Wine Lists

Three Riverina wineries to try

By Halliday Promotion

14 Feb, 2024

In NSW's Riverina, world-renowned wine, outstanding food, and family-style hospitality are the pillars of the region. We speak to three winemakers about producing wine in the bustling region, and find out their key wine to try.

New South Wales' Riverina wine region is the second largest wine-producing region in Australia (next to Riverland in SA). The flat plains and Mediterranean climate invite varieties like chardonnay, semillon, shiraz, and cabernet sauvignon to thrive in the region.

The Riverina is centred around the town of Griffith, and at the core of the region are the family-owned and operated wineries whose winemakers use traditional and innovative techniques to produce award-winning wines.

While the Riverina produces large volume of chardonnay and shiraz, we're sure you've tried some of the region's sticky, liquid gold – that world-famous bortrytis semillon. Durif is also a hero in the Riverina, and more and more Mediterranean grapes like sangiovese, montepulciano, and pinot grigio continue to flourish in the region.

Below we speak to three wineries that help make the Riverina wine stand out – Berton Vineyards, De Bortoli, and R. Paulazzo.

Berton Vineyards 

Two people outside the Berton Vineyard cellar door

Senior winemaker James Ceccato says: The Riverina produces diverse, vibrant and juicy wines that are loved by wine nerds and newcomers. You see many different styles coming out of the region, and it's great to see so many Mediterranean varieties being produced.

H. Tell us about Berton Vineyards.
JC. The Berton Vineyards story began 25 years ago from humble beginnings. We are still young enough to be awed by tradition, but we also challenge ourselves by testing the boundaries of winemaking. We pride ourselves on being a contemporary winery that puts an emphasis on all that is casual, friendly, and approachable in wine. Our philosophy is to make affordable, easy-drinking wines of quality, which is achieved through pairing modern technology with traditional techniques. 

A testament to our philosophy is our award-winning wines such as the High Eden Bonsai Shiraz, Reserve Botrytis Semillon and Metal Label range. I worked my first vintage as a cellar hand in 1980, making this year my 44th vintage. 

H. What can guests expect from a visit to your cellar door?
JC. Our cellar door, located in Yenda, is in the original winery building dating back to 1945. Surrounded by old concrete fermenters, it’s a relaxed and welcoming space where guests can taste our award-winning wines. Gourmet platters that showcase our region’s delicious local produce are available to accompany tastings.

Favourite local spot: Zecca and Limone Dining – both restaurants are located on Banna Avenue Griffith, and produce outstanding meals that use the fantastic local produce from our region.

Wine to try

Reserve 2019 Botrytis Semillon

2019 Reserve Botrytis Semillon

The bouquet presents intense marmalade like aromas of orange rind and apricot. A lush palate with upfront concentrated citrus fruit leading to nuances of almond biscotti and apricot conserve. The wine finishes remarkably balanced with subtle spice and toasted notes. 

Best enjoyed: Pair the 2019 with a cheese platter or with your dessert. Serve the Reserve Botrytis Semillon chilled, between 6-8 degrees, in a tulip glass. 

RRP $22 | Drink to 2028 | | Shop this wine

De Bortoli

Bilbul Vineyard

Senior Executive Winemaker Julie Mortlock (De Bortoli Wines Bilbul Estate) says: When it comes to making botrytis wines, the Riverina region experiences long, warm days that are interspersed with showers of rain and morning dews in autumn. This helps promote the botrytis cinerea mould (aka noble rot), which produces the intensely sweet wines like Noble One. Although, more recently, Mother Nature and climate change have moved the seasons and weather patterns, which has thrown up a challenge each year. Semillon is the ideal variety for these wines, as it's a thin-skinned and tightly bunched grape, which makes it particularly susceptible to the botrytis infection.

H. Tell us about De Bortoli.
JM. The Bilbul winery is the home of our world-renowned and award-winning dessert wine, De Bortoli Noble One Botrytis Semillon. First created by Darren De Bortoli at our family winery in 1982, to this day, Noble One is still one of the most awarded wines in history. More than four decades after this pioneering botrytis semillon took the world by storm, the internationally acclaimed Noble One remains a benchmark of Australian botrytis dessert winemaking.

The 2020 De Bortoli Noble One Botrytis Semillon was awarded Halliday Wine Companion's 2024 Sweet Wine of the Year, and has been awarded two trophies and nine gold medals.

H. What can guests expect from a visit to your cellar door?
JM. Country hospitality and delicious, quality wines are the signature of our De Bortoli cellar door in Bilbul. It's a place where our Italian heritage shines through and guests are welcomed like old friends – with a smile and a wine glass at the ready. At the cellar door, make sure you ask to taste some must-try wines, including Noble One Botrytis Semillon and our extensive collection of aged, premium fortified wines. Bring along a picnic of local produce to enjoy in our beautiful gardens.

Favourite local spot: Miei Amici is a Griffith institution – the cafe and pantry are stocked with local seasonal produce. Condemo Smallgoods, the local salami expert, is the place to pick up the best salami in town; they produce sensational southern and northern Italian styles.

Wine to try

2020 De Bortoli Noble One Botrytis Semillon

2020 De Bortoli Noble One Botrytis Semillon

A plush blend of stone fruits such as peach, nectarine and quince with an intrinsic citrus peel tang and honeyed fruits flavour. Integrated vanilla oak with a velvety lushness and balanced acid gives the wine its length and structure.

Best enjoyed: Noble One is the perfect accompaniment for that decadent plate of cheese and dried fruits or an Almond Sablé. If you're feeling bold, try it with a savoury dish like smoked duck or tempura cod with fermented mushrooms. Serve Noble One close to 12 degrees (take it out of the fridge an hour before enjoying). Serve in a small wine glass to keep the concentrated flavours and aromas intact.

RRP $35.95 (375ml) | Drink now + | | Shop this wine

R. Paulazzo

Rob Paulazzo

Winemaker and owner Rob Paulazzo says: The warm and sunny Mediterranean climate of the Riverina, provides ideal conditions for growing Italian grape varietals like the sangiovese I use for my rosé. The region produces white and rosé wines that are expressive, lively and fresh, along with red wines that are elegant, bright and generous. 

H. Tell us about R. Paulazzo.
RP. Since establishing R. Paulazzo Wines in 2013, the focus has always been to produce small batch, hand-crafted wines showcasing the purity and elegance of the Riverina, along with premium regions across southern New South Wales such as Tumbarumba, Hilltops and Canberra District. I'm thrilled to have been previously shortlisted as one of the Halliday Wine Companion's Best New Wineries.

H. How do you approach the winemaking process?
RP. My philosophy is to craft distinctive wines that express the detailed essence of the Riverina and Southern NSW. I use traditional and meticulous winemaking techniques, while maintaining a commitment to modern and innovative styles. I strive to always produce sophisticated wines that are reflective of varietal, vineyard and vintage.

Local favourite spot: After a day of exploring the region’s cellar doors, Zecca Handmade Italian is the perfect place to settle in for dinner. They showcase amazing local produce paired with a great selection of the region's wines.

Wine to try

 2023 R.Paulazzo Rose

2023 R.Paulazzo Rosé

This pale, dry rosé from the Riverina was crafted using 100 per cent sangiovese. Lifted aromas of strawberries and cream are followed by a fresh and lively palate.Vibrant flavours of cherry and raspberry are complemented by a fine acid structure, leading to a dry and refreshing finish.

Best enjoyed: Best enjoyed among great friends. Serve at 6–8 degrees, and alongside an antipasto platter of cured meats, salumi, pate and olives.

RRP $22 | Drink now | | Order enquiries here