Food and Wine

The Hidden Wine Wonderland of Queanbeyan-Palerang

When you think about wine regions in Australia, your mind is likely to wander off to some of the big, well-known regions of Adelaide, Melbourne or Sydney. But have you heard of the treasures of the Cool Climate Capital?

Although it may not be as well-known as some of the more prominent Australian wine regions, the Canberra region has long been loved by wine lovers and critics for its award-winning cool climate wines, ranging from Shiraz and Pinot Noir to Riesling and Chardonnay.

These vineyards are at elevations of 300 to 800 metres, resulting in a continental climate of warm summer days which transform into cool nights and cold winters – perfect for Riesling and Shiraz.

Artisan winemaking at its best

Although celebrated by critics and wine connoisseurs, the wineries of Queanbeyan-Palerang have been a rather well-kept secret among visitors to the region. Nestled on the hills of Wamboin, Bywong and Nerriga, these vineyards showcase premium cool climate wines which reflect the terroir of this unique region.

Located just a short, 30-minute drive from Canberra are the wineries of Wamboin and Bywong, all offering one-of-a-kind experiences to oenophiles old and new. These hidden gems give visitors a chance to explore exciting flavours and aromas of artisan wines while enjoying a delicious, high-quality meal designed to pair perfectly with the wines on offer. If you pay a visit to their cellar doors for a tasting, you’re also likely to be welcomed by the winemakers themselves, who are more than happy to share their knowledge and passion about all things wine.

Lark Hill Winery by Adam McGrath

Expert’s guide to wine in Queanbeyan-Palerang

Norton Road Wines

344 Norton Road, Wamboin, 2620 Australia

  • Varieties: Cabernet Franc, Cabernet Merlot, Chardonnay, Merlot, Pinot Blanc, Pinot Noir, Riesling, Rose
  • Cuisine: American, Barbecue, Cajun Creole, Classic Australian
  • Live Music
  • Parking, Coach Parking
  • Accessible, Non-smoking

Norton Road Wines is a family owned venture specialising in growing and making small batch cool climate wines that reflect the terroir of their region.

The Norton Road vineyard at Wamboin is a small four acre parcel of Pinot Noir, Merlot and Riesling first planted in the 1990s by the Davies family (the former Shepherd’s Run). The vineyard is currently being rejuvenated along with new plantings of Cabernet Franc.

The winery showcases cool climate wines from across the local Canberra District wine region, along with a selection of beers, ciders and spirits.

Biggie’s Barbecue, the vineyard restaurant, is open to the public on Saturdays and Sundays (11.30am – 4pm), and can be booked for private functions any day. The menu is heavily influenced by American Barbecue and the menu offers drink pairings and weekly food and beverage specials.

Contentious Character

810 Norton Road, Wamboin, 2620, Australia

  • Varieties: Riesling, Chardonnay, Pinot Gris, Pinot Noir, Cabernet Sauvignon, Merlot and Shiraz
  • Cuisine: Italian, Modern Australian
  • WiFi, Live Music
  • Parking, Coach Parking
  • Accessible, Non-smoking

Contentious Character is a contemporary vineyard estate with winery, cellar door, kitchen, and event facilities, in the hills of Wamboin, 15 minutes from Canberra Airport.

Experience a taste of the entire Canberra region in one location, with wines from the Founders Museum Collection of old world style vintages. These aged wines have matured exceptionally well with cellaring and now present a mellow complexity, way beyond their value. They are complemented by recent vintages, under the Contentious Character brand, that brings a fresh new world twist to the old world styles.

Look across the vineyard and surrounding countryside while the kitchen serves up a fresh, local sharing menu, paired to the wines, for special times with family and friends.

Contentious Character

Lark Hill Winery

Joe Rocks Road, 521 Bungendore Road, Bungendore, 2621, Australia

  • Varieties: Riesling, Grüner Veltliner, Fledgling, Viognier, Chardonnay, Pinot Noir, Rosé, Shiraz Viognier, Auslese Riesling, Methode Champenoise, Methode Champenoise Rosé, Methode Champenoise Burgundy
  • Available online and at the cellar door

The biodynamic winery of Lark Hill seeks to replace conventional methods with natural alternatives. Lark Hill wines are made without inputs, manipulation or chemical adjustment, meaning each wine becomes a true realisation of “terroir” – the sense of time & place. They are unique to their vintage and vineyard – and each wine becomes a marker of a time and place in our own lives.

Sapling Yard Wines

23 Malbon Street, Bungendore, 2621, Australia

  • Varieties: Riesling, Pinot Noir, Rosé, Shiraz Viognier
  • Available online and from a selection of stockists and Bungendore Southern Harvest Farmers Market

Sapling Yard wines are handcrafted using grapes sourced from their boutique vineyard in Braidwood together with the finest quality fruit carefully selected from premium vineyards in Murrumbateman and Tumbarumba regions.

Located at Charley’s Forest 25km north of Braidwood, and at 650 metres above sea level, the property captures breathtaking views of the Budawang Range. Sapling Yard Creek flows across the vineyard, which as the name suggests, is heavily populated with Eucalypt saplings.

Grown in these inspiring cool climate surroundings, Sapling Yard produces wines of great flavour and elegance which reflect the natural beauty of the land.

Braidwood Estate

  • Varieties: Sparking Shiraz, Chardonnay, Shiraz Rosé, Sauvignon Blanc, Shiraz
  • Available from Braidwood Farmers Market

This beautiful vineyard is surrounded by forest, high up in the Durran Durra ranges ten minutes from town along the historic Old Wool Road. The combination of altitude (700m), four distinct seasons, and varied soil types ensures unique wines of distinct character.

Visit the Braidwood Farmers Market to get a taste of Braidwood Estate’s premium wines.

Corang Estate

  • Varieties: Shiraz, Tempranillo, Chardonnay, Sauvignon Blanc, Chardonnay-Pinot Noir
  • Available from Corang Estate’s online shop, local Farmers’ Markets and events, and a selection of stockists and their Tarago cellar door

The essence of Corang Estate is about celebrating the unique wine flavours and cool climate styles of the NSW Southern Tablelands. The vineyard’s regional selection showcases fine examples of the wines the area has to offer, which in time will be complemented by Corang Estate’s own estate-grown Shiraz and Tempranillo.

The award-winning Corang Estate is born of a love of nature and the outdoors, combined with a passion for great wine. Nestled in the western slopes of the Great Dividing Range at an altitude of 600-700 metres, Corang Estate is an idyllic mountain bushland setting in the Southern Tablelands of NSW. The stony soils and climatic conditions match those of many of the world’s great wine growing regions. Set on 120 acres and bordered by the Corang River, Corang Estate encapsulates tranquillity, fresh air and natural beauty. Corang Estate wines are now also available at their cellar door in Tarago.

Wine at sunset

Ready to start tasting?

If all this talk about wine has your mouth feeling a bit dry, hop in the car and take our recommended winery road trip to some of the amazing wineries listed above and meet the makers of some of the best Riesling and Shiraz around. Some of the vineyards also have a strong presence at the local markets, so keep an eye out if you’re visiting the Bungendore or Braidwood Farmers’ Markets, as you may be able to go home with a case of premium cool-climate wine.

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