Many of the pioneers in the district have brought a distinct approach to creating wine that is rapidly gaining worldwide attention and accolades.
Follow the signs to the cellar doors and you’ll get to meet some of the winemakers in person and taste their inspired blends.
Canberra is surrounded by spectacular rolling hills and valleys, making a visit to one of our wineries pleasing to all the senses. There are 140 vineyards and more than 40 wineries within 35 minutes’ drive of the city centre. Not only can you see the vineyards, you’ll also learn a thing or two about the winemaking process.
The Canberra District Wine Region has a reputation for producing excellent Shiraz and Riesling along with Chardonnay, Cabernet Sauvignon, Tempranillo, Viognier, Pinot Noir, Pinot Gris, Gruner Veltliner and Sangiovese.
No trip to the district would be complete without a visit to Helm Wines. Husband-and-wife team Ken and Judith Helm started the vineyard, winery and cellar door in 1973 and it continues to be a family affair with all of the family playing an integral part in the business.
Helm Wines is renowned for its classic dry-style of Riesling. The winery uses a combination of modern and traditional equipment and adopts a minimalist approach to winemaking, so that what is in the bottle is as close as possible to what came off the vine.
Next on your list should be a visit to Clonakilla Wines, famed for its Shiraz Viognier. John Kirk planted the vineyard in 1971 on a 44-acre farm 40 kilometres north of Canberra. His son Tim now runs the family business and was the one who pushed to make a Shiraz Viognier blend after he was inspired by a trip to the Rhone Valley, France in 1991.
The family’s hard work over the years has paid off with numerous accolades and awards, including a record 98 points for the Clonakilla 2013 Shiraz Viognier by James Halliday. Tim was also named Gourmet TravellerWINE magazine’s Winemaker of the Year in 2013.
Other must-see vineyards with cellar doors to add to your Murrumbateman tour include Jeir Creek Wines, Gallagher Wines, Shaw Wines, Murrumbateman Winery, Granitevale Estate, Yarrh Wines, Four Winds Vineyard, Dionysus Winery, McKellar Ridge, Eden Road Wines, The Vintner's Daughter, Wimbaliri and Wily Trout Vineyard also home to popular smokehouse Poachers Pantry.
You can also stop into vineyards and cellars near Hall, which is on the way to Murrumbateman from Canberra. Keep an eye out for Pankhurst, Brindabella Hills and Surveyor’s Hill. Visit Capital Wines in the main street of Hall for epicurean tastings.
Lake George wineries
When driving to Canberra along the Federal Highway, you will pass along the escarpment of Lake George. Stop in to discover Lerida Estate run by Jim Lumbers and Anne Caine. Their vineyard and cellar, designed by the distinguished Australian architect Glenn Murcutt, nestles gently into the land overlooking the mysterious Lake George. Lerida produces wines from low yielding vines with minimal intervention to allow the terroir and flavours to shine.
Nearby, overlooking the shores of Lake George, the small boutique Lake George Winery is well known for its award winning wines such as Pinot Noir, Chardonnay, Semillon, Merlot and Botrytis Semillon. Lake George Winery is one of the oldest vineyards in the region and maintains its original beauty.
Closer to home, you can explore a vineyard without leaving Canberra at Mount Majura Vineyard, just 11 kilometres from the city centre. Mount Majura Vineyard offers a variety of experiences such as gumboot tours and structured tastings.
The gumboot tour is a self-guided nature trail through the vineyard, where you'll learn about the site, viticulture, and have a chance to take in the best view from the top of the vineyard. Once a month there is also the chance to join guided vineyard excursions.
If you head to the NSW South Coast from Canberra, take a welcome break near the historic village of Bungendore and visit Lark Hill Biodynamic Winery, Affleck Vineyard, Summerhill Road Vineyard and Contentious Character Vineyard.
Many wineries also offer mouth-watering meals and tours by appointment, so check opening hours and booking details before you start exploring wineries.
For a handy drive map, seasonal and annual events and a comprehensive list of wineries, check out the Canberra District Wine Association.
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