As 2021 rolled around, we faced a situation with international borders remaining shut and a high risk of being stuck in quarantine from even travelling interstate. After trips to Western Australia (posts coming soon) and the Northern Territory in 2020 and close calls with border closures in both states, we decided to make our first “trip” of 2021 a bit closer to home. We took the opportunity to explore the countryside between Canberra, Goulburn and Yass and check out the range of world class wineries along the way. As an added bonus, we rented out a Tesla Model 3 from electric car rental platform Evee – something we’ve been keen to try out for some time – to give us a unique experience travelling through the region. So this article is part travel blog, part winery tour review, and part Tesla Model 3 review – we hope you enjoy!
We’d love to hear your experience driving a Tesla or your favourite wineries in the Canberra region – comment below!
Tesla Model 3 – First impressions
We picked up the Tesla from Gungahlin in Canberra’s north. The rental was from a super friendly and knowledgable guy called Slava – turns out he actually runs the Evee rental platform and he’s a huge Tesla enthusiast, so he was the perfect person to introduce us to the experience. Before driving off, he gave us a full brief on how to operate the vehicle – everything from how to get it into gear to how to operate the navigation and self driving systems, and even how to turn the road into rainbows!
One big surprise once we started was just how quickly the car braked without hitting the brakes – turns out this is a function called “regenerative braking” which takes the kinetic energy from the car rolling and uses it to charge the battery – very clever! As a new user of the vehicle though, it was a little too much to begin with, so we switched it off and it started rolling more like a regular vehicle. Other than that, it was a very smooth ride, quiet as anything and the full self driving functions made cruising the main suburban roads in north Canberra a real breeze. The vehicle handled changes in speed limits and traffic lights with ease – any traffic light it would stop automatically at red, and slow down for green and seek the driver’s input to keep going – a handy safety feature while full self driving is still in development.
After 15 minutes or so, we turned onto the Federal Highway heading out of ACT and into New South Wales, where the speed limit increased to 110km. Merging onto the highway, this was our first experience of the signature Tesla acceleration – and my goodness, it did not disappoint! The vehicle we had hired was the Standard Range Plus variety, which is effectively the “base” version, with an official 0-100km acceleration time of 5.6s (compared to an extraordinary 2.1s for the top level Model S). Regardless of it being the “base” level, hitting the acceleration as we came onto the highway genuinely felt like a rocket ship taking off! Now, in fairness, it’s entirely within the capability of the vehicle to accelerate at a more moderate speed, but what’s the fun in that?
We had plenty of time before our first winery, so we decided to take the vehicle all the way out to Goulburn, which had a couple of benefits – firstly, we get the opportunity to drive on the highway for an hour each way, which is plenty of time to familiarise ourselves with the vehicles, and secondly, we got the opportunity to use the Tesla Supercharger in Goulburn (this location is chosen by Tesla as it’s a couple of hours down the road from Sydney on the main Sydney-Melbourne highway, so electric vehicle drivers of this popular route won’t have any trouble making the distance).
The main thing that stood out to us was just how minimal the human intervention was when driving on the highway – the main things we’d have to input were keeping our hands on the wheel as a safety precaution, and accepting the vehicle’s recommendation when it chose to change lanes to overtake slower vehicles. Other than that, the car really drove itself. After an hour or so of relaxing driving on the Federal and Hume highways, we approached the Supercharger. With about 10 minutes to go, the screen started to say that the battery was being preconditioned for Supercharger use. Arriving at the Supercharger, we reversed in and found it reasonably easy to plug in and go. The charger in Goulburn is at the Visitor’s Centre, a little off the highway, but close to the main street and parks, so there was plenty to go and look at while waiting 10 minutes or so for the car to charge. After 10 minutes, the vehicle was charged up to the recommended 80% and it was time to head back to Canberra on the Hume and Federal highways.
Heading back toward Canberra, it was finally time to start our winery tour. The Canberra region is a cool climate region that produces quality wines. With elevated vineyards, sunny days and cool night temperatures, the region is renowned for producing aromatic wines, notably riesling and shiraz varieties. At the heart of the wine region is Murrumbateman which is about a 35 minutes drive from Canberra. The Lake George wine district – Bungendore, Collector, Wamboin and the surrounds of Lake George – is also worth visiting.
We’ve included some quality wine cellars and restaurants that we visited over the course of a leisurely weekend while cruising in the Tesla Model 3. We would generally recommend booking your tasting ahead of time to help the business manage numbers. Another reason to book in advance is some cellar doors have limits on the number of people they can accommodate in group bookings. Most wineries have online booking systems.
Lake George Winery
First up was Lake George Winery, located on the north-western side of Lake George just off the Federal Highway. It is one of the oldest in the region and set on a picturesque property surrounded by mountains. There is a restaurant onsite and wine tasting in the downstairs cellar. There is a $10 tasting fee which is refundable on purchase of a bottle of wine. As an added bonus, the Lake George Winery has a Tesla destination charger and we gladly accepted the offer to use it for free, although this charger was not noted on the Tesla navigation map.
The friendly and knowledgeable staff guided us through their standard tasting line-up which included Pinot Gris, Riesling, Rosé, Pinot Noir, Tempranillo and Shiraz. The Riesling was one of our favourites with a prominent citrus note. We were also fortunate to be offered the opportunity to try some more unique, only-at-cellar-door opportunities – a Rosé Gin and a 70 year old grandfather port.
After the tasting, we headed upstairs to the Westering Restaurant where we were delighted by the fine dining 2 course meal amid the vineyards. The winery also offers other activities if you want an immersive winery experience including guided tours through the vineyards and glamping.
While we did have plans to visit another winery on this day, we were very full and totally delighted by the food and wine we had had, so we decided to head back home and recharge our bodies and the Tesla for the next day.
The next day, we headed out to Murrumbateman for some of the best wines of the region. First up was the world-renowned Clonakilla. This is an iconic wine producer in the Canberra region and one of the most highly rated. It is acclaimed for its shiraz viognier and riesling. Clonakilla offers free wine tasting in its stone and timber bar. With a central fireplace and wine barrels as standing tables, we found the bar warm and inviting and full of character.
It was a warm day so we were given the option of sitting outside overlooking the vineyards. We gladly accepted. The tasting was unhurried and educational and included several varieties of shiraz, a chardonnay, riesling, and finished with their famous shiraz viognier blend. The staff were extremely knowledgeable and passionate about the wines. Overall, it was a great opportunity to try one of the best in the region.
Four Winds Vineyard
After a fantastic tasting experience at Clonakilla, it was time for some food. Four Winds Vineyard has some lovely wines, although we took the opportunity this time around to take a bit of a break. Instead, we were delighted to have some authentic wood fire pizzas while dining among the vineyards – highly recommended!
Finally, after lunch we headed off to Shaw Wines. Shaw Wines is a modern and beautifully presented cellar door located in Murrumbateman. The spacious tasting room overlooks the vineyards and is a relaxing setting to enjoy a seated wine tasting experience. You can choose between tasting their estate or more premium reserve range. There is also a cheese board available to order for $20 to enjoy alongside your wine. The tasting was split into 3 sections – whites, reds and sweet varieties. The Shiraz, Semillon and Cabernet Sauvignon in the reserve range were our favourites. The staff were friendly and shared insights into the wines, vineyard and the broader Canberra wine region. Shaw Wines charges a $5 tasting fee per person, however, this is waived on purchase of a bottle of wine. There is also a restaurant onsite however, we were already full from pizza, so that will have to wait for another day.
After some fantastic wineries and food in the Murrumbateman and Lake George regions, it was finally time to head back to Canberra and return the Tesla. Driving the short 40 minutes back to Canberra on the Barton Highway, which the vehicle handled marvellously on autopilot, despite the multiple roadwork zones along the way. We couldn’t resist the chance to go and take some pictures at Parliament House, then drove out to the Supercharger at the airport for a quick final charge, then back to Gungahlin to return the Tesla and geek out for a bit with Slava who was very happy to chat about all the great features we’d discovered.
That’s it for the Tesla Model 3 Winery Tour in Canberra, Australia. Thanks for reading – and be sure to comment down below – what have you loved about the Tesla Model 3 and/or the Canberra wine region? If you liked this article, feel free to follow our blog and hit that like button, and follow us on social media (Twitter, Instagram, Facebook).