With so many regions and so much on offer it would be irresponsible not to!
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When this fantastic travelling lifestyle as we
know it provides so many opportunities to get
out and explore, there is no better time than
now to visit our wine growing destinations.
Not only will you be surprised just where in Australia grapes are grown, but these destinations aren’t just about winemaking. In fact, they’re loaded with lots of other good stuff as well.
CALLING ALL WINE LOVERS
There’s no doubt many of you might enjoy the odd glass or two of wine, and we’ll be the first to admit that we’re no different. Whether it’s a red, white, port, sticky or bubbles, we’re happy to give them all a go; and some wineries are even playing around brewing their own beers these days.
But find a wine district, and you’ll find plenty more. Here you’ll also find food and plenty of it. How about rustic pizzas, gourmet tapas, and degustation menus that are just to die for… did someone say sweets? You simply can’t go past some regions when they also have a chocolatier hiding around the place, at least we can’t! Plus, most of Australia’s wine regions offer that small-town romantic feeling, where there will be quaint shops, bric-a-brac bargains, artistic apparel, and a great bakery to try out as well.
TOURISM AND THE RV SCENE
Find a wine district, and there will surely be a tourism venture awaiting your arrival. When it comes to hospitality, some of Australia’s best caravan parks are owned and operated by local family businesses at these locations – so they could have some secrets to share. While the happy hour scene is alive pretty-well everywhere you go around the country, we’ve found it seems to be more prominent in wine district areas. Perhaps this is due to some caravan parks having arrangements with local wineries, and the winemakers occasionally hosting the happy hours in their parks. Now that’s a service you want to take advantage of!
We’ve found while travelling that some caravan parks will often collaborate with local businesses and offer a wine tour of sorts. As you’ll be visiting wineries with other travellers from the caravan park, what a great way to meet some new friends while enjoying some local wines in the region. At different times, we’ve arranged with others we’ve met at the caravan park to share a day out. A skipper/driver is appointed for a day while the others can enjoy the wine tasting; and the following the day the seats change, so everyone gets a chance to taste.
When every wine region is different, take the time to learn its history. You’ll often find there are some fascinating stories about how it all began. Did you know that SA’s Clare Valley region was started by priests? Or how about scientists being the first to begin commercial winemaking in Canberra?
You’ll even learn a lot by joining in on a winery tour, where you’ll get to see how the seasons of a winery operate. From the grape to the glass, and everything in between, you can learn first-hand how wine is made. Like to have a crack at making a bottle of wine yourself? Well it’s all possible, as some wineries offer this experience too. When every state in Australia is growing grapes somewhere, wouldn’t that be a road trip with a difference… to visit all of them!
OTHER THINGS TO SEE AND DO
If you also love your food experiences as much as we do, start by organising your stay so you’re in town for the local market day. It could be a farmers’ market or even a general market, but by taking a stroll through one of these you’re going to find out what the region has to offer. Also take the opportunity to talk to the locals, as they too can be a valuable source for supplying you with some great tips about the area.
You’re probably getting the picture now that a wine region isn’t just for wine lovers – when there’s so much more on offer. If you’re travelling with bicycles, why not find a local trail for a bit of fun – where you can check out the local river or dam, or take a good look around town.
Or perhaps the region offers hot air balloon flights – now there’s something different and spectacular, where you can get a bird’s-eye view of the region as the sun’s coming up. Although you can always let your legs do the walking, by taking a stroll around the main street with the knick-knack shops. And no doubt there will be an art gallery around somewhere for you to enjoy.
From our travels, we think Australia has some of the best quirky and unique cellar doors we’ve seen. These range from beautiful French-style chateaus, to rustic farm out-houses, and everything in between. We’d say that tasting the local fruits of the grape is just part of the experience, as most cellar door operators will have stories to share. All you need to do is ask, and you could just learn where your next adventure might be. It works for us, as we’ve uncovered some fantastic attractions… and even visited local farms to try the produce, all because we asked the right questions at a cellar door. They make the best information centres going, and you get to do some tastings at the same time.
Now when it comes to actually tasting the wine, you know you don’t always have to swallow what you’re tasting, don’t you?
While this could sound like sacrilege to some, the spittoons supplied by the cellar doors are there for a reason. They can also help keep you under that all-important driving limit.
MAKING A PURCHASE
So you’ve found a good drop or two and you’re ready to make a purchase. While it’s easy enough to travel with a few bottles, you can always take advantage of the cellar door mailing arrangements they’ve got in place. In some instances, we’ve found cellar doors get together and offer a share-box arrangement, whereby you purchase wine from a few cellar doors, and the last cellar door you visit will post the lot for you at a reasonable rate. This saves lugging it around in your RV if you don’t plan on consuming it soon.
When you can’t bring yourself to ship all that wine home, and you’re looking to store it in your RV, here’s some of the techniques we use.
- Wetsuit covers (pictured)– you can buy these from a range of places.
- Grant’s old footy socks (clean of course) – just slide a sock over each bottle.
- Boxes – the dedicated lay-down type with cardboard interleaves.
The trick is to store bottles low in your RV (weight) and prevent them from rolling about.
CASKS – THE TRAVELLERS’ BEST FRIEND
The cask days of old (as we knew them) have long gone, but today we’re finding many wineries making a cask resurgence by selling their quality vintages in a convenient box pack. This is perfect for the traveller: They’re easy to store, there’s no glass to break, and the wine can last much longer than a bottle variety when operated correctly by allowing no air to enter the cask. That’s of course if you don’t drink it so fast!
FESTIVALS AND CELEBRATIONS
Nearly all of Australia’s wine districts host some form of festival during the year as an excuse to have some fun and bring in the crowds. Events such as
‘a day on the green’, a vintage car rally or a gourmet weekend with a food and wine extravaganza, are huge visitor drawcards. And when we’re travelling with an RV, it means we won’t have to worry whether there’ll be a room with a bed for us in town. So if you’ve never visited a winery district before, we suggest you give it a go. As we like to say… “Winenot?”