27 Jan 2022
With so many famous wine regions to choose from, it’s easy for South Australians to forget about the Coonawarra!
Which is a surprise really, because the Coonawarra’s lush vineyards and outstanding cellar doors have been attracting tourists to this part of the state for well over 150 years!
Fabled for producing some of the world’s best Shiraz and Merlots (we’ll get to that), there are more than just countless wine estates to be discovered in the Coonawarra’s rolling hills.
Whether you're looking to explore the region for the first time, or an experienced wine lover who wants to learn more, use this guide to understand everything you need to know before you arrive!
Where is the Coonawarra?
Approximately halfway between Melbourne and Adelaide, the region’s slightly moody weather is influenced by maritime breezes off the Great Southern Ocean. Technically a cool climate wine region, this doesn’t mean it doesn’t get hot here in summer!
Mostly ‘mediterranean’ in nature, the region’s unique climate is a major factor in producing the Coonawarra’s world-class wines. Complex flavors are created by a longer than usual ripening season, fostering unbelievably well-structured wines.
No matter where you visit, get ready to stroll through orchards, chat with winemakers and sip award-winning wines with panoramic views of the region.
Where to Wine?
It’ll feel like Christmas morning when you pull into the first of many vineyards in the Coonawarra.
Don’t rush this experience though, this is the perfect place to take it slow and steady. Plus, considering the sheer number of vineyards to choose from, it’s best to pace yourself!
Be prepared for a unique morning or afternoon regardless of which vineyards you choose - all of them are guaranteed to please.
Coonawarra Winery Walking Trail
This is what you need to do if you’re looking to sample the area’s best and get a behind the scenes insight into the winemaking process.
The Coonawarra Winery Walking Trail includes six world-class estates and leads visitors on a 5 kilometer-behind the scenes walk amongst stunning vineyards and gorgeous scenery. Uncover each location’s unique story while enjoying fine wines and foods along the way.
An iconic winery of the region nestled in the heart of the ‘terra rossa’ strip of the Coonawarra region, north of Penola.
Steeped in heritage and a wealth of old vine vineyards dating back to 1893, it offers a range of elegant yet richly flavoured wines distinct to the area.
A family owned winery in the heart of Coonawarra. Meet the friendly team while tasting their premium range of wines, local cheese and olive oil.
SA wine label Ottelia has joined forces with sister restaurant Fodder and now share the limelight inside the old Coonawarra schoolhouse, forming a combined cellar door and delicious eatery.
Coonawarra’s oldest winemaking family have been making premium quality red wine for over 110 years. Bill Redman, Owen Redman, Bruce & Mal Redman and now fourth generation winemakers Dan & Mike Redman, have maintained many of the traditional hands-on wine making methods learnt from Bill over 100 years ago in this still family owned and run business.
Wynns Coonawarra Estate is the oldest and largest winery in the Coonawarra. This heritage-listed, triple-gabled building was built in 1896 and the original floors, walls and ceilings are still intact. Explore this beautiful cellar door and spend some time learning about the vineyard and winemaking via several interactive displays.
Renowned for consistently producing great red wines from their estate grown, hand pruned vines, call in to the Zema Estate cellar door for a complimentary tasting of their current release wines, including the family's personal favourites.
Beaches and Day Escapes
Would you like an ocean view with your Sauvignon Blanc?
You won't have to forfeit valuable beach time on your next wine retreat. The Coonawarra is just an hour’s drive away from the Limestone coast and the quaint seaside town of Robe.
Grab a caffeine boost at one of the numerous artisan coffee shops before spending the afternoon sightseeing through the historic seaside village of Robe.
Bask in the sun at Long Beach or joy ride north towards the historic Cape Jaffa Lighthouse.
Did you promise yourself (and the kids) that you’d work in some cardio before uncorking your first bottle?
Work off your holiday guilt and grab some truly jaw-dropping panoramic ocean views on the Robe Coastal Walk.
The Robe Coastal Walk is a 6.3 kilometer point-to-point trail located near Robe that features beautiful wild flowers and is accessible to all levels of walker. The trail is primarily used for walking and bird watching. Dogs must be kept on a leash.
For dinner, enjoy some seaside lobster at the never not eloquent Sails at Robe.
If you’re looking for something a bit hoppier, Robe Town Brewery is rumored to serve up some of the best locally made barrel-aged beers in the area!
While this is something of a stretch from Coonawarra, Kangaroo Island always warrants a mention!
However, before you get here, be sure to spend a few days exploring Coorong National Park as you make your way towards Australia’s third-largest island.
Known as the ‘mini-Galapagos’ of Australia, KI is home to koalas, wombats, seals, sea lions and other native Australian critters, making it a great opportunity for kiddos to spot a wide variety of wildlife in their natural habitats.
Kangaroo Island’s 540-kilometer coastline provides some of the best snorkeling and surfing in all of South Australia.
Horseback riding, sand-boarding, trekking, and kayaking are all popular on this must-visit destination, less than a day’s drive away from Coonawarra!
If you’ve ever caught yourself saying, “I’ve always wanted to go to Coonawarra," now's your chance!
With no shortage of things to do, wine to drink, and places to relax, Coonawarra has something for everyone.
Whether you’re traveling with the kids, just passing through, or planning a prolonged break, don’t ignore this exciting and welcoming region.