Australia’s drinks scene is unrecognisable today, compared to a decade ago. We’re seeing more natural wine, craft beer, and hyperlocal spirits pop up than ever before. There’s been a groundswell of thoughtful and environmentally focused innovation from producers across the country, not only in the beverage industry.
Just as chefs have embraced paddock-to-plate dining—winemakers, distillers, and mixologists are busy building sustainable practices into their businesses and pouring techniques.
According to Tourism Australia’s consumer research, 74% of travellers actively seek out experiences that allow them to give back to a destination, so we’ve put together a list of the top sustainable wineries, breweries and distilleries for your next visit to regional Australia.
South Eveleigh A converted 100-year-old locomotive workshop in South Eveleigh is home to Sydney’s most sustainable bar. Owner Matt Whiley has demonstrated his commitment to zero-waste cocktails at his other outlets, including London’s Scout bar, but at Re- bar, the world’s first permanent no-waste bar, he raises the bar yet again.
Every element of the interior design reuses or recycles elements that would otherwise be sent to the waste pile. The staircase and the bar were built using a “terrazzo” made from recycled plastic bags and milk bottles, the “leather” covering the seating is made from pineapple leaf fibre, and the light fittings and wine coolers are made from mycelium.
The drinks list is designed around produce salvaged from local markets. Drinks are served in imperfect Maison Balzac glasses diverted from the scrap heap, and even the house wines by Latta Vino come in 10-litre ‘goon bags’ rather than bottles. The food menu is also designed by Alex Prichard, head chef of Icebergs Dining Room & Bar, using leftover ingredients from his kitchen, including puffed wagyu tendons sprinkled with togarashi and a sorbet made with fermented pineapple skin and plum.
Hunter Valley Voted Cellar Door of the year 2021, and located in the world-renowned Hunter Valley, this winery produces wines that truly reflect their passion for the region. Their philosophy on winemaking comes to life through the unique character of their chosen vineyards and their ability to produce dry wines that complement their sustainable vineyard practices with little manipulation in the cellar.
Mudgee After six generations of winemaking in Australia, the Gilbert family opened a hidden gem, The Cellar, located on the edge of town in Mudgee. This stunning sandstone building offers guests the chance to enjoy award-winning wines and share plates made from locally sourced and homegrown produce in a relaxed, wine-bar like environment.
Newtown Since opening its doors in 2012, Young Henry’s has operated with sustainability at the forefront. From reusable growlers to re-purposing spent grain, the popular brewery is committed to keeping things local and reducing environmental impact. Most of their beer is sold within a few suburbs of the brewery and they encourage the use of refillable glass growlers which can be reused. Their packaged beer mostly comes in cans, which takes less energy to transport, because they are lighter. By the end of 2021, they hope to be 100% solar powered.
Byron Bay Born and raised in Byron Bay, Stone and Wood had a light footprint from the beginning. They’re a B-Corp certified business working to create a positive impact in the world in every step of production. Their bottles and packaging materials are made from 70% and 50% recycled content. They separate 14 different waste streams at the brewery to bring their waste-to-landfill rate close to 5%.
In 2020 for World Water Day, they brewed their first-ever recycled water beer, thanks to treating and recycling water on site.
Through Green Feet, they’ve reduced their water and energy consumption rates in line with the most efficient 25% of the world’s independent brewers. In other words, the amount of water and energy it takes to make their environmentally friendly beer is significantly lower than the industry average.
Bright The brewery buys local wherever possible, both for its beers—using Australian malts and sourcing its hops from a nearby hops farm—and for the on-site restaurant. Foraged ingredients such as mint bush and pepperberry also appear occasionally in some of the seasonal and limited release brews.
A green transport scheme rewards employees for leaving the car at home, and reuse is common: shredded waste paper is used when shipping boxes. The brewery owns its own herd of cows, which are fed on the grain by-products of the brewing process.
The brewery’s latest innovation is switching from bottling to canning its beers, a move that brings a range of benefits. Not only is aluminium more easily recycled than glass, but it is also cheaper to freight, requiring less fuel in the process.
Melbourne This independent craft brewery diverts 100% of its spent grain to a local cattle farm and its packaging is 100% recyclable. They also installed power 100kW of solar panels generating enough power to cover the small business’s sizeable energy needs. The beer garden, which you can visit, and indoor plants use rainwater collected from the roof. Even eggs used in the kitchen come from happy chooks fed on the spent grain from their brewery at Abundance Farm.
Yarra Valley With a focus on understanding and development, each bottle offers a story to be enjoyed. Located east of Melbourne, the Yarra Valley offers cool climates to produce some of the finest Chardonnay, sparkling wine and Pinot Noir. For every bottle, Mac Forbes draws upon the knowledge of the local Indigenous community, to better understand the connection between vine and land, and the region.
Canberra There are no fewer than 18 beers on tap at the Capital Brewing Co.’s Fyshwick headquarters, but the size of its range is not the boutique brewer’s biggest achievement. Far more impressive is the fact that Capital Brewing – currently awaiting certification as a BCorp company – has built one of Australia’s most sustainable breweries.
Capital Brewing Co. is a business that has a purpose beyond profit and is committed to doing good for the environment, its employees, its customers and its community. For example, they work closely with local businesses including ONA Coffee, which supplies the coffee used in their First Tracks Imperial Stout.
The brewery has examined every aspect of its operations to identify ways to reduce environmental impacts. That includes reusing the grain and hops by-products as cattle feed and as organic compost. A grain silo has also been installed to allow for bulk deliveries, which has reduced freight movements and eliminated up to 300 25kg plastic bags a week.
The brewery is powered by green energy (generated from natural resources) and every piece of equipment has been selected for its efficiency. Variable speed drivers on the refrigeration units and a heat exchange lower energy consumption, while a centrifuge that recovers more beer per batch is among the many water-saving initiatives.
Top End For the Larrakia peoples of the Top End, the year is divided into seven separate seasons, not four, and each one marked by the arrival of insects, fruiting plants or other natural cycles. When former AFL player and Larrakia man, Daniel Motlop, launched a spirits company drawing on native flavours, the name Seven Seasons Spirits was a no-brainer.
His first release, Green Ant Gin, was an instant success, drawing its fresh citrus flavours from the native green ants harvested during the windy season (August – September). That was followed by the Bush Apple Gin, which has a soft pink hue and berry and orange blossom notes courtesy of the bush apples harvested in the monsoon season (January – February).
Motlop has plans for more releases including a native yam vodka and hopes that in addition to providing employment opportunities for his people, Seven Seasons Spirits will bring the culture, the learning and the ingredients of the Larrakia to a wider audience. Seven Seasons gin is available at liquor stores across Australia and is stocked in many bars.
Adelaide Many people are surprised to learn how water-hungry the wine industry is. That is why, when Brendan Carter set up his sustainable Adelaide Hills winery, Unico Zelo, he chose to plant grape varietals that didn’t need irrigation, thereby reducing his operational impacts.
Ready to tackle another challenge, Carter then set up Applewood Distillery to support farmers and Indigenous communities working with native ingredients. In addition to his core range of gins, Carter releases a limited edition gin every month, each one showcasing a different Indigenous botanical. With more than two dozen gins released so far featuring native plants such as Kakadu plum, lemon aspen and muntrie, Carter says he has identified enough aromatic ingredients to keep the series going for several years yet, bringing a much-needed source of income to remote communities and small-scale farmers alike.
Barossa Valley Henschke Wines, a family institution in the Barossa Valley has won many accolades for its commitment to environmental management and innovation. The Henschke vineyards are managed using organic and biodynamic practices. This includes using compost covered with straw mulch, bicarbonate sprays and soil preparations such as cow-pit peat made from cow manure. It is broken down into a rich soil medium that is oxygenated in flowing water and sprayed over the vineyard land four to five times through spring. A preparation, known as 501 and made from finely crushed quartz crystals (silicon dioxide) buried in cow horns, is mixed with water and misted over the vines. The silica crystals reflect more light into the canopy and stimulate photosynthesis.
In June 2021 Henschke was awarded a Robert Parker Wine Advocate Green Emblem, which recognises 24 wineries from around the world that have demonstrated extraordinary efforts in the pursuit of environmentally friendly practices. To qualify for this award, a producer may or may not already be organic and/or biodynamic certified, however needs to be an outstanding proponent of sustainability who looks towards long-term environmental protection and biodiversity.
Launceston The owners of Tasmania’s first 100 per cent off-grid winery know a thing or two about turning challenges into opportunities. When the team at Moores Hill Estate, located near Launceston, decided it was time to stop outsourcing and bring all their operations on-site, they realised it was a chance to prioritise minimising their environmental footprint. They invested in a range of equipment including a solar power array and on-site waste treatment.
Their status as Tasmania’s first solar-powered winery has brought Moore’s Hill Estate considerable acclaim, but the winery’s cool-climate drops – the small winery produces a surprising array of styles, from sparkling wine, Riesling and pinot gris to rose and pinot noir—stand on their own merits. The minimal-intervention wines are made using grapes handpicked from the seven hectares of vines and the winery team is working towards organic status. The aim is to create wines that are not just low-impact but that reflect the specific patch of ground on which they were grown.
Perth It was the taste that first drew Sam Winfield to natural wines. Winfield, now the owner of Wines Of While, was so intrigued by the broad range of flavours he found in low-intervention wines that he started delving deeper into the field. What he discovered inspired him to open Wines of While, Perth’s first bar and shop dedicated to natural wines.
Winfield stocks hundreds of wines from around the world, all of which have been grown using organic or biodynamic practices and hand-harvested. In addition, they use only naturally-occurring yeasts, have nothing added during the winemaking process and are not fined or filtered. Many of the winemakers are young and working small plots outside the major wine areas. If you are keen to try some of Western Australia’s best natural wines, be sure to ask about Si Vintners in Rosa Glen, Express Winemakers at Mount Barker or Margaret River’s Blind Corner.
Brookhampton This little spot was built just 25 years ago and is already packed with memories and stories to share. All Barrecas Wines, the sparkling and fortified wines are proudly 100% estate-bottled, including the Estate’s premium Extra Virgin Olive Oil which is produced from the Estate’s premium olive plantation. The Barrecas Winery is a place where you can go to enjoy exquisite views soaked in the Australian sun. Enjoy a glass of premium crafted wine whilst peacefully sitting under a gumtree. The winery is also fitted with a Cellar Door that acts as the heart of story-making at the Barrecas.
Wilyabrup Stormflower achieved full organic certification in 2016 and all of Stormflower’s wines from the 2016 vintage onwards are certified organic or made with certified organic grapes. They completed the winery just in time for the 2020 vintage and now make all wines on site.
Inside the Cellar Door, you will find a tasting table and sales counter made from a Marri tree that blew down outside the cellar during a storm in 2013.
The cold weather in most parts of Australia coinciding with EOFY celebrations is the closest thing that we’ll get to snowy Christmas vibes. And if you’re in dire need of some festive cheer after the first six months of 2023, grab your ugly sweater and head to your nearest Red Rooster for Xmas in July deals.
From June 29 – July 31, 2023, Red Rooster is serving up free food items, a chance to win $10,000 or one of 10 merch packs valued at $400 and other fun prizes. All you have to do is sign up as a Red Royalty member and spend $5 on at a location near you or online.
Each week there’ll be new delicious deals and prizes to win. The week one deals have already dropped and they’re looking pretty tasty. You can get access to them via your Red Royalty account. The more you purchase, the more chances you have to win.
Spoiler alert: you can get 10 chicken nuggets for free, right now. Brb running to Red Rooster.