On Tour in Coonawarra

By Halliday Wine Companion

Its compact cluster of cellar doors pouring top cabernet sauvignon, shiraz and merlot from fruit grown on rich, red soils make Coonawarra a must-visit wine region. Follow the itinerary ahead, including a practical map.

Coonawarra is a unique place to tour in that most of the wineries lie in a neat strip along the Riddoch Highway, so you can cycle from one to another or, depending on how many you plan to see, even travel by foot.

To delve into the region's wines, base yourself in the charming town of Penola. From here, head to Raidis Estate, where winemaker Steven Raidis champions white varietals such as riesling and pinot gris in what is heavily red wine territory. The cellar door is surrounded by fruit trees and grape vines, and if you come at the right time of year you could end up with a haul from the garden. 

Next stop is Parker Coonawarra Estate, where Barossan Phil Lehmann (son of Peter Lehmann) has migrated to make cabernet sauvignon and shiraz from the famed terra rossa soils.

From here, pop across the road to Hollick, where the team make great reds and a couple of cracking whites – sample the Ravenswood Cabernet Sauvignon and Bond Road Chardonnay.

Next make your way to Balnaves of Coonawarra, a stalwart of the region. Here talented winemaker Pete Bissell stays true to tradition by crafting exceptional cabernet sauvignon.

Up the road is Katnook Estate, where Wayne Stehbens makes classic Coonawarra cabernet, juicy merlot and surprising sauvignon blanc. If your palate is beginning to tire, now would be a good time to refuel with a regional cheese board at the cellar door.

Head across the highway to Majella, where Bruce Gregory has been making the wines for more than 20 years. Don't miss the label's luscious shiraz. 

Continue on to Zema Estate for stunning red blends, which can be enjoyed cosy inside the cellar door or overlooking the lovingly cared for vineyards. 

Coonawarra icon Wynns is up next. Winemaker Sue Hodder’s single vineyard cabernet sauvignon and complex blends are must-try wines while in the region.

At nearby Brand’s Laira, either continue on your quest for the best cabernet in town, or give the reds a rest and sip a smart riesling.

Next door at Redman, a founding winery in the region, third-generation winemaker Bruce Redman is responsible for crafting intense shiraz and cabernet from mature estate vines, some of which are more than 100 years old. 

Rymill is your penultimate stop, an ancestral winery with a long history in Coonawarra. Step onto the viewing platform and watch the winemaking team at work. 

Finish up at Sue Bell’s Bellwether Wines. The winery, tasting room and bottle shop here are housed in a 150-year-old shearing shed, which has been reimagined using its original materials. After a long day of touring, you’ll be pleased to know that here you’re invited to taste sitting down.

At night, check out Pipers of Penola for a top-notch dining experience, the Prince of Wales for a relaxed pub meal, or if you’re too tired to head out, visit the Penola IGA for local produce to enjoy with your cellar door stash.

Find everything you need to know about Coonawarra in our essential guide