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 the Island almost to yourself.
With so many South 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 so much quieter 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.
Central to the Island, Cygnet River trail offers two cellar doors (The Islander Estate Vineyards and our neighbours Springs Road Wines), Australia’s most awarded gin at Kangaroo Island Spirits and the cosy, rustic Frogs N Roses the perfect spot for a handmade pizza by the fire (and save room for their fantastic cheesecake).
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 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.
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 and the fantastic new False Cape Wines cellar door, their platters are fantastic.
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.
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. Chardonnay 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 contemporary style closer to the Chablis style of France. This contemporary style has inspired The Islander Estate Vineyard’s The White.
Chardonnay’s adaptability doesn’t stop in the vineyard. It is just as adaptable in the winery, making it a favourite with winemakers. It is often said chardonnay is made in the cellar rather than the vineyard. It can be found in a wide range of styles depending on the growing region, picking stage and the crafting techniques used by the winemaker.
Chardonnay’s Primary Flavours: Cool climate versions tend to be lighter in body with higher acidity and more subtle flavours of citrus, apple, pear, and peach. Warm climate versions are generally more full-bodied with richer, riper fruit and bolder flavours often in the tropical fruit zone like pineapple, mango or passionfruit. Chardonnay can also show some floral character like honeysuckle and jasmin.
Chardonnay’s Secondary Characters: Winemaking processes like oak fermentation or aging impart a range of secondary notes, like coconut, vanilla and baking spices like cinnamon and nutmeg. The buttery characteristics of aged chardonnay come from malolactic fermentation, which winemakers use to reduce the perception of acidity and create rounder, creamier lactic acid, with buttery, vanilla, or pastry characters.
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
Creamy Pasta Dishes
|Garlic Prawns||Vegetable Soups||Grilled Fish|
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, while our free shipping offer for orders of 6 or more bottles ends 31st May. Click on the image below to add some to your shopping cart now.
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).
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.
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. His annual Halliday Wine Companion is recognised as Australia’s most comprehensive tasting note library.
It goes without saying that any winery is proud to have their wines featured in the Australian Wine Companion. And while, every wine lover's own palate is the most important judge of the wine they like to drink, many wine lovers also rely on the Wine Companion as a guide to the best of Australian wine.
Any wine that rates between 94 and 100 points in the Halliday Wine Companion is considered to be outstanding, of the highest quality, and often with a distinguished pedigree. So we're thrilled to share the wines rated 95+ points in this year's Wine Companion. See the Wine Companion team's tasting notes and ratings below.
2018 Bark Hut Rd
70% cabernet franc, 30% shiraz, wild-fermented, some whole bunches. Deep colour; unashamedly full-bodied, with velvety black fruits, the depth seeming to come from the shiraz licorice and tar. Not for us to argue - it is what it is. And beyond doubt decades away from its use-by date.
2018 Old Rowley
A hand-picked 60/40% grenache/shiraz blend, matured in a demi-muid for 7 months on heavy lees. A full-bodied wine with tannins part of the landscape, sultry red and black fruits the major part. Finishes with conviction, and a savoury farewell. Built to age
Hand-picked, destemmed into demi-muids for wild fermentation, 20% skins return, maceration continued until mlf complete, the wine drained and the skins and stems passed through the hand basket press, matured for 2 years on lees in demi-muids. Jacques Lurton has always loved cabernet franc, and this spicy red-fruited wine, plus its diamond dust tannins, shows why.
Hand-picked bushvine vineyard, destemmed into demi-muids for wild fermentation and extended maceration on skins until mlf completed, the juice run off and the skins pressed in a hand-operated basket press, blended after 2 years in demi-muids. An extremely complex and powerful wine with black fruits, spices, oak, tannins, earth and sea spray moulded into a single flame of flavour.
Barrel-fermented in specially adapted demi-muids, followed by 5-6 week post-fermentation maceration, then pressed to 50/50% new and used demis. It makes no apologies for its full-bodied palate, but the primary flavours are profoundly varietal, the tannins firm but ripe.
The Islander Estate Vineyards has always represented the connection of two vastly different worlds of wine. The remote, untamed environment of Kangaroo Island, one of the world's newest wine regions. And the history and finesse of the Lurton family's six-generation Boardeaux wine heritage.
Our connection has never been stronger than now, as Jacques Lurton takes the reins as President and Chairman of the André Lurton group, following his father's passing in May.
Vignobles André Lurton includes 9 Châteaux including Château Couhins-Lurton, Château Dauzac, Château La Louvière and Château Bonnet, across 7 appellations - Pessac-Léognan, Margaux, Lussac-Saint-Emilion, Bordeaux, Bordeaux Supérieur, Entre-Deux-Mers and Graves.
Jacques role as owner and lead winemaker for The Islander Estate Vineyards will remain unchanged. As it has for the past 19 years, Kangaroo Island and The Islander Estate Vineyards remains the Jacque's special place for creative, hands-on winemaking.
Read the full annoucement at www.andrelurton.com
It's part of The Islander Estate Vineyard's mission to help put the Kangaroo Island wine region on the world map of fine wine. Our Tasting Room established in September 2017 has enabled us to connect many thousands of visitors to the region with our regional wine story and Jacques Lurton's inspiration for making cool climate wines here.
A big thanks to Australian Gourmet Traveller Wine magazine for recognising our efforts in their 2019 Best Cellar Door Awards, we love the variety of wine and experiences offered by our region's cellar doors.
Kangaroo Island was featured extensively in Sports llustrated's 2019 Swimsuit issue. The SI Swimsuit team sat down with Islander Estate's General Manager Yale Norris to chat about what drew him across the world to Kangaroo Island and makes it the perfect place to make wine and a home. Check out the article here.
September/October: Inflorescence – Also known as 'Budburst' signals the official start of the new growing season.
November: Floraison – the buds begin to flower before producing tiny bunches.
Late November/December: Fruit set – now we begin to get a good idea of bunch development and quality on the vine with an insight into how vintage may shape up if the god’s are kind.
Late January: ‘Veraison' – the beginning of ripening where berries turn from green and begin to turn purple, red and golden. A tipping point when the vine begins to focus its energy on development sweetness in the grapes.
March to May: Harvest! Can begin from late February but most often in March. We will pick for six to eight weeks, checking the vineyard daily and hand-picking only what is perfectly ready. From early May, the focus of the winemaking crew turns away from the vineyard and into the winery.
June - September: Even as the grapes are harvested, the green foliage begins the yellow and leaves drop. As the weather turns cold, the vine withdraws its energy to the roots and returns to their dormant state. The vineyard slows but doesn’t stop as our pruning crew methodically work their way through the vineyard hand-pruning.