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!
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.
En route to your first wine tasting, 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. Come in for a personalised guided 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 world and new world wine styles.
If you want the royal treatment book one of our 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 minutes from Islander Estate’s cellar door, Duck Lagoon is a stunning natural lagoon. It's home to a huge array of birds, echidnas and resident koalas. It has picnic facilities, BBQ’s, toilets, and a bird hide. Duck Lagoon is 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. KIS has a fantastic rustic atmosphere at their cellar door 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 Semillon. It brings together the best of spirits and wine.
If you’re visiting on the weekend, refuel at Frogs and Roses, a green oasis incorporating a nursery with a new café Home Grown Pantry. 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.
Our neighbours and great friends, Joch and Louise Bosworth have a strong reputation for their organic wines in McLaren Vale under the labels Battle of Bosworth and Spring Seed wines. So, 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. One of their McLaren Vale staff members also runs Second Valley Cheese company, so a glass of wine paired with their cheese is a unique experience. 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 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
If you're visiting during Summer 2022, don't miss:
The Enchanted Fig Tree by Gastronomo Dining: One of South Australia's most memorable dining experiences at stunning Snellings Beach on Kangaroo Island’s North Coast - find out more here.
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. 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 feature 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. Look out 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.
By now you’ll be ready for refreshments and False Cape Wines cellar door is a great spot to explore another dimension to Kangaroo Island wine. Head back from Cape Willoughby before taking a turn west along Wilson River Road. You’ll drive by stunning Lashmar Lagoon and through farm country before finding the signs for False Cape’s cellar door. Set amongst the vineyards where owners Julie and Jamie Helyar grow their fruit, False Cape Wines are made by Greg Follett of Lake Breeze in Langhorne Creek, bringing a signature style to their wines.
The kids will be happy feeding the farm animals and rolling on the lawn in the sunshine while you relax with a wine paddle and a platter (if you’re really hungry their pies are delicious). If the weather is cool, they’ll have their indoor and outdoor fireplaces roaring. www.falsecapewines.com.au/Cellar-Door
Our wine picks? We’re partial to False Cape’s Riesling and their new fortified Shiraz is an excellent way to top off a meal by the fire.
After leaving False Cape, turn onto the East-West Road and 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).
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 1 February 2022. Bookings: www.sunsetfoodandwine.com
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
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:
The study’s authors, led by a team at Iowa State University in the UK, examined data from more than 1,500 UK adults to explore links between diet and age-related cognitive decline.
"I was pleasantly surprised that our results suggest that responsibly eating cheese and drinking red wine daily are not just good for helping us cope with our current COVID-19 pandemic, but perhaps also dealing with an increasingly complex world that never seems to slow down," says lead researcher Auriel Willette, an assistant professor in Food Science and Human Nutrition.
The study, the first large-scale analysis of its kind that connects specific foods to later-in-life cognitive acuity – has found that particular foods and drinks, such as wine and cheese, are protective against age-related cognitive problems.
The four of the most significant findings from the study:
1) Cheese, by far, was shown to be the most protective food against age-related cognitive problems, even late into life;
2) The daily consumption of alcohol, particularly red wine, was related to improvements in cognitive function;
3) Weekly consumption of lamb, but not other red meats, was shown to improve long-term cognitive prowess; and
4) Excessive consumption of salt is bad, but only individuals already at risk for Alzheimer’s Disease may need to watch their intake to avoid cognitive problems over time.
In the study, 1787 people aged 46 to 77 completed a Fluid Intelligence Test (FIT) between 2006 and 2010, to get a baseline marker of their ability to “think on the fly”. They then completed two follow-up assessments in 2012-13 and 2015-16. The participants also answered questions about their food and alcohol consumption throughout the testing periods.
Find out more about the study here
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