Australia Wine Tours
Popularity of Australian Wineries
Large corporate vineyards and smaller boutique wineries are popular destinations for many tourists visiting Australia.
According to a report by Tourism Research Australia, the number of local and international tourists visiting Australian wineries has increased dramatically over the last six years. Between June and September, 1.9 million local tourists on an overnight stay visited a winery, and 1.6 million local tourists on a day trip visited a winery.
In the June quarter, 163,000 international guests visited an Australian winery. A quarter of these guests had visited wineries on a previous trip to Australia. The majority of these international tourists came from the United Kingdom and New Zealand.
New South Wales was the most popular destination for Australian and international wine lovers on vacation. But day-tripping Aussies prefer to visit the Victorian vineyards. However, a higher proportion of visitors holidaying in Western Australia and South Australia visited wineries compared to tourists in other regions.
Wine tasting and purchasing are popular activities enjoyed by all wine tourists in Australia. Australian travelers also take the opportunity to sample local produce, including cheese, jams, sauces, and olives. Guided winery tours are very popular with international guests.
Most local and international tourists visited Australian wineries recommended to them by friends and families. Australian wine tourists also tended to go to wineries they had visited on previous occasions. International tourists often visited wineries included in package vacation tours.
A trip to the wineries can be a rewarding and relaxing experience. However many tourists can feel intimidated if they don’t know what to expect, or feel they don’t know enough about wine. There are a few simple things to remember to get the most from Australia’s wine regions.
The first thing to decide on any wine trip is the destination. The time you are visiting may be a factor in this decision. Large wine areas such as the Barossa Valley and Hunter Valley are open any time of year, but several wineries in smaller areas, such as the Southern Highlands, tend to close over Christmas or only open on weekends.
It’s also worth thinking about the wineries you hope to visit, as Australia is much larger than many people realize. Unless you have a lot of time in Australia, you won’t be able to visit wineries in the Hunter Valley, Mornington Peninsula, and Clare Valley. It’s a more practical idea to settle on a wine-growing region with many wineries you are interested in seeing.
When choosing wineries, it can be tempting to select names you are familiar with. However, this is not always the most rewarding option. Many large wineries can get very crowded, particularly during the peak holiday times. Smaller boutique wineries often offer a more personal and leisurely wine tasting experience. While large wineries offer consistently good produce, the quality of the boutique labels may surprise you.
If you’re struggling to choose the wineries, wine tours can do it for you. Many companies run bus tours to nearby wine areas, allowing tourists to enjoy cellar-door tastings without worrying about driving home. These tours typically visit three to six wineries and a local restaurant for lunch. Many also visit other tourist attractions in the local area. Large groups can often customize their tour to ensure they visit their wineries of choice.
Most Australian wineries offer free public tastings. Especially at smaller cellars, this is a great opportunity to speak to the winemakers and learn more about the different varieties. Australians are generally friendly, and the cellar door staff are trained to deal with the public. They should help make your wine tasting a pleasurable experience. If your knowledge of wine is limited, they will be happy to answer your questions and suggest wines you may like.
Typically wine tasters start with white wines, move to reds, then dessert or fortified varieties. It is acceptable to taste through the range, or choose only the wines that interest you. While cellar door tastings are conducted to encourage sales, you are not obligated to purchase anything if it is not to your liking.