Autumn is the crush season for the wine industry, meaning any trip will treat you to an atmosphere of anticipation and exhilaration as the teams work hard behind the scenes to pick, crush, press, ferment, blend and bottle – or barrel – this year’s special wines.
Many wine regions are buzzing with the excitement of vintage, a vino term meaning harvest, with the coming weeks offering the best chance for guests to witness the transformation of grapes to wine. It’s also a time to take in rolling hills and sweeping vineyards ablaze with autumnal hues of red, orange and yellow.
During the crush, winemakers analyse sugars and acids inside the maturing berries to decide the perfect time to begin harvest. Small samples are turned into juice for testing as winemakers stroll between the rows of vines, tasting and assessing each grape and its unique flavour.
With the grapes finally harvested and crushed, a palette of wine parcels, each with distinctive flavours and textures, are melded in search of balance, fullness and finesse. It’s a fine art, requiring equal parts intuition, viticulture and chemical science, with winemakers spending years to study and hone their craft.
Learn more about the art of winemaking during hands-on experiences at d’Arenberg, Mandoon, De Bortoli and Tahbilk, all members of the Ultimate Winery Experiences collective.
Even in locations where the vintage has come and gone, such as the Hunter Valley of New South Wales and the Granite Belt of Queensland, the cooler temperatures and peaceful vibe of autumn is the perfect time to warm up on reds and fortified wines, and take your time exploring the historic cellar doors.
The Blending Bench, d’Arenberg, South Australia
Live the dream of being a winemaker for a day inside the famous d’Arenberg Cube at McLaren Vale, where chief winemaker and fourth-generation family member Chester Osborn will guide you to create your very own blend.
The experience begins with a tour of the Alternate Realities Museum before moving on to the Blending Bench where you’ll formulate your very own original wine and take home a 750 ml sample to show off to your friends.
The Perfect Blend, Mandoon Estate, Western Australia
Challenge your palate and dig a little deeper into the world of winemaking at Mandoon Estate in Western Australia, just 15 minutes from Perth International Airport. Explore the unique characteristics of different wine varieties and how they can work together to create harmony and balance, producing the perfect wine to suit your taste before taking your own brew home, complete with personalised label.
Winemaker’s Secret Art, Tahbilk, Victoria
The motto of winemaking is that the whole is greater than the sum of its parts. At historic Tahbilk in the Nagambie Lakes region of central Victoria, you’ll be guided by a Wine Ambassador to blend a series of individual wines into your very own blend. A 750 ml bottle of your blend will be yours to take away.
Work up an appetite and stay on to luxuriate over a two-course lunch with a glass of wine in Tahbilk’s Wetlands’ View Restaurant.
Behind the Scenes Tour and Wine Blending, De Bortoli, Victoria
Treat yourself to an experiential adventure at De Bortoli Yarra Valley Estate. Immerse yourself in a behind-the-scenes tour of the winery, where you’ll learn about the viticultural practices and taste wines straight from the barrels and tanks.
Indulge in a wine and food pairing in a private tasting room before enjoying a hands-on experience at the Blending Table, where you’ll create a truly unique wine with distinct flavours and textures. Bottle, name and label your personalised sample to take home.