The Riverina is New South Wales' largest wine producing region, and the second largest in Australia. But despite its size, it's home to boutique wineries focused on crafting small-batch wines and creating memorable cellar door experiences. Just a 90-minute flight from Sydney, if you've never visited the Riverina, now's the time. Add these must-visits to your itinerary.
The entrance to Berton Vineyards in Yenda.
Berton VineyardsBerton Vineyards is situated in the heart of Yenda, a small town near the city of Griffith. The area is known for its family-owned wineries, Italian cuisine and Mediterranean climate. The cellar door is located in the original winery building that dates back to 1945. Surrounded by old concrete tanks, taste durif – the local specialty – as well as pinot grigio, fiano, botrytis semillon and Australia's only aranel, a rare variety originating in Southern France.
Take a seat at the bar or the long table for a guided tasting and compare shiraz made from grapes grown in High Eden, the Barossa Valley, Heathcote, Padthaway and the Riverina, while you learn about the town's history and pick up a few local secrets for what to see next.
Bob Berton says guests can expect delicate white wines with subtle acidity, and big, rich reds. "We always offer a few different shiraz to pique your interest – it's cool to see how versatile the variety can be. And then there’s durif, which is shiraz to the max. It keeps our guests coming back."
Find out more | 55 Mirrool Ave, Yenda | (02) 6968 1600
De BortoliThe Riverina is where the De Bortoli brand was born. Vittorio De Bortoli arrived in the region after migrating to Australia from northern Italy, amazed by its flat plains and red earth. At the cellar door in Bilbul, just a short trip from Griffith, guests are met with country hospitality and signature wines. The award-winning Noble One Botrytis Semillon, considered the benchmark of Australian botrytis dessert wine, is a must-try. So is the extensive range of aged fortified wines that matured in oak barrels. You can taste wines inside the cellar door, or bring along a picnic to enjoy in the gardens. In the warmer months the winery offers guided tours of Emeri's Garden where you can sit atop the rocks and take in the sweeping views of the vineyards and the Cocoparra ranges.
Noble One was first made by Darren De Bortoli in 1982, and beyond a few tweaks, the winemaking process has remained much the same. Senior winemaker Julie Mortlock aspires to make a decadent wine that balances the depth of botrytis flavour and sweetness with the oak and acidity. She says the perfect introduction to the brand is Noble One: "It's very dependent on Mother Nature with the right humidity needed at the right time for the botrytis to weave its magic, so each year the result is different."
Find out more | De Bortoli Rd, Bilbul | (02) 6966 0111
Lillypilly EstateTucked away behind three towering lilly pilly trees, the cellar door of the same name invites you in. Located on the larger of the estate's two vineyards, near the heart of its winemaking operations, if you visit during vintage you might catch a glimpse of grapes being picked and pressed or wines being bottled. Guests are welcome to taste all wines from the range, and can curate their own cheeseboard while taking in the rich history of the family winery.
Winemaker Robert Fiumara says the climate makes Lillypilly's location unique: "Warm, dry summers are great for grape ripening, but in autumn we get cool nights and dewy mornings that are perfect for establishing botrytis fungus. Every year we leave a selection of grapes on the vine for late harvest and, if we're lucky, produce amazing dessert wines from the affected grapes. The Riverina is renowned for its dessert wines. Plus it’s a great place to live."
Rob's wine of right now is the 2019 Petit Verdot, a variety suited to the warmer climate, and the result is a lovely, fruity red wine. It also just picked up the award for Best Value Red at the Royal Sydney Wine Show.
Find out more | 47 Lillypilly Rd, Leeton | (02) 6953 4069
Sans PareilThe Sans Pareil cellar door is located in Griffith, which holds generations of wine knowledge from all over the world. Third generation viticulturist Aaron Salvestrin says it's this culture that makes the region great. After migrating to Australia from Italy in the early 1950s, the Salvestrin family discovered the region's ideal grape growing conditions. "Our climate is somewhat similar to the Mediterranean areas in Europe, with mild to cold winters and hot, dry summers which is ideal." Now Aaron is creating unique table wines for modern palates with years of passion, experience and dedication at the forefront.
Aaron's go-to wine right now is durif; a true reflection of the Riverina: "The region is starting to embrace the variety and range of styles. The Sans Pareil expression is about embracing the bold characters, while keeping the wine balanced with supple tannins. It's a real food-friendly style."
While 2022's vintage has had its challenges, Aaron says February's weather was incredibly favourable, producing fruit of a very promising quality. "The whites have great varietal characters and vibrant acidity, and the reds will be highly expressive after a cooler ripening period." Sans Pareil currently export to the UK, Germany, Belgium, Papua New Guinea, New Zealand, Fiji and Canada.
Find out more | 462 Old Willbriggie Rd, Griffith | (02) 6963 0847
Learn more about the Riverina in our essential guide.
This article was produced by Halliday Wine Companion in partnership with the featured wineries.
Top image credit: De Bortoli