Must-visit Coonawarra cellar doors

By Halliday Promotion

In the heart of South Australia’s Limestone Coast, Coonawarra is home to some of the nation’s best-loved red wines. Discover all the region has to offer, starting with these five wineries.

Almost halfway between Adelaide and Melbourne, Coonawarra is a standout region that produces complex wines from its cool-climate and terra rossa soil.

With a winemaking history that spans over a century, Coonawarra's key varietals are cabernet sauvignon, shiraz and merlot along with chardonnay and riesling. Spend the day meandering through the vines and visiting cellar doors – put these five cellar doors on your itinerary.

Wynns cellar door view

Wynns Coonawarra Estate

Wynns Coonawarra Estate is an icon of Australian wine and a Coonawarra landmark. As you drive up to the famous triple gabled winery – completed in 1896 by Coonawarra pioneer John Riddoch – enjoy an up close and personal view of Wynns' terra rossa soil vineyards, some of which are over 100 years old. Inside the cellar door, taste a selection of wines that showcase the unique terra rossa characteristics. The Wynns legacy and history is on full display for all visitors to immerse themselves in.

Book in to the ‘Make your own blend’ experience and try your hand at winemaking. Blend cabernet, shiraz and merlot before a personalised bottling. Wynns also offer premium guided tastings of wines only produced in years of excellence from the oldest and best terra rossa vineyards.

Cellar Door Manager Hannah Timms says Wynns wines are elegant and age-worthy and reflect the terra rossa soil that surround the vineyards. "They are regarded as benchmarks for Coonawarra, lauded both for their consistent quality and depth of flavour."

Hannah's go-to wine at the moment is the shiraz riesling, which is one of four wines from the new Wynns Reframed collection. "This shiraz has a unique story to it. Our oldest shiraz vineyards originally had some mistaken cuttings mixed in with the planting material that resulted in the occasional flash of green grapes at crushing. Our winemaking team has re-created this piece of history with purpose in our shiraz riesling, echoing that Rhone tradition of adding a small percentage of viognier to enhance aromatics and bringing a softer texture to structural shiraz."

Local favourite spot: Yallum Park – John Riddoch’s homestead built in 1878. And when it comes to restaurants Ottelia must be at the top of the list.

Find out more | 77 Memorial Drive, Coonawarra | (08) 8736 2225

Rymill cellar door entrance and Stallions Rampant – a bronze sculpture created by artist Gabriel Sterk.

Rymill Coonawarra

The Rymill Winery and Cellar Door sits among 80 hectares of certified sustainable vineyards at the northern end of the Coonawarra strip. The tree-lined entrance guides guests toward the winery to be greeted by Stallions Rampant – a bronze sculpture created by artist Gabriel Sterk. Inside the cellar door the friendly and knowledgeable staff will look after all your tasting needs. If wine is not all you seek, venture upstairs to the viewing decks and balconies to take in the vineyards, gardens, statues, fishpond, cellar and barrel hall.

Rymill has a focus on sustainability, led by an experienced and dedicated viticulturist and vineyard team. The hard work translates to consistent, expressive and concentrated fruit from which the team make focused, elegant wines that reflect the pedigree and reputation of the region.

Winemaker Lewis White says each year as the team are wrapping vintage, they're excited to drink the crisp Yearling Sauvignon Blanc. "To us it perfectly encapsulates the spirit and energy of vintage while also being immediately refreshing and joyful – which after a long and busy harvest it's the perfect drop to unwind with." 

Lewis says if you're new to the winery, Rymill's yardstick is the Classic Cabernet Sauvignon. "It's a great example of an elegant and focused modern cabernet sauvignon that we're always proud to share." 

Local favourite spot: Lewis says to get the best out of the region, talk to tour guides Simon and Kerry from Coonawarra Experiences. "They’ll get you past the cellar doors and into the cellars, talking to winemakers and viticulturists." Try dinner at Pipers for a great regional showcase.

Find out more | 110 Clayfield Road, Glenroy | (08) 8736 5001

Patrick of Coonawarra cellar door sign with the cellar door in the background

Patrick of Coonawarra

The Patrick of Coonawarra cellar door is just a short drive, or a three kilometre walk, from Penola located at the southern end of Coonawarra. On the property is a large cellar door and atrium with plenty of seating and an expansive lawned area (for when the weather is kind). Patrick of Coonawarra offer a full range of wines for tasting including the cellar release of the 2012 Grande Reserve Cabernet and range of experimental wines. Snack on fresh produce platters or be guided through a paired chocolate tasting in a relaxed atmosphere.

Winemaker Luke Tocaciu says the Patrick of Coonawarra range is based on the concept of duality. "We combine heritage styles and techniques taught to me by my father, Patrick, with modern, science-based styles that push the boundaries of winemaking. Our focus is on cabernet and riesling, with several different styles and ages on offer for tasting."

With a cool-climate and rich, unique terra rossa soil Luke says Coonawarra is a small region with a big reputation (and a great place to grow grapes), but he says the community makes it even better.

The Two-Blocks Cabernet Sauvignon is a great introduction to Patrick of Coonawarra. It's a modern style of cabernet sauvignon produced with grapes from the northern Coonawarra vineyard. Luke says his go-to wine is the Two-Blocks Pinot Noir – a limited release from the cool climate of Mount Gambier that showcases the region's abilities.

Local favourite spot: Luke says you must visit Ottelia for lunch. "The modern menu and wood-fired pizzas are fantastic. If you're here for a few days, head over to Robe, and try some local crayfish paired with our Two-Blocks or Block 5 Aged Riesling."

Find out more | 5598 Riddoch Highway, Coonawarra | (08) 8737 3687

Parker of Coonawarra

Parker Coonawarra Estate

The Parker Cellar Door is an awe-inspiring building that stands tall from the Abbey Vineyard. The contemporary building, which was built from Mount Gambier limestone and steel girders, greets guests as they leave the township of Penola. Designed by winery founder John Parker it embodies the winery's ethos of 'quality without compromise'.

The Parker Coonawarra Estate property was hand-picked as prime, central terra rossa, and is situated on the 'cigar' of red earth over limestone.

Winemaker Andrew Hardy says the Parker wines represent traditional foundations, perfect climate and world-famous geology. "They’re refined, expressive and say a lot about the seclusion of the place and the commitment the people have to really showing what is great about the region. Our wines show off the benefits of the terra rossa soil, highlight varietal typicity and show what the combination of these elements can do for both classic varieties and new arrivals."

Andrew says the ultimate deep-dive into Parker is the First Growth Cabernet. "This is the be all and end all of Coonawarra Cabernet and deeply respected the world over as a benchmark for the variety and region." He says chardonnay is on the rise in Coonawarra. "It’s one that many producers have worked with, but few have really focused their energy on creating a clear regional style. We’re taking the first steps in this direction and making approachable, ultra-tasty expressions."

Local favourite spot: For weird and wonderful check out the wooden sculpture park. Pipers and Ottelia are the destination restaurants, and don't forget the Limestone Coast and the Naracoorte Caves.

Find out more | 15688 Riddoch Highway, Coonawarra | (08) 8737 3525

Hollick drone view

Hollick Estates

Hollick Estates is home to an extensive range of classic Australian and international varietals. Hollick offers guests an exclusive experience through their winery tour and tasting with the winemaker, complete with barrel tastings of wines that have yet to be bottled. Following the tasting dine at the world-class Upstairs Restaurant with panoramic views showcasing Hollick's oldest cabernet sauvignon vines planted almost 50 years ago.

Winemaker Trent Nankivell says Hollick's wines represent diverse styles across a broad range of varieties produced in Coonawarra. "From classic cabernet sauvignon to alternate varieties such as the Italian barbera and French savagnin, our wines are made with all palates and cuisines in mind.

Trent says the region's cool, long growing season delivers balanced and flavour-full fruit, allowing the wines to age exceptionally, but to also deliver fruit-forward flavours in their youth. "At Hollick Estates we push the boundaries with innovative winemaking techniques with over 10 (and growing!) varieties keeping our range fresh and fun."

For representation of site, skill and destination, the must-try wines at Hollick Estates are the Coonawarra Shiraz and Bond Road Chardonnay.

Local favourite spot: Take the short and scenic drive to the beautiful coastal town of Robe. Many weekends have been spent at Long Beach with family, friends, fresh produce and a bottle of Hollick.

Find out more | 11 Racecourse Road, Penola | (08) 8737 2318

Learn more about Coonawarra in our essential guide.
This article was produced by Halliday Wine Companion in partnership with the featured wineries.
Top image credit: Patrick of Coonawarra.

Sign up to view these tasting notes and ratings

By becoming a member of Wine Companion, you'll have access to the largest database of wines in Australia.