Australia’s best vineyard restaurants
From park-side picnic platters to fine dining and bistro-style cooking that works elegantly with wine, vineyards offering a variety of dining choices
Appellation Restaurant, Barossa Valley, SA
Where good wine grows, good food often follows, particularly if a wine region builds strong tourism momentum, such as you’ll find in Western Australia’s Margaret River region, Victoria’s Yarra Valley, or South Australia’s Barossa Valley. While the tradition in Australian vineyard restaurants is for bistro-style cooking that works elegantly with wine, there is increasing creativity within our vineyard kitchens, particularly in South Australia, where contemporary cooking is making its presence felt. Of course, that old faithful pairing on wine and cheese never disappoints – but if you’re chasing something a little more special on your next vineyard visit, try one of these winery delights.
Best vineyard restaurants in Western Australia
Margaret River produces some outstanding wines, particularly chardonnay and cabernet sauvignon, but few of the region’s restaurants approach the excellence you’ll find at Vasse Felix. In a delightful, elevated room free of pretension, chef Aaron Carr, a Vasse veteran, produces food that is contemporary, light, and inspired by international preparation techniques and assembled from the best locally-sourced produce.
A pioneer of biodynamic viticulture in the state, Cullen’s recently revamped restaurant reflects the same kind of organic/locavore values, with plenty of the garden produce sourced on-site. The food is simply prepared from good ingredients – grilled fish, charred local beef, and local cheeses – great care is taken to ensure the food matches the reputation of Cullen’s wines.
From its gentle, slightly formal carpeted and upholstered dining room to the food, Leeuwin Estate is a class act. A quiet, dignified ambassador of the region’s obvious values: natural beauty and rural plenty, particularly in the grape department. The wines are internationally renowned; the food has no ethnic handle, rather it is more “modern bistro.” As for local produce, the Manjimup marron (freshwater crayfish) is a must-try.
From its imposing “Cape Dutch” architecture to the vast rose gardens, Voyager makes a statement. The restaurant is all about classics, such as charcuterie, done well, reflecting the estate’s exceptional wines, although chef Nigel Harvey keeps his dishes in touch with the odd trend. Book for terrace dining if the weather allows it to take advantage of the garden atmosphere. Like many Margaret River winery restaurants, the wines are very reasonably priced.
Set among Yallingup’s rolling hinterland, the views from Wills Domain's dining terrace are superb, a bucolic panorama to the vineyards below. But it’s the combination of kitchen talent and fermented grape juice that makes Wills a must-visit: a subtle, contemporary Mediterranean approach to our favourite prime proteins of lamb, beef, pork and wild-caught fish. Delightful sense of open space and good hospitality.
Best vineyard restaurants in South Australia
Hentley Farm, Barossa Valley, SA
Some vineyard diners do rustic; some do elegant; Magill does downright sexy. A recent makeover by a noted Australian interior designer has given this Penfold’s showcase more mood than a Sinatra tune at midnight. Throw in the very tantalising food of chefs Scott Huggins and Emma McCaskill – both worldly craftsmen with outstanding international experience – and you have one of the most convincing arguments for contemporary cooking you’ll find in Oz.
Appellation at The Louise, Barossa Valley
The Louise is The Package: luxury, boutique accommodation in Australia’s premier red wine region, with a restaurant to showcase the district’s bounty like few others. Appellation at The Louise is all about The Barossa, and the elegant dining room backs itself in with wonderful, light and classic food that pays homage to the notion of local and seasonal.
FermentAsian, Barossa Valley
An odd place to find one of Australia’s most delightful contemporary Asian dining rooms? We can’t disagree, but the combination of a passionate Vietnamese-born chef proprietor and her wine enthusiast husband make Ferment a “must” for any Barossa visit. Vibrant Thai and Vietnamese flavours are coaxed from superb produce here. The wine list at this restaurant encapsulates the very best of the Barossa region and includes many difficult-to-find back vintages of the local heroes.
d’Arry's Verandah, d’Arenberg Vineyard
In both appearance and vegetation, the McLaren Vale district is like the Mediterranean in microcosm. So it seems only right that one the country’s continuously most successful vineyard restaurants takes a Med-like approach to its food, from the local olive oil, to the bresaola of local kingfish. And, of course, grapes. d’Arry’s is classically Australian: warm, friendly, informal and maybe just a little rough around the edges. It makes for a great time and the vineyard views are a bonus.
Vineyard Restaurant, Hentley Farm
The latest of Australia’s vineyards shooting for gastro-glory, Hentley Farm eschews the district’s German/Lutheran heritage for a culinary style more inspired by the theatrical, laterally thought cuisine of the New Nordics and Spanish matadors of the molecular. Chef Lachlan Colwill produces some spectacular dishes in this stone-and-wood glamourised “shed.” Hentley’s wines, too, are there for tasting.
The Lane Vineyard Restaurant, The Lane Vineyard
In the Adelaide Hills region you’ll find superb out-of-town experiences surprisingly close to the city. The Lane is an easy example, offering certainly one of the region’s loveliest eating-out experiences, with wonderful rural views and a very competent kitchen. The dining is all about flavour, less about any specific style or ethnicity. Oysters with ponzu and wakame sit alongside local sardines with a Middle Eastern accent. It’s all about the produce, and matching the wines.
Best vineyard restaurants in Victoria
Ten Minutes By Tractor, Mornington Peninsula
Arguably home to Australia’s best chardonnay wines, with the always-difficult pinot noir not far behind, pockets of the Mornington Peninsula have proven to be special for wine grapes. Ten Minutes' wines are very good and the restaurant maintains the brand values with its combination of outstanding front of house/service and innovative, yet classically based food. Naturally, the region drives the produce but the menu is really built around food that works with wine… a special dining experience.
Montalto Restaurant, Montalto Vineyard
Montalto, with its combination of rolling, vine-planted hills and maritime climate, reflects the rather special nature of this part of Victoria. The simple rammed earth structure is an elegant piece of rustic modern architecture, while the dining room continues to benefit from an extensive kitchen garden. This is the home of simply classic vineyard tucker with French-ish roots: terrines and other charcuterie, local fish and vegetables alongside Australian staples such as beef and lamb and good old fashioned puddings. Montalto’s consistency is down to its owners’ persistent attention to detail.
Terrace Restaurant, All Saints Estate
Victoria’s north-east is known throughout the wine world for its premium fortified wines. A new generation of family winemakers at the historic All Saints is revving up the table wines and restaurant, too, always a challenge so far from a capital city, with pleasing results. Chef Simon Arkless is one of many Britons whose rigorous training and technical skills have found an easy match with Australia’s more laid-back dining style. His modern bistro fare stands out as one of the state’s most celebrated vineyard dining options.
Best vineyard restaurants in New South Wales
Esca, Bimbadgen Estate
With terrific views of the Brokenback Ranges via the vineyards of Bimbadgen Estate, Esca pays more than lip service to the notion of locally sourced produce. It prides itself on being “a regional restaurant”, which is reflected in an earthy, intelligent menu built around local suppliers and traditional provincial techniques such as curing and smoking. This is a down-to-earth restaurant with very solid cooking you’ll find both familiar and rewarding paired with the estate’s wines.
Muse Restaurant and Café, Hungerford Hill
In an elegant, contemporary building overlooking the vines at Hungerford Hill vineyard, with its white linen, traditional menu structure, and food that looks spectacular on the plate…Muse is an experience that strives for a “special” dining experience. Chef Troy Rhoades-Brown has cultivated an extensive kitchen garden, providing both inspiration for his unshackled style and unique produce.
Best vineyard restaurants in Queensland
Because much of vast Queensland is sub-tropical, the wine industry is largely confined to the south. Here at Mount Cotton in the Granite Belt region, Sirromet is among the most impressive. Its restaurant, Lurleen’s, affords excellent views of Moreton Bay and Stradbroke Island, while the kitchen produces the kind of variously influenced dishes that are the hallmark of many modern Australian menus. Look for cold-smoked Spanish mackerel, caught by the chef off Stradbroke Island, or, of course, Moreton Bay bugs, a curious local crustacean somewhere between a crab and a crayfish.
Best vineyard restaurants in Tasmania
Josef Chromy, Relbia, TAS
Josef Chromy café, Josef Chromy Tasmania
Tasmania’s small cities mean you can be in a vineyard, away from the hustle, in minutes. The Josef Chromy vineyard restaurant proves the point, and the trip is worthwhile: the wines are excellent and the restaurant the essence of what a good vineyard dining experience should be. Chromy keeps it simple, but uses the best materials at hand. Nearly every principal ingredient, from fish to quail, is locally sourced. The flavour profiles are classic wine companions.
Best vineyard restaurants in the ACT
Lark Hill Vineyard Restaurant, Lark Hill
The Canberra region has matured quickly as a wine district this century, and Lark Hill, where the viticulture is biodynamic, is one of the finest producers. The same approach to agriculture extends to the produce used in the restaurant’s kitchen, grown by the proprietor’s father, and it shows. Lark Hill takes classic vineyard bistro ideas and gives them a shake: salmon in a bag with a salsa verde foam and crisp skin wafer; pork belly with apple slaw and a salted caramel “snow”; and poached rhubarb with sparkling rose sabayon. The pick of the Canberra district’s vineyard tables.