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Australia's Best Winery Experiences

Australia is home to some of the world's most enchanting vineyards. With rich soil and optimum growing conditions, the hills, rivers and valleys of our great southern land, yield grape varieties as diverse as the regions that grow them. The result is a worldwide reputation for award-winning wines.

No longer do connoisseurs need to splash out on a ticket to France or Italy to enjoy the scenic view of far-reaching fields of vines. From east to west of Australia, we’ve found the premier places perfect for a relaxing weekend in wine country. It’s time to pop a bottle and toast to your short break.

1. Cullen Wines, Margaret River, WA

If you like your grapes farmed with sustainable practices, this family owned and operated winery is a must. Established 45 years ago, and managed by award-winning winemaker Vanya Cullen, all Cullen Wines are bio-dynamically certified; a process you can learn more about by partaking in one of their tours.

Their philosophy of quality, integrity and sustainability extends to a unique on-site restaurant, headed by their 3 Michelin Star trained executive chef. Enjoy an organic and biodynamic culinary masterpiece paired with an excellent wine, of course.

Signature drop: The Diana Madeline and the Kevin John are their flagship wines, named after the two founders. They have won accolades and awards the world over, including the 2007 Kevin John being named as the ‘Best Chardonnay in the World’ by Decanter Magazine in 2010.

2. The Lane Vineyard, Adelaide Hills, SA

A short drive from the centre of Adelaide is The Lane Vineyard. Settled neatly in the rolling Adelaide Hills, The Lane Vineyard's grapes are grown sustainably and are lovingly tended to by Brothers Ben and Marty who manage the estate.

Because all of the grapes are grown on the property itself, not one piece of precious fruit travels more than 300 metres to reach the door of the winery. A Mediterranean climate means that the wines produced here are well structured with notes of minerality and a natural acidity.

Apart from a superb dining room and vineyard tours, The Lane Vineyard also offers a wine blending masterclass. They challenge you, as well as your friends and family, to create a unique wine blend of your very own. Judged by an expert panel, the winning blend will be bottled and labelled so you can take it home with you.

Signature drop: The estate’s favourite grape is no doubt Chardonnay, with five different styles currently grown and produced. ‘Beginning Chardonnay’ displays the pale gold and green hues reminiscent of fresh mornings on the estate. Your palate can expect pink grapefruit, lemon curd and brioche flavours. It pairs well with food, particularly risotto or snapper.

3. John Duval Wines, Barossa Valley, SA

When someone has spent 29 years as a winemaker at Penfolds, before continuing on to establish their own family brand, it’s definitely worth dropping in for a sampling. John Duval, of John Duval Wines in Barossa Valley in SA, is a fourth-generation winemaker internationally recognised for his talents.

As one of six producers that make up the collective Artisans of Barossa Cellar Door, you’ll get to sample the breadth of the Barossa in one go. While you’re there make sure to have plenty of room for some wonderful Mediterranean share plates, produced by Harvest Kitchen.

Signature drop: A tantalising blend of Shiraz, Grenache and Mourvèdre grapes, the 2014 John Duval Plexus is one of the most respected blends in the country. With overflowing plum jam and liquorice fruit flavours, it's easy to understand why.

4. Dal Zotto Wines, King Valley, VIC

Founded by Otto and Elena Dal Zotto in 1987, the estate is the realisation of Otto’s lifelong dream to establish a vineyard of his very own after moving to Australia from the home of Prosecco–Valdobbiadene.

Initially the vines yielded three varietals, Cabernet Sauvignon, Chardonnay and Merlot, but they’ve since become best known as pioneers of some of the country’s premier Prosecco.

Beyond the wines, this 200-acre estate offers a winery, cellar door and bocce pitch for a fun family bonding experience. A plate of antipasti at the on-site trattoria is a must, or you can learn how to cure the perfect meat yourself at a private salami-making master class. You’ll never want to leave!

Signature drop: Dal Zotto's 2014 L'Immigrante Prosecco is a sparkling white wine with refreshing pear and citrus notes and a superbly dry finish.

5. Boynton's Feathertop Winery, North East Valleys, VIC

Nestled in the valley next to Mount Feathertop is Boynton's Feathertop Winery. This boutique winery’s stunning location, with a backdrop of the Victorian Alps, is a budding photographers' dream.

The gnarled beauty of the vines are nurtured by pristine Alpine springwater, and each and every grape is handpicked. The result of this painstaking process is a collection of wines with excellent clarity and depth of flavour.

Combine your tasting tour with a visit to the on-site Feathertop Day Spa for the ultimate relaxation experience. A few lucky people are even able to spend the night in this bucolic piece of paradise in the luxurious two-bedroom apartment and suite.

Signature drop: The Feathertop 2013 Merlot was awarded a Silver Medal by Wine Showcase Magazine this year. Rich and smooth, it is an irresistible combination of olive, chocolate and dark fruit flavour.

6. Paringa Estate, Mornington Peninsula, VIC

School teacher Lindsay McCall had a dream – to create extraordinary wines that would be celebrated and enjoyed by all. And though he started small in the 1980s, today, Paringa Estate wines are internationally-recognised and their award-winning vintages are in hot demand in Europe, Britain and Asia.

Chef Julian Hills, of the onsite restaurant, creates colourful masterpieces to complement the Paringa Estate blends. With floor-to-ceiling windows, an eye-achingly beautiful view of the vines compete for your attention.

Time your visit right for the Annual Truffle Degustation, for a stunning truffle-based menu accompanied by some of Paringa Estate's best vintages.

Signature drop: The Paringa Estate 2010 Pinot Noir was named by Decanter Magazine as number 10 out of the top 50 wines of the year in 2013. Take home a magnum of the medium-bodied wine with a dark cherry core and notes of plum, for a delicious memento of your trip.

7. Jack Rabbit Vineyard, Bellarine, VIC

The Jack Rabbit Vineyard has its roots in the beautiful surrounds of the Bellarine Peninsula. With extraordinary landscape views across Corio Bay towards Melbourne, Geelong and the YouYangs, Jack Rabbit Vineyard is as popular for its surrounds and laid-back vibe, as it is for its exceptional wines.

Choose whether you want a relaxing bite at the cellar door and café, or opt for a fine-dining experience at the sophisticated restaurant, listed in The Age Good Food Guide since 2011. If jazz and wine sound like as enticing pair for your palate, be sure not to miss the Fireside Jazz Series, hosted on-site by the Jack Rabbit Vineyard.

Signature drop: The 2011 Jack Rabbit Heritage Reserve Sparkling Cabernet Sauvignon, fermented in yeast lees for more than four years, offers a wonderful blend of spice, coffee and juicy red berries.

8. Mount Pleasant, Hunter Valley, NSW

Hunter Valley in NSW has long been a favourite destination for wine connoisseurs and Mount Pleasant is one of the region’s longest-standing residents.

Maurice O'Shea set down his vineyard's first roots here in 1921 and the winery has been producing some spectacular wines ever since. The reins have since been handed over to an expert team of winemakers headed by Chief Winemaker Jim Chatto.

Enjoy a taste of history at the cellar door and restaurant, all framed by splendid rolling vineyards with a backdrop of the dramatic Brokenback Range.

Signature drop: The Mount Pleasant 2013 Maurice O'Shea Shiraz is a classic Hunter gem. Opening with a heady nose of spice, red and black fruit, it delights the palate with layered tannins and superb length of flavour.

9. Audrey Wilkinson, Hunter Valley, NSW

Established in 1886, the Audrey Wilkinson vineyard boasts some of the oldest vines in the whole of Australia. A family business, brothers Frederick and John Wilkinson travelled all over Europe to study the best winemaking techniques, achieving a level of expertise and excellence that is still reflected in the wines today.

While you're touring the vineyard, be sure to pop into the winemaking museum. Witness the barrels, open cement vats and winemaking equipment as was used originally by the Wilkinsons themselves.

Signature drop: It’s hard to beat an Audrey Wilkinson Shiraz. Oak-aged, it has intense fruity and violet flavours which complement its earthy, foresty tones, characteristic of wines from the Hunter Valley region.

10. Ballandean Estate Wines, The Granite Belt, QLD

A family business, with a tradition of excellent winemaking still being carried out today by the grandchildren of Founder Salvatore Cardillo. The original vines, planted in the volcanic soil of the Granite Belt in 1930, lay the foundations for the wide variety of quality wines they produce today.

Dine on locally sourced produce at their Barrelroom Restaurant, or for a real dose of cultural, time your visit with their wonderful Opera in the Vineyard concerts. The memory of a top-notch opera performance in the heart of the estate, coupled with a delectable meal and wonderful wine will linger in your mind.

Signature drop: Don’t let the name fool you, the 2013 Ballandean Estate ‘Messing About’ Saperavi, is anything but frivolous. A truly rare grape variety in Australia, it has an intense inky colour and powerful dark cherry, chocolate and liquorice flavours.

Beyond the brilliant reds, pretty-in-pink roses and sparkling whites, Australia’s booming wine tourism is all about weekends spent with loved ones in bucolic beauty.

Drinking in the view along with sips of Chardonnay and Shiraz and eating locally produced gourmet treats, is what makes a trip to one of Australia’s best vineyards the ultimate relaxing weekend escape.