For wine lovers seeking coastal beauty, Shoalhaven Coast arguably has it all; from the broad sandy beaches hedged by an emerald hinterland setting of vines, to state forests and national parks.
After exploring the region’s stunning beaches, bush tracks, cultural history and nature reserves, pristine wines and lauded dining experiences await. While the French red grape hybrid, chambourcin is a signature variety here, other styles shine too. Producers capitalise on their warm climate with a range of wine styles where varieties of shiraz blends and chardonnay are among its most celebrated. Savour freshly shucked oysters and other locally caught seafood to pair with your favourite sparkling or crisp white wines. Whether you’re craving premium cellar door tastings, artisan produce or a high-end water view dining experience, this region ticks all the culinary boxes.
Shoalhaven Coast, around two hours south of Sydney, is renowned for its premium coastal adventures and dolphin tours, as well as its popular historic townships. Continue west, and the Morton National Park emerges. Expect sweeping views, deep forest and spectacular waterfalls as the backdrop to exceptional wines.
James Halliday on Shoalhaven Coast
Wineries stretch along the south coast of New South Wales from Nowra and the Shoalhaven River at the northern end to Bega at the southern end. Most have been established since the early 1970s, and all rely heavily on cellar-door sales to the tourist trade.
The principal threat to viticulture lies with unpredictable but sometimes substantial summer rainfall, a problem that diminishes as you move south. It is a situation with which the Hunter Valley and New South Wales’ north coast wineries are thoroughly familiar, and fortunately it is far from insuperable. Nonetheless, it seems almost certain that vineyard holdings along the coast – and winery size – will remain small, and that the major vineyard developments of the future will continue to take place on the interior (or western) side of the Great Dividing Range.
What is more, it is notable that the two most successful wineries – Cambewarra Estate and Coolangatta Estate, both in the Shoalhaven Coast region – rely on contract making by experienced wineries in the Hunter Valley. Making small quantities of wine in isolated regions has never been easy unless the winemaker has both experience and technical qualifications. Yet here, more than any other region, the key to success rests with the tourist trade. It is not that the central and southern coasts of New South Wales are especially desirable or suitable places in which to grow grapes – quite simply, they are not – but they are desirable places in which to market wine.
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Mid-February to mid-March
MARGARET RIVER wines to try
White | 2017
Coolangatta Estate Individual Vineyard Wollstonecraft SemillonCoolangatta Estate
White | 2009
Coolangatta Estate Aged Release Estate Grown SemillonCoolangatta Estate
White | 2017
Coolangatta Estate Estate Grown SemillonCoolangatta Estate
Red | 2017
Cupitt's Rosie's RoseCupitt's Winery