Wineries with Italian heritage
Visit the town of Griffith, and you’ll discover that almost 60% of its residents come from Italian descent. This makes for very tasty restaurants and wineries, both here and across the broader Riverina region.
Legendary wine label De Bortoli began its journey here in the tiny town of Bilbul, on the outskirts of Griffith. It remains the site of the De Bortoli family home and is an essential stop for anyone who loves dessert wines – sip the award-winning Noble One Botrytis Semillon in the beautiful gardens before deciding what to take home.
Other top varietals grown in the Riverina include chardonnay, Sangiovese, tempranillo, and Durif. You can sample them at legendary establishments, including Calabria Family Wines, established more than 75 years ago, and Casella Family Brands, Australia’s largest family-owned wine company, producing labels like Yellow Tail and Peter Lehmann.
Best of the rest
Lillypilly Estate enjoys a pretty perch in Leeton, where vintners make a diverse range of wines – from dry to sweet, including dessert and fortified wines. Near Wagga Wagga, Borambola’s 50 hectares envelop a gracious 1880 homestead. Many of the tales of the estate are immortalized on Borambola’s bottles: a favorite is the Double Joy Rose, given its name after Prince Charles held a soiree on the neighboring estate and exclaimed, “Double Joy!” after sipping the wine. Eunonyhareenyha Winery is a mouthful in more ways than one. Pronounced u-non-Eee-hareen-ya, the estate on the outskirts of Wagga is known for its delicious tempranillo, cab sav, and rose.
Meanwhile, at Yarran Wines, you can pull up a stool in the sun-kissed cellar door and enjoy views over the vineyard and Cocoparra National Park views. There are numerous experiences on offer, from staff-guided tastings to seasonal local produce pairings. In the town of Yenda, visit Berton Vineyard for wine flights accompanied by cheese and charcuterie platters. Or drop into Cottontail Wines to discover the family-made varietals and explore the lush groves of vines and olive trees. In Tumbarumba, you’ll find Courabyra Wines in the foothills of the Snowy Mountains.
Better with bubbles
In Wagga Wagga, chocolate and citrus infusions star at Thirsty Crow Brewing Co. This pioneering establishment’s beers come with seasonal flourishes, including the ‘Stud Muffin’ collection dedicated to sweet stouts – think salted-caramel pecan pie and rocky road. The smooth vanilla milk stout rolls around your mouth like a creamy marshmallow, its malty afternotes particularly enticing when paired with house-baked pizza, the dough of which is made using the brand’s sporting ale. Not far away is Tumut River Brewing Co., which ambitiously makes more than 50 types of beer, with 20 on tap at any given time. There’s a delicious spiced pumpkin ale, an amber lager known as Voodoo Child, and the zingy Ginger Ninja, a ginger beer made using locally grown apples. Ps: it’s pet-friendly.
There aren’t many working malthouses in the world – there are even fewer with the extravagance of Whitton. Set on an immense estate on the outskirts of Griffith near Leeton, this estate is a part farm, and part tourist attraction, with an on-site restaurant and bar where visitors can sample the wares in the form of beer (try the Outsider) and whiskey, both made steps from where you sit. The dining room is set in a soaring warehouse, with tables spilling outside beside an artificial lake. And there are cabins to check in to, should you find it difficult to leave.
In Griffith, Oliverella Spirits sells its small-batch, hand-crafted wares – think cherry gin and dirty shiraz gin – at Billabong Bottle Shop. Meanwhile, in Tumbarumba, Ladbroken Distilling Co. makes delicious gins flavored with the likes of fig, pink raspberry, and blood orange, and Corowa Distilling Co. produces whiskeys and gins that win awards the world over – try the Mad Dog Morgan, named after infamous bushranger that hid out in this part of the world.