The Riverland region of South Australia boasts some of the world's best eco wineries.
If you're heading to South Australia and have a hankering for one heck of a daytrip, then bypass the usual Barossa, McLaren Vale and Coonawarra suspects and instead segway north east towards the chic and cheerful Riverland.
For the eco-conscious wine fan, the Riverland wine district is chock full of options to slake your thirst for sustainability in action.
Tucked away on a scenic corner of the Mighty Murray River (you must always say 'mighty') in a spot known as Hogwash Bend, you'll find Caudo Vineyards. It produces wines named after the roses that were once grown there; Peace Chardonnay, Honor Shiraz and Olympiad Merlot. Recognised as one of Australia's most beautiful cellar doors and located just metres from the river bank, the Caudo family recognise the river is the 60 million-year-old lifeblood for all manner of wildlife and magnificent stands of giant river Red Gums which must be preserved. They've teamed with world experts in dry land agriculture to develop state-of-the-art water management systems to maximise efficiency and minimise wastage in an operation geared toward maintaining ecological balance.
Time now to head east and connect with the A20 again for a 40 minute drive to the famous Banrock Station Wine & Wetland Centre. Launched in 1995, Banrock Station was the first wine brand to introduce the concept of wetland restoration on a large scale.
Over 50% of Australia's wetlands have been destroyed and the natural seasonal cycle of Banrock Station's lagoons were interrupted back in 1925, however they've been completely restored thanks to years of pouring proceeds from bottle sales into this mammoth environmental effort. The locals rave about the child-friendly restaurant, which showcases tasty local produce and the eight kilometres of self-guided walking trails and wheelchair-friendly sections of boardwalk which wind through the two lagoons, featuring story centres, information huts and bird-viewing hides.
Snake your way east back onto the A20, veer onto the B201 towards Monash Road and then take a left onto Hodges Road to 919 Wines. Owned and operated by champions of the Riverland region, Eric and Jenny Semmler, the vineyard was planted in 2002 and today this gorgeous Glossop vineyard and winery are certified organic and biodynamic.
At 919 they produce a smorgasbord of wine styles, there's definitely something for everyone, from light, sweet Moscato to vermentino, petit manseng to big reds like durif, touriga and tempranillo, shiraz and sangiovese. However those with a sweet tooth will salivate over their portfolio of drool-inducing fortified wines crafted from varieties used in the fortified wines of Rutherglen, Portugal and Spain and inspired by the European traditions.
Your last stop of the day is just a short 15-minute drive away to the doorstep of Salena Estate, the largest organic wine producer in Australia. Bob and Sylvia Franchitto are the brains behind this operation which had its first vintage back in 1998, and has since accumulated hundreds of medals, trophies and other accolades at shows around the world. You'll find Shiraz, Cabernet Sauvignon, Petit Verdot, Chardonnay, Colombard, Semillon, Pinot Gris, Riesling and Merlot, but they also have a stable of unusual varieties such as Vermentino, Sangiovese, Multipulciano, Graciano and Viognier, However it's their little-known Biano d'Alessano which is attracting much attention after scooping the Trophy for Best Wine of the Show as well as the Trophy for Best Italian Varietal and Trophy for Best White Wine at the Australian Alternative Varieties Wine Show.
Had enough of the wineries? Try these:
River Cruising - The historic paddle-steamer PS Industry fires up its boilers on the first Sunday of every month from Renmark. The River Rambler at Renmark and Loch Luna at Kingston-on-Murray make regular voyages.
Birdwatching at Gluepot Reserve - The reserve is home to rare and endangered plants, birds and reptiles and has been described as one of the conservation miracles of the 21st century.
Taste local produce - The Riverlands and Berri township are famous for citrus and stone fruits. Pick up dried treats and other regional produce at Angas Park Fruits and Berri Direct. At Riverland Farmers' Markets, held every Saturday in Berri, everything sold is grown or made in the region.
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Getting there: The Riverland is less than 2 hours drive north of Adelaide. Alternatively, drive to Mannum (1 hour drive from Adelaide) and follow the river north.
Best time to travel: all year round