Coonawarra is often summed up by its prized terra rossa soils, which run along a cigar-shaped strip less than 30km long. While this is undoubtedly what makes the region’s long-lived wines so special, this description doesn’t do justice to the incredible experiences and wine discoveries that await.
A half-day drive from Melbourne and Adelaide, Coonawarra is a compact wine region with more than 20 wineries spread along the “Coonawarra Strip”, making it an accessible place to tour. Here you can discover its celebrated cabernets and related blends, alongside rich shiraz and chardonnay, plus a growing collection of other impressive styles.
With a number of alternative varieties and a brand new riesling in their suite of wines, the team at Hollick Estates is doing things a little differently. In addition to the region’s flagship of cabernet sauvignon, you can also find tempranillo, sangiovese, savagnin and barbera here, among other styles. The team is excited about the 2020 Riesling – the winery’s first riesling in more than 10 years. Described as crisp, clean and dry, with hints of green apples, it’s a great example of the high-quality fruit the region received last vintage.
The range is available for tasting at their cellar door, which is surrounded by vines. Depending on the time of year, visitors can watch the team in action, perhaps pruning in winter or picking fruit during vintage. Guests can enjoy a wine-matched meal in the restaurant upstairs or opt for a relaxed dining experience in the new Cafe in the Vines. Winery and vineyard tours are also offered in an immersive experience, which shares the story behind the famed terra rossa landscape. Guided wine flights help to put these discoveries into context.Find out more | 11 Racecourse Road, Penola | (08) 8737 2318
Coonawarra wine region founder John Riddoch once ran his flourishing fruit colony from Katnook Estate’s current cellar door, which was built in the late 1800s. Now, more than 100 years later, visitors can experience the beautifully renovated building. Set among the vines, featuring local stone and timbers, these buildings are also available for weddings and private events. The team says because Coonawarra isn’t as crowded as many other famous Australian wine-growing areas, visitors are rewarded with highly personalised service as they taste through the wines. People can also stay a while and linger over a platter of local cheese and produce.
The region’s celebrated terra rossa soils, which are rare throughout the world, help create the hallmark qualities of Coonawarra fruit, particularly as seen in its cabernet sauvignon. Characters include cassis, mint and minerality from the limestone soils. And while cabernet is without a doubt the hero of the region, other red varieties, such as shiraz and merlot, also shine here, as well as Katnook Estate’s unique white wines.Find out more | Riddoch Hwy, Coonawarra | (08) 8737 0300
With a focus on the region’s hero variety of cabernet sauvignon, Brand’s Laira is a small, boutique winery that produces award-winning wines. The unique climate and soils that give the wines of Coonawarra their distinct qualities are maximised here, with the team consciously crafting wines that capture these characters. As one of the first wineries in the region, the team at Brand’s Laira loves the strong sense of community in the region and the history behind the brand.
The recently renovated cellar door is a highlight, with visitors now enjoying a state-of-the-art building. Designed to highlight natural yet modern design features while also complementing the site’s historical works, the venue is an enticing destination. Several wine tastings are offered to suit all preferences, from full-range samples through to a special session where you blend your own wine. Guests can also spend time al fresco while enjoying their new favourite Brand’s Laira wine paired with woodfired pizza or a platter of local produce.
Find out more | 14860 Riddoch Hwy, Coonawarra | (08) 8736 3260
Zema Estate is the culmination of nearly 70 years of family history. In 1953, the Zema family arrived from Italy, bringing a wealth of traditional vineyard practices and experience. Their commitment to a traditional and authentic approach still rings true today with a range of premium and handcrafted red wines produced on their Coonawarra property.
A trip to the Zema Estate cellar door includes complimentary guided tastings with friendly staff. Visitors are invited to taste their way through current release wines or sit back and enjoy Mrs Zema’s Picnic Box with wines by the glass. A large selection of gourmet food and gifts, including Mrs Zema’s homemade chilli paste and olive oil, are also available for purchase. Make sure to sample the inaugural release of the winery’s delicious and festive sparkling merlot – or ask to hear more about their premium Saluti wine.
Find out more | 14944 Riddoch Highway, Coonawarra | (08) 8736 3219
Discover more about the Coonawarra wine region in our essential guide.
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