Wine lovers are spoilt for choice in Australia. Along with California, it pioneered the ‘New World’ boom in the 1990s.

“The wines and the landscapes of the regions vary dramatically throughout the country. You can visit a big winery such as Jacob’s Creek, then go down the road and see a tiny family-run operation that is just as inspiring,” said Wine Australia marketing manager Melissa Worthington.

Western Australia is recommended for first-time visitors to the country who have an interest in wine, since flights from the UK are shorter than to other parts of Australia. Margaret River is only a three-hour drive from Perth, where many international visitors will begin their trip. Famous for premium boutique wines, this region is home to small, high quality wineries.

Widely regarded as the country’s wine capital, the region surrounding Adelaide in South Australia encompasses the Barossa and Clare Valleys, McLaren Vale, Adelaide Hills and Coonawara. It is here that you’ll come across wineries producing world-famous brands such as Jacob’s Creek, Penfolds, Peter Lehman and Wolf Blass.

“Pre-booking a wine tour ensures your clients avoid disappointment as the popular wineries can reach maximum capacity during busy times. It is also a great way to boost your commission-earning potential,” said Travel 2/4 senior product manager for Australasia Dagmar Marrocco.


Best for famous brands


Where? Barossa and Clare Valley

Why? Explore this region to get a taste of Australia’s rural charm in the form of quaint villages, dairy farms and horse studs that dot the fertile landscape. Travel 2/4’s Marrocco said: “The Barossa Valley is the largest wine producing region in Southern Australia and international crowds with its friendly wineries, attract breathtaking scenery and world-class wines.’

Sample package: Thomas Cook offers a two-day tour of the Barossa Valley for £375 per person, including one night’s bed-and-breakfast accommodation, most meals, wine tasting, tours and transfers to and from Adelaide.


Best for small wineries


Where? Margaret River

Why? Hailed as one of the world’s premium wine producing regions, Western Australia’s Margaret River stretches about 62 miles from north to south. Consisting of mainly boutique-size producers, this is a paradise for serious connoisseurs. The wine’s intense flavours are thanks to the region’s Mediterranean climate, which delivers high quality fruit. Well-heeled clients will be impressed with the range of boutique hotels and gourmet restaurants in the area.

Sample package: Qantas Holidays offers the eight-night Margaret River Wine Country tour for £1,455 in May 2008, including accommodation, flights and transfers.


Best for activities


Where? Hunter Valley

Why? Just two hours’ drive north of Sydney, Hunter Valley is a popular bolt-hole for Australia’s jet set. This is the birthplace of the country’s wine industry, producing big names such as Semillon and Merlot. Home to more than seven million wine producing vines, it’s possible to take a hot-air balloon or helicopter ride over a working vineyard.

Sample package: Travel 2/4 offers the Magnificent Hunter Valley Wine Taster tour from £63 per person. Enjoy world-acclaimed wines such as Shiraz, Semillon, Cabernet Sauvignon and earthy Pinot Noirs. Take a tour of the McWilliam’s Mount Pleasant estate, then stuff yourself at the cheese and chocolate factories.


Best for wine obsessives


What? Cellar Door Passes

Why? If you want to devote an entire holiday to learning more about your favourite tipple, Wine Trails offers tailor-made wine tours to anywhere in Australia and they sell through the trade. Many operators also offer one-day Cellar Door Passes giving free entry into a number of wineries, as well as free wine.

Sample package: Gold Medal Holidays offers Cellar Door Passes in South Australia for £43, including six bottles of wine, a day of tours and tastings for up to two people and an audio CD to play in your car while driving from one winery to another.


Best for city slickers


Where? The Yarra Valley

Why? More than 50 wineries can be found in the Yarra Valley, less than an hour’s drive from Melbourne. Activities include hot-air ballooning over the wineries and hiking. Shiraz, Chardonnay, Cabernet Sauvignon and Pinot Noir are among the wines produced here.

Sample package: Thomson offers a one-day Yarra Valley Wine Tour for £38 per person until March 31 2008. The price includes tutored tastings at four premium wineries, a restaurant lunch with wine and a visit to the home of Australia’s top bubbly – Domaine Chandon – for tasting platters accompanied by a glass of sparkling wine.

Australian Wine – the facts

  • Australia is home to 63 wine regions which house 2,000 producers taking up 170,000 hectares.
  • The country is the world’s fourth-largest wine exporter after Italy, France and Spain
  • About 37% of Australia’s wine is shipped overseas and the UK is its biggest export market
  • Major grape varieties are Sauvignon Blanc, Semillon, Riesling, Shiraz, Cabernet Sauvignon and Chardonnay
  • Famous brands include Penfolds Grange, Clarendon Hills Astralis, Jacob’s Creek, Peter Lehman and Wolf Blass