If you’re going for one day or a week-long getaway, Adelaide Hills is wine-packed with things to do.

For quite some time now, Adelaide Hills has been renowned as one of South Australia’s favourite wine regions. Lauded as the breeding ground for the natural wine movement, the wineries here are a collection of innovative, retro and alternative winemakers producing some of the most exciting and divisive wine in Australia.

Affectionately known as the “basket cases” given they tend to gather in the subregion known as the Basket Ranges; the Adelaide Hills region is so diverse thanks to its distinct climate and geography. The Adelaide Hills is one of the largest wine regions in Australia geographically, with a wide range of soils and altitudes. The region has many different ‘pockets’ or subregions within it, making it an ideal place to grow many styles of wine.

So whether you’re looking for something more traditional or not, if you’re in search of the best things to do, our itinerary guide to the best wineries in Adelaide Hills, South Australia will be everything you need for a day or more.

Where is the Adelaide Hills?

Adelaide Hills is approximately a 45-minute drive south out of Adelaide’s CBD. With winding roads, luscious green surroundings and blissful weather, Adelaide Hills is a perfect weekend getaway destination.

Shaw and Smith

Considered as one of the greatest gems of the Adelaide Hills is Shaw and Smith – a well-known and highly regarded vineyard in the region. Founded by cousins Michael Hill Smith and Martin Shaw in 1989, this vineyard makes wines which reflect the Hills’ cool climate such as chardonnay, pinot noir and, most famously, their sauvignon blanc.

One with their region, Shaw and Smith create bright and beautifully balanced wines which have become hugely popular. In fact, they are Australia’s biggest seller of sauvignon blanc. Not only are their wines delicious, but their winery and cellar door  is a beautiful place to visit. You can sit back and enjoy the wine with an astute selection of cheese pairings.

Michael and Martin have certainly done their time in the Hills and their dedication has gone a long way in placing the Adelaide Hills as a quality region in the minds of many Australians.

Shaw and Smith | 136 Jones Rd, Balhannah, SA 5242

Wicks Estate Winery and Vineyards

After your feasting at The Lane, keep some energy for the afternoon. A leisurely 10-minute drive along Onkaparinga Valley Road will see you arrive at Wicks Estate Winery And Vineyards, located just outside the village of Woodside. A family owned and operated business, the Wicks family purchased the land for the vineyard in 1999.

Your first impression is how clean and modern the winery looks. Two generations of the Wicks family run a very tight ship. They not only make their own collection of wines, but they also offer their skills to many of the smaller wineries to process and make their wines.

Their wines are extremely fresh, bright and clean to the palate. And their sauvignon blanc sits up high with some of Australia’s most popular drops, building on the region’s reputation for being our answer to the Kiwi domination of this grape variety.

The Wicks family have been quietly growing grapes for many years, and the reputation of the Adelaide Hills has been built on the back of families like the Wicks and their estate.

Wicks Estate Winery and Vineyards | 29 Riverview Rd, Woodside, SA 5244

The Lane Vineyard

Moving on to lunchtime, for something mind-blowing we’d recommend The Lane Vineyard. Founded only a few years after Shaw and Smith, The Lane also produces a collection of delicious wines that reflect the high quality of the cooler region. Their three tiers, Heritage, Occasion and Block Wine Series offer diversity for all who visit.

The family behind The Lane Vineyard, John and Helen Edwards and the next generation Marty and Ben, are all-round great people. With an inspiring passion for the work that they do, visitors are made to feel welcome and equally in love.

If you’re visiting The Lane, stop by the tasting room for a delicious drop before heading into the restaurant for a long lunch. With a specially curated menu with matched wines to suit, this will be an experience like no other.

The Lane Vineyard | 5 Ravenswood Ln, Hahndorf, SA 5245

Nova Vita Wines

Although the vineyards are located near the village of Gumeracha, the Nova Vita family make their wines in the Revenir Winery near Lenswood.

Mark Kozned and his family pride themselves on not just growing grapes and making wine, but also on being very committed to preserving their land. They apply environmentally sustainable farming and keep chemicals to a minimum to try and encourage the use of naturally occurring biological systems in the vineyard to control pests and diseases.

Nova Vita offers up some of the best examples of chardonnay and shiraz the Hills has to offer. Mark prides himself on showcasing the cooler elements of the northern parts of the region, which vary staggeringly to the wineries mentioned above. The Kozned family has a long tradition of growing grapes and making wines, dating back to before WWII in southern Russia, oddly enough. This tradition and quality wine is carried on in the Adelaide Hills through Mark and his drive and dedication.

Grapes were first planted in The Adelaide Hills in 1890s but it was not until the late 1970s the expansion of the wine region occurred. The Adelaide Hills has built up a reputation as one of the best cool climate regions in Australia, producing wines with grace, finesse, and a real personality. The region would not be where it is now without the hard work of the winemakers and growers that have been working there for decades to build its reputation. Now, with the newer more funky additions to the community, it has become an even richer and more enticing region to explore, both in person or through the wines at home.

Nova Vita Wines | 11 Woodlands Rd, Kenton Valley, SA 5233

The Best Places to Stay in the Adelaide Hills,
South Australia:

While Adelaide’s CBD is very accessible to the Hills, for those looking to stay longer and escape the big city, there are multiple lodging options available, especially around the towns of Stirling and Hahndorf. We’d firstly recommend The Manna by Haus located within the town of Hahndorf itself. It is  a wonderful hotel to stay in, and also bolstered by its close proximity to The Haus Hahndorf, an exquisite dining experience that tailors to the German roots of the town.

Otherwise, The Stirling Hotel in the eponymous town has some of the best fitted rooms in the entire region. This accommodation is ideal, not just because of their proximity to the wine regions, but also to the towns themselves. Hahndorf, Woodside and Gumeracha have many adventure activities, food tours, and shopping experiences.

For Australian wine lovers, tantalise your tastebuds with an escape to Adelaide’s 5 Best Wine Regions of 2021. Or if you’d rather stay in the city, these are the Top 10 Must-Visit Places in Adelaide’s CBD.

We acknowledge the traditional owners of the land mentioned in our article, the people of the Kaurna Nation, and we recognise their continuing connection to land, waters and culture. We pay our respects to their elders past, present and emerging.

Feature image: Photographed by Jun Zhang. Image via Shutterstock.
This article was first published on June 02 2017. It was updated and edited by Hunter and Bligh on May 25 2021.