The Coonawarra wine district, located in the south eastern corner of South Australia just north of the small town of Penola, is world renowned for its fine red wines. The quality wine is produced from a small area of rich red soil over a low limestone ridge forming a North-South lens approximately 15km by 2km wide. This soil, called ‘Terra Rossa’, combined with the region’s cool summer climate produces Australia’s finest Cabernet Sauvignon.
Coonawarra Cellar Dwellers
There are more than 20 wineries with cellar doors open to the public and during the month of July they are digging out some treasures from their cellars to offer visitors a rare opportunity to taste and buy aged wine. Coonawarra wines are well known for their aging ability and Cellar Dwellers provides the region with an opportunity to showcase wines that are otherwise not available for tasting. You can join one of the many dinners and degustation’s held throughout the month or simply wander the vineyards and visit the cellar doors before warming up with a glass of Coonawarra aged wine and a crackling open fireplace. You can find more information at the Coonawarra Vignerons website.
The small and historic town of Penola is located just south of Coonawarra and is the commercial and social hub of the district. Call in to the Visitor Centre for the history walk pamphlet which describes the many historic and heritage buildings in town. Make sure you call in to the National Trust listed Royal Oak Hotel for a boutique beer by the open fire. Petticoat Lane has a number of quaint small houses all in near-original condition including Sharam Cottage, now owned by the National Trust.
Mary Mackillop Centre
Penola is strongly linked to Australia’s first saint, Mary Mackillop – St Mary of the Cross. It was here that, together with Father Julian Woods, she founded her first school aimed at providing education for poor country children and went on to establish the Sisters of St Joseph order which has continued her work. Saint Mary of the Cross MacKillop was canonised on Sunday the 17th October 2010 at St Peter’s Square, Rome. You can visit the Mary MacKillop Penola Centre where their friendly volunteers will welcome you in the Interpretive Centre. This houses the MacKillop and Woods exhibitions, the research room, and the shop. In the Schoolhouse there is an exhibition on Josephite education and displays in the living areas. St Joseph’s Church, with its Shrine to Mary, the Old Convent and the early Cameron Home are also on site.
How To Get There
Penola and Coonawarra district is located about 380km south of Adelaide and 450km west of Melbourne on the Riddoch Highway. Our Limestone Coast map will help you get around with its Coonawarra inset to explore the wineries.