With so many wine regions in Australia to visit, it can be easy to miss the smaller, low key cellar doors for the discerning wine-lover looking for something a bit off the beaten track. Without further ado, here are 10 of the best little cellar doors you’ll want to knock on. Each has been honoured by Gourmet Traveller’s 2016 Cellar Door Awards, so rest assured that you’re in for a treat visiting anywhere on this list.
1. THISTLE HILL, MUDGEE, NSW
Nestled away from the town of Mudgee is this very good organic winery where Tim White is in charge of the winemaking. Despite having been around since 1975, Thistle Hill has kept a relatively low profile in Australia. Be on the lookout for the organic Pinot Noir made from its 30-year-old dry grown vines.
2. PATINA WINES, ORANGE, NSW
This gem of a cellar door can be found on the volcanic slopes of Mt Canobolas in Orange. Originally from California, winemaker Gerald Naef and his wife Angie are making very good, elegant Chardonnays in particular. Gourmet Traveller notes his Reserve and standard Orange Chardonnays are stunners, as are the Rieslings and pinot noir. Bear in mind though that the cellar door is only open on weekends.
3. BOIRANN WINERY, GRANITE BELT, QLD
Peter Stark is the winemaker at this tiny property in the Granite Belt. His beautifully made reds come highly recommended. Be sure to try his Shiraz Viognier and The Lurnea (a classic Bordeaux blend). The La Cima Superiore Barbera and La Cima Granit Belt Nebbiolo are also particularly delicious. They’re all, little-known, highly-rated wines; perfect for surprising friends with back home. Boirann Winery is open Friday to Sunday from 10am – 4pm.
4. CHARLES MELTON WINES, BAROSSA VALLEY, SA
Winemaker Charles Melton along with Krys Smith is not only quite a character but makes some highly desirable wines. Try the Nine Popes (his answer to Chateau-Neufdu-Pape) as well as his two great shiraz entries – Grains of Paradise and Voices of Angels. Melton’s taste in wine is matched only by his romanticism. His Rose of Virginia rosé is named after his wife, Virginia. Best of all, this cellar door is open seven days a week.
5. ASHTON HILLS, ADELAIDE HILLS, SA
Open on weekends, Ashton Hills has always been one of Australia’s most esteemed producers of Pinot Noir. The business was recently bought by Wirra Wirra which wisely maintained the services of winemaker Stephen George to consult on wines. He still lives on the property. Both the Estate and Reserve pinots are excellent – and there’s some pretty good Riesling up for grabs.
6. OLIVER’S TARANGA, MCLAREN VALE, SA
The Oliver family has grown grapes for more than 175 years, on and around their charming property. Corrina Wright is director and winemaker with a particularly deft touch for white grapes fiano and vermentino as well as grenache, cabernet sauvignon and shiraz. Look out for the Small Batch McLaren Vale Fiano and the Small Batch McLaren Vale Grenache. The cellar door is open seven days.
7. DELAMERE, NORTHERN TASAMANIA, TAS
Regularly featured in Gourmet Traveller Wine, Delamere wines made by husband and wife team Shane Holloway and Fran Austin – who won Young Winemaker of the Year in 2006 – are not to be missed when visiting the Pipers Brook area. Do not miss the Block 3 Chardonnay and their excellent pinot noirs under any circumstances. Like Oliver’s Taranga, Delamere’s door is open seven days a week.
8. DOMAIN A, SOUTHERN TASMANIA, TAS
Domain A is renowned for its Cabernet, which received an outstanding rating in the Langton’s Classification of wine V1. There’s also excellent merlot and Cabernet Franc to be found. The Domain A Stoney Vineyard is the oldest in Tasmania’s Coal River Valley, where the cool-climate wines are made without compromise from low-yields with hand-picked fruit courtesy of winemaker Peter Althaus. You’ll need time away from the nine-to-five job with opening hours on Monday to Friday.
9. LETHBRIDGE WINES, GEELONG, VIC
Winemakers Ray Nadeson and Maree Collis were finalists for the Gourmet Traveller Wine Winemaker of the Year Award in 2009 – no mean feat, and you’ll quickly see why after visiting them. There is a whole gamut of good wine to try here ranging from pinot meunier and pinot noir to shiraz, tempranillo, merlot and malbec. Organic practices and environmental sustainability take centre stage in this operation which is open Monday to Friday and also on a couple of weekends each month.
10. WINDOWS ESTATE, MARGARET RIVER, WA
Chris Davies is the winemaker at this Yallingup property. He has created a huge success with the Margaret River Staples Chardonnay, Cabernet Sauvignon and Semillon Sauvignon Blanc. There’s a lovely beach house themed cellar door in which to taste these outstanding wines. Open seven days.
So there are 10 of the best little cellar doors to be found and savoured in Australia. Happy tasting, and do keep an eye out for other cellar doors along the way. You might just find a lovely drop or two of Australia’s other little-known greats.