Welcome to Canberra Weekly’s Canberra district vegan wine encyclopaedia – where we put all your ‘umms’ at ease when it comes to choosing a local wine which is right for you.
It is no secret that Canberrans love a glass of wine, be it red, white, rosé or sparkling. If you’re a vegan, you may come to a halt when you find that many wines are produced using animal products including egg whites, fish bladder and milk.
So let’s get into the finicky details first.
Many wines are not even vegetarian because of a process called ‘fining’. Without the fining agents, the wine will self-stabilise and appear hazy.
Fining agents are commonly made from several animal products: casein (a milk protein), albumin (egg white protein), gelatin (animal tissues and bones), and isinglass (gelatin fish bladder).
Vegan wines that are fined use vegan-friendly agents, such as bentonite clay, activated charcoal, limestone, and silica gel.
There are also several winemakers going for a natural approach who simply avoid the fining process altogether, labelling their wines as ‘not fined/not filtered’.
Now that you can relax knowing there are plenty of vegan-friendly wine options available, sit back, have a glass of wine on hand, and explore Canberra district’s vegan wineries.
Canberra district vegan wine
Location: 31 Joe Rocks Road, Bungendore, NSW
Cellar door: Thursday to Monday
The Lark Hill Winery has two vineyards at Bungendore and Murrumbateman and is currently the only organic and biodynamic winery in the Canberra region.
Part of their overall philosophy of regenerative agriculture and biodynamic farming is a desire to improve and enliven the soil, and ensure their farms are as self-sustaining and biodiverse as possible.
Owner and winemaker Chris Carpenter said with a background in biochemistry, he takes a bit of an a-la-carte approach to biodynamic winemaking.
“… enlivening the soil with good microbes, using natural methods to prevent mildew and fungi, and reducing or eliminating artificial inputs into the fruit and wine so that the result is very much true to its ‘terroir’ – it’s place of origin,” Chris said.
He said these methods mean the farms are healthier and more self-sustaining; with less waste and fewer inputs required the wines become true reflections of their origin.
The winery also has a preference to prevent the problem that leads to fining by using a gentler extraction; softer pressing and an overall lighter touch in the winery. If things must be adjusted, they use non-animal fining products such as potato and pea proteins.
Their most popular wines during the warmer months are their Rieslings and their Roxanne Pet Nat (natural sparkling).
“Once the winter chill kicks in, people move quite quickly to Pinot Noir and Syrah,” Chris said.
Location: 131 McIntosh Circuit, Murrumbateman, NSW
Cellar door: 7 days a week
Murrumbateman Winery specialises in small batch handcrafted wines that are all sourced from the Canberra region. The winery has small plantings of Sauvignon Blanc, Nebbiolo, Petit Verdot, Sangiovese and Shiraz.
The grapes are all local hand-picked and the wines are made by owner and winemaker Bobbie Makin, who uses traditional methods to produce the vegan-friendly wines.
Cellar door visitors are welcomed with views to the vineyard year-round and by the winery’s companion dog, Mollie.
Mollie, the 11-year-old rescue husky-cross assists with the harvest and manages the hospitality at the cellar door, and even has a wine named after her – Mollie’s Block Fumé Blanc, which is a firm favourite amongst customers.
“Mollie encourages us to raise funds for the RSPCA and hosts a number of dog-welcome events through the year. We donate a percentage of the profits from our Pinot Gris to the RSPCA, so Mollie insisted we name it Wine Dogs Pinot Grrr-is,” Kerrie Brotherton said.
Location: 1692 Murrumbateman Road, Gundaroo, NSW
Cellar door: Saturday and Sunday
Tallagandra Hill produces all of its wine from their single vineyard at Gundaroo. A proud family-owned local winery, Tallagandra Hill is named after their unique location in the foothills outside of Gundaroo, and translates to ‘a place of many cows’.
Their most popular wines are Great Ron Shiraz and Prodigal Daughter Vermentino.
“The Great Ron Shiraz, a high quality cool climate Shiraz, is connected to the character and story of my dad, the great Ron,” co-owner David Faulks said.
“Also, our Prodigal Daughter Vermentino because of its fresh citrus character and because we are the only ones growing it in the district.”
Tallagandra Hill are proud of their region’s unique wines. They include Sassy Redhead Sienna Style Cabernet Franc, Sparkling Viognier, and the Newtown Farmer Cabernet Shiraz Tempranillo blend.
Location: 9 Patemans Lane, Murrumbateman, NSW
Cellar door: 7 days a week
Four Winds Vineyard is an inter-generational family business which has two vineyards located east of Murrumbateman.
The original 33-acre vineyard was first planted in 1998-99 and has five varieties including Shiraz, Riesling, Cabernet, Merlot and Sangiovese.
The winery has a cellar door with spectacular views and a restaurant offering wood-fired pizza.
“Our wines are special because you can head 30 minutes from Canberra and come and enjoy the wine while overlooking the vines. A glass of wine in one hand and a slice of wood-fired pizza in the other,” CEO Sarah Collingwood said.
“Our most popular wine has been the Rosé – it is light, fun and delicious. It has remained our most popular wine as this autumn has been so mild and people are still enjoying alfresco dining and barbecues.
“As the weather moves into winter, the focus will move to our reds; Tempranillo, Shiraz and Cabernet.”
Location: 173 The Vineyards Road, Lake George, NSW
Cellar door: Thursday to Sunday
Lake George Winery is positioned 700 metres above sea level and is located on the north-western shores of Lake George.
Grapes are handpicked with minimal interference, and fining agents have been swapped to plant-based alternatives.
Co-owner Sarah McDougall said it is so simple to swap out the non-vegan fining agents.
“Or simply don’t fine your wine, let it speak it’s true identity,” she said.
Sarah said vegan Australian tennis star Nick Kyrgios recently visited the winery and his wine of choice was their Pinot Noir 2019.
“At the moment our best wine is the Pinot Noir 2019, and only one barrel was produced. It’s whole bunched, picked, pressed and made on site and left to mature for eight months in a sustainable barrel,” she said.
Cellar door: No
Quarry Hill Wines is a boutique family-run vineyard situated just outside of Canberra. While their wines are vegan-friendly, the winery is cautious of using the word vegan. Instead, they simply state that no animal products were used in the making of their wines.
“We still strive to make beautifully clear wines, but achieve that using alternative products, such as bentonite clay for fining,” Russell Kerrison said.
“Our wines distinguish themselves by their clean, elegant style that expresses all the flavour and complexity of the fruit from our vineyard.”
Quarry Hill Wines’ most popular choice is the Lost Acre Tempranillo.
“We use a minimalist, light-touch winemaking approach to this red wine to preserve all the fresh, vibrant primary-fruit flavours from the vineyard,” Russell said.
Cellar door: No
Enotria Wines is a small, family winery situated on the Lake George escarpment at Bungendore, positioned 840 metres above sea level.
With the steep incline, the vines are sheltered from both frosts and drying westerly winds, making it an ideal location for cool climate wines.
Enotria’s fining process uses a vegan-friendly pea protein, which is removed during the filtering process.
“We use all-natural nutrients for our vineyard and we minimise the non-organics where possible. We also hand pick all our grapes,” Helga Piscioneri said.
“Our main grape is Pinot Noir from which we make a dry red and a Blanc De Noir (sparkling wine) – both of which won gold medals on their first outing. We also make a Pinot Gris, a Cabernet Franc and a Merlot.”
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