Seven of Australia’s best eco-conscious wineries and distilleries
From gluten-free gin and organic apple cider to biodynamic wine, we discover what’s on offer for the mindful drinkers amongst us.
Here’s a round-up of some of Australia and New Zealand’s most healthy and eco-conscious watering holes to plan a holiday around this year.
Willie Smiths, Huon Valley, Tasmania
The air in the not-so-aptly-named Cape Grim in Tasmania is recognised as the cleanest in the world. It travels over virgin forest to reach the fourth-generation Huon Valley farm of the Smith Family’s Willie Smith’s cider house.
Mix the air with the best soil and purest water on earth, and you’ve got the perfect growing conditions for creating the freshest, organic apple cider, made in the tradition of farmhouse ciders from northern France.
Wash down their award-winning cider at the cellar door – a converted apple shed originally built in 1942 – with a selection of the finest regional produce from the cafe.
Visit Huon Valley in spring to see blossoming apple orchards and gardens bursting with colour.
Angove, McLaren Vale, South Australia
Nestled in the heart of Angove Warboys’ organic and biodynamic-certified vineyard is a cellar door with views across vines, natural bushland and kangaroos lazing in the sun.
Angove Family Winemakers have quietly been leading the way in organic grape growing and winemaking, proud that at no stage of the process have they used any artificial pesticides, herbicides, fungicides or other chemicals.
For Angove, being organic is also about community and they aim to promote a healthy, clean, sustainable environment.
At the cellar door, you can also nibble on locally sourced produce, including fish, cheeses and freshly baked artisan breads.
An easy 45-minute drive from Adelaide, the region is set between the hills of the southern Mt Lofty Ranges and the coast of Gulf St Vincent. And you had better like your reds, because Shiraz is king in McLaren Vale.
Harris Organic Wines, Swan Valley, Western Australia
Just 10 minutes from Perth’s domestic airport, Swan Valley is the state’s oldest wine-growing region. It is also Australia’s first Humane Food Region, which means the food here is animal welfare-friendly.
Stick to the healthy vino route with a visit to Perth’s only certified organic producer – Harris Organic Wines. Sip on carefully tended, non-irrigated shiraz, hand-picked and basket-pressed, organic dry white wine with low preservatives or certified organic fortifieds.
Sit under the vines on the tiny two-hectare vineyard, where everything is created by hand for that free-range wine feel. If you love what you see, enlist as a WWoof (wwoof.com.au) volunteer – there’s work to be done year-round!
Kangaroo Island Spirits, Kangaroo Island, South Australia
The quirky Kangaroo Island Spirits (KIS) cellar door is a unique experience. Australia’s first dedicated gin craft distillery, its rural setting will help you unwind as you sip a gin and tonic or taste their signature affogato.
There’s also the chance to exercise your mind with a gin blending session, where you’ll learn how to make your own personal potion in less than an hour. Or try the All Things Gin masterclass using colourful canvas portraits set out on easels in the gin garden, where you can walk through the history of gin and finish with blind tastings of different styles or brands.
KIS follow the slow spirits philosophy, inspired by the slow food movement, and pride themselves on taking their time making small batches by hand. The spirits are often sourced by coeliacs, because they use only grape-based, rather than grain-based, spirits.
KIS recommend serving their gin with large ice balls and fresh garnishes from the garden, such as lemon or caraway thyme and cumquats, or fresh green apple and a few fennel fronds.
Afterwards, enjoy a coastal walk to get up close to the wildlife from sea lions to pelicans around this unspoiled island.
Dal Zotto Wines, King Valley, Victoria
Follow the Prosecco Road to Dal Zotto wines in the King Valley, the first winery in Australia to process the Italian sparkling wine that has overtaken Champagne as the world’s best-loved fizzy wine.
Play a game of bocce on the lawn, take a walk through the vines and meet the cows grazing among the grapes, or sip the crispest prosecco in the trattoria over melt-in-your-mouth handmade pasta and delicious gnocchi.
Matriarch Nonna Elena lovingly tends the gardens, her husband, Otto, oversees his legacy and sons, Michael (winemaker) and Christian (marketing manager), make it a truly family affair. You can even stay on site as part of a maui Australia (maui.com.au) Winery Havens Victoria tour.
Macquariedale Organic Wines, Hunter Valley, NSW
In a mediterranean setting overlooking the Hunter Valley, learn about how Macquariedale grows its grapes biodynamically, making it the first winery in the region to become fully certified organic.
Looking out over the spectacular scenery of the Broken Back Range, sip wines knowing they are low in sulphur and sustainably crafted. There’s also a preservative-free red wine – NBG (Nothing But Grapes) – as well as olive oil from an orchard on site, and other organic and local produce to pick up at the cellar door.
Afterwards, take a balloon ride, cycle around the vineyards, scout local galleries or head to Spa Elysia at Golden Door Health Retreat – the largest day spa in NSW – for a unique Watsu aquatic bodywork treatment.
Cardrona Distillery, Wanaka, New Zealand
Step back in time at the family-owned artisan single malt Cardrona distillery, set in the remote, alpine environment of New Zealand’s Cardrona Valley.
Pick up some Bluff oysters or cold-smoked salmon to match with “the reid” single malt vodka, which is made with 100 per cent malted barley, or take a tour to see how the whole process works, from grain to glass.
Cardrona Distillery Cosmo
- Orange peel
- 3 parts “the reid” single malt vodka
- 1 part Rose Rabbit New Zealand Orange Liqueur
- 1 part fresh lime juice
- Dash of cranberry juice
Select your cocktail glasses (preferably martini), fill them to the brim with ice and set aside. Peel a thin layer of orange peel, avoiding the pith. Set aside. Add all the liquid ingredients to a shaker and fill with ice. Shake well. Empty ice from glasses and pour liquid into the glasses. Flame the edge of the orange peel with a match. Twist the orange over the drink, extracting the oils from the peel, then float the peel on the cocktail. Serve.