Review: Drink Up! Where to go in Canberra for wine, spirits and coffee

Drink, Travel / 8 September 2022

Whatever your beverage choice there are incredible drinks moments to be had in Canberra. Here are our top picks!

On the outskirts of Murrumbateman is Four Winds Vineyard. A family-run winery making premium single vineyard wines. Four Winds is a micro-winery with a winemaking philosophy of minimal intervention. The 29,000 vines are hand-pruned and come harvest time; the grapes are handpicked.

The vineyard produces some beautiful wines, especially since its 2019 acquisition of Kyeema Estate. The purchase resulted in expansion to varieties such as Tempranillo, Chardonnay and Viognier, along with exceptional quality fruit such as an old Penfolds clone of Shiraz and a reserve Merlot.

The cellar door offers white/rose, mixed or red Tasting Flights. My companion and I opted for the red which consisted of Mataro, Shiraz, Hard Graft Shiraz and Fortified Shiraz ($18 for 40ml glass pours).

The tasting standout was the 2018 Hard Graft Shiraz (glass $16/Dine-in-Bottle $75) which has deep flavours of blue and purple fruit, cinnamon spice and a touch of leather. 

The innovative vineyard has also created its first-ever gin. Produced in collaboration with The Canberra Distillery, the Gin Riesling is made from grapes that were not able to be used for wine due to the 2020 crop smoke taint from the bushfires. Tough times can generate new opportunities and this gin is an absolute winner. Tasting of fresh citrus, crispy apple and sweet botanicals. Highly recommend it with one big block of ice or partnered with a dash of tonic. 

The cellar door is the perfect spot to relax with a glass of wine (or gin) in hand, whilst enjoying delicious gourmet wood-fired pizza.

The Vintner’s Daughter is another premium wine experience. The wines are made in small batches from estate-grown fruit. Established by a husband-and-wife team, Stephanie Helm and Benjamin Osborne, the property is not far from where Stephanie grew up learning to make wine from her winemaker and vintner father, Ken Helm, of Helm Wines.

There is no food service but it’s a beautiful spot to gaze at the vineyards and if you’re lucky you might see the Babydoll sheep grazing. The sheep have been sourced to assist fertiliser supply and help the vineyard to become more sustainable and reduce the need for heavy machinery. 

My pick is the 2021 Pinot Noir ($40). A fuller style of Pinot but still smooth easy drinking. Dark red, grippy tannins, tasting of black cherry and plum fruit. It’s worth noting the red wines are made in a traditional ‘Old world’ style with lots of skin contact and maturation in French oak barrels.

If wine isn’t your thing, then you might want to consider Big River Distilling Co. The local distillery crafts artisan spirits (gin and vodka) that reflect the unique Canberra environs.  

Do make sure you try the Cinn Gin, a subtle apple and cinnamon flavoured gin. The gin is produced with a grain spirit base and filtered with water fresh from the Brindabella mountains. Then, in addition to true cinnamon, the spices clove, nutmeg and star anise are each distilled individually and added back to the juniper base to create a spicy take on a traditional gin. 

The venue, located in Canberra CBD, offers a one-hour distillery tour ($30), including a tutored tasting session with founder Clyde Morton.

Alternatively, you can camp yourself at the bar and test out the spirits through their signature cocktails or order a Big River Tasting paddle with Grazing Platter. The tasting paddle includes three Big River spirits served with matching garnishes and mixers ($15). And the Grazing Platter includes cheeses, charcuterie, savoury preserves, dried fruit and crackers ($40).

You can also forgo the booze and discover the wonderful world of connoisseur coffee. If this is your preference, then Highroad is where you want to venture. It’s no exaggeration to say, people come from all over the world to try their coffee.

Highroad is a restaurant by the team from ONA Coffee. Founded and directed by World Barista Champion 2015 Sasa Sestic, the Ona Coffee team has won numerous awards in barista, brewers and roasting competitions. 

The dedicated coffee menu has pages of coffee options including seasonal blends and single origins, available in espresso, filter and nitro formats. The regular coffee list offers three milk-based blends and each featured coffee comes with a flavour profile. As an oat milk drinker, I loved being able to order according to my milk preference and then be guided towards the best coffee options. 

There’s also a food menu at Highroad, so lean into your caffeine high with the delicious all-day brunch.

Whatever your beverage choice there are incredible drinks moments to be had in Canberra.

Four Winds Vineyard

Open seven days a week

Monday – Friday 11am – 4pm
Saturday and Sunday 11am – 5pm

9 Patemans Lane, Murrumbateman NSW 2582

www.fourwindsvineyard.com.au

The Vintners Daughter

Cellar door open: 10am to 4pm Friday to Sunday

5 Crisps Ln, Murrumbateman NSW 2582 

www.thevintnersdaughter.com.au 

Big River Distilling Co.

Open Friday to Sunday (12pm – 5:30pm)

3/1 Dairy Rd, Fyshwick ACT 2609

www.bigriverdistilling.com.au 

Highroad

Open Monday to Sunday 8am-3pm

1 Woolley St, Dickson ACT 2601 

www.highrd.com.au 

Looking for another foodie getaway? Here’s our guide to the Southern Highlands.

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