When we talk about wine experiences in South Australia, people often will jump to the Barossa, McLaren Vale and even the Adelaide Hills or riesling producers in the Clare and Eden Valleys. The Coonawarra, just north of Penola as its commercial centre, is about 15 kilometres as the crow flies from the Victorian border and is far and away one of the most underrated wine regions in the nation.
This strip of land is perfect for wine growing, with ancient limestone aquifers and rich red soils upon which some of the very best Australian wine is grown. Known for big belting cabernets, it is fast gathering attention for producing fantastic shiraz, and a whole bunch of traditional and alternative varieties. It's a tight, supportive community and at its heart, you'll find exceptionally good people.
Let's take Simon and Kerry Meares, at Coonawarra Experiences, as an example. They've been there for a short time (five years is not long in a country town) and followed a dream to live in this space they had travelled to time and again. After selling up in Melbourne thy moved over and invested in the region yjru love. They have been rewarded well by the local community and many a traveller, and even through the shittiest time with all kinds of restrictions and challenges, these two continue to smile and offer impeccable hospitality. They offer premium wine tours with a difference.
Coonawarra Experiences is not just the best, but in my opinion, the only tour to take in the region. It's more than pushing you into a bus, showing you the sights, and taking you wine tasting. Kerry and Simon know everyone, they know how to find you something you'd never manage to uncover on your own, and have created amazing relationships with the producers in the region to give you the very best Coonawarra Experience.
Give them a hint of what you like, and they'll give an experience to match. In the land of Cabernet, guess who found a thing for 2013 Shiraz? Along with showing you around, they have a beautiful, well appointed 2 bedroom apartment and are most genial hosts. One mention of a BBQ and they're on that too - they love a good grill and smoke session with some quality local produce, and they sure know where to find it. And Rooney, their moggy is not one to miss an opportunity for a smooch and a pat.
They are incredible advocates for the region's wine producers, both large and small. If it is big ticket, big name wineries you want to visit, no worries. If it is small, experimental producers playing with unusual varietals, no worries. And if you want something really secret, they'll fix you up there too. They make it their business to know what is going on.
Coonawarra Experiences, far above any tour I have done anywhere, know, understand and practice the very nuanced art of hospitality in every way. Nothing's any trouble, they go out of their way to accommodate you and they jolly well love a good glass of wine.
Use them as a base to explore the region, including Mount Gambier with its blue lake just a short drive away, and there is an excellent gin producer there. Naracoorte is a bit further on with its ancient caves and there are beaches with beautiful fresh seafood less than an hour away.
Take a visit to SA and have your own Coonawarra Experience.