Exploring Canberra's eastern wine trail

By Halliday Promotion

27 Apr, 2021

This relatively young wine region certainly holds its own with a host of awarded and architecturally designed cellar doors. 

Drive 35 minutes from the nation’s capital to discover one of New South Wales’ best-kept secrets, where travellers can expect a sensory experience of lush countryside and vineyard estates. A relatively young wine region by Australian standards, the Canberra District celebrates 50 years this year. Its cooler temperatures and unique terroir are home to standout examples of cool-climate varieties, as well as juicy, fruit-forward reds. Featuring contemporary producers alongside cellar doors housed in historic buildings, the following wine trail offers the opportunity to sample award-winning classics alongside exciting alternate varieties.

Contentious Character

Key Varieties: riesling, chardonnay, pinot gris, pinot noir, shiraz, cabernet sauvignon and merlot
Flagship Wine: Contentious Character Pinot Noir

With views north of the rolling hills and west to the Brindabellas, Contentious Character is a contemporary and pet-friendly cellar door, bar and restaurant. Serviced by an upbeat and young local team, the winery offers a unique wine tasting experience where you can compare the Old World-style aged vintages from the Founders Museum Collection with the Contentious Character contemporary wines – and add mini matched food elements to your tasting or upgrade to a grazing board or four course menu. At one of the highest altitudes in the Canberra District region, Contentious Character produces crisp and refined cool-climate varieties, like pinot noir and pinot gris.

810 Norton Road, Wamboin NSW |

Collector Wines

Key Varieties: fiano, marsanne, chardonnay, pinot meunier, sangiovese, shiraz
Flagship Wine: Collector Wines Tiger Tiger Chardonnay

The Collector Wines cellar door is simple, yet refined, with a focus on fine wine. Housed in the old Collector Inn circa 1829, the venue is full of historic charm and a welcoming atmosphere facilitated by knowledgeable staff. The tasting experience takes you through an exploration of the Canberra District and neighbouring wine regions – taste a quintessential Canberra shiraz alongside a Tumbarumba chardonnay. Collector itself is a charming small country town that is well worth exploring, with an art gallery, café, local produce store and pub.

7 Murray St, Collector NSW |

Norton Road Wines

Key Varieties: pinot noir, merlot, cabernet franc, shiraz, cabernet sauvignon, riesling
Flagship Wine: Norton Road Wines Pinot Noir

Located just 15 minutes from Canberra Airport, Norton Road Wines is a producer of small-batch wines. At 800 meters above sea level, the location of the winery is perfectly suited to growing cool climate, French varietals like pinot noir, merlot, cabernet franc and riesling – plus new plantings of gamay. Purchased by the Stratton family in 2018, the Wamboin vineyard produces some exceptional examples of cool climate wines – all of which are available for tasting at the cellar door restaurant, Biggie’s BBQ. Pair elegant styles alongside delicious, slow-cooked American barbecue, inspired by the owners travels to USA wine regions.

344 Norton Road, Wamboin NSW |

Lerida Estate

Key Varieties: shiraz, pinot noir, chardonnay
Flagship Wine: Lerida Estate Shiraz Viognier

The Lerida Estate Winery sits lightly on the landscape in a striking building designed by renowned Australian architect, Glen Murcutt. With vineyards along the front and sweeping views of the Lake George Basin, it is beautiful space to spend time – and taste wine, of course. The cellar door and award-winning restaurant are open seven days a week for a memorable tasting and dining experience. Seated wine tastings are conducted in bay windows to ensure guests experience the unique and spectacular site whilst enjoying the unique and spectacular wines.

87 The Vineyards Rd, Lake George NSW |

Gundog Estate

Key Varieties: riesling, semillon, shiraz
Flagship Wine: Gundog Estate Marksman’s Shiraz

Gundog Estate’s Cork St. Cellar is situated in historic stables, located adjacent to the Royal Hotel – and now home to the award-winning Grazing restaurant. The evocative space provides a rustic backdrop in which to enjoy a luxurious tasting of award-winning, carbon neutral wines. The five red star Halliday-rated winery produces small-batch wines that span many styles, meaning there is something on offer to suit every palate. Taste the range on the sunny outdoor terrace, accompanied by a plate from the Grazing restaurant. Make sure to set aside time to explore the surrounding picturesque town of Gundaroo, too.

42 Cork St, Gundaroo |

To discover more on the Canberra District, check our our essential guide.

This article was produced in partnership with the featured wineries.