Swathed in lush vineyards and celebrated for it’s rich, fertile earth and exceptional produce, South Australia’s Barossa Valley is as seductive as it is invigorating. It feels a world away from city life – much further than the just-over-an-hour drive it actually takes to reach there.
This is wine country. Most famously, the Barossa produces distinctively bold, plucky reds made from Shiraz and Grenache varieties, picked from some of the oldest continuously-producing vineyards in the world. It’s impossible to drive through and not be lured-in by one of the superb cellar doors that pepper the countryside. But, there’s more to spending a weekend in the valley than just drinking wine… though obviously, you’ll be doing plenty of that.
With some 13,250 hectares of vineyards planted throughout the region, choosing which wineries to visit and which to pass by is a daunting task. Selecting a cross-section of big name producers and independents is a great way to develop a feel for what the Barossa is really about; the heritage, the character and the future of this treasured region. Get all the info you need (and save some time) by planning your road trip using the barossa.com winery search.
For over 170 years, the Penfolds brand has been synonymous with fine wine, producing Australia’s most sought after red, Penfolds Grange. The classic cellar-door in Nuriootpa was built in 1911, expanding the company’s operations beyond the original Magill plantation. The old stone building is a great starting-point for a tasting tour, offering a glance back into the history of life and winemaking in the area.
For a tipple without the travel, head to Artisans of Barossa, an assembly of local producers committed to sustaining and promoting small batch, sub-regional winemaking. The tasting room showcases wines from half a dozen individual wineries (Hobbs of Barossa Ranges, John Duval Wines, Messena, Schwartz Wine Co., Sons of Eden and Spinafex) poured against a backdrop of the inimitable Barossa Valley. It’s like knocking over six cellar doors, all under the one roof.
Prefer your beverages brewed rather than barrelled? The Barossa Valley Brewing Company is the perfect place to waste a sunny afternoon supping ales like their award-winning Bee Sting (brewed with Orange Blossom honey) and Double IPA (winner Best Beer in Show and Champion IPA, Royal Adelaide Beer Awards 2014).
Of course, those planning a daylong juice-jaunt will need to sustain themselves. Our pick is the “Feed me like a Barossan” curated menu from Artisans of Barossa, served in their Harvest Kitchen. Revel in the tradition of the long lunch, as you’re led on a culinary odyssey traversing the flavours of the region. With enviable access to an abundance of exquisite produce, the chefs redesign dishes to reflect seasonal availability, so the menu is continually evolving.
Set on the banks of Greenock Creek, Hentley Farm prides itself on “connecting diners with the people and the produce of the farm, while being both memorable and educational” and accolades are piling up for this remarkable venue. Launching back in 2013, they offer two set menus per day with Head Chef Lachlan Colwill and his team preferring to surprise guests.
For those who like to feel the sun on their faces and the soil beneath their wheels, taking in the Barossa by bike provides a unique view of the region, at your own pace. Forty kilometres of sealed pathways connect between Angaston and Gawler via the three townships of Nuriootpa, Tanunda and Lyndoch and bicycles can be hired (including delivery/collection) from a number of nearby businesses.
Get among the locals at The Barossa Farmers Market (every Saturday from 7.30am ’til 11.30am). Locally grown fruit and veg, fresh-baked bread, meats and cheeses, flowers, coffee, homemade jams… if the essence of the valley was to be distilled into a single event, this would be it.
No daytrip to the Barossa would be complete without a visit to the Whispering Wall, just outside of Williamstown. It’s kinda daggy but it’s also great fun. The concrete dam wall is nine storeys high and spans 140 metres, yet words whispered on one side can be heard clearly from the other – because #magic. (Well, because of something called the parabola effect, but we prefer things with a little mystery).
Nobody does hospitality quite like wine people. Jayne and Chris Pfeiffer operate The Paddocks at Whistler Farm; a homely B&B situated on the same property as the family vines. Ideal for couples, the self-contained “Olive Grove” and “Vineyard” suites are spaces in which to unwind after a day touring the countryside.
For groups seeking private accommodation where they can relax together, the stunning Barossa Shiraz Estate, raised in 1850 is a great venue to consider. One, two and three-bedroom vineyard cottages are available, as well as The Barossa Barn – a stunning, two-level conversion of the Royal Mail Coach House (circa 1848).
Novotel Barossa Valley Resort is an easy choice for comfort and accessibility. From silver service dining to spa and sporting provisions like tennis courts, a heated swimming pool and the adjacent Tanunda Pines Golf Club – an immaculate 18-hole, par-72 course lined by gnarled eucalypts – this is nothing like a last resort. From modern studios to spa rooms, or one and two bedroom apartments, Novotel offers something to suit every traveller.
But, for maximum indulgence, with unsurpassable scenery and elegant design, stay at The Louise. Paired with an exquisite dining experience at the renowned Appellation Restaurant, this is weekend escapism at its most luxe.
For a taste of the French countryside in the middle of South Australian wine country, you can’t go passed the newly open, super luxe, Le Mas in Rowland Flat.
(Lead image: Barossa.com)
Tim lives life between the coffee-shop and the cinema. He's a writer whose words have appeared in GRAM and Broadsheet, and he operates under the moniker @timmyvolume across most social sites.