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Saturday 11 January 2014

Six of Australia's best vineyard retreats

Take a step back to a far more gracious time at Chateau Yering, a heritage-listed Victorian mansion on over 120-hectares with English-themed gardens – but within walking distance to several Yarra cellar doors. There’s a country house-style ambiance, and an initial sense you should lower your voice and keep eyes to the ground, but the staff are very welcoming. There will be guests enjoying a quiet pot of tea but while the surroundings are old-world and a little grand, dinner in Eleonore’s restaurant, where chef Mathew Macartney has an Age Good Food Guide hat, is a thoroughly modern affair. Built in 1854 and a luxury hotel with a country house feel since 1997, Chateau Yering has just 32 suites – making it a true boutique experience. (03) 9237 3333.

Not only do the eight high-tech pavilions, which look like something from a science-fiction movie, offer the most luxurious vineyard accommodation in the Hobart region (and adult toys like double spa baths and heated lap pools), they are part of the MONA museum complex – where the Red Queen exhibition is showing. The Source restaurant, where French chef Philippe Leban handles the pans, is perfect for leisurely lunches and extravagant dinners overlooking the Moorilla vineyards and the Derwent River. Guests can also taste the Moorilla wines and Moo Brew beers – but many may prefer to just take in the stunning Tasmanian views or browse the eclectic artworks from the personal collection of owner David Walsh that decorate each pavilion. (03) 6277 9900.

If it is position, position, position that floats your boat then this luxury retreat with sweeping views of the Barossa vines will be your choice over myriad options in the region. One of Australia's top boutique vineyard retreats boasts a comprehensive program of wine-related experiences available exclusively to its in-house guests but it is the warmth and enthusiasm of the staff for all things Barossa that set it apart. The suites feature king beds with crisp linen and all city comforts in the heart of the country. The outdoor showers are a nice touch on hot summer days. Also, Appellation chef Ryan Edwards hasn’t missed a beat since taking over from local legend Mark McNamara, offering superb nightly menus matched to rare local bottles. (08) 8562 2722.

You might well be in Stellenbosch or Franschhoek looking at this secluded Cape Dutch-style lodge from the outside - but the welcome is very Australian. This regular award-winner sits on its own vineyard within 20 hectares of manicured grounds on the edge of a small forest. It’s a haven from some of the bustling cellar doors nearby. Choose from suites, a two-bedroom self-contained cottage and a private residence. The on-site restaurant boasts a 14,000-bottle wine cellar and the lodge hosts regular cooking classes and culinary weekends. Ideal for couples looking to rekindle romance; and the sort of place where an afternoon snooze might be on the agenda. (08) 9755 6311.

Milawa and the King Valley offer a treasure trove of gourmet discoveries. This little gem at Myrrhee is deep in the country, fairly isolated to be honest, but features affordable, stylish luxury in just two queen and two king suites. With views over the Symphonia vineyards, this mini guesthouse is close to several cellar doors. Host Gwenda Canty serves sumptuous three-course dinners on request (and they are well worth requesting) and the breakfasts of free-range eggs, smoked bacon, vine-ripened tomatoes and home-made preserves are legendary. Perfect for couples looking to wind down with a glass of prosecco in front of an open fire. (03) 5729 7650.

A laidback retreat in bushland and vineyard surroundings, Spicers is on the doorstep of the Hunter’s many wineries, cellar doors and golf courses and is known for its friendly service. Four new luxury spa suites make a total of 12 rooms (so you’ll never feel too crowded) and the newly built Spa Anise facility offers massage, beauty and therapeutic treatments if all that wine tasting becomes too much. An outdoor pool and spa are popular in summer, while dinner at Botanica Restaurant – a favourite with in-the-know Hunter locals - features mod Oz cuisine paired with a wine list that highlights local boutique offerings and some enticing imports. 1300 192 868.

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