The Southern Highlands boasts some of the best conditions for cool climate wines in Australia. Being just over an hour’s drive from either Sydney or Canberra, it’s easy for many to get their nose inside a glass or two of some very fine vino. The cellar doors, positioned within some magnificent rural estates, makes a day out in the vines a must-do highlands experience. With no official wine trail to reference, the following Southern Highlands Wine Tour Guide aims to give visitors a full coverage of the regions wines, with lunch thrown in to soak up any over indulgences.
Tertini Wines – Best Chardonnay
A short drive north out along the road out to Wombeyan Caves lies Tertini Wines. A small cellar door at the end of a long access road. A decent cheese and biscuit platter accompanies the tasting menu. The highlight of their sampling list being a creamy oaked Chardonnay which was a hard find in the highlands.
Bendooley Estate – Best Pinot Noir
Once you’ve appreciated the crackling fire in the cavernous sandstone cellar door, you’ll have the opportunity to savour arguably the best Pinot Noir of the district. A very smooth drop, yet there are plenty more to choose from. Wander through to the bookstore come cafe with yet more open fires to cosy up to.
Mount Ashby Estate – Best long lunch
With any wine tasting tour, it’s wise to fit in some food along the way. Better yet, settle in for a long lunch. A perfect choice is the Mount Ashby Estate. Not only do they have an authentic french decor, gently burning fireplace and french inspired menu, they also provide a fine selection of wine. Their shiraz is worth a try even if you don’t stop for lunch.
Joadja – Oldest winery (and only Malbec)
Joadja winery is the oldest winery in the Southern Highlands. Being established in the early 80s it is still quite young in wine years. Their pioneering spirit though may be on to a new vein of vino exploration as it has the only locally produced Malbec. A cool-climate speciality, the Malbec grape is most commonly found in the foothills of the Andes in Argentina. Personally, the Malbec wasn’t up to Argentinian standards (yet) but if you’re partial to a deep purple Malbec, it’s certainly worth a sip.
Centennial Vineyards – Best sweet wine (and wine list)
During any wine tasting, a sweet wine adds a sugary finale. Centennial vineyards has the longest wine tasting list you will ever come across. At least 50 wines are on offer so it may make sense to finish here otherwise you may not make it much further! From champagne to chardonnay and pinot to port, Centennial Vineyards have it in abundance. There is also a very inviting restaurant next to the cellar door should you find Mount Ashby too far to reach.
Southern Highlands Wine Tour Guide
- Designated driver – Have someone in your group take one for the team.
- Hire a driver – Airtasker is a viable option (going rate $150-180 for the day for 4 people). No Uber is available in the Southern Highlands.
- Hire a wine tour bus – Good for bigger groups, check that they will visit 5 locations as most are limited to 2-3 wineries at around $150 per person.
- Electric bikes – Available for hire from the Southern Highlands Tourism office in Mittagong. Note: you technically can be breath-tested whilst riding a push bike. If you take the bikes, have lunch at Centennial Vineyard.
- Tertini Winery – open 10am-5pm
- Bendooley Estate – open 10am-5pm
- Mount Ashby Estate – open 11am-5pm (closed Mon-Wed). Lunch bookings essential. Call (02) 4869 4792
- Joadja Winery – open 10am-5pm (weekends); 12-5pm (weekdays); closed Tues – Wed.
- Centennial Vineyards – open 10am-5pm
About The Author
Ever since venturing out the back gate into the bush as a kid, I've had a curiosity to escape and explore as often as I could. It's fair to say that my curiosity has continued to grow instead of fade as the years go on. It eventually came time to turn a few scribbled notes into some legible stories and travel tips for anyone with a similar curiosity as me.