The area around Tenterfield in northern New South Wales is chock full of wineries. Your best bet is to rent a car to get around the area west of Byron Bay, but it is entirely worth the expense. Enroute, you’ll drive through spectacular rainforest in to the rolling hills of the Great Dividing Range. If you pay close attention, you may spot a few roos’ relaxing in the fields. One thing to keep in mind in the Australian vineyards is that you are expected to make a purchase if you like the wine. You can stretch your tour from NSW in to southern Queensland, where there are larger commercial vineyards in operation.
Currajong Downs: Our first stop was at this medium size boutique winery for some gold medal winning Semillion. Currajong has a “cellar door,” which is more like a shop than a door in to the basement wine cellar that I thought it would be, as well as a gorgeous cafe. At this particular vineyard, we stood at the counter and told the girl which of the listed offerings we wanted to taste and she delivered. The Semillion is hands down the best white wine I have ever tasted in my life. I sincerely wish I could have purchased a case or two to ship back to the States, but I was limited to a few bottles. The cafe makes Currajong a great place to stop around lunch time. The smoked trout salad with fresh cheese and sundried tomatoes is perfect for a light lunch.
The Doctor’s Nose: Our second stop on the wine route was at The Doctor’s Nose. This location presented a much different experience, with an elaborate tasting. We were seated as the owner brought out each wine. The wines were presented in a particular order to keep a dry wine from being tasted between two sweeter wines. Each wine was named after a different ancestor of the family who runs the place and the vineyard was named after the ridge line near the property. I didn’t enjoy the wine as much as that at Currajong Downs, but loved that the vineyard is run by a couple who are truly passionate about wine. The service was spectacular, and I couldn’t have been more pleased. After the tasting, the owner actually took us on a tour of the property for a little kangaroo safari.
Ballandean Estates: Our final stop was in southern Queensland in Ballandean, to the north of Tenterfield. This area has been under cultivation for many years and dozens of commercial vineyards offer cellar doors. We chose the Ballandean Estates solely because they offer informational tours. This was a much larger operation than the two previous vineyards, with a counter surrounded by busloads of customers. The family in residence has been working the vines for four generations. They were incredibly welcoming and let us wander around post-tour to have a look at their vines. The tour was informative, and I was floored to learn that there are something like 870 types of yeast used to bring out certain flavors in wines.
The Tenterfield Visitor’s Center offers information on the local vineyards, as well as maps of the area. If you’d prefer to let someone else do the driving (which isn’t a bad idea considering the strict drinking and driving laws in Oz), Tenterfield Wine Tours offers tours to four of the local vineyards. You can contact Angela & Duncan at (02) 67363293 or Mobile 0428 363293.
For more information on any one vineyard, you can contact any one of the local wineries directly:
- Ballandean Estate Winery: 07 4684 1226
- Bungawarra Wines: 07 4684 1128
- Deetswood Wines: 02 6736 1322
- Doctor’s Nose Wines: 02 6736 3113
- Dumaresq Valley Vineyard: 026737 5281
- Felsberg Winery: 07 4683 4332
- Golden Grove Estates: 07 4684 1291
- Kominos Wines: 07 4683 4311
- Kurrajong Downs Winery: 02 6736 4590
- Reedy Creek: 02 6737 5221
- Richfield Wines: 02 6737 5588
- Splitters Swamp Vineyard: 02 6737 3640
- Wellington Vale: 02 6734 5226