Australia is revered the world over for the quality of its wines: Penfolds, Wolf Blass and Jacobs Creek to name a few global household names.
Yet it’s not only top-notch wines deserving of recognition – the craft spirits and boutique brews do too.
As every keen traveller will know, there’s more to discover beyond the aisles of your local bottlo. Tasmania alone boasts some 150 distilleries producing exceptional clear and dark spirits, many of them only exclusive to the cellar door. So, why not head to the source?
More than just boosting your appreciation of the crisp pale ale, small-batch wine or single malt warming up in your hand, a cellar door visit is an opportunity to uncover the stories and passions going into every drop.
In no particular order and by no means a complete list (feel free to add your recommendations in the comments below), here are 16 amazing cellar doors to get you inspired.
- Husk Distillers, The Tweed, NSW
- Pt. Leo Estate, Mornington Peninsula, VIC
- St Hugo, Barossa Valley, SA
- Granddad Jack’s, Gold Coast, QLD
- Hellyers Road Distillery, Burnie, TAS
- Pirate Life Brewing, Port Adelaide, SA
- Archie Rose Distillery & Bar, Sydney, NSW
- Felons Brewing Co, Brisbane, QLD
- Illegal Tender Rum Co, Coral Coast, WA
- Chapel Hill Winery, McLaren Vale, SA
- Mandoon Estate, Swan Valley, WA
- Cape Byron Distillery, Byron Bay, NSW
- Straddie Brewing Co, North Stradbroke Island, QLD
- Willing Distillery, Darwin, NT
- Bird in Hand, Adelaide Hills, SA
- Wandana Brewing, Byron Shire, NSW
Husk Distillers, The Tweed, NSW
Tucked on a farm amid the green-gold sugarcane fields of The Tweed, barely 20 minutes south of the Queensland border, Husk Distillers’ global reputation belies its humble setting. It’s the name behind the famous colour-changing Ink Gin, after all.
Yet it’s more than just a destination for gin lovers. Pure cane spirit and a deliciously-spicy Bam Bam rum infused with native botanicals are made onsite too, together with limited release and blended rums, all stocked within a chic cellar door.
Hot top: leave your visit to later in the day, as sunset over the fields is truly spectacular. A tour of the distillery is also a must.
1152 Dulguigan Road, North Tumbulgum; huskdistillers.com
Pt. Leo Estate, Mornington Peninsula, VIC
Wine lovers are accustomed to a sensorial feast whenever they open a bottle of fine wine: fragrant notes of orange or peach; perhaps a finish of dark chocolate on the palate. A visit to Pt. Leo Estate’s sweeping cellar door plenty of that, plus a whole lot more.
This Mornington Peninsula winery is a visual treat in its own right, starting with the remarkable building and following through with views across its vineyard to a scene of rolling farmland, ocean views and glimpses of Phillip Island.
Within the estate you’ll also find a 16-acre sculpture park, featuring a bounty of works from local and international artists such as American superstar KAWS, British sculptor Tony Cragg, and Australian artist Reko Rennie.
3649 Frankston-Flinders Road, Merricks; ptleoestate.com.au
St Hugo, Barossa Valley, SA
When it’s not collaborating with motorspent legend Daniel Ricciardo on limited releases, St Hugo is inviting travellers to its gorgeous Barossa cellar door, hatted restaurant and sundrenched deck – a perfect spot for raising a glass to the vines.
On top of flights through six drops, visitors can also take part in immersive wine and food experiences, including a signature Riedel Masterclass touching on how glassware can influence the taste and enjoyment of wines.
Going a step further, you can embark on an ‘Icons of the Barossa’ tour, starting with the Reidel masterclass, moving to a picnic at Yalumba, and finishing with a sample of 100-year-old wine at Seppeltsfield for $279 per person.
2141 Barossa Valley Way, Rowland Flat; sthugo.com
Granddad Jack’s, Gold Coast, QLD
Every brewery, distillery or winery has a story to tell: a reason for why the team get up each day, where the name is derived and, most importantly, why the ingredients going into each and every bottle were selected. Grandad Jack’s has many.
This Miami distillery is born from the tales of the eponymous ‘Jack’ – the father/grandfather of father and son team David and Luke Ridden, who founded the award-winning Gold Coast distillery.
Among its wares are the navy strength ‘65 Miles’, named after the number of miles then 14-year-old Jack travelled to earn money to save the family farm, and ‘Greenhouse’, a gateway gin with a herbaceous flavour inspired by Jack’s prolific backyard plantings.
45 Lemana Lane, Miami; granddadjacks.com
Hellyers Road Distillery, Burnie, TAS
When you think of great Tasmanian whisky, there’s a fair chance Hellyers Road is at the top of your list, with good reason. Not only is it Australia’s oldest operating whisky distillery, but its spirits frequently pick up a slew of global awards.
The half hour Whisky Walk tour is a chance to go behind the scenes of the Tassie star, visiting the bond stores filled with aged and rare oak barrels and learning not only how it started but how it’s endured.
For something special, there’s also an opportunity to pour, wax and seal your own bottle of limited edition Hellyers Road Distiller’s Choice 19 to 20-year-old whisky – complete with a Certificate of Authenticity.
153 Old Surrey Road, Havenview; hellyersroaddistillery.com.au
Pirate Life Brewing, Port Adelaide, SA
‘Yo ho, yo ho’. A pirate life may not be for everyone, but it’s something that’s definitely picked up a legion of fans in Port Adelaide. Or rather, the Pirate Life brewery has.
When you consider the 24 beers on tap, friendly staff banter and kitchen plating up shareable classics that go great with a beer in hand, you can see why. Add in an onsite barber and daily tours and you have the perfect addition to any Adelaide visit.
The single hop Mosaic IPA, mid-strength Açaí and Passionfruit Sour and landmark South Coast Pale Ale are just a few of the top-tier brews worth cracking open.
18 Baker Street, Port Adelaide; piratelife.com.au
Archie Rose Distillery & Bar, Sydney, NSW
One of Australia’s best known distilleries, Archie Rose is synonymous with native botanical gins and vodka, alongside a stocked cabinet of finely-crafted whiskies and rum. Their distillery and bar in the Sydney suburb of Rosebery showcases it all.
Within you’ll find a striking space fashioned out of copper, steel, oak and concrete, together with a wall of whisky casks and a dimly-lit horseshoe bar backed by the full spirits range. There are even some unreleased exclusives to try.
Distillery tours, masterclasses and cocktail making are just a few of the experiences of note.
85 Dunning Avenue, Rosebery; archierose.com.au
Felons Brewing Co, Brisbane, QLD
Beneath the steel skeleton of Brisbane’s Story Bridge is Howard Smith Wharves, a popular precinct brimming with restaurants and affording a sensational outlook over passing boats and ferries.
At its heart is Felons Brewing Co: a local favourite producing a rainbow of beers and ciders including the signature Crisp Lager, tropical IPA and a thirst-quenching Mid Crush, alongside a mix of limited editions.
While sinking a few cold ones on the deck is an afternoon well spent, a guided brewery tour (12pm, 2pm and 4pm every Saturday and Sunday) is an excellent way to dive deeper into the ingredients, philosophy and craftsmanship behind the beers.
5 Boundary Street, Brisbane City; felonsbrewingco.com.au
Illegal Tender Rum Co, Coral Coast, WA
It may not be the easiest distillery to visit, but Illegal Tender Rum Co in Dongara north of Perth is absolutely worth making the trek for. Why? Because this humble distillery has beaten the world’s biggest names in rum three years in a row at the World Rum Awards.
A perfect meeting of location and ingredient – the distillery experiences four distinct seasons, while the rum is made using dark brown cane sugar instead of molasses – the ‘Distillers Cut’ has earned the title of ‘World's Best Column Distilled Rum 5 Years Old’ three times.
Visitors can learn Illegal Tenders’ fascinating story on a 45-minute guided tour, with tastings, naturally, as well as try the bounty of ‘Stableviews’ gins produced in the same facility.
35 Illyarrie Rd, Springfield; illegaltenderrumco.com
Chapel Hill Winery, McLaren Vale, SA
Chapel Hill is renowned as the shiraz specialist of McLaren Vale. That said, it actually produces a wide array of easy-to-drink wines, from light and refreshing small-batch Vermentino to spicy and sweet Grenache Mourvedre tailor-made for summer socialising.
Housed within a 150 year old chapel, the tasting room offers three distinct experiences: a flight through select wines that tickle your personal preference, an Icons Tasting of its flagship reds, and a Shiraz Masterclass of five different styles.
Want to stay and explore more of McLaren Vale? The Chapel Hill Guest House – a three-bedroom chalet within the Chapel Hill estate – is also available.
Cnr Chapel Hill Road and Chaffeys Road, McLaren Vale; chapelhillwine.com.au
Mandoon Estate, Swan Valley, WA
Perth’s Swan Valley is the second oldest wine region in Australia. Despite this, it’s often overlooked for the Margaret River region further south. It’s a shame really, as the Swan Valley produces some truly exceptional wines.
Mandoon Estate is among the newer residents to the area – established in 2008 and now home to a flourishing cellar door, restaurant, art gallery and brewery, together with the fabulous Maya Maya villas.
Experiences include ‘Wine Immersion’ (which is a guided tour and cheese platter, not bathing in wine as the name might suggest), as well as a bush tucker talk and tasting. The Ultimate Experience – accommodation for two, a private tasting and tour – is the one to pick.
10 Harris Road, Caversham; mandoonestate.com.au
Cape Byron Distillery, Byron Bay, NSW
Brookie’s London Dry, Shirl the Pearl cumquat gin, Mac Liqueur and single malt whisky… Cape Byron Distillery produces some exceptional spirits from its Byron hinterland premises.
Visits to the tasting room are a great way to learn more about how it all started, such as how the Brook family became acquainted master distiller Jim McEwan – a man known as ‘the cask whisperer – and the regenerated rainforest surrounding the facility.
Guided tours through the rainforest, where you’ll see many of the botanicals featured within its various spirits grown and harvested, is a great side trip onto any luxe Byron Bay getaway.
80 St Helena Road, McLeods Shoot; capebyrondistillery.com
Straddie Brewing Co, North Stradbroke Island, QLD
People often say life is about the journey, not the destination. In the case of Straddie Brewing Co, it’s both. For starters, it’s on an island. You can easily hop on a ferry to reach it or, for something a bit more adventurous, take to the sky on a ‘Brewairy’ flight.
Taking off from Brisbane’s Archerfield Airport, your Cessna 172 zips across the stunning waters of Moreton Bay to North Stradbroke Island, where you’ll have the opportunity of three Straddie Brewing Co beers above the locations each is named after.
On touchdown, you’ll continue to the three-level brewery, which houses production facilities on the ground floor, a tasting room in the middle and a rooftop restaurant with bay views at the top. Read more about the experience here.
5 Junner St, Dunwich QLD; straddiebrewing.com.au
Willing Distillery, Darwin, NT
The balmy city of Darwin has come in leaps and bounds in recent years, shaking off perceptions that it’s merely a gateway to the Top End and proving itself as a destination in its own right. You only need to look at the restaurants, bars and distilleries filling the streets to see that.
One of them is the award-winning Willing Distillery, whose rustic cellar door and cocktail bar – housed in an industrial shed only a short drive from the city centre – is definitely worth putting on your radar.
Within you can join founder David for a tour and taste your way through the range, followed by a drink at the bar. On the menu is a quartet of classic martinis and some 14 cocktails, all made using Willing’s own gin and vodka.
1/31 Benison Road, Winnellie; willingdistillery.com.au
Bird in Hand, Adelaide Hills, SA
Quality wine is never created by accident: it’s carefully considered every step of the way, from the soil to the vines, climate and barrels chosen to imbue each batch with varied notes.
Bird in Hand, which enjoys a stellar combination of climate and soil in the underrated Adelaide Hills, creates wines by listening to the land – using as little chemical intervention as possible. Given the growing stash of awards it’s picked up, it’s fair to say they’re doing something right.
The cellar door is equally award-worthy, with its beautifully terraced gardens and recently-opened private tasting room a perfect backdrop for trying some fantastic wines.
150 Pfeiffer Road, Woodside; birdinhand.com.au
Wandana Brewing, Byron Shire, NSW
Northern NSW is home to more than its fair share of breweries and distilleries. Stone & Wood in Byron Bay is arguably the best known, but there’s another brewhouse worth visiting as well: Wandana in nearby Mullumbimby.
While not as flash as Stone & Wood’s venue, there’s a real charm in its low-key aesthetic. The story is fun too, with the brewer playing varied rock, pop and classical tunes to each brew to aid their fermentation. Whether it works is anyone’s guess, but the beers are very good.
A rotating mix of international food vans, plus live gigs and pulse-racing DJ sets on Friday and Saturday nights, dial up the vibe beyond a mere cellar door to a local destination.
20 Manns Rd, Mullumbimby; wandanabrewingco.com.au
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