Is there any better way to spend a weekend than meandering around one of Australia's many premium wine regions? It's time spent tasting wines, meeting their makers and seeing the vines from whence they came, before retiring to your lodgings to check carefully that all your new purchases are up to scratch.
Early cellar doors were crude in nature, but have necessarily evolved as Australia's 2500-odd wineries vie with one another for attention. Dining has come to the fore, with many wineries now offering meals and hospitality on par with some of the country's best restaurants, typically showcasing local produce together with their wines.
Experiences are also part of the package - be they winery tours, exclusive tastings or varietal blending workshops such as those offered by Wolf Blass, Wynns and Tahbilk, all of which offer the chance to take a home a personalised bottle of your own unique wine. Many cellar doors double as museums or art galleries, and musical entertainment is also commonplace: Hunter Valley's Hope Estate, Yarra Valley's Domaine Chandon and Margaret River's Leeuwin Estate continue to host some of the world's biggest acts.
It's unsurprising to find that the wine itself has become secondary in this modern age of wine tourism. The internet puts the world's wines a mouse-click away, so we certainly aren't driving into the countryside for wine alone.
Instead, every bottle sourced direct from the winery will hold a particularly special place in your cellar, evoking memories of your visit. And wineries are giving us more reason to travel and purchase, with many now offering cellar door exclusives, rarities and back vintages that you cannot find on sale, for a fraction of the price of your local supermarket.
With so much going on we are really just scratching the surface, but here is our selection of cellar doors worthy of your attention. Encompassing all of Australia's premier winemaking states, they range from opulent, world-beating brands to rustically charming, family-owned concerns.
Enjoy exploring them and remember the golden rule of cellar door touring: Don't drink and drive. Those spittoons are there for a reason.
Check our gallery for the best cellar door experiences in Australia at the moment.