South Australia – Coonawarra – cabernet, quality and class in your glass

Visit some of the Coonawarra's best cabernet producers

By Sam Russell
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Coonawarra vineyard views, South Australia

Coonawarra vineyard views, South Australia [©Coonawarra Vignerons]

Rymill cellar door and winery, Coonawarra, South Australia
Terra rossa soil over limestone produces high quality fruit in Coonawarra
Vineyard views, Coonawarra, South Australia
Winemakers taking a break in the Coonawarra wine region, South Australia

 

It is the classic cabernet sauvignon grape that attracts you to this corner of wine state South Australia. Coonawarra cabernets are known worldwide for their striking vinicultural qualities. Grown on a small strip of red soil called terra rossa, the vines and wines from this terroir are inimitable.

This is a tiny area. Strung along just 20 km of highway from Penola through Coonawarra is a strand of viticultural jewels, a group of wineries delivering many of Australia’s multi-awarded reds. In one relaxing low-mileage day you can visit them, improve your understanding of their cabernets – and enjoy fine food and local culture along the way. Here’s a suggested itinerary for a busy day tasting some of the best.

 

Stop 1 - Breakfast

DiVine

Buy the papers at the adjacent newsagency, watch the world go by and wait patiently until DiViné opens for breakfast at a leisurely 9 am. Here the fare is fresh and local, the coffee irreproachable. If Wagyu sausages, tomatoes, bacon, eggs, spinach, mushrooms and Turkish bread don’t bring on a buoyant frame of mind, nothing will ... read more.

Open 9 to 5 daily (10 to 4 on public holidays). Breakfast and light lunches.
39 Church Street,
Penola, 5277
Tel 08 8738 2122

 

Stop 2   - Cellar door

Rymill Coonawarra

Start your cabernet day at one of the northernmost Coonawarra wineries. Colonnades of trees welcome you to a spectacular contemporary building of space and grace, recently included in Peter Richards Wineries with style – a compendium of 80 of the world’s most ‘striking, fascinating and impressive wineries.’ Here you can taste a cabernet portfolio of several singular wines and varying ages ... read more.

Open daily 10 to 5 (closed Christmas Day).
Riddoch Highway,
Coonawarra, 5263
Tel 08 8736 5001

 

Stop 3 - Cellar door

Penley Estate

The name itself is a vinous blend of the Penfold and Tolley families, the winemaking forebears of the Penley founder. In the small, new vernacular cellar door there is again a range of medal-winning cabernets to taste and compare ... read more.

Open daily 10 to 4 (closed Good Friday and Christmas Day).
McLeans Road,
Coonawarra, 5263
Tel 08 8736 3211

 

Stop 4 - Cellar door                                       

Wynns Coonawarra Estate Winery

From the new to the old. This is the iconic 1891 three-gabled winery found on the label of Wynn’s Coonawarra Cabernet since its first appearance in 1954. By 2009 Wynn intends to offer a MYOB tour – Make Your Own Blend – in which visitors can become winemakers ... read more.

Open daily 10 to 5 (closed Good Friday and Christmas Day).
Memorial Drive,
Coonawarra, 5263
Tel 08 8736 2225 

 

Stop 5 - Lunch

Upstairs at Hollick

Fresh, new and already acclaimed, the restaurant overlooks the Hollick family Neilson’s Block vineyard. Beneath is a stylish cellar door that is hard to ignore on the way to your table. Don’t try. Stop and sample the wines you might have with your lunch upstairs. 

Cellar door open daily 9 to 5 (closed Good Friday, Christmas and Boxing Days).
Restaurant open Wed – Sun 12pm to 2.30pm (lunch) and Sat 6.30pm-8.30pm (dinner).
Corner Riddoch Highway and Ravenswood Lane,
Coonawarra, 5263
Tel 08 8737 2752 

 

Stop 6 - Cellar door

Balnaves

A small family-owned wine company in the heart of the Terra Rossa strip founded in 1976. The winery is impressive, modern and sits aside a trout-filled lake in a glorious garden of 900 roses ... read more.

Open weekdays 9 to 5, weekends 12 – 5, and public holidays 10 – 5.  
Riddoch Highway,
Coonawarra
Tel 08 8737 2946 

 

Stop 7 - Cellar door

Yalumba ‘The Menzies’ Wine Room

This final port of call was opened in 2002 as a special place to enjoy the Coonawarra cabernet launched in 1987 as a tribute to Australia’s longest-serving Prime Minister Robert Gordon Menzies – an acknowledged lover of gracious reds and even finer cabernets ... read more.

Open daily 10 – 4.30 (closed Good Friday and Christmas Day).
Riddoch Highway,
Coonawarra
Tel 08 8737 3603

 

Stop 8 - Dinner

Piper's of Penola

If you've made it through our suggested itinerary you deserve a very good dinner and to put your feet up in comfort. It is splendid to find a restaurant of such quality – a true class act -- in a tiny country town such as Penola. Everything about it speaks of quality. The menu is innovative and the execution impeccable. Book in plenty of time and enjoy one of the best regional dining experiences in the nation ... read more.

Closed Sunday and Monday. Dinner: Tuesday to Saturday from 6pm and Sundays of long weekends
58 Riddoch Street,
Penola, 5277 
Tel 08 8737 3999

 

Regions

  • Coonawarra (SA)

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