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!
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
Spain and Portugal are home to Tempranillo, the fourth-most planted variety in the world. It’s a very old variety thought to have been introduced to the Iberian Peninsula (Spain and Portugal) by the Phoenicians over 3,000 years ago – that’s 1100BC!
Tempranillo draws its name from the Spanish word temprano, which means early. It’s usually one of the earliest ripening red varieties. By avoiding the hottest ripening period the wine is balanced and lower in sugars and therefore alcohol.
Tempranillo is one of our team’s favourite drops for Spring, when you might want to stick with reds but move to lighter style. We love it for its medium body, easy drinking style and great food matching potential.
We’ll be drinking it with:
As you’d expect with its Spanish origins, Tempranillo is a great picnic wine paired with tapas dishes like cured meats, grilled vegetables, and sheep’s cheese. It’s also delicious with grilled meats when it’s time to break out the BBQ. Or try a bottle of Tempranillo with your next Mexican feast.
Italy’s most planted wine variety and the pride of the Tuscan regional wine Chianti, Sangiovese is a sensitive soul, changing its character to reflect it’s growing conditions, it’s a variety that truly expresses regionality.
“In so many ways, The Islander produces wines that are more European than Australian. Note the degree of savouriness in its wines & the use of fruit as a conduit for complexity & not necessarily an end in itself. Sangiovese is such a wine. Fragrant with black cherries, capers, anise, bitter chocolate. It runs smooth across the palate, supple oak playing its part & imparting sweet mocha. Cherry pip, chalky tanning still melding” Halliday Wine Companion 2021
With its Italian origins, Sangiovese is our go-to variety for antipasto platters & pizza nights. Not too heavy, just enough savouriness & tannins to pair with those Italian flavours and it even lends itself to some light chilling as the evenings heat up. It’s also a perfect pair for vegetarian dishes, especially tomato, red peppers and grilled vegetables.
The White is our “House Style” wine created by Jacques Lurton to complement our Estate Range of premium wines. Leave behind all your perceptions of heavily oaked chardonnay, this is a modern Australian style with just a little nutty creaminess but fresh and clean on the finish.
Our 2019 Chardonnay is a classic example of the variety when grown in South Australia: fresh, fruity, and delicious with beautiful notes of nectarine and white peach underscored by refreshing acidity. This is Chardonnay for Pinot Gris drinkers with the fruit doing all the talking in a wine made for simple enjoyment and all occasions. An ideal choice for that midweek “Hump Day” tipple, or the first bottle with friends on a weekend afternoon.
We love it paired with a roast or BBQ chicken, If you’re heading alfresco it will pair beautifully with a charcuterie platter or a soft cheese like a ripe brie and nuts would be hard to beat too.
The SoFar SoGood range is all about preservative-free wines produced with minimal processing. The result is not your average Sav Blanc, our cellar door guests love it for its fresh take on the variety. A little more texture, fresh citrus & tropical fruits notes and classic crisp acidity on the finish without being overwhelming
A popular wine with those who are looking for a something different to the usual Sav Blanc.
Our no added preservative Sauvignon Blanc is complex, medium bodied and easy drinking. The nose is intense and typical of the variety with herbaciousness, tropical fruit, citrus and grapefruit. This wine flows in the mouth with fresh, crisp acidity and a long finish.
A delicious match for fresh herbaceous Asian salads, prawn & oyster dishes, BBQ spring vegetables & soft goats’ cheese. Classic pairings like oysters, abalone, and fish but we especially love it with spicy Asian dishes with some herbaciousness and spice, think Bao buns or Vietnamese coleslaw.
James Halliday is an unmatched authority in Australia on every aspect of the wine industry, a respected wine critic and vigneron with a career that spans almost 50 years. The annual Halliday Wine Companion is a guide to where to visit, what to taste, buy and cellar for Australian wine lovers.
We're proud to submit our wines each year for tasting and rating, it gives us a great feel for how our wines sit amongst the best in the country.
In the 2021 Haliday Wine Companion we were excited to receive the highest possible Red 5-star winery rating and a range of new wines rated Gold and Silver from our premium Estate and everyday drinking Varietal ranges.
See the Halliday Wine Companion team's tasting notes and ratings below.
(Not yet released)
Semillon on Kangaroo Island clearly has a future. Wally White responds to the terroir with generosity, offering up an intriguing complexity that attacks all the senses. Eye-catching medium-deep yellow in hue. Aromas of honeysuckle, beeswax and baked pear. Waves of flavour ride the mouth, concentrated, intense with abiding texture and acidity. As a 2yo it comes across as developed, but the acidity ensures a long life.
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(Not yet released)
A brilliant purple sheen is an enticing introduction to this smart, young shiraz grenache. Softness is the key here together with a discreet, still emerging personality. It has a way to go. Pepper, spice, blackberries and red earth aromas. Deliciously ripe palate with dark cherry, black fruits and grenache violets and confection. Tannins are firm. Bottle age is a must.
Current Vintage 2018 Old Rowely: 95 GOLD
(Not yet released)
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.
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In so many ways, The Islander produces wines that are more European than Australian. Note the degree of savouriness in its wines, and the use of fruit as a conduit for complexity and not necessarily an end in itself. Sangiovese is such a wine. Fragrant with black cherries, capers, anise, bitter chocolate. It runs smooth across the palate, supple oak playing its part and imparting sweet mocha. Cherry pip, chalky tannins still melding.
From a winery founded by a Frenchman comes a wine made by an American and featuring a Spanish grape from an up-and-coming Aussie wine region, is it any wonder there is so much happening in this unusually savoury and complex tempranillo? Layer upon layer of black fruits, spice, vanilla oak with chocolate mocha overtones, saline brightness and sturdy tannin lines all adds up to an exciting wine. The charcuterie, smoked meat savouriness on the back palate adds a special touch.
(Not yet released)
Kangaroo Island's maritime climate is a dominating presence in the wines produced at The Islander. That, and the role of the native bush lands of old-growth eucalyptus and mallee. Both are evident here. Sea spray, red currant, raspberry and spice with an earthy savouriness, reveal a sense of place. A tad reductive on the palate, but it blows away with some swishing to reveal a savoury-infused palate, charcuterie and game with a rising pepper imprint. A complex lovely just starting out.
Current Vintage: 2017 Bark Hut Rd
Jacques Lurton's relationship with James Halliday goes back to his first experiences in Australia as a young winemaker learning new world winemaking techniques in the freedom of the Aussie wine industry.
In this month's Wine Companion magazine, James reflects on the journey that led Jacques to select Kangaroo Island as the location for his only Australian wine business, with a vision to showcase the true potential that the region offers. And how our vision remains just as strong after the devastating fires of 2020.
Three of James Halliday's favourite Islander Estate Vineyards wines have received scores of 95 points in his Wine Companion magazine feature. All fantastic cool weather wines to feature in your wine cellar at this time of year.
2018 Wally White
Waves of flavour ride the mouth, concentrated, intense with abiding texture and acidity. As a 2yo it comes across as developed, but the acidity ensures a long life. Drink to 2027."
2019 Old Rowley
2019 The Sangiovese
Our owner Jacques Lurton introduced the SoFar SoGood range around 4 years ago. After he found himself developing a reaction to the sulphites we find in many everyday foods and drinks. Chatting to friends and customers, he identified a growing trend in seeking out products with less preservatives and decided that his vineyard on Kangaroo Island was the ideal place to trial a no-added preservative wine range.
A small amount sulphur dioxide is released naturally by the grapes during fermentation (nature’s own preservative) so all wine contains trace amounts of naturally produced preservative.
Wines labelled preservative free mean the winemaker has not added any preservatives during the winemaking process.
Wines generally contained sulphur dioxide (SO2), or you may see “sulphites added” on the label, this can mean S02 or HS03 (bisulphites) and H2SO3 (sulphurous acid). In Australia strict restrictions on the amount of sulphites are in place and where they exist in the wine labelling laws require it to be declared. This is not the case with wines from many countries outside Australia.
You will find these same preservatives in higher concentrations in many supermarket products including dried fruit, jams, candy, processed meats and many packaged foods. So if you react to these foods it may be an indication of a sulphite sensitivity.
Sulphites have been used in wine since the early 1900s to help preserve the wine and slow down the deterioration process. It is used to get the wine into the bottle and to the drinker in the best condition.
Generally low or preservative free wines require pristine grapes in the best possible condition, handled carefully in the winery. Less faults with the grapes mean less (or no) sulphites are required.
Lots of guests our feel they can drink more of our preservative free wines without getting a hangover. Science indicates this is not the case but people with asthma are thought to be more likely to have a sulphite sensitivity and if you feel you react to any of other foods listed above it may be worthwhile giving a preservative free wine a try.
The goal in producing preservative free wines is to use the utmost care and keep intervention to a minimum. For our SoFar SoGood range, nature does much of the winemaking with the winemaker playing supervisor.
The first step is to start with pristine grapes free of disease or bird damage. Then the grapes are handled carefully in the winery, kept cool and away from air as much as possible.
At The Islander Estate Vineyard, we pick by hand, destem and send the wine to tanks for ferment (by wild yeast for our Shiraz). We use temperature control and soft extraction during ferment phase, pressing the skins off early.
As soon as fermentation is complete, the wine is clarified, filtered and into the bottle within around 8 weeks of picking (even earlier for our preservative free Sauvignon Blanc).
Our SoFar SoGood range is designed to be enjoyed young as are most preservative free wines.
Because of the minimal intervention approach, we find our preservative free wines tend to tell a pure story of the fruit and vineyard. They are easy drinking, vibrant and packed with fruit flavours.
As well as people with sulphite allergies, we find the SoFar SoGood range appeals to wine lovers who enjoy fruit forward and well balanced but less tannic or structured wines (think Pinot Noir or Merlot lovers).
Seasons rains have broken across the region bringing green pasture grasses back into the parched and burned fields. Areas of native bush devastated by the fires have spurred regeneration, bringing a ground level blanket of green amongst the burnt treetops.
While there are still years of recovery ahead, the Island is collectively taking a deep breath at these signs of recovery.
A video this week by our great mate Craig Wickham of Exceptional Kangaroo Island was filmed in the Parndana Conservation park who borders and blends into The Islander Estate Vineyard’s property. Craig is an expert and offers a great update on the regeneration in the park.
The rebuild of the Islander Estate property continues and Winter offers no reprieve. At this time, our Estate begins to come to life with winter rains. Our fields are beginning to fill with pasture and our neighbours, both also impacted by the fires, have ewes beginning to drop lambs. So, rebuilding our boundary fencing has become the critical priority with over 1,000 fence posts to be individually replaced and rewired.
Yale has a reputation for being able to turn his hand to anything and working harder than anyone we know. And he’s been proving this in spades, taking on the weeks (or months) long task of refencing one day at a time with our farmer neighbours Fox and Colin, regardless of the weather. Luckily, our brand-new fence post digger is making the task a little easier.
We are liaising with the Glossy Black Recovery Project to begin replanting essential habitat on our property for these endangered birds. Hopefully several thousand trees will be planted though winter.
While the remainder of our property springs to life in Winter, in the vineyard we prepare for winter dormancy.
With the help of amazing volunteers from many organisations, we have placed the vineyard in the best position possible to hand over to Mother Nature during winter. We have seen reshooting across areas of the vineyard and vines producing tertiary fruit, however we will need to await Spring to gain a real indication of the vineyard recovery. We wait and watch.
Our 2019 vintage wines are now all in bottle and ready for release over the coming months. In addition to new vintages of all our established wine we’re excited to be introducing two brand new white wines and two red wines to our every growing varietal range.
Our Discoverer’s Wine Club members have already had a pre-release sample of some of these wines and we’ll announce release dates via our social media channels.
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.
For wine lovers, there are many wonderful styles of cellar doors to experience.
When we took the leap to open our Tasting Room it was with a clear vision. We wanted it to be rustic, intimate, simple & most importantly, unassuming. Just time spent chatting with our guests about wine. Sharing stories. Sharing passions. Letting the wine speak for itself.
We want our guests to leave feeling they’ve connected and perhaps learned something new in their personal wine journey.
We can’t wait to start welcoming you back. Many thanks to Gourmet Traveller WINE for the work they do recognising small wineries in these tough times. You've added a smile to our dial.
Having spent the last month on Kangaroo Island assisting the vineyard recovery and crafting wines for bottling, Jacques shares this message of thanks and committment to the region.
The initial 6 weeks following the fire focussed on clean-up of the Estate and ensuring all areas are safe. It has lifted the spirits of our team to have the ruins of the vineyard manager's house and equipment sheds removed, all unsafe trees removed and the cleanup complete.
In more recent weeks we have shifted our focus to preparing the vineyard for potential regeneration. As a first step, amazing local volunteers spent countless hours manually removing the vineyard wiring and irrigation to prepare for the next phase.
They were followed by the incredible organisation that is Team Rubicon Australia, an international disaster response nonprofit that unites the skills and experiences of military veterans and first responders to provide relief to communities in need such as ours.
Working together in military unit style organisation, the team undertook the back-breaking task of cutting the vines thoughout the vineyard to just a few inches above the ground. By removing the burnt cordon and trunks, we allow the roots to focus all its energy on producing shoots for regrowth.
We have such gratitude for the many volunteers whose passion for our business continues to drive us towards recovery.
It will be Spring before we have a firm understanding of the areas of the vineyard that have produced shoots and survived the cold of winter, so we are largely in Mother Natures hands until September. However we see new promise in the vineyard each day.
Jacques has been back on the Kangaroo Island Estate he loves for the past month. In addition to assisting with the work in the vineyard Jacques has been tending to our wines in barrel and tank.
We are pleased to advise that our total wine stock loss was restricted to only 3 barrels (now part of a secret new product development).
All other wines were protected via the action of our team prior to the fires. With blending and bottling of a number of our 2019 vintage releases complete, we are excited to advise a number new wines are in pipeline and we look forward to releasing these over coming months.
Our Discoverer's Wine Club members will have exclusive access to new releases in the April wine club packs and there's still time to join.
For the safety of our staff, families, community & visitors our Tasting Room has closed as of 23rd March. However we welcome pickup orders & we are offering a local delivery service to your doorstep in many areas of Kangaroo Island.
To arrange a pickup order: Simply order online & select the PickUp tab in the checkout screen. We will contact you to arrange a collection time for your order & pop your wine in your boot. You can also order via phone at our Tasting Room (08) 8553 9008.
Local Delivery: For orders of 12 bottles or more we offer a complimentary delivery service to the following locations: Cygnet River, Emu Bay, Kingscote, American River, Island Beach, Penneshaw & other Dudley Peninsula locations. Place your order online or via phone at the Tasting Room.
Our online orders are flowing freely with delivery Australia wide via Australia Post. Please note that new conditions mean that Australia Post will only leave orders on your doorstep, no signatures will be collected for proof of delivery. When ordering, please add a note letting us know a safe place where Australia Post can leave your wine.
We are currently preparing some extra special packs for our most valued customers, our Discoverer's Wine Club members. Our April wine packs are expected to be despatched early next week & will be delivered by Australia Post as usual. There is still time to join the club, sign up online by Friday 27th March.