Now, more than ever, it’s so important to support local when we can. And while we can’t go very far, it’s the perfect time to explore some amazing wine regions that are in our own backyard!
So, who’s up for a roadtrip?
In collaboration with Vyne Australia, I’ve put together a list of some of my favourite wineries in the Southern Highlands – a little known but beautiful region in NSW.
Vyne Australia are a fab company connecting wine & beer lovers to unique experiences around Australia. Whether you’re looking to visit a wine region and their cellar doors, or do a distillery or brewery tour, or taste some delicious cheese and local produce, Vyne have got you covered.
Just like me, they’re all about celebrating and supporting local & small businesses, and with our powers combined we hope to shine a light on some amazing local wineries in the gorgeous Southern Highlands.
The Southern Highlands is in a prime spot for visitors coming from Sydney, Canberra, Wollongong and the south coast. It’s just a 1½ hour drive south of Sydney, 2 hours’ drive north from Canberra, and just 1 hour from Wollongong.
Or, if you’d prefer to kick back and relax a little more, coaches operate between Sydney, Melbourne and Canberra, and Sydney trains and NSW Trainlink services stop at various Southern Highlands towns daily.
So, now that we’ve covered how to get there… which cellar doors should you visit? With over 60 vineyards and 17 cellar doors in the area, there is a lot to discover. The region is home to some of Australia’s best cool climate wines, but it’s relatively undiscovered, often overshadowed by more popular NSW wine destinations like the Hunter Valley. Below are just 6 of my favourite wineries, but if you’ve got the time, I definitely encourage you to explore some of the others that aren’t on my list.
Artemis is a family run winery, with brothers Anton & Mark Balog at the helm. They were the third winery in the region and the first to plant pinot noir – an achievement that earned the brothers the nickname ‘The Pinot Pioneers’. All the wines are made on site using low-yield, handpicked grapes – ensuring total quality in the glass. If you’ve read my Rosé Roundup article you’ll know I love their gorgeous pink, but you can’t go past their pinot noirs for some stellar examples of cool-climate Aussie pinot.
AND, for the next month, if you mention this article you’ll get 10% off your online order with Artemis or 10% off at their cellar door! Just quote the code 10Alana at checkout or over the counter to claim your discount.
This year, the brothers added Distillers to their resumés – they now make and sell an awesome range of spirits too! You can taste these at cellar door as well. Artemis also has a great picnic area where you can pull up a chair or a rug and sip on a bottle after your tasting.
Top tip: Go on a Sunday for woodfired pizzas (weather providing).
If you’re looking for a little slice of France at home, you'll find it here. This quaint cellar door and estate will immediately transport you to the countryside of provincial France.
The estate is absolutely charming, with grazing cows in the surrounding fields, as well as a gorgeous gaggle of geese that can sometimes be seen lounging by the lake. It comes complete with a boutique French restaurant (and delicious food), a beautiful silo that’s great for a photo op, and an antiques store on site. Here you’ll find provincial 17th to 19th century antiques sourced from France & other parts of Europe.
Their Petit Rouge Rosé is a bestseller – it was sold out last time I visited, much to my dismay! For red drinkers, you can’t go past the Top Of The Hill Shiraz. It’s rich and full of delicious berry flavours with some scrumptious spice.
Top tip: In spring & summer they offer an afternoon special – grab a glass (or more likely a bottle, let’s be honest) and a cheeseboard and sit on the lawn beside the fountain and while away the fading day.
When I think about Tertini, the first word that comes to mind is ‘class.’ That’s what you’ll find when you visit this cellar door – elegance and class.
And it’s not just me who loves it. Tertini has been recognised as a must-visit cellar door in the Highlands by Gourmet Traveller WINE, who have named it in one of their Best Cellar Doors every year since 2014.
Enjoy the cosy log fire in winter or the fresh breezes in summer. Either way, pull up a chair and sip and savour their premium wines. And trust me, you won’t be disappointed. You have to try their premium pinot noir, reisling and chardonnay. But for me, I loved their arneis. Stunning!
Arneis is a white Italian grape from Piedmont. It’s often blended with nebbiolo to add a touch of sweetness and perfume. But on its own it is delicious, and Tertini’s version is truly spectacular. It has lots of lovely tropical fruit flavours and floral notes, but the thing that sets it apart is its texture.
Top tip: To make it truly sing, pair it with garlic & chilli prawn linguini, or a pizza bianco. Who’s hungry?
Eling Forest is a quaint destination, and very picturesque. In spring & summer there are so many gorgeous flowers around the 180-acre property, and it’s so lush and green. There’s also a beautiful lake to walk around and sit beside. It’s a lovely place to spend and afternoon.
They also pride themselves on being a premier wedding venue, and it’s not hard to see why. The pretty grounds would make the perfect backdrop, and they have onsite accommodation that is heritage-listed.
In terms of wines, I particularly liked their sparklings. Not too sweet, with a sublime mousse. I also really enjoyed their sauvignon blanc. It’s light and fresh with a little bit of complexity. It would be a dream to sit by the lake with a picnic full of goodies, sipping on this.
Top tip: If you do get hungry after your tasting (or if you want to line the stomach before!) there’s a cute little café on the grounds that serves breakfast & lunch.
Cuttaway Hill Wines
The great thing about Cuttaway Hill is how exclusive it feels when you pop into their cellar door. They have a couple of drops you can taste that are only available then and there, which makes the experience much more exciting if you ask me. The friendly faces and great service will make you feel right at home.
If you’re lucky, you might be able to head round the back for a cool demonstration on how they make, bottle and disgorge their sparkling wine. You’ll get to watch as the sediment in the neck of the bottle is frozen, then whipped out at lightning speed before being corked, caged and wrapped.
Speaking of sparkling, at Cuttaway Hills it’s all handmade using méthode traditionelle (just like they do in Champagne, France). When you’re at the cellar door, you may get to try their zero-dosage sparkling too. Zero dosage means that no extra sweetness was added to the wine after fermentation. These wines are drier, and they allow the winemaker to really highlight the individuality of their region. It was so interesting to taste the difference between the two side by side!
Top tip: In the great Aussie tradition, you can grab a locally made pie with your wines every weekend! What a great combo.
Cherry Tree Hill
Cherry Tree Hill is another cellar door with a great outside area for picnics, making it an awesome destination for lunch or an afternoon cheeseboard. You’re also able to bring your own picnic to enjoy with a bottle of their wine.
Again, this is another family affair. The Lorentz family have owned and run the property for over 30 years now and have been producing grapes since 2003. Winemaker Dave has made sure that their pinot noir, reisling and sparkling wines are some of the best in Australia. And honestly, there is so much to love here. Their sparkling red is a real quaffer, and their cabernet merlot is deliciously smooth and sumptuous. For summer, you can’t go past their flagship riesling that would be perfect with a seafood platter or grilled prawns on the BBQ.
So there you have it! Like I said, this is certainly not an exhaustive list – there are so many great cellar doors to pop into in the Highlands. If you think I should add any to my list, let me know below!
Note: At the moment, it’s important to book ahead when you’re planning to visit any wineries in the Southern Highlands. So make sure you get in touch with them before your trip to avoid disappointment on the day!
If you can’t make it to the Southern Highlands right now, that’s okay. You can order wine online from all of these wineries, and they'll send your wine straight to you! That’s another great way of supporting these businesses while restrictions are still in place. Simply contact them directly and place an order.
And remember, for the next month, if you mention this article you’ll get 10% off your online order with Artemis Wines or 10% off at their cellar door! Just quote the code 10Alana at checkout or over the counter to claim your discount.
As always, let’s stick together and #supportlocal during these crazy and unprecedented times. Let’s get out there and explore our own backyard – you might be surprised at how much there is to discover.
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