riddoch Highway, Katnook Estate’s historic cellar door was first built in the late 1800s by the founder of the Coonawarra wine region, John Riddoch.  

Today, the beautifully renovated building features locally sourced stone and timbers and provides a wonderful environment to sample a range of Katnook’s premium wines, along with platters of local cheeses. 

If you’re visiting during winter, the cosy lounge area with its open fireplace is the perfect place to warm-up and unwind.  Adjacent to the cellar door is the award-winning 'terra rossa pit', where you can get up close and personal with Coonawarra's famous soil profile and learn why it’s so important to flavour of the region’s wines.

Riddoch Highway, Coonawarra

Open weekdays 10am to 5pm, weekends 12pm to 5pm. Closed Good Friday and Christmas Day 

Visit the Katnook Estate website

Leconfield Wines

Owned by one of Australia’s original winemaking families, Leconfield Wines is situated just a stones-throw from Katnook Estate along the Riddoch Highway.

Built in 1974 by Sydney Hamilton, the limestone winery building has an impressive barrel storage of 2000 barrels, predominantly sourced from France.  Once inside the winery, you’ll be welcomed to the intimate tasting room where you can sample the Leconfield and Richard Hamilton ranges while watching the winemaking team at work.

15454 Riddoch Highway, Coonawarra

Open weekdays 10am to 4:30pm, weekends and public holidays 11am to 4pm.

Visit Leconfield Wines website

Rymill Coonawarra

Rymill Coonawarra was established in 1974 by Peter Rymill, the great grandson of John Riddoch who was the founder of Coonawarra. Embracing the pioneering spirit of his forefathers, Peter planted a diverse range of varieties and built a stunning, high-tech winery that is still home to Rymill Coonawarra today.

A must-visit destination of the region, the Rymill Coonawarra’s spacious cellar door boasts internal viewing platforms to watch the workings of the winery and external balconies that overlook the beautiful tree lined grounds.

Take a behind-the-scenes look at the winery while sampling their range of 100% estate grown wines, then step outside to the gorgeous grounds to enjoy a local produce platter or grazing plate.

Riddoch Highway, Coonawarra

Open daily 11am to 5pm. Closed Christmas Day

Visit Rymill’s website

Wynns Coonawarra Estate

Wynns Coonwarra Estate is one of the region’s leading producers and largest single vineyard holder with the longest established vineyard sites in Coonawarra.

What is now Wynns Coonawarra Estate was founded by Scottish pioneer John Riddoch, who in 1891 planted along the famed terra rossa strip and completed the estate's now iconic three-gabled winery in 1896.

Riddoch died in 1901 and Coonawarra languished for the first half of this century. The region’s revival began in 1951 when wine merchants Samuel and David Wynns purchased Riddoch's original vineyards and winery and renamed the property Wynns Coonawarra Estate.

The Wynns recognised the amazing qualities of Coonawarra wines and set out to establish an independent identity in the region. They created the famous label that has made John Riddoch's winery one of Australia's most-recognised buildings.

77 Memorial Drive, Coonawarra

Open daily 10am to 5pm. Closed Christmas Day.

Visit Wynns Coonawarra Estate website

Zema Estate

Established in 1982, Zema Estate is a boutique winery owned and operated by three generations of the Zema family.

Their modern cellar door overlooks beautiful hand prune vines and offers a wonderfully friendly and authentic experience. All current release wines are available for tasting, plus a stunning selection of cellar door only and museum release wines.

You can also indulge in Mrs Zema’s estate-grown and homemade olive oil and chilli paste, and other delicious gourmet produce and that are sourced locally or imported from Italy.  

Partial to a good party, the Zema’s also host regular events where you can enjoy Mrs Zema’s fantastic Italian fare of pizza, pasta and arancini while being entertained by local musicians. Keep your diary open for upcoming events including the After Dark – Vintage Celebrations (April), Cellar Dwellers (July), Coonawarra Cabernet Celebrations (October).

14944 Riddoch Highway, Coonawarra

Open weekdays 9am to 5pm, weekends 10am to 4pm. Closed Good Friday and Christmas Day.

Visit Zema Estate’s website

Coonawarra Wineries Walking Trail

For those who are up to combining a bit of exercise with their wine tasting, the Coonawarra Wineries Walking Trail offers a great opportunity to enjoy the great outdoors and explore the vineyards.

Coonawarra Winery Map

Planning a trip to Coonawarra? Download our interactive Coonawarra winery map. To save on your browser or device, click here

 

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Following the Prosecco Road - Your Guide to Australian Prosecco
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Australia's Wine Identity
Words by Campbell Mattinson on 17 Sep 2018
Heaven help Australia. All that fretting over the growing and making of our wine; all those trips by all those winemakers to all parts of the world to learn various tricks; all those decades of winemaking experimentation, invention and development; all that and then the gatekeepers – holding baseball bats, you’d reckon – tell us that Australian wine doesn’t have a strong identity, and it needs to develop one. Pronto. To illustrate the problem, I was sitting at a table in Italy’s Valpolicella wine region recently with a collection of international wine folk when someone asked where Australian wine is at. “It’s in the healthiest state imaginable,” I said, proudly.  “The offering is astonishingly diverse now,” I continued. “Low fi, hi fi, old school, new school, classic varieties, obscure varieties, everything. Twenty years ago there was a planting boom; 10 years ago there was a lot of good wine being made; combine those two and you have lots of mature vines across all sorts of varieties and the quality has moved from good to very good, if not higher.” Self-praise is no praise, but I thought I’d done pretty well at encapsulating Australian wine. The response, though, to my surprise, had the brightness of three-day-old sunburn. “Australia’s problem,” someone cut in, or cut down, “is there’s no clear message. It’s like a tasting plate where everything’s good, but you can’t remember any of it afterwards.” Baseball, bat, time. The view to down under The wine world, it turns out, hasn’t been sitting around waiting for us to out-do it. No matter how good our wine is, the wine world is a brutal place, determined to protect or extend its patch – not to mention its pre-conceived world view.  Two things are important to note here: a) the fight for international market space is not just about the wine in the bottle. It’s about the message, how it’s told, and who’s telling it. Wine is both the most symbolic drink in the world and the most emotional. Out in the big bad world, therefore, a clear wine identity matters enormously. b) The wider wine world could burn in hell, for all we’d care, if Australian wine production was based around domestic consumption only. But that boat sailed a long time ago. Australia produces far more wine than it could ever domestically consume; what the world thinks of our wine matters, and matters a lot.
A usual suspect The irony, of course, is that for a time Australia did, internationally at least, have a clear identity and message. Australian wine was either sunny and cheap or big and melodramatic. These messages were brilliantly clear and effective. But the majority of Australia’s wine community has spent the past decade either trying desperately to expand on these messages, or trying to tear them to shreds. Why? Because they sell Australian wine too far short. “You can’t generalise about Australian wine for over a million reasons,” Sarah Crowe of Yarra Yering says. Virginia Willcock of Vasse Felix is of the same view. “Wine is so complex and so is Australia. We need to break it down.” This is the thing – simple messages don’t really fit Australian wine anymore. They don’t because, to state the bleeding obvious, Australia is so large, and therefore geographically diverse. Our wine, when it’s good, reflects that. It’s not the tyranny of distance, it’s the tyranny of size. To make matters worse, perceptions of Australian wine in world markets can go to infinity and beyond. “Each export market,” Sarah Crowe says, “would have a different response (if asked of Australia’s wine identity). Having just been in the USA, it’s frightening to read (wine writer) Joe Czerwinski’s Facebook feed when he was asked what would make people buy Australian wine. “The comments are stuck in the 2000s for the most part. Export market perception is largely mono-dimensional South Australia or South Eastern Australia, which maybe they think is one and the same thing. It’s nowhere near a representation of what’s happening across this vast country.” Jeff Burch of Burch Family Wines agrees, and then widens the lens.  “It depends where in the world,” he says. “Asia – particularly China – has a very high acknowledgement of Australian wine, right up there with the top French. Much better recognition than Spain, Italy, Chile. USA though – poor recognition, not on the radar, a lot of work to do for quality Australia wine.  “UK/Europe, very Euro-centric for the top end, they’re only interested in value wine from Australia. Hard to see a future for quality Australian wine there.” Sue Hodder, senior winemaker of Wynns Coonawarra Estate, is more up beat, though cautiously so.  “Perceptions of, and knowledge about, Australian wine has pleasingly shifted upwards in the last two years. Younger, better wine-educated, and more widely-travelled trade professionals have helped. In the first instance though, we’ll be happy if international consumers just know that Australian wine is a diverse offering.”
A dirty word Diverse. This has become the most commonly used word to describe Australian wine. It’s the word we’re hoping will become our identity, because it’s the most accurate. The problem is that a lengthy explanation is usually required as a follow up; diversity can be a hard sell. It’s not snappy and all-encompassing in the way, say, of the gold-standard identities of French Champagne, Barossa Shiraz or, indeed, mere mention of Burgundy. And wine identity is like humour; if you have to explain it, there’s a problem.  There’s an argument that use of the words ‘Australian wine’ has us trying to achieve ‘cut through’ with the broad side of the blade. Virginia Willcock is certainly of this view.  “The broad term ‘Australian wine’ drives me insane,’ Virginia says.  “While we have common varieties across the country, the diversity of regions is significant and shouldn’t be thrown into a generalised country.”  New world countries like Australia Argentina Chile, New Zealand and strive for a clear national wine identity. Old world countries more commonly lead with their regions; the country is a given. “Our winemaking styles have changed over the past 15 years,” says Alexia Roberts winemaker at Penny’s Hill.  “I remember when I first started out in McLaren Vale in 2004, whites were all made from Chardonnay, Semillon and Sauvignon Blanc. It would be difficult to find a regional McLaren Vale white made from any of these varieties nowadays. “International markets have welcomed these changes, (but) we are still struggling with the Australian image and key message. Our message is so diverse that I do think this could be diluting the key facts. The heroes are our regions.”  Virginia agrees.  “My theory about ‘Australian wine’ is that the best way to break it down is by region and regional strengths to give clarity for quality and diversity,” she says.  “Then, if someone loves a strong regional wine, they might try other varieties from that region.” No probs, really Of course, this is a nice problem to have. Australia’s wine identity or message basically is: we have so much to offer now, we don’t know where to start.  “What I produce is different from what my neighbours produce,” is Sarah’s way of putting it. “The diversity is why people want to discover more and engage with new wines and discover new producers. For better or for worse, it is a complex topic and should be spoken about as such.” There’s strength and comfort in numbers, but the time is fast approaching, if it hasn’t already past, where the notion of an Australian wine identity is shown the door and real one-on-one engagement, region by region, takes hold. After all, no one falls in love with a race; they fall in love with one clear object of their desires.
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