The Best Coonawarra Wineries and Coonawarra Wine Tours
Where is Coonawarra?
The Coonawarra wine region is in the Limestone coast zone of South Australia. Coonawarra is almost midway between Melbourne and Adelaide, just across the South Australian border. By car, Coonawarra to Adelaide is just a 4 hour drive; while from Melbourne to Coonawarra, it is a 5 hour drive.
The Coonawarra wine region, is a fabulous stopping point and well worth the detour from the direct road between the two cities. It could be part of a road trip or a fly and drive; either way, the Coonawarra with kids, is a great family holiday destination.
Coonawarra’s Best Wines and Coonawarra’s ‘Terra Rossa’ Soil
The Coonawarra wine region is known to produce Australia’s best Cabernet Sauvignon produced on Coonawarra ‘terra rossa’ soil.
The ‘terra rossa’ soil is the key factor in the production of some of the Coonwarra’s greatest wines. The region’s best land has a reddish-brown topsoil over a deep layer of soft limestone. The area covers a 12km strip in length and approximately 1km in width. The red coloured soil is due to the iron-oxide formations in the clay; the vineyards on this soil, benefit greatly from the good drainage and its ability to hold nutrients.
As well as the rich Cabernet Sauvignon, the Coonawarra wine region also produce great Shiraz, Malbec, Petit Verdot and Merlot. In white wines, Chardonnay, Riesling and Sauvignon Blanc are known to be their best.
Best Coonawarra Wineries List
Raidis Estate; Bellwether Wines; Wynns Coonawarra Estate Winery; Balnaves of Coonawarra; Coonawarra Jack Winery; Patrick of Coonawarra, Parker Coonawarra Estate and Rymill Coonawarra.
Coonawarra Wineries Map
Best Wineries, Coonawarra For Families and Kid Friendly Wineries
Raidis Estate is a family owned and run winery, located on the northern edge of Penola. At the end of 2019, Raidis opened their newly renovated cellar door, which has a massive garden and sheltered entertaining space catering for large numbers for their popular events.
Raidis Estate cater very well for children and offer lots of play space (and toys) indoors and outdoors. Their property is well secure for children to run. They have grassed areas with alternate seating, creating a very relaxed and easy Coonawarra cellar door visit for families.
Bellwether Wines cellar door is an experience in itself. It is housed in the Glen Roy 1868 stone shearing shed, is full of character and charm. All of their wines are handmade onsite and a tasting along with a wander around their property is highly recommended. Bellwether is a venue for weddings, events, glamping and camping, as well as dining and of course wine tasting. For the kids, there is plenty to keep them entertained indoor and out, while you enjoy your tastings.
Balnaves Wines offer a unique perspective with their cellar door looking out over a pond, surrounded by vineyards and rose bushes. The modern Wine Room is nicely presented and offers glass windows to keep an eye on the kids while they play and are entertained on the grassed area. Enjoy Balnaves Wines, 100% Coonawarra, while enjoying a picnic by the pond. Children are very welcome and have been considered in their planning.
Brand’s Laira is amongst the best wineries in the ‘Terra Rossa’ strip of the Coonawarra region. Brand’s has a neat cellar door for visitors to come and taste their magnificent wines. Enjoy in lunch in Eric Brand’s cellar door, indulging in the regions best local produce.
They are very family friendly and welcome children into Eric’s cellar, a rare opportunity for parents to be able to share such an experience with their children. There are indoor and outdoor activities for children to keep entertained, while parents and friends enjoy the wine tasting. Brand’s Laira also has a picnic and BBQ area outside for visitors to utilise.
Rymill wines prides themselves on their commitment to producing sustainable wines with low impact techniques in the wine making process. The large Coonawarra cellar door is very accommodating to children, with lots of space for them to roam and activities to keep them entertained.
Take a walk upstairs to admire the wine making process from afar, as well as the views across the vineyards of this South Australian wine region. Rymill produce the popular Coonawarra speciality, Cabernet Sauvignon as well as Shiraz, Merlot, Cabernet Franc, Sauvignon Blanc, Chardonnay and Gewurztraminer.
Wynns Coonawarra Estate
Wynns Coonawarra Estate has a very classic feel to it being the longest established vineyard sites in the Coonawarra region. Wine tastings from current and back vintage wines are available in their tasting room, as well as wine by the glass, cheese platters and coffee.
Activities for children are available indoors and they will also likely enjoy exploring the interpretive centre. Wynns also has a grassed area with picnic tables.
Wineries with grassed areas and picnic tables
There are many other fabulous Coonawarra wineries with grassed areas and picnic tables, encouraging families to come along for an easy and relaxed time. These include: DiGiorgio Family Wines, Majella Wines, The Blok Coonawarra, Whistle Post Coonawarra and Patrick of Coonawarra.
Coonawarra Highlights Winery Tour
For the best of the Coonawarra Wine Tour, look no further than the masters themselves – Coonawarra Experiences.
Simon and Kerry, owners of Coonawarra Experiences, collaborate with local businesses to be able to provide their guests with the best of the Coonawarra. They have developed personal and professional relationships which greatly benefit their customers experiences at the Coonawarra Cellar Door.
Our choice Coonawarra Experiences have been the Highlights Winery Tour, which is a generous 4-hour tour visiting four different cellar doors. Simon, our host, is very friendly, full of conversation and we loved hearing his own story including his and Kerry’s journey to get to where they are now.
Our children were suitably entertained with outdoor games, colouring, blocks to play with and made some new friends along the way. Simon and Kerry tailored our tour to suit our group needs, taking us to some of the best Coonawarra cellar doors.
Coonawarra Wineries On Tour – Sample Itinerary
Our day began at Brand’s Laira, where we enjoyed the most amazing lunch in Eric Brand’s personal cellar, delighting on local produce platters and fresh baguettes.
A great highlight for all of us was a photo opportunity at the Coonawarra Railway Siding which was built in 1898 and is a great landmark for visitors to the area to get yourself a photo for the memory book. As the locals say, “If you don’t get a photo at the Siding, you haven’t been to the Coonawarra”.
Coonawarra Experiences will tailor your winery tour to best suit your requirements and flavour preferences. We had some very memorable experiences visiting Coonawarra wineries on tour; including Raidis Estate, Balnaves Wines, Wynns Coonawarra Estate Winery, Bellwether Wines and Rymill Wines.
Our Coonawarra Wine Tour, highlights included beautiful wine tastings, the bottles we’ve taken home to enjoy at a later date and the relaxed yet very professional approach from Simon, our host. Simon makes every experience personal for his guests. We enjoyed conversations with winery employees about their wines, vines, specialities, processing procedures and the Coonawarra Region itself.
It is very unique to be able to explore a wine region, on tour, with children (and at a good price) – we love being able to explore and share as a family, so this was perfect for us. We’re so grateful that there are services such as this which allow us as parents, to be able to enjoy the things we love – with the kids in tow.
Coonawarra Experience OFFER
Contact Simon and Kerry directly on 1800 861 190 mention this article on Love To Travel, Stay-Eat-Do and you will receive a 10% discount on your full or half day tour booking with Coonawarra Experiences.
The Coonawarra region offers extensive accommodation options. Coonawarra Cottages and Coonawarra Hotels choices are very popular, as is the Coonawarra Caravan Park. Check out the most up to date prices and details on Coonawarra accommodation, or see the recommendations below.
Alexandra Cameron Suites
Alexandra Cameron Suites are located in the heart of Penola. Convenient and great access to everything in town. The rooms are spacious and well equipped. Rooms have a terrace area to enjoy and there is communal grassed area outside with picnic tables. Room configurations vary in this popular accommodation, so get in early to avoid disappointment.
Coonawarra Motor Lodge
Coonawarra Motor Lodge is located just 5 minutes drive from some of the popular Coonawarra cellar doors. With easy access to all that Penola has to offer, the Coonawarra Motor Lodge is a great choice for families. Rooms are spacious, well equipped, air conditioned and overlook the well maintained gardens.
Coonawarra Units are located in the heart of the Coonawarra vineyards, just 8km from the restaurants and cafes in Penola. Units are well equipped with a kitchenette, basic breakfast provisions are supplied on arrival. This popular family accommodation is located in walking distance to Zema Estate and Chardonnay Lodge is next door which offers casual dining and wine sales.
Penola Parkview is located directly opposite the park and swimming pool on the main street of Penola. Perfectly located for families, Penola Parkview has accommodation to suit a range of configurations, including large groups. Look here for more details on this unique accommodation.
Sotto Il Noce
Love To Travel, Stay-Eat-Do can highly recommend Sotto Il Noce, an Airbnb property in Penola. For easy, family friendly accommodation in Penola, look no further than Sotto Il Noce. The house sleeps six, however, the owner is very accommodating and may allow extra bedding for the floor if you’re traveling in a larger group. The house was perfect for a comfortable, home-away-from-home feel and the garden is brilliant to let the kids run and play!
A Coonawarra Experience
A Coonawarra Experience offers very comfortable accommodation in the heart of Penola. Simon and Kerry, pride themselves on giving their guests the best Penola experience. Their accommodation is clean, well presented, functional and well maintained. They are easy to communicate with, very accommodating, will be helpful in all aspects of your trip and friendly.
Penola has a bustling main street with boutique stores, cellar doors, two pubs including the Royal Oak Inn which boasts a lovely beer garden. There is an IGA Supermarket, Bank, Newsagent, Bakery, Butcher, Chemist and all of your essential everyday needs.
Things to do with kids
Penola is a charming little town itself. Explore the historic town by foot or bike, enjoy the remarkable sites in the South Australian towns lovely little streets.
A must-do for everyone who visits Penola, is its lovely hidden gem, National Trust Petticoat Lane which retains some original gardens and cottages from the 19th century.
Mary MacKillp Penola Centre
A stop in at the Mary MacKillop Penola Centre is worthwhile to learn some of the history of Mary MacKillop and the foundation of Australian Sisters of Saint Joseph in 1866. If you are a building lover, find St. Mary the Virgin, Anglican Church in Penola, where the foundation stone was laid January 8th 1872 and opened for worship in July 1873.
The Lions Club have constructed a great path which you can use for bikes or on foot out to the Greenrise Arboretum. It is an easy ride from the Penola township, starting on some back streets heading towards Mt Gambier, keep an eye out for the Lions Club track!
It is perfect for families, roughly a 5km round trip, depending on which end of town you are staying. There is a BBQ area at the other end of the arboretum which you’ll find by wandering through the nice paths created. Camping is available by donation at the Penola Coonawarra Information Centre.
Family friendly places to eat
There are a few options for eating out in Penola itself. The Royal Oak Hotel is a popular choice, with its attractive building and lovely beer garden. There are cafes to choose from in the main street, the bakery, as well as BBQ facilities at the park with playground.