We love sharing our wines and our favourite parts of our beautiful Kangaroo Island. Our blog shares our team's favourite ways to get the most from your visit when you're exploring Kangaroo Island. And of course we like to share the latest news and wine reviews with you too!
With its huge rise in popularity in recent years, most Australian white wine drinkers have included Sauvignon Blanc in their wine repertoire. There is a lot to learn about this variety which can produce very varied characteristics with a careful winemaking hand.
Here are some facts about one of our favourite varieties you may not know:
Looking for foods that pair beautifully with Sauvignon Blanc? Easy, if a squeeze of lemon would enhance the dish, you'll be onto a winner serving them together.
Originating from the Rhône Valley in France, Viognier is the only permitted grape variety in the Rhône appellations of Condrieu and Château Grillet, located on the west bank of the Rhône.
Viognier (pronounced vee-ohn-yay) almost became extinct as recently as the 1980s, when as little as 8 acres remained in France. Thankfully it is now grown more extensively in the Rhone Valley & around the world, including in the USA & Australia.
Yalumba planted the first viognier vines in Australia in 1980. We weren't far behind, including viognier as one of the founding varietals at The Islander Estate Vineyards in 2000, the only viognier grown on Kangaroo Island. We are thrilled that our vines are recovering from the 2020 bushfires.
Viognier is notoriously difficult to grow. It is low yielding, subject to disease & picking must be carefully timed to get the best aromatics & balance of its oily character, so it's a grape grown by viticulturalists with a genuine love for it.
In Australia, viognier is often hidden away in Shiraz, with just a few per cent added to bring fragrance & texture to the red wine. However, we know it is a stunning white wine as a single varietal & can't help but reserve a tiny quantity each year to showcase in our varietal range.
Viognier sits in the middle of the scale between delicate unwooded varieties like pinot gris & sauvignon blanc and the richer, often-oaked varieties like chardonnay.
It is medium to full-bodied, dry & often golden in colour. It can be unoaked but most often oaked to add texture, viscosity, spice & a touch of vanilla.
Viognier is a distinctive wine. It has been described as reminiscent of apricots, rose, honeysuckle, ripe peaches & musk. The best are floral & textural, even voluptuous.
Viognier has a distinctive oily character in the mid-palate, which is 'tell' for the variety along with its unique floral & stone fruit aroma.
Viognier is a food-friendly wine pairing with a wide range of dishes. Its fragrant characteristic pairs well with spicy Thai herb-based dishes or creamy mild Indian curries, hearty Moroccan & African dishes, freshly grilled seafood or barbecued chicken.
As a textural oaked white wine, serving viognier at the right temperature is important to get the best from its flavour & aroma. We recommend lightly chilling viognier rather than serving it fridge-cold to allow its stunning aromas to come to the forward.
Viognier is also an excellent wine to add to your cellar & age for several years.
The Islander Estate Vineyards produced just a single barrel of viognier each year. The grapes are wild fermented in seasoned barrels, cold settled for 24 hours, then the wine is placed in 400 litre seasoned French oak puncheons for ageing, with lees stirring for three months. Malolactic ferment is avoided to preserve freshness and acidity. After ageing, the wine is filtered and hand bottled with only 30 cases produced.
COLOUR: Deep Straw
NOSE: Fresh apricots, honey, orange blossom
PALATE: Creamy, viscous middle palate with a slight nuttiness, apricot & dried fruit.
FINISH: A soft textural mouthfeel does not detract from the freshness in the finish.
Our new 2021 vintage is yet to be reviewed however, Jenni Port's review of our 2019 vintage for the Halliday Wine Companion tells you all you need to know.
"Archetypal viognier with the scent of honey-drizzled peaches and pears, orange blossom and fruit peel. Intoxicating stuff. Golden and creamy style with a slightly nutty demeanour that lasts to the finish, the apricot stone and dried fruit savouriness complete the textbook example. A wine of many parts and with many years ahead." 95/100 points
Favourite Sunset Spot? West Bay Beach, Flinders Chase National Park
“I love watching the sun sink behind the horizon into the southern ocean at West Bay. Sitting on the beach with a glass of wine, feeling like you’re at the end of the earth. Such a secluded spot but still totally accessible to anyone willing to make the drive.”
Favourite Sunset Wine? Wally White Semillon
“Our white wine for red wine drinkers. With enough creaminess & texture to go with some rich Australian salmon caught fresh from the beach & cooked in a pan with a little wine over a beach fire”
Image courtesy of Lauren Garret on Instagram
Favourite Sunset Spot? Flagstaff Hill Lookout, Reeves Point. “Just a few minutes from my home in Kingscote, Flagstaff Hill is a stunning elevated spot for an evening after-work walk to watch the sunset over the Bay of Shoals. With elevated views for almost 360 degrees, there’s no better place to let go of the day.”
Favourite Sunset Wine? Varietal Range Semillon Sauvignon Blanc. “A limited release wine, this is my new favourite for when you want something a little more textural & sophisticated in the white wine spectrum. I’ve visited Jacques in Bordeaux & this reminds me so much of the Bordeaux Blanc blends that I tried there.”
Image courtesy of Ross Evans Photography on Instagram
Favourite Sunset Spot? Pennington Bay. “Most people visit Pennington Bay in the height of summer to swim & surf. It is absolutely stunning in the cooler months just after a storm when it’s almost deserted & the sunset views are ours alone, it totally refreshes the mind & spirit.”
Favourite Sunset Wine? Boxing Bay Shiraz/Cab Sauv. "I love that this is a European take on a classic Aussie blend. A glass watching the sunset is perfect to ward the chill off & the rest goes down perfectly by the fire when we get home".
Image courtesy of Grant Coutts on Instagram
Favourite Sunset Spot? One Kangaroo Island, Brown Beach
“There is no more luxurious experience on Kangaroo Island than sitting in a warm outdoor bubble bath on a crisp evening, in total privacy, overlooking Brown Beach & the sunset to the west. Unforgettable”
Favourite Sunset Wine? Petiyante
What else is there to drink in an outdoor bath at sunset than a delicious glass of Methode Champenoise sparkling?
Image courtesy of One Kangaroo Island on Instagram
Favourite Sunset Spot? Cygnet River
“In the late afternoon just as dusk descends, the light through the trees surrounding the Cygnet River is something else. And it only happens during the cooler months. It makes you look up from your computer at our Tasting Room, step outside & take a deep breath.”
Favourite Sunset Wine? Tracey’s been drinking Bark Hut Road, Shiraz/Cabernet Franc, our signature blend for 15 years ago. It brings together our French & Australian heritage in a bottle & it suits just about any cool evening dish.
Image courtesy of Cath Williams on Instagram
Favourite Sunset Spot? Baudin Beach
“My home, Baudin Beach. We live in a cottage snuggled behind a sand dune. Just near our house is a path along the cliffs with a special chatting seat in honour of a much loved local. After a long day on the social media tools, I can be there with a glass of wine, my partner, daughter & dog in just a couple of minutes. We all take a deep breath & let go of the day. Then back home out of the evening chill & into the warm cosiness of the fire.”
Favourite Sunset Wine? “Old Rowley Shiraz/Grenache I am a grenache fan & absolutely love Old Rowley. Elegant but robust, complex but drinkable. Simply one of my go-to blends & I’m yet to find one I love more than the one we make at The Islander Estate Vineyards.”
Image courtesy of Cath Williams on Instagram
Our Sauvignon Blanc is pale straw in colour, on the nose there's passionfruit, lime zest, citrus & sea spray. On the palate, it's delicate & aromatic with a light herbalness, ripe citrus & tropical fruits. Rounded off with just enough acidity to finish elegant, and crisp to complement the sweetness of prawns and barbequed flavours.
For lots of Australians, Good Friday night is fish and chips on the beach. Fried fish dishes love the natural acidity of .white wines like Pinot Gris. Fesh and flavourful with zesty acidity and beautiful texture. On the nose, it's floral and discreet with hints of lychee and rose petal. On the palate, it’s fresh with flavours in the pear-zone and a touch of texture. On the finish, it's all classic Pinot Gris zippy acidity
In a contemporary Australian style, made to demonstrate Chardonnay's elegant varietal character. The White has slightly toasty with flavours of peach, nectarine, melon and toasted nuts. The fruit sweetness is offset by steely, refreshing acidity and a long finish. It has just the right amount of texture to match a moist roast chicken.
Our signature white, Wally White is 100% Semillon. Rich and textural from barrel fermentation with mouth-filling notes of lemon curd and vanilla custard creaminess, bound together by mouth-watering natural acidity. This is one of our most phenomenal wine and food pairings, making the perfect foil to the richness of roast pork.
The richness and texture of roast lamb needs the deep, intense colour rich fruit flavour and firm tannin structure of Cab Sauv and Shiraz. Boxing Bay is classic Aussie blend, but like all the wines from our Estate range, our takes its inspiration firmly from Europe. Power and structure abound in the Cab Sauv, the Shiraz adds softness and elegance. A European approach in winemaking brings these two together with elegance and restraint.
Our Cotes du Rhone style Shiraz/Grenache blend undergoes whole bunch carbonic maceration to develop a deliciously ripe palate with dark cherry, black fruits, spicy mocha, gernache violets and confection. The fruit character and balanced tannins match beautifully with bitter dark chocolate.
When you're firing up the BBQ, you want a wine that goes with everything from sausages to vegetables. The Red 2021 is all elegant cool-climate Shiraz. On the nose there's notes of pepper, eucalyptus, toasted vanilla. On the palate it's seriously tasty with flavours in the mulberry and red fruit spectrum, a hint of charry oak and slightly gamey notes working beautifully with the fleshy fruit. It has a generous round mouthfeel leading to a lingering finish.
Ready to try a wine match that's a little more unconventional? Bark Hut Road is an elegant Bordeaux-style blend of Shiraz & Cabernet Franc. Offering firm tannins, natural acidity, beautiful blackberry and sarsaparilla notes at the darker end of the fruit spectrum with Oak notes – vanilla and coconut. It's a phenomenal match to soft and goat's cheese, charcuterie and grilled vegetables.
Spring may be when the vineyard bursts from dormancy back to life, but Summer is when things begin to get exciting, giving us a glimpse towards the potential of the next vintage.
Summer is the season that can make or break vintage. The climate on Kangaroo Island in early summer can still be variable. Optimum conditions for a good vintage are warm, dry days with mild winds. Excessive rain, wine or humidity can all spell disaster.
As flowering begins to end, the fertilised flowers start to develop a seed and grape berry to protect the seed. This stage is critical as it determines the potential crop yield.
Now is the time we begin to get a good idea of bunch development and quality on the vine with an insight into how vintage may shape up if the weather remains at optimum conditions.
At this stage of the growing season when we pray for warm sunny days, moderate frost-free nights, gentle breezes and little or no rain.
During January, the tiny bunches of grapes go through a rapid period of growth. Once they reach around half their final size, they enter the stage of véraison, usually around 40 – 50 days after fruit set. However, the grapes remain hard, have very little sugar & are high in organic acids.
Throughout véraison the berries begin to ripen, turning from green and begin to turn purple, red and golden. This tipping point is when the vine begins to turn its energy away from vine growth concentrating on developing sweetness in the grapes.If necessary, leaf thinning is undertaken to allow the grapes more access to light & increase airflow to minimise disease risk.
After véraison the grapes swell & fill with water. During this ripening period, sugar levels rise & acid levels drop. Colour pigments, flavour compounds & tannins develop. Watering stops to induce mild water stress, inhibit shoot growth & encourage concentrated character in the ripening grapes.
A close eye is kept on the vineyard & when flocks of marauding birds arrive, nets are installed across the vineyard to protect the crop. Once nets are on, vintage is only a matter of weeks away.
Many regions begin vintage in February, however in the cooler conditions on Kangaroo Island, wine vintage traditionally begins a few weeks after other South Australian regions, often in March.
Whether it’s your first visit or Kangaroo Island is your second home, our Cellar Door Trail guides help you plan out a day that has something for the whole gang to enjoy - click here to explore & download our handy trail maps.
The Enchanted Fig Tree: Gastronomo is relaunching The Enchanted Fig Tree experience at stunning Snellings Beach on Kangaroo Island’s North Coast. One of South Australia’s most memorable dining experiences from the moment you arrive. You will be invited to venture through the leafy entrance of a majestic old fig tree before it opens up into a collection of natural ‘living’ rooms. Each space is decked out with stunning table settings ready for you to experience a magical feast of the senses. The season runs from 16 December 2021 until 4 April 2022. Bookings: www.gastronomodining.com.au
Sunset Food & Wine: Kangaroo Island foodies are doing a happy dance that Jack Ingram & Vanessa Chu are reopening the east end’s icon restaurant for the summer season. A modern bistro focusing on local produce, Sunset Food & Wine combines stunning views overlooking American Beach, a killer wine list & elegant dishes that are a work of art. The season runs from 14 December until early April. Bookings: www.sunsetfoodandwine.com
Home Grown Pantry on the Cygnet River Gourmet Trail: Our neighbourhood in Cygnet River just got a little more delicious with Home Grown Pantry at Frogs & Roses garden centre. Whether you want a lunch stop between wine & spirit tastings, a picnic lunch to take to nearby Duck Lagoon or to stock up on holiday provisions, it’s all delicious & homemade. Opening days & hours do vary, so check out their Facebook page before your stop in: www.homegrownpantryki.com.au.
The Shy Wren, Penneshaw: The team at The Shy Wren are kicking off 2022 in style with their NYE opening. This wine bar /kitchen /providore will be a great addition to the east end. Keep an eye on their socials for more info on opening days & offerings: www.facebook.com/theshywren.
The Odd Plate, Kingscote: Quickly becoming the favourite dinner haunt in Kingscote. Located in a charming heritage guesthouse built-in 1927, overlooking the beautiful Napean Bay in Kingscote, offering a shared plate concept with a menu receiving rave reviews. Bookings: www.theoddplate.com.au
Cellar Door Touring: Let a local do the driving; there’s a range of local guides now offering unique cellar door trail experiences. One of our favourites is hosted by our team’s own Luca Lovison at Kangaroo Island Hire A Guide: https://kiguide.rezdy.com/415123/gourmet-food-wine-tour
Gin, Wine & Wildlife E-Bike Tour: Exceptional Kangaroo Island are constantly innovating new ways to connect visitors with Kangaroo Island. Their Gin, Wine & Wildlife E-Bike tour is a one-of-a-kind & a new discovery for even regular visitors: www. kangarooislandebikes.com
Walk this way: Also from the team Exceptional Kangaroo Island, Walk Kangaroo Island consists of 11 diverse independent walks, exploring a range of island landscapes and habitats, each with its own unique story. If slowing down & reconnecting with nature is your aim, this is the experience for you: www.walkkangarooisland.com
Kangaroo Island Wool at Cygnet River: We are so excited to be welcoming Kangaroo Island Wool to the Cygnet River trail in early 2022. They have been championing local wool for many years. Their new venture will bring visitors to KI in touch with our agricultural heritage with wool garments handcrafted on-island from the sheep to the lucky wearer. Keep an eye out for announcements on their opening date: www.facebook.com/KangarooIslandWool
The Food: The perfect make-ahead entree or canape for any party. The acidity in the Pétiyante pairs perfectly with the creaminess of salmon in a fantastic dish for an entrée or light lunch. Of course, we recommend your cure it with the fabulous Kangaroo Island Spirits gin. Try this recipe for Gin Cured Salmon with cucumber and lime.
The wine: Who doesn’t love sparkling through the whole festive season? Our traditional method bottle-fermented sparkling Chardonnay/Pinot Noirs, Pétiyante is beautifully balanced with fine, elegant acidity and creamy texture balancing the fruit flavours. Classic Champagne-like brioche notes on the nose and on the palate a super fine bead with hints of nashi pear and white peach leading to a long, crisp, elegant finish.
The Food: Whether you’re off on a picnic with friends, hanging by the BBQ or having a classic family roast The White pairs beautifully with chicken, no matter how it's prepared. This Christmas Roast Chicken with Macadamia Herb Seasoning from Better Homes & Gardens is on our Christmas day menu.
The Wine: The White Chardonnay is a contemporary unoaked style, but it has plenty of structure & sophistication to lend itself to special occasion drinking, made to demonstrate the elegant varietal character. Slightly toasty with flavours of peach, nectarine, melon and toasted nuts. The fruit sweetness is offset by steely, refreshing acidity and a long finish.
The Food: Elegant, delicious Christmas entertaining doesn’t always mean slaving over a hot stove. Our friends at Les Deux Coq hand-make the most delicious range of authentic French Charcuterie we’ve come across outside France. A quick stop at their Adelaide Central Market stall or website and you have everything you need for the most delicious meal that pairs perfectly with an ice-cold Rose.
The Wine: One of our fastest selling wines, made in the classic Provence style of southern France, The Rose 2021 is light in colour with a focus on elegance but full of flavour and texture. It’s dry, fresh and dangerously easy to drink. Flavours of strawberries and cream, even some peach notes with a light leesy grip adding complexity to the delicious freshness.
The Food: Pairing wine with Turkey can be a tricky affair. You have the white meat with some richness and gaminess, but often wine matching is about the sides which are more robust in flavour, stuffing, gravy, roast vegetables. Red can be an amazing pairing if the tannins don’t overwhelm. That’s where the elegance and delicacy of Bordeaux-style blends Bark Hut Road hits the perfect note. A fantastic complement to the flavours in this Turkey with Sour Cherry stuffing and pickled cherries recipe.
The Wine: A classic from our premium Estate range, Bark Hut Road is one of the first wines Jacques' released on Kangaroo Island and our current vintage continues a long tradition of excellence. This elegant Bordeaux-style blend offers firm tannins, natural acidity, beautiful blackberry and sarsaparilla notes at the darker end of the fruit spectrum with Oak notes – vanilla and coconut.
The Food: The ultimate luxury dish for a special occasion, rare beef fillet coated in pate & mushrooms, baked in pastry. If there’s ever a time to dedicate this much love to a dish, it’s at Christmas. Chef Gordon Ramsay has made Beef Wellington his signature dish, you can try his recipe here.
The Wine: If you’re preparing a dish like this, then only the very best wine will do. The Investigator Cabernet Franc from our Flagship range is the perfect foil for the richness of the dish. With elegance and structure it will complement rather than overwhelm, with the variety’s classic leanness and firm brooding tannins. There are loads of savoury and herbaceous notes, with balance and a composed structure across the palate.
The Food: What’s Christmas without a Ham as the centrepiece of the table (and what’s better we can eat it all month long). After hours of tender-loving-basting, this showstopper should be served with a wine to match. If you’re looking for new ham glazing ideas to spice it up this year, Australian Gourmet Traveller has collected glazing secrets of from Australia's best Chefs.
The Wine: When pairing a wine with ham it's all about the glaze which most often has a sweet element to counteract the saltiness of the ham. Glazes tend to work well with medium-weight wines with plenty of acidity and bold fruit. The Cygnet Shiraz from our Flagship range is often referred to as Christmas in a glass – steeped red and blackberries and baking spices complement the spice of the glaze. This highly rated shiraz shows just how elegant the variety can be.
The Independence Malbec & New Year’s Eve Rib Eye
The Food: Picture this, it’s New Year’s Eve, we’re finally seeing out 2021 and you’re celebrating with a delicious Rib Eye grilled over coals with an anchovy butter – a flavour bomb. You might even be sharing it with a few of your best mates. This New Year’s eve we might be checking out this delicious recipe from Australian Gourmet Traveller.
The Wine: There’s nothing that suits a flame-grilled protein like Malbec. Best known these days from Argentina, it originated in Jacques’ native Bordeaux and he is the only winemaker to have introduced it to Kangaroo Island. The Independence 2015 is the first vintage in our Flagship range and it’s become one of our favourites. On the palate, it demonstrates the plush fruit, full-bodied structure and firm tannins that Malbec is known for, balanced by Jacques winemaking craftsmanship to create a wine that is power and finesse in equal balance.
The food: The day after Christmas is time to cog back and relax. Backyard BBQ, thongs and sandy feet. No need for a recipe here, whatever you’re having on the BBQ from steak to burgers to sausages, our Cab Sauv is a great all-rounder.
The wine: Our varietal range 2019 Cabernet Sauvignon, the first release from our estate for many years (and sadly our last after the Jan 2020 fires) is the ideal wine for BBQ meats. With high acidity and firm tannins, Cab Sauv is a great match for dishes with savoury flavours and a dose of fat. Our 2019 vintage is rich and plush but still elegant and delicate, the fruit fills the mouth early and soft tannins draw the finish out smooth and long.
The Food: If your Christmas tastes lend more towards seafood then our brand-new release Semillon Sauvignon Blanc is going to be a winner at the table. Pair it with a rich fish like grilled Atlantic salmon, shellfish like BBQ scallops or crustaceans like prawns or if you’re lucky lobster with a rich homemade aioli.
The Wine: We're renowned for our Semillon from Kangaroo Island. As Semillon Sauvignon Blanc has been a classic blend in Australia for decades, we wanted to give it a try. Never ones to stick with the mainstream, we decided to barrel ferment ours and age it for 12 months in seasoned 600L French oak demis. The wine has a delightful nose, with hints of citrus and tropical fruit. The mouth is soft and round from the barrel aging and the acidity draws the finish out long and smooth.
The Food: Australia Day wraps up the holiday period and marks the return to reality for many people. So, it’s worth celebrating with something truly Aussie and there is nothing more so than a leg of lamb slowly cooking while you enjoy a game of cricket and a few glasses of wine. Whether you fancy it butterflied or on the bone, marinated, stuffed or plain. Our new limited release Boxing Bay blend of Shiraz/Cab Sauv is a classic Aussie blend expressed in a whole new way.
The Wine: 2018 Boxing Bay brings a new dimension to our Estate premium range. Shiraz and Cabernet Sauvignon is a classic Aussie blend, but like all the wines from our Estate range, this takes its inspiration firmly from Europe. While power and structure abound in the Cab Sauv, the Shiraz adds softness and elegance. A European approach in winemaking brings these two together with elegance and restraint.
Thanks to the influence of the Southern Ocean & its prevailing south-easterly breezes, Kangaroo Island has a maritime environment significantly different to the rest of Australia, even to nearby McLaren Vale. These ocean breezes mean an even climate without extremes. They cool the vineyards in summer and keep it a few degrees warmer and wetter during winter, offering some protection from disease and frosts caused by extreme cold.
The reliable annual growth rhythm of a vineyard is a reminder that nature will continue, no matter what variation or disasters might occur in a single year.
Kangaroo Island’s native vegetation is perennially green. Its grasslands & crops thrive in winter, becoming a dry Mediterranean landscape in summer. Conversely, our vineyard works on an opposite calendar, becoming dormant in winter & bursting to life in Spring as much of the Island begins to dry and turn brown and is at its most productive at the end of a long dry summer.
Budburst is the first sign of life in the dormant vines. The roots and wood of the vine release a surge of energy, the sap rises, and the buds begin to break through.
The woolly buds are extremely delicate during this time, so viticulturalist's prey for Spring frost to stay away. Luckily, our vineyard favours elevation & ocean breezes which largely protect cold air from settling & becoming frost.
Three factors impact the arrival of budburst. Firstly, the air temperature dictates the timing and pace of bud formation. Secondly, the variety, with each variety classified as early, mid, or late budding. Early budding varieties like Chardonnay tend to be more frost tolerant and often early ripening. Finally, the temperature of the soil plays a role in bud development.
Once budburst is underway, growth starts to speed up, with shoots growing and leaves forming almost before our eyes.
Shoots are initially fuelled by the carbohydrate reserves fed up from the roots, but as leaves start to unfurl and mature, photosynthesis kicks into gear.
At this early stage of the growing season, it's important to ensure the vines have a good supply of water and nutrients, employing organic principles.
Our vineyard team gets busy thinning shoots, to ensure we have optimal selections and training the shoots where needed. Shoot thinning ensures the vine is concentrating its energy into the shoots selected for fruit production in line with our high-density, low-yield growing principles.
Next, flower buds will begin to form on the new growth in tiny clusters also known as inflorescence. Also known as ‘perfect flowers’, the grapevine flowers self-pollinate, bees are not required!
This is the time of the growing season when we pray for warm sunny days, moderate frost-free nights, gentle breezes and little or no rain.
These are the conditions for maximum self-pollination and pave the way for fruit set, the formation of tiny bunches of fledgeling grapes.
Once fruit-set is complete, grapes begin to form and this provides us with the first indication of the vintage to come.
Fruit-set provides us with the vintage potential but there are challenges to come as Summer approaches!
Start your day with a delicious breakfast at the Emu Bay Lavender Farm. They’re famous for their lavender scones (legitimate breakfast food we think) but there’s so much more on the menu. They have a stunning setting and when the scent of lavender is in the air, how can the morning be anything but relaxing? www.emubaylavenderfarm.com
Work off breakfast with a stroll along this stunning 5km beach, one of the most popular on Kangaroo Island. The sheltered north coast waters are mostly calm and clear making it a great spot for a morning swim. The main car park also has a playground where the kids can work off breakfast or explore the jetty for sea creatures.
From Emu Bay, head off the bitumen along Boxer Road for a shortcut to your first wine tasting at The Islander Estate Vineyards, stop to check out the White Lagoon salt lake. This road will take you past traditional farming properties and at the right time of year, you’ll pass stunning fields of bright yellow canola.
Start your tasting day with an introduction to our world of wine at The Islander Estate Vineyards. Our team will welcome you for a hosted tasting of our French-influenced cool climate wines crafted by our owner, Jacques Lurton.
After a career spanning several decades making wine in his native Bordeaux and around the world, Jacques fell in love with Kangaroo Island in 2000, purchased a property and established a vineyard with a vision to showcase the true potential of our Island region on the world stage of wine. On Kangaroo Island Jacques combines his expertise and traditional French winemaking techniques with the freedom of winemaking offered in Australia. The result is a range of wines that blend old and new world wine styles.
Trear yourself to one of our premium food and wine experiences. Or after your tasting, choose your favourite wine and let our team help you create a picnic hamper of French charcuterie, regional cheeses and local produce to match.
Just a few minute's drive from The Islander Estate’s cellar door, you'll discover Duck Lagoon, a stunning natural lagoon. It's home to a huge array of birds, echidnas and resident koalas. With picnic facilities, BBQs, toilets and a bird hide it's a fantastic spot to relax with a picnic while the kids explore and count how many different animal species they can spot.
Continue exploring the Cygnet River Artisan trail with a visit to Kangaroo Island Spirits for a paddle of their award-winning gins or settle in the garden with a cocktail. Their new cellar door development is truly stunning and if you have the time, you can even join in a cocktail masterclass (book ahead). www.kispirits.com.au
Our pick: We can’t help but be partial to the Wally White gin, aged in barrels used for our stunning Wally White Semillon. It brings together the best of spirits and wine.
If you’re visiting on the weekend, refuel at Frogs and Roses, this gorgeous green oasis is primarily a nursery but they also make delicious homemade salads, toasties sandwiches and the best cheesecake on Kangaroo Island. Opening days & hours do vary, so check out their Facebook page before your stop in: www.facebook.com/frogsandrosesgardencenter
Our neighbours and great friends, Joch and Louise Bosworth have a fantastic reputation for their organic wines in McLaren Vale under the labels Battle of Bosworth and Spring Seed Wine Co. We were excited when they also fell in love with Kangaroo Island and purchased an established vineyard in Cygnet River in 2016. Joch and Louise bring a new dimension to the Kangaroo Island wine industry and their intimate tasting room set overlooking the vineyard is a must-visit for any lover. www.springsroad.com.au
Our wine pick: James Halliday’s 2021 Wine Companion rates the Springs Road Wines Kangaroo Island Cabernet Sauvignon Shiraz 2018 at 94 points and we can’t argue with that.
Vineyards don’t get much closer to the ocean than at Bay of Shoals. Their cellar door overlooking Reeves Point and the Bay of Shoals is a great place to wind up your tasting tour. Their grapes are grown, harvested and made onsite alongside the Cellar Door, offering guided tastings and build your own platters to enjoy outdoors overlooking the bay. www.bayofshoalswines.com.au
Our wine pick: We love Bay of Shoals' alternative varietal white wines like their Savagnin & Arinto.
Finish your day with dinner in Kingscote. We recommend The Ozone Hotel for great quality pub fare (www.ozonehotelki.com.au/restaurant-bar), Café Bella for Italian cuisine (www.bellacafekangarooisland.com.au). Or for something special, The Odd Plate has been causing ripples of excitement with the locals wanting something a little more upmarket. Located in a charming 1927 heritage guesthouse, overlooking the beautiful Nepean Bay in Kingscote, offering a shared plate concept with a menu receiving rave reviews. Bookings: www.theoddplate.com.au
Get a good night’s rest because tomorrow has a whole new day of Cellar Door touring in store!
There’s no shortage of unique luxury accommodation options within reach of today’s trail. Some of our very favourite places to settle in are:
At Emu Bay, Hamilton and Dune www.hamiltondune.com.au and Copperstone Kangaroo Island www.copperstoneki.com
On the northwest coast, Lifetime Private Retreats www.life-time.com.au and Top Deck at Snellings Beach www.topdeckatsnelling.com.
At Stokes Bay, Stow Away www.stowawayki.com.au
Start your day in Penneshaw with breakfast at Millie Mae’s Pantry. This café has become a star of the east end’s eating scene. Treat yourself to local pastries, great coffee, fresh juices, or a cooked breakfast. They’ll even wet your whistle with a mimosa made with The Islander Estate Vineyards Petiyante sparkling.www.milliemaespantry.com
Just a few minutes' walk along the Penneshaw foreshore from Millie Mae’s, this sculpture trail is a constant evolution, set amongst 4.5 hectares of dunes overlooking stunning Hog Bay beach with views back to the mainland. The 1.5 kms of the trail, winds through the dunes and features lookouts, steps, boardwalks, a swing bridge, seating, and scenic views with a surprise at every turn. Stunning sculptures are dotted along the trail with new installations always appearing, each one bringing to life an aspect of our Island’s culture, community, and natural environment. www.kangarooislandsculpturetrail.com
If you have kids on board with some energy still to burn, the ‘locals secret’ Wallaby Track a little further along the foreshore is an entirely different trail for the little visitors to explore. Look out for the signs at the start of this 3 km return hike which follows a spring-fed creek bed with naturally occurring waterfalls (in winter) into limestone features. Lookout along the way for hidden animals, real and play. Find it here:
Head out of Penneshaw on the road towards Cape Willoughby lighthouse and you can’t miss your first cellar door stop at Dudley Wines. Relax on the deck with a pizza or platter and a wine paddle while you look back over the Backstairs Passage to mainland Australia and see if you can spot a whale. They have a great nature playground for little kids and a golf tee for the big ones. The Howards have a true family-run business incorporating wine and traditional farming on Kangaroo Island. www.dudleywines.com.au
Our wine picks? Dudley Wines have some great options for wine drinkers who enjoy fruit-forward wines. Try Thirteen Sparkling Shiraz NV, Dudley Ripple or Glossy Black Sweet Red.
After lunch, continue on the road towards Cape Willoughby lighthouse. After about 10 minutes you’ll spy the signs for Lashmar Conservation Park which includes the vast Antechamber Bay and the Chapman River flowing to the sea. A wonderland for kids, take the second Southern turn off and you’ll pass a great variety of picnic and camping spots dotted along the river. Continue to the end of this trail and you’ll come to a picnic area beyond with a magical grove of stringybark trees to play amongst and gently sloping riverbanks, perfect for paddling, feeding the fish or kayaking.
Make your way down onto the Antechamber Bay beach where you can walk on white sand for miles. Stunning views back to mainland Australia make this a tempting spot to stop for a play or an afternoon nap. Explore more here:
At the most easterly point of the island, Cape Willoughby Lighthouse has stood guard over this part of the Kangaroo Island coastline since 1852. A guided tour offers the chance to walk in the shoes of the lighthouse keepers and their families who worked 24 hours a day to assist the safe journey of ships passing through the treacherous stretch of water known as Backstairs Passage. Explore here:
Hint: While you’re here, stop and explore the stunning granite boulders and surf of Windmill Bay.
Head back along Cape Willoughby Road, turn left onto Willson River Road until you come to East-West Road. From here, within 10 minutes you’ll roll down the hill towards the coastline, landing at Brown Beach campground. A stunning place to pop open a bottle of wine you’ve collected during the day for a sundowner while the kids play or swim in the safe waters. Explore more:
If you’re equipped, take advantage of the excellent BBQ facilities here and stay for a casual dinner, head to American River to the Reflections Restaurant at the Mercure Hotel (see below) or otherwise complete your day's loop with a short drive back into Penneshaw for dinner at the Penneshaw Hotel (known as ‘The Penny’ by the locals).
Other dinner options nearby:
Sunset Food & Wine: Kangaroo Island foodies are doing a happy dance that Jack Ingram & Vanessa Chu are reopening the east end’s icon restaurant for the summer season. A modern bistro focusing on local produce, Sunset Food & Wine combines stunning views overlooking American Beach, a killer wine list & elegant dishes that are a work of art. Opening season - October to April (closed May to September). Bookings: www.sunsetfoodandwine.com
The Shy Wren, Penneshaw: The team at The Shy Wren offer a wine bar/kitchen/providore concert, a great place to enjoy a glass of local wine, a cocktail and some snack style plates : www.facebook.com/theshywren
Two of our favourite places to stay on the eastern end of Kangaroo Island are: American River, Mercure Kangaroo Island Lodge www.kilodge.com.au or Cape Willoughby, Sea Dragon Lodge: www.seadragonlodge.com.au
Let a local do the driving, there’s a range of local guides now offering unique cellar door trail experiences, two of our favourites: Exceptional Kangaroo Island www.exceptionalkangarooisland.com or Kangaroo Island Hire A Guide www.kiguide.com.au.
or click straight through to these fantastic events: