Wine and music go hand in hand. Nina Simone, Cold Chisel and UB40 famously sang about it, while these days everyone from Sting and Bob Geldoff to Post Malone and Snoop Dogg has their own wine label. Grapevine Gathering – a music festival taking place at wineries across Australia – is another venture marrying the two, and it promises more than just a backdrop of wine. As the weather warms up, consider the event a launching pad for a weekend exploring what makes its host wine regions special.
Rochford Wines, Yarra Valley
Rochford has cemented its spot as the cool uncle of Australian wineries, staging headline gigs from Elton John, Stevie Nicks and Elvis Costello in recent years. The stars almost overshadow the vino, but underneath the glitz Rochford is also a very good winery.
Victoria’s Yarra Valley region – home to Rochford and more than 80 other wineries – is classed as cool climate, meaning the wines here tend to be on the lighter side, with more acidity and less sweetness than those produced in warmer regions. Rochford’s wines are exemplary: savoury pinot noir, zippy chardonnay and crisp sparkling wines. Don’t be put off by the climate, though – October in the Yarra Valley is typically mild, making the region an ideal choice for a spring getaway, right on Melbourne’s doorstep.
Winery’s pick: Yarra Valley Sauvignon Blanc 2022 or Yarra Valley Pinot Noir 2022
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Sirromet Wines, Mount Cotton
A friend once told Terry Morris that there was no good wine from Queensland. His answer? “I’ll show you” – and that’s how he established his winery Sirromet. Thanks to its cooling elevation, the Granite Belt region is the exception to Queensland’s hot and humid climate, making it ideal for growing grapes.
These days, Sirromet has well and truly proven its point, producing some of the area’s benchmark wines, including velvety, full-flavoured shiraz and cabernet sauvignon. Sirromet also makes Italian varieties like fragrant nebbiolo and zesty vermentino – ideal matches for a meal at the estate’s Tuscan-influenced restaurant.
Winery’s pick: Fine Pastel Rosé or NV Rosé Cuvée.
Sandalford Wines, Swan Valley
East coasters will know Margaret River as WA’s big-name wine region, but Swan Valley is a local favourite for good reason. Around half an hour’s drive from Perth, it’s an easy daytrip; you can even cruise up the Swan River from Perth and roll right into Grapevine Gathering.
The vineyards of Sandalford have been producing grapes since at least the early 1900s, with its warm climate (known as “Mediterranean” in the wine world) reflected in rich, low-tannin shiraz and verdelho wines. Swan Valley weather also makes the region a haven for plums, peaches and apricots, and wildflowers cover the nearby Whiteman Park conservation reserve in spring.
Winery’s pick: 2023 Sandalford 1840 Swan Valley Rose.
Hope Estate, Hunter Valley
With vines planted in the 1820s, the NSW Hunter Valley is Australia’s oldest wine region. It’s renowned for its semillon, a white wine that is zippy and lean in its youth, rich and full with age. These days, the combination of warm weather and plentiful rain means there are over 150 cellar doors in the area.
When Grapevine Gathering pulls into the Hunter, it’ll be at Hope Estate, a winery that doesn’t believe the maxim about finding your niche. Hope Estate produces regional classics like semillon, chardonnay and shiraz, but doesn’t stop there. You might have seen its attention-grabbing brewery range around (the Rhino quintuple IPA is an 18 per cent monster), and you can also find estate-distilled spirits like hopped gin, lemon myrtle vodka and single malt moonshine.
Winery’s pick: Sparkling pink Moscato.
Serafino Wines, McLaren Vale
Italian varieties are the game at Serafino, an iconic winery in SA’s McLaren Vale. Founder Steve “Serafino” Maglieri found early success with the sweet red lambrusco but, these days, palates are more geared to the drier Italian styles. Now under the leadership of Steve’s daughter Maria, the label produces Italian classics like fiano, nebbiolo and primitivo alongside McLaren Vale flagships like velvety shiraz and raspberry-tinted grenache, all of which thrive in the region’s sunny Mediterranean climate. Oh, and should you have a little non-wine time on your hands, McLaren Vale is beach-adjacent and stacked with breweries (such as Vale Brewing), distilleries (McLaren Vale Distillery) and restaurants – including Serafino’s own.
Winery’s pick: Serafino Goose Island Rosé.
Grapevine gathering is on from October 7 to 22 at various locations across Australia. Find out more and get your tickets here.
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