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.
Chardonnay’s birthplace is the Burgundy region of France, in a small village of the same name. Chardon being the French name for a thistle, chardonnay’s name originates from “place of thistles”. Believed to be from the Noirien family of grapes, chardonnay is descended from Pinot Noir and the ancient variety Gouais Blanc.
In Burgundy, where chardonnay is known simply as white Burgundy, it is the most prized white grape variety, seen as truly capturing the region’s incredible terroir. Although it originated in France, chardonnay is now grown in almost every wine region on Earth, mostly because of its ability to adapt to different environments and grow almost anywhere.
Chardonnay was first bought to Australia by James Busby (widely known as the ‘father of Australian wine’) who planted the first cuttings to Australia in the 1830s. It didn’t become a core Australian variety for almost a hundred years, but by the 1980’s chardonnay became on of the most recognised Australian white wine varieties; flourishing in our climate and mainly produced in robust, rich, ripe and buttery styles.
Over the next several decades Australian wine consumers palates changed as they moved towards the zesty, higher acidity alternatives like Marlborough sauvignon blanc. Australian winemakers began to adapt, taking advantage of chardonnay's ability to take on many different characters guided by the winemaker’s technique.
Today chardonnay accounts for more than half of Australia’s white wine production, having a renaissance in a more lighter style closer to the Chablis style of France. This contemporary style has inspired The Islander Estate Vineyard’s The White Chardonnay.
Located in the Burgundy region of France (also famous for Pinot Noir), the Chablis appellation lies in the north, alongside the River Serein with the best vineyards planted along the south facing slopes. Chardonnay here is all about the terroir.
Forget all your preconceptions of oaky, buttery Chardonnay. The Chablis style is entirely different, some say this style is the purest form of Chadonnay, fermented in steel, usually with little or no oak so the Chardonna grapes' taste and arome can shine. The Chablis wine style is dry, lean, light-bodied with higher acidity and green apple, citrus and minteral notes.
At our Tasting Room two of our most common guests comments are "I don't usually really like chardonnay but this is really nice" or "Sauvignon Blanc is my go-to white wine, but this is really delicious".
Chardonnay is the main component of most champagne’s (blended with its mother variety, Pinot Noir as it is in our Petiyante sparkling). And if you’re a fan of Blanc de Blancs you’re drinking a champagne made entirely of chardonnay.
Our The White Chardonnay is designed for everyday drinking, we think it makes a phenomenal sunset glass of wine with friends or with a simple soft cheese, but there are loads of cool weather matches with chardonnay. Simply, chardonnay prefers subtle spices and creamy or buttery flavours with seafood, chicken or even port. Try it with a few of these classic Autumn dishes:
Classic Roast Chicken
|Garlic Prawns||Vegetable Soups|
Contemporary unoaked styles just like our The White Chardonnay is made in an everyday drink now style but can happily hang out in your wine rack for two years. More heavily oaked examples offer more cellaring potential.
Priced for everyday drinking, now is great time to get your hands on The White. Order a case, pay for 11 and we'll add the 12th on us. Click on the image below to add some to your shopping cart now.
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
Malbec originated in Jacques' native Bordeaux (and also Cahors) where it primarily played a bit-part in classic Bordeaux blends, never really getting the chance to shine in the spotlight in France. In the late-19th century, phylloxera nearly destroyed the Malbec wine business. The vines eventually recovered, before being later hit by the deadly frosts in the mid-1950s. The variety struggled to return in France until the mid 1970's.
Luckily then, that a French agronomist Michel Aimé Pouget had introduced the variety South America in the mid-1800's, where the variety found its day in the sun in the hot high-altitude Argentinian climate around Mendoza. Malbec finally found its place centre stage as a single varietal, becoming the shining star of Argentinian wine.
In modern day wine, Malbec has travelled all over the world, but Argentina still produces 75% of the world's Malbec & Cahors in France’s south-west the second largest producer.
It found its way to Australia in 1860 where is grows particularly well in South Australia, production is still selective, Malbec represents less than 0.5% of Aussie grape and wine production. In Australia Malbec’s beginnings were as a blending grape, these days a small but growing number of producers are taking inspiration from South America and showing Malbec’s potential as a single varietal.
Jacques Lurton’s relationship with Malbec began in his native France where the variety originated, the love affair really took off when he spent extensive time in South America establishing vineyards in partnership with his brother Francois in Argentina & Chile, experiencing Malbec as the powerhouse of the wine industry there.
As a flying winemaker, he had also spent time in Austalia, seeing how well the variety transferred from the hot high-latitude climate of Argentina to South Australia’s moderate Mediterranean climate. When Jacques set up his own Australian business, The Islander Estate Vineyards on Kangaroo Island he had it planted to use as a blending wine with flagship varieties.
Those plans changed from almost the first vintage, when the quality of his Malbec on Kangaroo Island impressed Jacques so much, he saw it deserved to shine on its own. The Majestic Plough was born as the region’s only single variety Malbec.
The quality continued increase vintage to vintage. Jacques was determined to show the true potential of Malbec on Kangaroo Island, so in 2015 The Islander Estate's flagship wine range was joined by The Independence Malbec – rated as one of the country’s best single variety Malbecs (96 points James Halliday's 2021 Wine Companion).
The Islander Estate Vineyards is the only winery commercially producing Malbec on Kangaroo Island.
Often considered as an alternative to Cabernet Sauvignon or Shiraz, Malbec is a powerhouse wine in its own accord, the most structured and tannic wine we produce on Kangaroo Island.
Malbec is a thick-skinned, purple grape variety with an inky red hue. On Kangaroo Island the vines are low yielding and always the first red variety to be picked at vintage.
In the glass, it has an intense deep red colour, magenta-tinged at the rim. On the nose you’ll find savoury aromas of leather, tobacco, blackberry, dried herbs and spices with plenty of toasty oak.
In the mouth expect big, juicy and plush flavours of dark fruit with a robust structure and moderately firm tannins with natural acidity and a longer finish than you expect from overseas examples.
Malbec loves a lean protein like a good quality steak barbecued over coals (even better with a herb or chimichurri sauce on the side), roast lamb with robust stuffing, roast game like duck or pheasant.
It also loves hard or blue cheeses and sits beautifully alongside charcuterie.
Malbec has great cellaring potential 15+ years if you have the patience!
Get up close The Islander Estate’s Malbec
The Independence Malbec from our Flagship range has just been rated as one of the best in the country by James Halliday with a 96pt rating in the 2020 Wine Companion. Pop this one away and try not to think about it for a few years – it will pay off.
Our Estate Range Majestic Plough Malbec has a huge following. While it's sold out for now due to the impact on our Malbec vines in the 2020 bushfires, jump onto our mailing list to be the first to get your hands on our 2021 vintage Majestic Plough.
Vintage 2021 is the first page in our new chapter
This time a year ago we were still coming to terms with the impact of January's fires. Jacques Lurton was here taking steps to protect our precious wine stocks. Yale Norris focussed on the endless task of fire recovery which would take many more months and included the very difficult move of cutting down a good proportion of our vineyard to aid its regrowth. The path ahead was long & unclear. There have been innumerable challenges to overcome since.
In a huge contrast, earlier this month we returned to the business of making wine with the first pick of Vintage 2021. We did so with the help of an amazing group of customers, friends and supporters who volunteered to help us hand-pick Sauvignon Blanc and Tempranillo from Michael Lane's vineyard at American River. It was a truly uplifting way to get back to business.
Since then, our General Manager Yale Norris has been working tirelessly to ensure we can offer our customers the complement of our wine ranges from vintage 2021.
We’ve sourced some amazing fruit from Kangaroo Island growers and a little further away in McLaren Vale where we needed to.
In our cooler maritime climate on Kangaroo Island, many of the red grapes are still ripening, but we have some fantastic Sauv Blanc, Semillon, Rose, Tempranillo and Malbec all fermenting &/or ageing.
This is a vintage unlike any other in the history of The Islander Estate Vineyards and one we will never forget. But for us is a step that means we have left recovery behind and are rebuilding our business each and every day.
We look forward to introducing you to our Vintage 2021 wines.
Oysters and Champagne are a classic match: the clean, palate-cleansing sparkle, acidity and minerality of the Champagne counterbalances the subtle brininess and creaminess of the oyster. They both contain unami flavour that make a match made in heaven.
A classic blend originating in Jacques' native Bordeaux, Semillon Sauvignon Blanc's hints of citrus and tropical fruit, texture that's soft and round from the barrel aging and acidity drawing out a long finish complements the sweetness of prawns and barbequed flavours.
The flavours of salmon can vary from extremely delicate to rich and lingering. Whether it's baked, grilled or a stunning salad, our dry Provence style Rose is the perfect compliment.
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 The White Chardonnay. Slightly toasty with flavours of peach, nectarine, melon and toasted nuts, with fruit sweetness is offset by steely, refreshing acidity and a long finish.
The richness and texture of roast lamb needs the the deep, intense colour rich fruit flavour and firm tannin structure of Cabernet. Our varietal range Cab Sauv is a perfect match for your Easter roast.
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.
Ready to try a wine match that's a little more unconventional? Take a risk on Cabernet Franc's mouth drying fruit cherries, raspberries, stewed plums and classic herbaciousness as a contrast to Hot Cross Bun's spices richness and dried fruit flavours.