Cruise: Wineries of Kangaroo Island by yacht

View over Eastern Cove from Sunset Wines.
Kangaroo Island not only has some of Australia’s best sailing and most ecologically diverse waters; it also has some excellent wineries. The cooler, maritime climate means grapes enjoy an extended ripening period which results in some exquisite wines. Red varietals, such as Shiraz and Cabernet Sauvignon, tend to be softer with supple tannins, and many white varietals, such as Sauvignon Blanc, also flourish in the milder climate.

As befits an island appellation, several wineries are located on the coast, making them convenient to visiting boaties. The three I’ve explored to date are all located on the northeastern corner of the Island, and all are less than 1 km from the beach. Even if you don’t love the wines, I guarantee you’ll love the views from the tasting rooms. I suspect you will love the wines too though.

In order of west to east, Kingscote to Antechamber Bay (route):

Bay of Shoals Wines


Bay of Shoals Wines was the first “boat-in winery” I discovered on KI. The cellar door opened in 2006 - coincidentally the year of my first visit to the Island - but my discovery took another 6 years. The winery is located on Reeves Farm which is part of the original subdivision that comprised South Australia's first settlement, established at Reeves Point on 27th July 1836. It’s just a 15-minute walk up Cordes Road from the Bay of Shoals boat ramp.

Historical note:
The land was previously farmed by the self-appointed “Governor” (Wally) Wallen for 20 years before the official colony was established. The “Governor’s” farm was commandeered by the South Australian Company.

I recommend anchoring just west of the Bay of Shoals boat ramp in the vicinity of 35°38.2'S 137°37.4'E. Leave the dinghy on the beach, rather than incur the wrath of locals by leaving it tied up at the boat ramp. You’re rewarded with beautiful views towards the north over the Bay of Shoals and Reeves Point.

Bay of Shoals Wines offers a great selection of wines and all good. They have a B&B too for landlubbers.

Sunset Winery


This winery is located on top of the hill above American Beach with a splendid outlook over Eastern Cove. When I first visited (by car) in 2006 I so enjoyed the views that I hardly paid any attention to the wines at the time. I’ve since visited twice by boat (June and December 2014) which is way more fun, albeit more strenuous. By water it’s only 6 nautical miles across Eastern Cove from American River.

I recommend anchoring midway along American Beach in the vicinity of 35°45.7'S 137°53.2'E. From the beach it’s an easy scramble over sand dunes to the coastal highway, then it’s a short walk to the driveway, followed by a 500m steep walk uphill. Note that if you land further north nearer the end of the beach, although it’s closer you’re confronted with a much steeper cliff, albeit with a narrow trail for the adventurous.

Your exertions will rewarded with a splendid westward view of the coast including a postcard-perfect view of your boat (top photo and photo below). The sunsets must indeed be marvelous.

Chapman River Wines


My latest coastal winery find on the Island is Chapman River Wines, which I visited during my Kangaroo Island circumnavigation. The cellar door is a funky airplane hanger adorned with trendy art and books. Their wines are excellent and they also serve up a very tasty platter.

The cellar door is 900m inland from Antechamber Bay. Come ashore near 35°47.7’S 138°4.6’E and follow the track from the beach that starts near 35°47.73’S 138°4.58’E. The first part involves walking through sand dunes but it soon connects with a farm road and is an easy walk. The first buildings you see are actually part of the winery, although there is no sign since this is the back way in. Just cut through and you’ll soon see the cellar door.

Although Antechamber Bay is a wide-open bay, protection can be found from E through NW. If the wind is from the W or SW anchor close to the mouth of Chapman River. If it is from the E or SE, anchor in the lee of Cape St Albans.

Note: Chapman River Wines also has a private air strip so it’s possible fly in as well as boat in! Call 24 hours ahead of time in case some livestock need to be moved to another paddock first though.

Summary

Winery
Anchorage location
Cellar door location
Walk from beach
Open hours &
phone number

Bay of Shoals
35°38.3'S 137°37.4'E
Cordes Rd
35°38.49'S 137°37.28'E
~850m uphill
11am to 5pm daily
(08) 8553 0289

American Beach,
Eastern Cove
35°45.5'S 137°53.4'E
Hog Bay Rd
35°45.49'S 137°53.8'E

~700m uphill
11am to 5pm daily
(08) 8553 1378
PS As of Nov 2016, undergoing change of ownership, so call ahead.

Antechamber Bay 35°47.7’S 138°4.6’E
Willoughby Rd
35°48.04'S 138°4.34'E
~900m
flat
11am to 4.30pm Thursdays to Mondays (except July and August)
(08) 8553 1121
PS As of Jan 2017, the cellar door is closed, so call ahead.


There are many other excellent wineries on the Island, such as Islander Estate Vineyards and False Cape Wines, but you’ll need a car to explore these.

OVER.