Looking for vineyards and wineries close to the beach? I present to you, the South NSW wine region, Shoalhaven Coast.
The Shoalhaven Coast is in South NSW, around 2 hours south from Sydney and about an hour north of Jervis Bay. Vineyards and wineries this close to the sea are hard to come by in NSW so it’s a hot spot for people looking to strike a balance between swimming and smashing vinos (not to be mixed of course).
There are seven wineries in total on the route that spans from Kangaroo Valley to Termeil – we managed to tick off five (well four and a half) in the Shoalhaven, Berry and Bomaderry area. Here’s my breakdown.
First stop, Silos. Sadly we got there just on opening time and a bus load of people had already arrived. Despite this the staff were very friendly and we got cracking on the wine list.
I didn’t realise that a lot of the wineries in the area use grapes from different vineyards, Silos being no exception. Wileys Creek, their other line of wines, use grapes from the Yarra Valley and the Silos Estate label uses grapes from the winery exclusively, only to be sold at the cellar door, keeping them carbon neutral. We decided to stick to the local vinos because when in Rome and all that (plus hubby is driving at this point).
Top wines: Wedding Block Semillon Sav 2018 and Cats Meow Rosé 2018.
Silos has the full line up from Semillon to Shiraz to Sherry but the Semillon Sav and the Rosé were my top picks.
The Semillon is harder to grow as the vineyard is by the sea and not as cold as other vineyards that are inland. However, the clever farmers at Silos found a micro climate in the valley where it’s a little cooler and took to growing the grapes there. The finished product is smooth with passion fruit and capsicum flavours.
The Cats Meow rosé was named after the wineries old cat, Bella who they found curled up on the batch of bottles. A field blend using red and white grapes, this wine is dry in style and has summer fruit flavours.
I’m not into fortifieds but they had an awesome stackable selection of their sherries and ports on offer too!
Tastings are $5 but in exchange for your note, you get a cork to drop in one of three charity buckets with the winery then donates on your behalf. Corks dropped, a quick look round the impressive grounds and rolling green hills surrounding the winery and we’re on the road again.
Tastings: $5 per person with donations going to three nominated charities. Drop a cork in the bucket!
Dine: Yes, on site restaurant
Unfortunately when we got to Cambewarra they were wiped off their feet by a full house of people having lunch and swigging vino. So we had a quick look round and jumped back in the car. What I can tell you is that the view is lovely from up there and it seemed like a great place to kick back with a wine, some lunch and live music.
Tastings: Yes but not sure if you need to pay or not.
Dine: Yes, on site restaurant and high tea
Two Figs Winery
Two Figs winery is a beautiful spot in the middle of the valley on top of a hill. Lovely as it is, it’s a little windy up there so hold on to your dresses!
Two Figs is another winery that brings in grapes from other sites but they do have vines on site at the winery and all wine is made there.
The staff were really welcoming, friendly and knowledgeable at Two Figs. Running tastings out of the main building and shed next door, the winery is a hive of activity. And not only do they have a brilliant wine list for you to make your way down, they have local produce on offer like breads, cheeses, meat and oil. Yum!
Top wines: Chardonnay 2018, Sunday Afternoon 2018, Shiraz 2016.
The Chardonnay was fruity with citrus, melon and peach flavours. Natural acid and long length, making this white our winner.
Sunday Afternoon wasn’t as much of a favourite but worth a mention as it was an interesting blend of verdelho and chardy. Fresh and fruity but a bit sweet for us. Worth a taste test nonetheless.
Finally, the Shiraz was full bodied but balanced with plum, cherry and vanilla flavours and soft tannins. Aged for 15 months in French and American oak barrels, this one will go nicely with BBQ lamb.
Two Figs winery is a lovely spot to spend an afternoon and with the option of grabbing a bottle, some cheese and a spot on the grass, where else would you rather be?
Tastings: $5 per person
Dine: No restaurant but cheese and meat platters are available or you can create your own from the deli
Next is Coolangatta Estate where the history of the vineyard speaks for itself. The Estate is the site of the first European settlement on the South Coast of NSW and where the first grapes were planted.
But it wasn’t until 1980 that Greg Bishop saw an opportunity to re-establish vines in the area and sauvignon was then planted and 1990 when the first vintage sav was hand picked and sent to Tyrrell’s to be vinified.
So the place is legendary but I have to say, I wasn’t blown away. When we asked one of the wines was called 12 convicts we were spun some story that the server ‘liked to think’ was true about 12 convicts planting or picking the wine. TBC. Pretty sure it’s totally made up and we remained unconvinced.
Then when we asked what the difference between ‘sauvignon’ and ‘savagnin’ we were advised to ‘Google’ it as that’s what the person serving does when they are unsure. Obviously they can’t know everything but I feel like anyone can Google, not trained serving staff. Moving on, let’s get in to the wine…
Top wines: Semillon 2012, Savagnin 2018, Chambourcin 2017
Semillon surprises me again! Minerally and floral with citrus and lime fruit flavours.
Savagnin (different grape to sauvignon on GOOGLING). Smooth and apricoty with balanced acidity.
Finishing on the Chambourcin which smelt like cherries and vanilla oak with chocolate and spices flavours. Mmm.
Dine: Yes, on site restaurant
Our last stop on the whistlestop tour of the Shoalhaven Coast wineries is Mountain Ridge Estate. Mountain Ridge is a beautiful winery on the side of a hill with friendly staff, great cheese and food and a dog that subtly drops a ball just far enough away from blokes so they have to get up to pick up the ball before the dog then runs off into the olive trees to catch it.
Matt was both up for it and riled by him and the getting up bit haha. Luckily there was a tennis racket to hand as that dog ran pretty far!
So back to wine. Mountain Ridge hand pick all grapes from their three acre vineyard and are thinking of moving towards organically grown grapes. At the minute they also serve organic reds from down the road (5 hours inland) in Cowra which I guess must be the inspo.
Top wines: Chardonnay 2017, Rosé 2018 and Sparkling Chambourcin 2017
The chardonnay was lovely and made a bit sweeter and unoaked by the winemaker who was fed up of people writing off chardonnay. Amen to that and you can read my blog on that argument here.
The rosé is made out of chambourcin grapes, is dark in colour but not a sweet rosé. It’s fruity and dry plus the label is a local artists painting which is cool 🙂
Finally the sparkling chambourcin was just lush and I love fizz so.
Dine: Yes, on site restaurant and cheese boards available
Other wineries on the Shoalhaven Coast route
These wineries are a little further than the five we visited in the same day which is the only reason we didn’t go.
- Yarrawa Estate – 45 mins to Berry, 54 mins to Shoalhaven Heads
- Cupitt’s Winery – 45 mins to Huskisson, 1 hour 8 mins to Shoalhaven Heads
- Bawley Vale Estate -1 hour 5 mins to Huskisson, 1 hour 28 mins to Shoalhaven Heads
Another brilliant option in the area to visit is Lyrebird Ridge Winery, about 30 mins inland from Shoalhaven Heads. The winery is also a retreat with accomodation and mostly self sufficient farm land. Read my blog on the organic winery here.
That’s our Shoalhaven Coast Winery experience in a nutshell! If you have any NSW winery recommendations (or any questions about Shoalhaven), leave me a comment below.
Don’t fancy Shoalhaven Coast? How about Hawkesbury River? Find out more here.