Exploring the Coonawarra Wine Region in two days.

You might read the title of this article and think how is this possible with so much to see and do. This however is my selection of my hot list of where to go and what to do in a short period of time — without feeling too rushed but maximising on your time.

For many of us travellers we are planners and my go to in order is where to stay, what I can see and what and where I can eat. I find Booking.com extremely helpful in ideas and TripAdvisor definitely gives a clear picture of what people think about the places you are considering to stay. Often you may have narrowed your idea down to two and it will fall on someone’s good or bad review which will tip the scales for you and be the decision maker. On this particular occasion with it being post Christmas and pre New Year there are a lot of travellers exploring and so the choice was narrowed down — bookings I thought that were firm turned out not to be so then there were only two left …should we stay in a Yurt/bell tent on a winery or stable units/barn conversions (we chose the latter).

Pictured above: Craig and Kat and Margaret’s famous Eton Mess.

Now always consult with your tourist information for top tips. We found the advice from Customer Service Officer Katrina Searcy (Kat) very valuable. She was able to tell us what was/wasn’t open during the public holiday and assisted us with ideas for special meals during our stay. She also gave us a clear insight of flow of which wineries would need to be driven to and which you could visit on foot following the wine walk. We were quite surprised to meet her so soon on our first night at the Chardonnay Lodge where she also works some evenings.

The evening was filled with a final sense of relaxation that all the pieces for our next 24hours were planned and we were able to breathe and drink in some excellent wines and enjoy Margaret Bell’s cooking which was superb. Margaret is co-owner of Chardonnay Lodge with hubby Craig which is a must visit when in the Coonawarra — it has the whole Swiss ski lodge look with roaring wood fires and space – Craig has a walk in cellar where you can choose your passion and while away time enjoying your chosen spoils. I started with some spicy seafood sliders and then had Frenched lamb cutlets with seasonal veg and a Shiraz sauce — wow, a joy to eat! To follow I had the Eton Mess and hubby had the Warm molten chocolate torte — both were excellent though I have never seen my husband devour ‘MY’ desert so quickly as well as his own….I thought he was just going to have a taste 😊

Day 1

We chose to do the wineries furthest away from our lodgings at Coonawarra Units (these were positioned next to Chardonnay Lodge so excellent positioning – different owners).

Hubby and me enjoying our tasting at Majella Wines.
  1. Majella Wines I highly recommend their Shiraz which was superb.
  2. Bowen Estate was sadly closed but their vineyard looked great.

4.Leconfield Coonawarra – this is a beautiful winery and they specialise in Cheese boards and you do seated tastings.

5. Brand’s Laira Coonawarra is a must. They are an iconic winery, their Riesling Vintage 2019 was a delight and their Old Vines Shiraz 2015 had to be taken home.

6. Bellwether wines is the brainchild of Sue Bell. She has transformed an old 1868 shearing shed into a stunning winery/glamping/event space. I was fortunate to have a private tour around the grounds and was very impressed at the diverse offerings and inclusions such as a pedestal wash hand basin outside your bell tent. Shared dining and cooking facilities and more.

Day 2

We were to have done the walking trail which is laid out excellently however we wanted to taste and buy and take our stash with us so we did the following:

  1. Di Giorgio Family – this is a mainly outside chill out feel, with superb Tawny Ports and cheeses, do check out their shop as they have beautiful items for sale ….like their cheese board and knives sets and beautiful cheeses to select from in their fridge. They have a walk-through Terra Rossa dug out, so you can see the compilation of the soil mix and layers that create Coonawarra’s distinctive wines.

2.Wynns Coonawarra Estate – This was a very well set-up visitor centre with a museum portraying the history of the region and wine-making. Well worth a visit.

3. The Coonawarra station is a landmark synonymous with the birth of the wine region (pictured below).

After our second day of tasting which commenced rather late we were ready for a good pub dinner at the Royal Oak Hotel in Penola.

Top Tip

Penola doesn’t have Uber or taxi services but there is a great chap called Don Searle who runs an enterprising mini-bus by night and school buses by day call him on: 0428847921 and he will help you not drink and drive and get you to the pub (must book).

Special mention to Simon Meares of Coonawarra Experiences who runs the winery tours who furnished me with Don’s contact details.

Penola Visitor Information Centre – extremely helpful staff — shout out to Kat. Call 08 87372391

I hope you have enjoyed reading and viewing this as much as I enjoyed writing it. Until next time…

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