February 22, 2023
6 mins Read
Whether watching a sunset over the Backstairs Passage with a glass of chilled chardonnay in hand, enjoying pizza and live music at a local brewery or sipping on spirits at a cutting-edge cellar door, here’s our guide to Kangaroo Island’s wineries, breweries and distillers.
The history of growing grapes on KI dates back to the early 1900s and is woven into the island’s culture. False Cape Winery upcycled an old steel hay shed and patched it with recycled wood, jetty timbers and limestone to construct its cellar door, located on the Willson River, just 15 minutes from Penneshaw. Enjoy a glass of the award-winning Willson River riesling with a cheese platter and chunky homemade pie.
The spectacular cellar door at Dudley Wines is perched on the clifftops of Kangaroo Island’s north coast, boasting endless ocean views across Backstairs Passage to mainland Australia. There are truly no Dudley duds; all the wines are winners. We love, love, love the Dudley Bubbly NV and 2018 Stud Shiraz. The cellar door menu includes platters and pizzas, which must be pre-ordered and paid for at the time of booking.
Arrive by yacht to Kangaroo Island and you will receive a discount at Bay of Shoals due to winemaker John Willoughby’s side obsession for sailing. Bay of Shoals’ cellar door and vineyard doubles as a maritime museum thanks to its vast collection of wooden boats and nautical flotsam and jetsam. Pair a bottle of sav blanc with a seafood platter of Spencer gulf prawns, smoked mussel pâté and hot-smoked salmon from KI Fresh Seafoods.
The cellar door at Springs Road Wines is in a pitch-roofed tin shed on the northern part of Kangaroo Island. Turn off the Playford Highway and slice through the sheep paddocks and vineyards to arrive at the striking new cellar door at Springs Road Wines, sister vineyard to Battle of Bosworth in McLaren Vale. Don’t bother playing scissors, paper rock to determine the designated driver; the vineyard’s luxe glamping tents are one of the best accommodation options on KI and deserve to be made use of.
Inspiration for Australia’s first dedicated gin distillery, founded by Jon and Sarah Lark, came from Jon’s brother Bill, founder of the award-winning Lark Distillery in Tasmania. Kangaroo Island Spirits is now owned by the mighty Mighty Craft, which still operates out of the original cellar door. Book a table in the Gin Garden to enjoy the Wild Gin, distilled using boobialla (KI’s native juniper). Order flammekueche and chips from the onsite food van.
You’re guaranteed a warm welcome at The Islander Estate Vineyards named Best Small Cellar Door on Kangaroo Island by Gourmet Traveller Wine. Sip on a selection of wines and nibble on a picnic-style platter of local artisanal produce at the tasting room, located near a crook in the Cygnet River. Learn about the history of the vineyard during a tutored tasting that touches on the measured style of winemaking favoured by Frenchman Jacques Lurton, who hails from Bordeaux.
Amadio Wines is located on one of the main streets of Kingscote on Kangaroo Island. It’s adjacent to Vino e Cucina in a beautiful heritage building. Kangaroo Islanders in the know head here to try a handful of Amadio’s best wines at the aptly named restaurant which is as much about the wines as the food. Work your way through the wine list until you’re woozy and then pick up a few bottles of your favourite varietals to take home.
Although Kangaroo Island Brewery is the only brewery on KI, it’s a broad church when it comes to welcoming a diverse craft-beer audience. In addition to sampling brilliant brews from the onsite taproom – such as the Summer Ale, Sheoak Stout, Indian Pale Ale and KIB Cerveza – the brewery hosts regular tap takeovers. You can also get a decent bite to eat (pizzas on Fridays and Sundays; ploughman’s board every other day) in the rustic brewhouse, which was cobbled together using materials recycled from old piers, wharves and shearing sheds.
Graham and Mary Jones planted an apple orchard on their Kangaroo Island property in 2004. From little things, big things grow. The enterprising couple have planted more than 30 different varieties of dessert apples and their humble cider house, Kangaroo Island Ciders, now produces a range of award-winning ciders and sparkling juices. You can sample four ciders in a tasting paddle at the nearby Emu Ridge Eucalyptus Oil Distillery which accommodates a pop-up cellar door selling KI ciders.
Mead is also having a moment on KI: head to the Island Beehive to pick up a bottle of Kangaroo Island Ligurian Honey Mead. The ancient Greeks referred to honey mead as ‘ambrosia’ or ‘nectar’ and you can buy bottles of the stuff to bathe in and beautify your body when you visit the Island Beehive, which was one of the first organic honey producers in Australia. Beekeeper Peter Davis teamed up with Maxwell Wines to produce the mead and it’s on the money.
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