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!
Spectacular windswept coastline, deserted beaches washed clean by the sea, stunning green fields full of winter lambs, wildlife in abundance. And the best part? You can join the locals in feeling like you have Kangaroo Island almost to yourself.
With so many Australians holidaying at home this year, the secret is out. And local businesses like ours are loving having the Island humming during winter. So, The Islander Estate team are sharing our favourite ways to make the most of Kangaroo Island during these stunning cool months.
Where else could we start but with the opportunity to spend time with our fantastic array of local producers?
Our cellar doors and farm gates are more relaxed in winter. Producers are always happy to see you and they have plenty of time to stop for a chat to share their story - and to learn yours.
If you enjoy a brew as much as wine, then Kangaroo Island Brewery is a fantastic spot a little further afield on the way to Emu Bay. Stop for a paddle of their fantastic hand-built beers and a platter by the fire (check their Facebook page for opening days). A little along the road Emu Bay Lavender are super popular for their lavender products and their café fare – their lavender scones are legendary and their curries and burgers are favourites for lunch.
Back a little towards Kingscote, the wine tasting trail continues at Bay of Shoals wines just five minutes outside of Kingscote. You can’t visit Kangaroo Island without experiencing our famous Ligurian honey – both Island Beehive and Cliffords Honey Farm are worth a stop.
Head east, stop in at The Oyster Farm Shop in American River – oysters are at their prime in winter. Then continue the tasting trail at Dudley Wines for wines with a view and great pizza, or the fantastic new False Cape Wines cellar door, their platters are becoming famous.
Kangaroo Island has over 260 bird species and they abound in winter in many sheltered spots.
Just minutes from The Islander Estate Tasting Room, Duck Lagoon fills with winter rains and attracts a huge array of birdlife (you might see more than one Koala sharing the trees with the birds). Stop in for a visit at our Tasting Room, grab a bottle of wine, cheeses and French charcuterie then spend a peaceful hour or two picnicking and bird watching. If you're with the family, the kids will have a ball koala spotting here.
Stormy southerlies from the Southern Ocean often bring in albatross and other pelagic species – Cape du Couedic is a favourite location for local birders. Endangered Glossy Black-cockatoo are nesting at this time of year and feeding near Penneshaw, American River and Stokes Bay, as are Yellow-tailed Cocktaoos. Cape Barren Geese are also seen in abundance with their young during winter. Be sure to view nesting areas from afar to avoid disturbing nesting pairs.
In the quiet of winter evenings (the stars on Kangaroo Island are definitely worth an evening venture), you may hear Cuckoos calling – hearingtheir distintictive “mo-poke... mo-poke” call is something special.
Nothing is as refreshing as a beach walk during a winter storm to restore the soul – and of course to give you a good excuse to recover with an afternoon curled up with a wine by the fire.
For spectacular rolling surf, visit the south coast beaches like D’Estrees Bay, Vivonne Bay and Hanson Bay. Kangaroo Island's north coast offers more protected beach walks, washed clean by the rain. Our favourites include Western River Cove, Snellings Beach and Stokes Bay
In the east of the Island, Antechamber Bay is truly spectacular and you can follow up a beach walk with a sheltered picnic by nearby Chapman River.
Nothing represents the renewal that Winter brings to our region like vibrant green fields full of bounding baby lambs, bright white with their new wool. They represent the promise of future prosperity for our region’s farmers and they simply make you smile. It's worth keeping an eye out in paddocks all over the Island and stopping the car to watch their antics.
At this time of year Echidnas begin breeding, if you see an Echidna train it’s a very lucky day indeed so keep an eye out on roadside verges and wherever you are hiking. And baby joeys begun venturing from their mother’s pouch to feed all over the Island, but often visible at Pelican Lagoon.
Kangaroo Islanders often say the best meal you can have is fish, freshly caught yourself, cooked and shared with friends (with a fantastic local wine of course).
The weather may be a little wilder, but the fishing can be at its best during winter, especially in the calm that follows a storm, when the fish often bite the hardest. Whether you are fishing from a beach, a jetty or boat, bringing home your bag limit of our famous King George Whiting is a satisfying way to spend a day. They are at their plump best in winter and extra active as they breed.
Salmon Trout can be caught from beaches like Hanson Bay (our tip, cooked super fresh in a beer batter perfect with Pinot Gris) and squid from jetties. If you have a boat, Nannygai are great catching and eating.
Do make sure you’re familiar with Kangaroo Island’s protected by Marine Parks and Marine Park Sanctuary Zones and bag and size limits before you head out fishing. Get all the essential info from Tourism Kangaroo Island's KI Fishing Guide. Or for a guaranteed catch, hook up with one of Kangaroo Island’s fishing charters and let the experts find the fish.
There are over 80 whale species in the world, 29 of these species visit our South Australian waters each year.
The Southern Right Whale, one of the largest, weighs up to 80 tons and grows to 18 metres in length. They are the most frequent whale visitors to Kangaroo Island waters, and often travel past between May and September before they return to Antarctic waters in October. Look for them close inshore right around the coast. Mothers may rest with young in more sheltered bays.
Blue Whales and Humpback Whales also visit, and Killer Whales (Orcas) sometimes drop by for a seal meal.
With such amazing vistas and coastlines, it can easy to focus on the wider landscape when taking a winter hike on Kangaroo Island.
But for a mindfulness exercise that will have you reconnecting with the details and forgetting everything, there is no better activity a hunt for our native orchids. With over 80 native species, a hunt for these tiny but spectacular flower really makes you slow to a meander and absorb the beauty to be found on a micro-level.
Whether it’s these tiny flowers, lichen and fungi, flowering native ground shrubs or the spectacular Wattle it’s worth slowing down and meandering.
One of our favourite spots is American River’s Cannery Walk. Find out more here
Gather your mates, light a fire, have a few wines while you wait for the coals to burn low, then nestle a camp oven on the coals. It takes a while to cook but there's nothing better than passing the time with good conversation, plenty of red wine and a jam if you have a guitar on hand.
Spending an afternoon this way is iconicially Kangaroo Island. And there’s nothing better than slow cooked local lamb, vegetables and red wine simmered for hours.
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 a fire & some fish caught fresh from the beach & cooked in a pan with a little wine”,
Image courtesy of Lauren Garret on Instagram
Favourite Sunset Spot? Flagstall Hill Lookout, Reeves Point
“Just a few minutes from Kingscote, Flagstaff Hill is a stunning elevated spot for an evening walk to watch the sunset over 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? The hill overlooking Stokes Bay
“Most people visit Stokes Bay in the height of summer to swim at the secret beach. We love to visit it in the cooler months, when it’s almost deserted & the sunset views are ours alone”
Favourite Sunset Wine? Varietal Range Sangiovese
What else for an Italian? Taking its inspiration from a Tuscan Chianti Classico blend, the perfect pair to sunset picnic of antipasto, pizza or a great pasta dish.
Image courtesy of Carla Horton 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, 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 keyboard, I can be there with a glass of wine, my partner, daughter & dog in just a couple of minutus, 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? “When I worked in the Tasting Room I sold more Old Rowley Shiraz/Grenache than any other wine because I absolutely love it. 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
We chose to locate The Islander Estate Tasting Room in Cygnet River to join the growing and ever changing community of artisan producers with values similar ours - to showcase the true potential of Kangaroo Island. And we've never looked back.
Sitting within easy reach for visitors, close to Kingscote and the south-coast touring route, the Cygnet River trail is compact making a great half or full day discovery, including two distinct styles of wine, award-winning spirits and liqueurs and delicious food – all hand-crafted with a shared philosophy, and authentically Kangaroo Island.
Kangaroo Island Spirits
A visit to the Kangaroo Island Spirits cellar door is a must for any visitor to the Island (KIS to the locals).
Having won more than 130 awards including Best Gin in Australia, and most recently an array of high accolades from competitions in London and California.
KIS embrace native ingredients and use traditional processes to make spirits in their purest form, that have so much more to them. Their rustic cellar door offers tastings, sales and delicious seasonal cocktails to enjoy in the botanical Gin Garden. For the true romantics, indulge in one of their tailored experiences where you can learn to beauty of our native landscape.
This summer the About Thyme van will be serving up delicious food paired to their cocktail menu – winning! Discover KIS & book your experience: kispirits.com.au
We were so excited when Spring Road Wines joined us in the Cygnet River neighbourhood. Kangaroo Island has a truly diverse range of wine styles, with something for everyone, so add a stop at Springs Road Wines to taste and enjoy the view at the newest cellar door in Cygnet River.
In 2016 McLaren Vale locals Joch Bosworth and Louise Hemsley-Smith bought the Springs Road vineyard (planted between 1994 and 2000), recognising that the property was an amazing site capable of producing beautiful wines.
Have a tasting then relax on the deck with a wine a delicious Second Valley Cheese platter made by one of their own team. Discover Springs Road Wines now: springsroad.com.au
Take a break on the trail and enjoy a delicious meal at Café Scrumptious located inside the picturesque Frogs N Roses garden centre. Their handmade pizzas are phenomenal and make room for their homemade cheesecake. They're fully licensed so you don’t even need to stop drinking!
Open for breakfast, lunch and afternoon tea. Discover more: facebook.com/CafeScrumptiouski
Of course, no Cygnet River trail visit is complete without a visit to our own Tasting Room. Experience the fruits of Jacques 20-year vision to showcase the true potential of Kangaroo Island wine.
Drop in to our intimate cellar door for a guided tasting, treat yourself to a Flagship tasting experience or relax on the deck with a regional cheese & charcuterie platter.
If you have a little more time, there is so much more to see and do all within 10 minutes of Cygnet River:
Hand-built beers in a fantastic ‘brewery door’ on the way to Emu Bay. Stop in for one of their famous beer paddles to try a range of brews or pick your favourite to enjoy overlooking the field. It’s one of our favourite watering holes. Check them out: kangarooislandbrewery.com.au
Closer to Emu Bay, the Lavender farm is one of our favourites for breakfast or lunch and a great spot to pick up gifts for friends and family back home. We highly recommend their amazing scones and lavender jelly for afternoon tea - perfect refuel for after a swim. Explore more: emubaylavenderfarm.com
Kangaroo Island is spoilt for choice when it comes to beach, but they don’t come much longer, whiter & more beautiful than Emu Bay beach. A huge favourite with locals over summer for its stunning sands and safe swimming waters.
The Mini De Lights van at the Emu Bay boat ramp serves up cocktails, wine & delicious snacks in season - a truly unique Kangaroo Island experience. Check their facebook page for opening days & times: facebook.com/minidelightscatering
So many wine lovers from all over the world come to spend their precious holiday time with us learning a little about why Kangaroo Island is the world's undiscovered wine treasure.
We miss that connection dearly & can't wait to crack open our best wines for tasting and throw open the door to our Tasting Room. Next time you visit, treat yourself to a Flagship wine tasting.
2. Simple pleasures with family and friends
Finishing a day on KI with fresh fish you've caught yourself is unbeatable. We love doing it with the people we love & a great glass of wine by our side (we recommend our Pinot Gris with local fish).
Our favourite spots for an evening fish? We'll it's hard to beat Snellings Beach on our stunning north coast, Brown Beach on the Dudley Peninsula (if you're lucky for a few flathead) or Emu Bay for a family favourite (park the car up on the beach, open the boot so you have somewhere to rest your wine & cheese platter).
With the cooler seasons coming on, we'll be packing up & heading out with friends with a bottle (or 10) of red and plenty of firewood to get us through the night - in our book the Majestic Plough Malbec is perfect for sharing with friends on cool nights.
Our top Kangaroo Island camping spots? Antechamber Bay campground where you can camp right next to the river & have a stunning beach just a few minutes away. Stokes Bay Campground with the fantastic Rockpool Cafe right next door & one of the best beaches on the Island. Vivonne Bay on the south coast to watch the surf roll in.
With a selection of Kangaroo Island restaurants each showcasing local cuisine in their own unique way & we can't wait to get out & enjoy it with friends again.
Whether its refined cuisine & spectacular views at Sunset Food & Wine, rustic seafood at Rockpool Cafe, high end pub food at the Ozone Hotel, Italian fare at the intimate Bella Cafe or contemporary cuisine in peaceful surrounds at Reflections Restaurant in American River, just to name of few options.
We love heading inland for a walk amongst nature - finished off with a picnic & wine of course! There are so many spectacular inland hikes across the whole Island, many remain open after January's bushfires & the regeneration of bushland will be spectacular as winter progresses.
Or book a weekend away at one of the Island's many nature-based accommodation like our wonderful friends at Ecopia Retreat, where nature is right on your doorstep.
Fires lit all season, stormy walks on the beach, flora & fauna at their peak (& the best season for fishing). Plus, in these quieter seasons it feels almost like the Island is just yours. We'll be inviting friends to reconnect with a weekend (or week) on the Island.
If we're lucky we'll do it at spectacular accommodation like Hamilton & Dune - what a stunning place for long chats, board games & wine by the fire. Pop some local lamb in the slow cooker to simmer all day & pair it with the Old Rowley for a simple but spectacular shared meal.
Kids running wild in the surf, mates downloading news of the week. For Islander's it beats rush hour traffic & crowded bars hands-down.
Our absolute favourite for beach sundowners is The Rose but when even we can't get it, we turn to our other bestie SoFar SoGood Sauvignon Blanc all those tropical fruit notes suit the setting so well. Popular spots include Hog Bay Penneshaw, Island Beach and Emu Bay.
While we're all home cooking right now with our isolation-buddies, there's nothing like spending the whole day preparing a feast for extended family & friends.
It's an act of love that deserves some cracking wines to while away the afternoon (Bark Hut Road hits the spot & pairs with so many dishes). How spectacular is the spot at Lifetime Retreat's The Cliff House?
Don't we miss the simple things? For us picnics need be no further than the lawns of our Tasting Room.
But we also love putting together a picnic of French charcuterie from Les Deux Coq, Alexandrina Fleurieu Peninsula cheeses, local produce & wine for guests (SoFar SoGood Shiraz is our favourite picnic red), then sending them to our team's favourite picnic spots. Just a few minutes away from the Tasting Room in Cygnet River, Duck Lagoon is a great place to start.
Between January's bushfires & the current Coronavirus we're most excited about the prospect of having the full team back together at The Islander Estate Vineyards.
Later in the year we hope to begin welcoming guests back for private barrel room tastings & to see the vineyard rejuvenation. It's a prospect that drives us forward in our mission to make the region's best wines.