One thing about me is… I don’t really drink, but I love a wine tour!
If your eyebrow is raised right about now, yep – that sounds about right. It makes perfect sense to me, though, so hear me out!
Wouldn’t be a wine tour without a blurry self portrait! ;)
See, I don’t mind drinking a glass of something here and there. I drink it for the taste, and usually one is more than enough to last me for days (or months). In fact, I don’t know if I’ve ever finished a bottle of wine that I bought. Does that make me a weirdo? Probably (definitely). But I’m ok with it.
But wine tours are great because I can just have a couple sips of something and move on. I get to sample a variety of wines without committing to any. Not only that, but I get to enjoy the wine in several different settings as we tour various wineries, which scratches my travel/adventure itch quite nicely.
Wine for me is more about the experience than anything else. And I find that wine tours provide me with the best wine drinking experience possible.
Blueberry honey wine at stop #1.
We’ve spent most of this year house sitting in or around the Gold Coast, which is known more as a glamorous beach destination than a thriving wine region. But the Gold Coast actually DOES produce some wine, out in the hinterland. So if you’re into wine, it’s well worth visiting Mount Tamborine and spending the night in this cute little town so you can wander around to the various cellar doors and indulge without having to drive yourself home immediately after.
If a DIY wine tour isn’t for you, you’re in luck because you can join a guided Gold Coast wine tour instead!
We recently went with Pineapple Tours and had an excellent time on their Full Day Mount Tamborine Winery Tour. Here’s what it was like touring the best Gold Coast wineries with them.
Our Gold Coast Wine Tour
First off: Pineapple Tours provides door-to-door service for this tour. That means no having to rush to a meeting point first thing in the morning, or make your way home at the end of the tour.
The night before the tour, I got a text message confirming our pickup time (8:45). Generally, you can expect to be picked up between 8:30-9am if you’re centrally located in the Gold Coast.
Our guide Michelle picked us up first in a shuttle van and we collected two more couples before heading to the hinterland for the day.
Pineapple Tours rotates between 6 different stops on their tours, so the itinerary varies by the day. The tour will always include 3 wineries and 1 distillery.
Mt. Nathan Winery
Our first stop was Mt. Nathan Winery, which ended up being my favorite stop of the day in terms of how much I enjoyed the wines.
I was impressed from the get-go as we entered through what looked like a literal cellar door and walked down a tunnel-like hallway that led into the tasting room. Here we were introduced to the winery and its history before being escorted into a private tasting room.
We got to sample a few different whites and reds (I quite liked the merlot), some honey wines (very sweet), a few fortified wines (also sweet), and their Gibson’s Gold which has literal flakes of gold in it. So now I guess I can say that I’ve drank gold! I think that was a one-time thing for me though, as it was probably my least favorite drink that I consumed this whole wine tour. Glad I tried it if only for the novelty factor.
The winning wine of the tasting (and the WHOLE DAY!) was their George Gibson Special Reserve, a 40-year-old port wine that we got to drink straight from the barrel. I don’t typically go for sweet wines, but Pete and I looked at each other with wide eyes after our first sip and were like YUP we’re getting this. I’ve learned to trust my gut instinct when it comes through this strong, even when it makes no sense (I mean, what logical reason would justify someone who barely drinks spending $150 on a bottle of wine?!).
But it’s ok, because the advertised price for it is $390 and we got a good deal. Also it’s the kind of wine you keep for a long time and just sample in small doses here and there, so it’s pretty ideal for
weirdos light/sporadic drinkers like me.
Witches Falls Winery
Next we called into Witches Falls Winery, which was bustling by late morning on a Friday. I’d say this was the stop with the nicest scenery and ambiance, with all of the seating being outdoors near avocado trees and vines.
Witches Falls is more of a hands-off kind of winery, compared to the other places we stopped at on the wine tour. It’s less about having a structured, informative tasting, and more about just enjoying your company and the views while occasionally being served some wine.
I can’t really remember much about the wines we tasted simply because it wasn’t the focal point of the visit. I actually think I preferred the whites to the reds here, which doesn’t usually happen!
What I CAN say is that I highly recommend having yourself a little wine and cheese picnic here. You can just pop inside and pick out some cheeses, spreads, and crackers and they’ll give you a board and knife to take with them back to your table. Is there anything better than wine with a side of cheese?
Cedar Creek Estate
One other thing about me is that I’m pretty sensitive to energy and can very quickly pick up the vibe of a place or person. And I hate to say it, but I did not love the vibe at Cedar Creek Estate, my least favorite stop of this Gold Coast wine tour.
It didn’t help that there was another (much larger and very loud) group in the tasting room when we arrived. We were relegated to a small section of the bar where the 6 of us stood bunched together. Then we were served in a somewhat brusk manner, and for some reason they had couples share some of the tastings rather than have each of us taste from our own glass, which I found very odd.
To their credit, Cedar Creek is the only Gold Coast winery that grows its own grapes. However, I didn’t like any of the wines I tasted (bit too sweet for me), so I’m not sure if this is a good thing.
Our server also taught us the proper way to taste wine, which I’m actually shocked is not a thing most wineries do for their patrons. Who knew that you’re supposed to look down at the wine while smelling it?! (Apparently it activates more taste buds)
After our tasting, we were seated at a table overlooking the creek, where we were served lunch. I had the barramundi and it was pretty bland. The other lunch options didn’t seem much better, though I can’t say for sure since I didn’t try them. After that, they served us dessert which was panna cotta or merengue. I wasn’t impressed with either.
So in sum, Cedar Creek Estate was the only winery on this Gold Coast wine tour that I didn’t enjoy, and literally the only thing I would change about the tour would be to swap it out with a different winery. I know there are two other wineries the tours sometimes stop at, so maybe they don’t always include Cedar Creek and it’s just the luck of the draw where you’ll end up going. They don’t have the best Google review rating either, so I must not be alone in my dislike for this place.
Tamborine Mountain Distillery
Our last stop of the day was Tamborine Mountain Distillery, located just around the corner from the main street in town.
By contrast to the previous stop, I loved the vibe at this place! Our server was friendly and funny, it wasn’t too loud inside, and the building itself was interesting to look at. Our group was seated at the bar and given an extensive menu of liqueurs and spirits to taste (apparently they have 90 on offer!), many of which were for sale in small test tubes (very cool!). They use native botanicals and other natural ingredients in their products, which always scores bonus points from me.
We were served a shot of some kind of vodka and told to pick two things off the menu to taste. I kinda wish we’d stopped here earlier in the day because there were so many appealing liqueurs that I would have tried, had I not already reached my threshold for the day. I’m sure the average person would have been able to rally, but I don’t drink that often and by this point, was very ready to be horizontal for the rest of the day.
I tried the limoncello (UGH ITALY I MISS YOU!) and the lilly pilly gin, and had a little taste of Pete’s mint chocolate liqueur.
Speaking of Italy, the building looks like it was plucked right out of Europe and plopped onto the Gold Coast hinterland, right? So pretty!
We had an incredible day out on the the Full Day Mount Tamborine Winery Tour with Pineapple Tours and would definitely recommend it if you’re in the Gold Coast or Brisbane area. Like I said above, the only thing I would change is swapping out Cedar Creek for another winery in the area.
Are these the best wines in Australia? Of course not; the Gold Coast isn’t renowned for its wine like the southern reaches of the country (VIC, TAS, SA, South WA) are. You won’t find those glorious full bodied reds here, unfortunately!
But if you go in with reasonable expectations, you’ll have an awesome time wine tasting and exploring a bit of the Gold Coast hinterland on this tour.
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