Australia's emerging wine regions: 10 small regions worth visiting

EAST COAST TASMANIA

With a climate very similar to Champagne and parts of the Rhine Valley, the East Coast of Tasmania has warm summers and cool winters that produce wines of intense flavour; particularly pinot noir and chardonnay. This region is home to several cellar doors, including regional pioneers Freycinet and Spring Vale, while Devil's Corner has a cellar door complex with spectacular views. Meander along the Great Eastern Drive to explore several of Tasmania's best gourmet experiences in some of its most beautiful locations. Check out rustic Craigie Knowe and Gala Estate, then enjoy lunch overlooking the lake at Milton. There are nine new Coastal Pavilions at Freycinet Lodge offering luxury bush stays. See eastcoasttasmania.com

CANBERRA DISTRICT

D3WTGN Vineyard in autumn, near Bungendore. Canberra, Australian Capital Territory (ACT), Australia. Image shot 04/2011. Exact date unknown. SunJun24Ten Canberra

Vineyard near Bungendore, Canberra. Photo: Alamy

The national capital is surrounded by vineyards that produce some of Australia's fast-emerging cool-climate wines. Clonakilla at Murrumbateman was the birthplace of a style that is now an Australian icon – the shiraz viognier blend. While brands like Helm and Clonakilla are well established, there is also a new generation of winemakers working with alternative grape varieties. Canberra's continental climate is one of extremes: cold winters and hot, dry summers are ideal for producing quality wine grapes. The majority of Canberra district vineyards are found within the borders of NSW: at Murrumbateman, Bungendore, Yass, Gundaroo, Collector and Lake George. Closest to the city is Mount Majura Vineyard. Use the funky QT Canberra as a base to explore the vines – and the city's wine bars.  See canberrawines.com.au

LANGHORNE CREEK

Langhorne Creek South Australia Australia SunJun24Ten Langhorne Creek

Langhorne Creek, South Australia.

Just an hour's drive from Adelaide this district is often overlooked in favour of its more famous neighbours. The tiny hamlet, population well under 1000, is where Wolf Blass sourced the fruit for many of the wines that made his name and the region still produces grapes for many leading labels. Much of the fruit here is on-sold, meaning you rarely see Langhorne Creek on wine labels. Among the producers worth visiting are historic family-owned Bleasdale, with a fascinating cellar door/museum and family owned Lake Breeze and Bremerton. Langhorne Creek has a wine history dating back to 1850 and is known for cabernet sauvignon and shiraz grapes that produce big, juicy reds. It is on the banks of the Bremer River and in winter the river frequently floods across the vineyards, providing natural irrigation to the rich, deep soils. Stay at the Strath Motel in nearby Strathalbyn for city comforts, but make sure to enjoy a drink with the vineyard workers at the Bridge Hotel pub. See langhornecreek.com

DAYLESFORD MACEDON RANGES

Just a one-hour drive from Melbourne Airport; Daylesford and the Macedon Ranges used to fly under the radar as a wine and food destination – but that is rapidly changing with wineries including Curly Flat, Passing Clouds, Cobaw Ridge and Bindi building formidable reputations for quality. Daylesford and next-door Hepburn Springs are alive with top-notch restaurants, vibrant country pubs, wine bars and up-market accommodation and Passing Clouds (with a new cellar door) is just a short drive out of town at Musk, serving hearty country meals. The rustic feasts here feature local meats grilled over coals, and herbs and vegetables from the adjacent potager. For a pre-dinner drink pop into Wine and the Country, a terrific local bottle shop/wine bar. See dmrtourism.com.au

ORANGE

AF3W7K The Rosemount-Orange vineyards, Rosemount Winery, Australia SunJun24Ten Orange Fairfax Traveller Ten: 10 Emerging Wine Regions

Rosemount Winery in Orange, NSW. Photo: Alamy

Orange, in the NSW Central West, a three-and-half-hour drive west of Sydney, is booming as a weekend playground for city refugees, its progress driven by the success of the region's makers of cool-climate wines and ciders, and the many local seasonal festivals. The region is considered one of the best for cool-climate viticulture, with its elevated vineyards producing a range of varieties. Sample local labels at the Union Bank or Ferment: The Orange Wine Centre, which acts as a cellar door for several small producers. Star cellar doors include country chic Heifer Station, de Salis, Printhie, Patina, Brangayne, Philip Shaw Wines and Ross Hill, as well as Small Acres Cyder. The de Russie Boutique Hotel is the best address in town. See orange-nsw.com/TasteOrange

THE GREAT SOUTHERN

A3A84D Vineyard near Mount Barker Western Australia Lower Great Southern SunJun24Ten The Great Southern Fairfax Traveller Ten: 10 Emerging Wine Regions

Vineyard near Mount Barker, Western Australia. Photo: Alamy

Probably the most remote wine region in the country, the Great Southern in Western Australia is vast and diverse, ranging from the coastal, maritime subregions of Albany and Denmark to the inland, continental sub-regions of Mount Barker, Porongurup and Frankland River, which is building a reputation for making some of Australia's finest dry rieslings as well as very classy cabernets. Albany and Denmark, both a good half day's drive from Perth, are well equipped for tourists and star cellar doors include Plantagenet, Alkoomi, Ferngrove, Rockcliffe, Galafrey and Castle Rock. The countryside is dominated by stands of karri, marri, jarrah and other eucalypts and the region is so large it can take two or three days to explore. Seegreatsouthernwine.asn.au

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THE GRANITE BELT

Centred on the small apple-growing town of Stanthorpe, the Granite Belt in southern Queensland has a long history of viticulture and winemaking and is one of the highest wine regions in Australia, with some vineyards sitting at more than 1000 metres above sea level. Just north of the New South Wales border, the region sits on the eastern spine of the Great Dividing Range. Sub-zero winter nights contrast with warm summer days. The Granite Belt has a reputation for using unfamiliar grape varieties, known here as Strange Birds. If you've ever wanted to try a marsanne or a petit verdot, you've come to the right place. Boirrean, Symphony Hill, Ridgemill Estate, Ballandean Estate and Golden Grove are labels to look out for while Azjure has spa cabin accommodation. See granitebeltwinecountry.com.au

THE HILLTOPS

SunJun24Ten The Hilltops Fairfax Traveller Ten: 10 Emerging Wine Regions

The Hilltops, NSW. Photo: Alamy

The sleepy Hilltops Region in south-western NSW takes in the small towns of Young, Juigong, Harden and Boorowa, and is known for its cherries, cool-climate wine and beautiful countryside. Chalker's Crossing and Grove Estate are among the major wineries and Moppity Wines, one of the most awarded producers in the region, is currently constructing a new cellar door. Bluestill Distillery produces a range of hand-crafted Australian spirits including vodka, gin, rum and cherry port and visitors can take a tour and wander through a gallery featuring works of local artisans. The Hilltops Retreat Motor Inn in Young is the top-rated accommodation. See visithilltopsregion.com.au

KING VALLEY

The lush King Valley in north-east Victoria used to be tobacco-growing country but nowadays families with Italian heritage have made it one of the most interesting wine regions in the country. From prosecco, the traditional sparkling wine style of the Veneto, to sangiovese, the stand-out red grape in Tuscany, the King Valley has become Australia's capital of Italian varietals. The major names (and cellar doors) here include Pizzini, Dal Zotto, Sam Miranda and Chrismont, all of whom make Italian varietals along with more traditional wine styles. Dine Italian style at Dal Zotto's Trattoria and stay at Chrismont Guest House (which has luxury vineyard accommodation). See visitkingvalley.com.au

THE SWAN VALLEY

The Swan Valley is Western Australia's oldest wine region and just a short trip from Perth city centre. It is almost completely overshadowed in terms of wine quality by Margaret River and the Great Southern but offers several outstanding tourism experiences including major cellar door drawcards Houghton and multiple-award-winning Sandalford, which can be reached by river from Perth and has one of the state's best winery eateries. Mandoon Estate and Talijancich Wines are other popular tasting destinations, while the Novotel The Vines Resort makes a very handy touring base. See swanvalley.com.au

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