Australia's best wine regions: Six of the most underrated

GRANITE BELT, QUEENSLAND

If you never realised Queensland produced wine, make your way to this high-altitude, cool-climate region straddling the NSW border, centred on Stanthorpe. Among the 50-plus wineries are interesting boutique operations making forays into more unusual Mediterranean grape varieties such as durif, fiano and nebbiolo, encountered by following the Strange Bird tourist trail. At Ballandean Estate Wines, established in the 1940s, you can even try saperavi, a red-wine grape native to Georgia. As befits an emerging wine region, you'll enjoy matching good restaurants. As an added bonus, beautiful Girraween and Sundown national parks produce robust landscapes. See granitebeltwinecountry.com.au

PIPERS RIVER, TAS

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Bay of Fires Wines.

This damp, cold wine region in Tasmania's north-east around George Town at the top end of the Tamar Valley wine region was only established in the 1970s and features 20-odd vineyards amid pretty landscapes of seaside villages, orchard farms and forest, with the occasional gold-mining settlement providing historical interest. Chardonnay, pinot noir and premium sparkling are the go-to wines, with Jansz Tasmania taking you through a curated tasting of its notable sparkling wines, and Delamere providing pleasant tasting flights on its vine-shaded terrace. Bay of Fires Wines offers sparkling wine and riesling masterclasses. See winetasmania.com.au

CLARE VALLEY, SA

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Sevenhill Cellars.

This wine region two hours out of Adelaide is overshadowed by the Barossa and McLaren Vale but, with far fewer visitors, allows encounters with winemakers in a relaxed ambiance at small, family-run cellar doors. The riesling is excellent, but Clare Valley reds are becoming better known. Sevenhill Cellars, one of Australia's oldest wineries (1851), has a very atmospheric cellar door and interesting self-guided site tour. If you're after luscious views with your riesling, stop by Paulett Wines for lunch. Undulating pastoral landscapes, startling Lake Bumbunga (which occasionally turns pink) and pretty colonial-era Mintaro are other lures. See clarevalley.com.au

CANBERRA DISTRICT, NSW/ACT

Although Canberra doesn't yet have a prominent wine reputation, you'll be pleased at the drops produced in the cool-climate vineyards that skirt the capital, especially around Murrumbateman, Bungendore and Lake George. Clonakilla was a pioneer of the now popular shiraz-viognier blend; nearby Eden Road Wines offers a one-hour tasting of the region's chief grape varieties. Small, informal and often only open at weekends, various cellar doors can be linked – along with restaurants, craft shops, farm gates and colonial-era villages – on a pleasant drive through rolling countryside. Tallagandra Hill Winery has self-contained cottages for those inclined to linger. See canberrawines.com.au

KING VALLEY, VIC

Italian immigrants were mostly responsible for establishing vineyards in north-east Victoria so, not surprisingly, star grapes include the likes of sangiovese, barbera and pinot grigio, while cellar doors dish up great Italian cuisine. Although you'll find one of the widest varietal densities in Australia, light prosecco is the focus for many visitors, with a tourist Prosecco Road connecting cellars doors such as Pizzini Wines, Dal Zotto Estate and Milawa Estate, where the legendary Brown Brothers got their start some 130 years ago. Aboriginal and bushranger history and beautiful landscapes are further reasons to visit. See winesofthekingvalley.com.au

MUDGEE, NSW

Winemakers Robert and Jacob Stein sampling their wine in Mudgee. tra19sixbestwineregions

Although it has a long winemaking history – vines were planted here in the 1840s, and Mudgee was Australia's 1970s chardonnay pioneer – this wine region has only a modest reputation despite its big red wines, successful Spanish and Italian varietals, and the more recent emergence of rieslings that demonstrates Mudgee can be good at white wines too. What makes this wine region especially pleasant is the low-key approach, chance to meet the winemakers at cellar doors, and the loveliness of both town and surrounding countryside. Logan Wines and First Ridge Wines have especially striking cellar doors, architecturally speaking. See mudgeewine.com.au