The Coast with the Most – Shoalhaven Wineries
Surf, sand, sunshine, scenery. Plus, Semillon, Shiraz and Sauvignon Blanc. The south coast of New South Wales has it all, so set aside a day or two of your summer holiday to cruise the Shoalhaven wineries.
Hit the trail
A drive of just over two hours from Sydney or Canberra gets you to the start of the Shoalhaven Coast wine trail. The trail stretches from Kangaroo Valley in the north to Bawley Point in the south. The modern wine industry in the area began in the 1970s, really coming into its own in the 1980s. But you’ll discover historic villages along the way, including the south coast’s very first white settlement, now part of the Coolangatta Estate winery.
The other Coolangatta
Although Coolangatta on the Gold Coast is better known it took its name from that settlement founded in 1822 on the Shoalhaven River by one Alexander Berry. Berry owned a schooner named after his property. For years it carried cargo up and down the east coast, finally becoming wrecked on a sandbar off the Queensland coast. The abandoned wreck gave its name to a local creek and later to the nearby town.
Wines to try
While Coolangatta Estate is best known for its award-winning Semillons, the area’s signature variety is probably Chambourcin, a French red grape that is resistant to mildew and can handle the area’s unpredictable but sometimes high summer rainfall. It’s a red that’s best enjoyed young for its vibrant colour and fresh plum fruit aroma and flavour You’ll also find celebrated Shiraz blends and Chardonnays, along with ‘newer’ varieties including Arneis, Viognier, Tempranillo, Sangiovese and Tannat.
Wine and dine
Most of the wineries along the trail can feed you too, either with a gourmet cheese platter or from a full restaurant menu. Some also offer accommodation on site, often in heritage cottages. Or you can explore the many dining options in towns along the trail, sampling the local oysters and fresh seafood.
Triumphing over tough times
The past year has been challenging for the south coast wineries. The Christmas bushfires resulted in smoke damage, making 80 per cent of some wineries’ harvest unusable. Then, in February, floodwaters brought another round of devastation, uprooting some vines and ‘drowning’ others. Some vintners are relying on stocks of the previous vintages to tide them over as they wait for a better season in 2021. By supporting them, you’ll be helping the area recover from a year that, like many of us, they would rather forget.