Sip wine riverside at these destinations

12 Mar, 2021

River regions are some of Australia’s largest wine-producing areas, with historic family-run outfits, boundary-pushing small producers, and great value to be found across the board.

If you desire space to yourself, a river trip should be high on your list. Australia’s river regions feature some of the most peaceful, archetypal scenery – think huge gumtrees, the scent of eucalyptus, and a cacophony of birdsong, with bushland in contrast to red cliffs and sands. If this picture appeals, ahead, find three places to put on your radar, each with excellent wine.

Nagambie Lakes

Nagambie Lakes in Central Victoria is historic, serene and just 90 minutes from Melbourne’s CBD. It has a handful of top wineries, easy enough to tick off in a weekend. Tahbilk, Fowles and Mitchelton are among the must-visits, with the latter home to a luxury hotel complete with infinity pool, restaurant, and Indigenous art gallery on the banks of the Goulburn River. Newly renovated Tahbilk, founded in 1860, offers bottled history alongside heritage features such as its iconic tower and underground cellars. The surrounds are also a part of the attraction, with wetlands, reserves and a web of walking tracks throughout – take a tour by foot or boat, kayak or canoe.

What to drink: don’t miss Tahbilk’s amazing value, ageworthy marsanne.

Riverland

With vines stretching in every direction, red sands and hundreds of kilometres of riverbanks rolling towards the Southern Ocean, this is a magnificent landscape. Two hours northeast of Adelaide, a whopping third of the nation’s wine crush comes from here. This beating heart of the industry is a source of fruit for some of the country’s biggest players, as well as its smallest innovators. Aside from the real appeal of a float along the tranquil waters of Australia’s longest river, flanked by cliffs that change colour with the sun, the Riverland food-and-drinks scene includes distilleries, breweries, farmer’s markets, and great old pubs. In addition to the water-based activities, the region is home to an enormous rose garden and the Murray River Walk, part of the Great Walks trails.

What to drink: the forward-thinking varieties by winemaker Ashley Ratcliff at Ricca Terra.

Riverina

With the Murrumbidgee River zig-zagging between its vast, sunny plains, Riverina is bountiful land for produce and grapes. Following its spoils could lead you to orange picking, a hilltop cooking class, coffee at a local roastery, an afternoon at a local brewery, smallgoods such as charcuterie and cheese, or an array of top-notch dining experiences. The region’s strong Italian heritage has made its mark on the restaurants, providores, pasticcerias, and, of course, the wines you will find. Around 60 per cent of the state’s wine comes from here, housing many respected, family-run wineries. Beyond the indulgences, there is natural beauty to discover, including gorges and reserves to hike or bike through, and waterfalls and caves to visit. And when you’re ready to crash, the luxury lodgings and farm stays won’t disappoint.

What to drink: Italian varieties, such as nero d’Avola. Also check out the range at Yarran Wines, Halliday Wine Companion’s 2021 Dark Horse of the Year.

This is an extract from ‘Homeward bound’ in issue #57 of Halliday magazine. Read the full story here. Not a member? Join today and enjoy digital access.