A Grape Escape to Southern Highlands NSW
Estimated reading time: 14 minutes
What would you way to a place that has a cool temperature, amazing country view, and extravagance of luxury and fine wines? We call it the Southern Highlands, an utter bliss, and Sydney’s best-kept secret. There are incredible things you can do here. Undertake Southern Highlands Wine tours to explore more any time of year.
Why Southern Highlands NSW is a perfect gateway
Are you a connoisseur of wine? Are you looking for a natural gateway to escape from the city for a while? Do you want to get indulged in the taste of fine wine and gourmet food? Then you need to plan your Southern Highlands Wine tour. Nothing says bliss quite like 140 hectares of vineyard, dotted with some breath-taking waterfalls, cellar doors, and fine dining options.
Southern Highlands is considered to be an ideal weekend escape for Canberrans and Sydneysiders. The place is a combination of natural and manmade beauties, such as waterfalls, national parks, antique shopping malls, and boutiques.
Stretched over a span of 140 hectares (total vineyard area) and sitting between 500- 900 metres above sea level, the Southern Highlands is a picture-perfect spot. It is a place that is perfect to get lost in the wilderness to explore the countryside in its true form.
Whether you are looking for a romantic escape or a pure wine trip, this place has something for every kind of traveller.
Hence, if you are in Sydney or at nearby places, you can’t miss visiting this wonderful place.
Here is a quick guide for you to take complete advantage of this place.
How to reach to Southern Highlands from Sydney
You can get Sydney trains, Intercity Train, and NSW TrainLink services that stop at various Southern Highlands towns daily. A direct train from Central Station to Bowral will take around 1.5 hours. Alternatively, you can take the T8 (Macarthur via Airport) to Campbelltown and change service to the SHL train and disembark at Bowral, with a total journey time of 2 hours 30 minutes.
The most convenient way to reach this wine paradise is via self-drive. It’s a very straightforward route taking via Hume Motorway/M31. The average journey time on this route, on weekdays, is around 80 minutes. Whereas, if you are travelling on the weekends, you can add another 30- 45 minutes to the estimated time.
Guided wine tasting tours
Southern Highlands Wine tours are also offered by different tour companies in Sydney. You can get in touch with any Sydney day tour organisers to book your trip to the Southern Highlands or to learn more about it from the below link. With different companies, you would find various packages available. You can go with any package and enjoy your journey as per your desire.
Best time to visit Southern Highlands wine tasting tour
Although you can visit the Southern Highlands at any time of the year, there is some specific season when you can see some added glitz of this place.
September: Visit Bowral in September to witness the annual Tulip Time Festival, when the town bursts into bloom with tulips in Corbett Gardens and other surrounding private gardens.
October to November: This is the springtime in the Southern Highlands. The temperature during this time remains pleasant with less inflow of tourists. During this time of the year, you can also enjoy the annual Southern Highlands Food & Wine Festival as well.
December to February: If you don’t mind getting soaked in the sun rays, the summer months are perfect for you to visit the Southern Highlands. The average temperature ranges between 26.3°C to 21.6°C with a fair amount of snow and rain.
What are the famous wines produced in Southern Highlands?
The essential things to do as a part of the Southern Highlands Wine tour include wine tasting, sampling the lip-smacking regional food, and relaxing. That being said, this place produces some of the most famous wines across the globe. Here you can get the chance to taste an array of wine varieties, including:
- Chardonnay: The region makes both the wooded and un- wooded styles.
- Riesling: This is a blissful combination of floral citrus complexities, honey, and toast.
- Sauvignon Blanc: The Australian Sauvignon Blanc is known for its smoky and acidic fragrance.
- Cabernet Sauvignon: This is one of the most produced wine varieties in the Southern Highlands.
At the current time, the vineyard is producing medium-bodied wines, having flavours of light berry and other briar characteristics.
Wineries in Southern Highlands NSW
The majority of vineyards in the South Highlands are diverse, producing wines in practically every price range and flavour. The wineries use all kinds of grapes in the making process including lesser-known grapes too.
You would be surprised to know that there are wineries that have been here for more than 3 decades. Not only that, new wineries are still joining them. Therefore, if you are a wine enthusiast and are crazy about trying different wines, you won’t find anything better than this place. There won’t be a better plan to have a party with a glass of South Highlands bubbles. If you are planning to visit the South Highlands, don’t forget to try wines from these amazing places!!
If you want to witness the region’s cool climate wine growing a visit to Centennial Vineyards is a must. Located only a 5-minute drive from Bowral, this gracious estate spans over 30 hectares and grows vines like Chardonnay, Pinot Gris, Gewürztramine, and so on.
The cellar door here remains open every day, except on Christmas Day, Boxing Day, and New Year’s Day, from 10 am – 5 pm. Here, you can taste a selection of award-winning wines surrounded by the French provincial décor. Apart from wine tasting, you can also take part in an Italian cooking class with Stefano Marvello or a winery walk. When you are all done, sit down at Centennial Restaurant and unwind yourself with a cup of Devonshire tea.
Tractorless Vineyard is a place where you will get wines that are made using a combination of old-world knowledge and modern-day skills. The vineyard is run by the biodynamic principles with the help of vineyard-grazing sheep, which means they use the tractor 60% less, and hence the name ‘Tractorless’.
Here you can try premium wines including rose, red, white, sparkling, dessert, and fortified. You can enjoy an extended wine tasting session, along with gourmet fares, at the Tractorless Vineyard Tasting room located at The Mill Courtyard in Bowral. And yes, when here do not forget to try their very own Black Sheep Smoked meats.
The cellar doors are open every Friday and Saturday from 11 am to 3:00 pm & 5:00 pm to 8:00 pm; Sunday from 11 am-3 pm.
Terini Vineyards is a family-owned estate, founded by Julian Tertini, to re-establish the vines planted by German vigneron Joseph Vogt in 1855. This property sustainably produces pinot noir, Riesling, chardonnay, and other vine varieties.
The cellar door here is away from any pomp and glitz, but will surely offer you a cozy and warm spot by a log fire where you can sit and try your favourite wine. You can visit the cellar door any time of the day between 10 am- 5 pm.
Artemi Wines is a family-run winery located only 8 minutes from Bowral and 5 minutes from Mittagong. This winery is the third one to be established in this region and boasts to be among the first to grow pinot noir grapes. Surrounded by the lush greenery, this winery will soothe your eyes and mind.
Visit Armeti cellar door, filled with a rustic charm, to try the finely crafted wines and spirits. Tuck inside during the winter months and unwind yourself in a warm and cozy atmosphere at its best.
Open 7 days a week, from 11 am to 4 pm, it is recommended to book in advance for both tastings and lunch.
Sutton Forest wineries
Cherry Tree Hill wines
To have a winery experience with an Italian twist, we suggest you keep Cherry Tree Hill Wines in your Southern Highlands Wine tour list. This estate is owned and run by the Lorentz family for over 30 years and grows vines including Cabernet Sauvignon, Merlot, Riesling, Sauvignon Blanc, Chardonnay, and Pinot Noir.
You can try their award-winning Riesling wine at their cellar door, which remains open between 10 am to 5 pm, 7 days a week. Enjoy a wine tasting or a light lunch and choose from their menu ranging from light meals, snacks to gourmet pies.
Eling Forest Winery
If you are looking for a tranquil stay in the Southern Highlands with the luxury of tasting wines and enjoying great food, visit Eling Forest Winery. The estate is known for producing award-winning cool climate wines of distinct tastes and complexities.
The cellar door here remains open 7 days between 10:30 am and 4 pm. You can undertake private winery tours to try and learn more about wine-making accompanied by a delicious cheese-tasting plate. And if you fall in love with this winery, there are options to heritage colonial era cottage and homestead, set in an idyllic rural setting.
Bendooly Estate is located outside the historic town on Berrima and has a rustic charm to it. This place can be covered under your Southern Highlands Wine tour. Here, you will find not only a renowned restaurant, and cottage accommodation but also Berkelouw’s famous Book Barn.
The estate’s fabulous restaurant and bar is open daily, where you can try a menu ranging from cured meats, pickles, ground beef burger, and bacon jam, to name a few. The cellar door of this place is however the show stiller and is laden with a fusion of wines, cuisine, art, and architecture.
You can book wine tasting for 1 hour at a cost of $10 pp, which is available between 10 am – 3 pm.
Distilleries in Southern highlands
Located in an 1870’s ghost town Joadja, the Joadja Distillery is owned by Valero and Elisa Jimenez. Known for growing its own barley, this estate has access to its own natural spring water. This distillery has been operating since 2014.
Here, you will find a true amalgamation of Spanish and Scottish heritages. The distillery is open to visitors on the weekdays, or by appointment on other days. Also, you can undertake (paid) fully guided tours of the Joadja Historic Site every Saturday. The distillery tour is offered without any charge.
Distillery time: Saturday and Sunday from 10 am- 4 pm (Other day visits by appointment only)
Heritage tour: Every Saturday at 11 am & 2pm
Heritage tour cost: $35/person, Children 5-15 y/o $19
Distillery tour: Free
Eden Brewery is an independent brewery, which creates an array of fresh and unique beers. This small brewery believes in working sustainably and uses 100% green energy to produce beers. Also, 10% of their profit goes to Oxfam.
Here you can try some of your favorite craft beer, vodka, gin, and limoncello in a totally guilt-free way. Among the other facilities, this place offers takeaway options, onsite food, and private guided beer tastings and brewery tours.
Distillery time: Wednesday, Thursday, Saturday, and Sunday from 12 pm- 8 pm, and Fridays from 12 pm-10 pm
Live music event: Friday night from 8 pm – 10 pm
In-depth brewery tours: Wednesday and Thursday from 11 am – 2pm
Cost: Flat fee $1500 (up to 15 people), $75pp after.
Offsite Tastings: Weekdays
As a part of the Southern Highlands Wine day trip, you can visit Renegade Spirits to try some amazing hand-crafted beer and spirits of the highest quality. Some of the spirits that you must try at Renegade are Australian Plum Gin, Organic Vodka, and Signature Dry Gin, to name a few. Sustainably sourced and produced, the spirits here all reflect the local taste.
If you are eager to know a bit more about the distillery process, book their Distillery Tour that takes place from Friday to Sunday. And if you are looking to enjoy some good live music book your “Seat With Some Of The Best Live Artists NSW”.
Distillery time: Wednesday, Thursday, Saturday, and Sunday from 12 pm- 8 pm, and Fridays from 12 pm-10pm
Guided distillery tours: Friday to Sunday from 10 am-11 am or 11 am-12pm
Cost of the guided tour: $50 pp
Local restaurants for lunch in Southern Highland
Four Seasons Bistro
Are you in Bowral and looking for a vegan restaurant? If so, then head towards Four Seasons Bistro, which offers vegetarian and vegan dishes along with coffee, lunch, and snack options. This place boasts for serving fresh plant-based breakfasts and lunch in a homely ambiance. If nothing else, visit this place to sit and relax over a cup of coffee and a slice of apricot, almond, and semolina cake.
Location: 24 Bowral Road, Mittagong 2575 NSW
Operating hours: Tuesday to Saturday- 7 am- 4pm, Sunday- 9 am- 3pm
Cuisine: Vegetarian; Vegan
Contact: +61 2 4872 4161
A modern Australian restaurant located in Berrima, Eschalot is operating since 2003 from one of the most significant heritage buildings in the area. This place is surely going to steal your heart with its beautiful cuisines and elegant décor. Try their lip-smacking entrees and main dishes paired with your favourite wine, scotch whiskies, cognacs, and other spirit varieties.
Location: 24 Old Hume Highway, Berrima 2577 NSW
Operating hours: Thursday- 6pm- 11pm, Friday and Saturday- 12pm- 11pm, Sunday- 12 pm- 10pm
Cuisine: Vegan, Gluten-free, Non- vegetarian
Contact: +61 2 4877 1977
Other activities in Southern Highlands
Other than trying wines, spirits, and enjoying good food, the Southern Highlands is also a place where you can undertake fun activities like trekking, nature visit, and so on.
So, here we have presented some interesting activities you can undertake in Southern Highlands.
Fitzroy Falls is one of the most spectacular waterfalls in Australia near Kangaroo Valley and can be on your bucket list for the Southern Highlands Wine Tours. It is located in the untouched bushland of Morton National Park, a part of the Southern Highlands region. You can follow the East Rim and Wildflower walking tracks and the West Rim walking track to enjoy nature and amazing views. If you love cycling, you can also take to the Fitzroy Falls to Kangaroo Valley cycling route and experience the amazing Australian wildlife.
Opening times: Daily- 9 am- 5pm. Closed on Christmas Day.
Entry fee: Car parking fee applicable
Illawarra fly treetop walk
What can be more amazing than walking through the treetops amidst the beautiful warm temperate rainforest? The Illawarra fly treetop walk is a 1.5km walk on 500 metres of steel walkway nestled in the treetop canopy 30- 30 meters above the ground level. Get immersed in nature with a dash of adventure with this enchanting treetop walk.
Opening times: Thursday to Sunday
Entry fee: Adult- $25
Person with disability- $17.5
Companion card holders- Free
Child (3- 15 years) – $15
One of the iconic big things to see in your Southern Highlands Wine tour is the oversized Big Potato, located at Hoddle St. Robertson. The giant potato, which was built in 1977, may seem bland from the outside but has an inner meaning. The farmers of the sleepy town of Robertson have constructed this structure to showcase the main crop of the area.
The potato is hollow from the inside and visitors can actually go inside of this giant spud.
Opening times: Always
Entry fee: Free
Located in Bowral, Corbett Gardens is a public park. You can visit this park any time of the year, as it remains open all year round. Loved by both the locals as well as visitors, this place is a haven for tulip lovers. A must-visit to this park is during the annual Tulip Time Festival when the visitors need to pay a small entry fee.
Opening times: 8.30am – 4.30pm
Accessibility: Easy; Disabled access available