Australia’s numerous wine regions are a glorious playground for wine enthusiasts. In September 2016, I had the pleasure of spending some time in the beautiful Barossa Valley, one of South Australia’s finest.
Welcome to the Barossa Valley
Lush meadows and vineyards perched aloft steep hills greeted us as we meandered our way into the Barossa Valley from Victoria. The road trip from The Grampians to South Australia had been gorgeous and we were blessed with glorious weather.
We had booked two nights at the Barossa Barn bed and breakfast in Penrice. Neither of us had been to this part of the country before so most of our choices were based on internet recommendations. We were not however, expecting such grand digs for our stay. Our room was in fact the loft of a very old converted barn complete with a grand four-poster bed and chandeliers. Run by a wine enthusiast herself, the barn was equiped with all the contraptions you could possibly wish for during your stay and a lovely bottle of lovely port to boot. There was also plenty of information and recommendations. A wine lover’s paradise.
Dinner on our first night was enjoyed at Vintners in Angaston. With a wine menu like a catalogue and a gourmet selection of dishes, we were in our element. The service was superb. Despite being a little way from our cozy loft, were were able to enjoy a couple of well matched wines too, as the whole area is well covered by a couple of reliable taxi services.
Cycling has never really been my thing, but at the same time neither has drink driving. A cycle tour therefore seemed like the perfect way to sample the musty delights of the valley. Especially as it is well covered by off-road cycle tracks. Though I must admit that I gulped at the sight of some of the hills! Our metallic steeds were delivered to us on the night before our tour by Barossa valley Bike Hire. From the many options available, we chose the Butcher, Baker and Winemaker tour. Our bikes came complete with a Barossa Valley cool bag containing everything we needed to build a stunning hamper the following day. Wine glasses, some cheese accessories and a book of vouchers to redeem at many participating businesses.
‘Just like riding a bike’ – it didn’t take us long to get the hang of it as we wobbled into Angaston for breakfast at Soul with Zest (part of our B&B package). However the tour really got started with the redemption of our first voucher – cheese. The washrind was our choice from a selection of tastings at the Barossa Valley Cheese Co, where we were given a warm welcome and some crackers too.
Eden Valley, very close to the Barossa is another great wine region in its own right. Deserving of a little detour, but unfortunately we were not proficient enough at cycling to make it all the way. We therefore settled on Taste Eden Valley, a cellar door in Angaston that showcases the best of Eden Valley. Here we enjoyed a generous tasting from our knowledgable hosts before purchasing a few delights for home (to be collected in the car). Eden Valley is famous for its Riesling, and we could see why, but there were many other delights too. Forbes and Forbes Fraternal Blend was another really unique blend of Merlot and Cabernet Fanc, that tickled our fancy.
Back on our bikes, we were off down an old scenic disused rail track to Nuriootpa. Penfolds greeted us fist of all, so we stopped off there for a rather lovely tasting and to redeem our wine voucher. We chose a dry-style Eden Valley Riesling to enjoy with our lunches. Taking care not to sample too many wines before continuing into town.
Bread and meat
Linke’s Bakery provided us with some crusty rolls, whilst Linke’s Butcher supplied some delicious brandy mettwurst. We were all set for a perfect picnic, Barossa style, in a nearby riverside park.
Fed and watered, with renewed vim, we were off again. This time, rather ambitiously as it turned out, in the direction of Maggie Beer’s Farm Shop. It was a rather tough up hill slog and time was getting on. Luckily there were so many tasty samples to be had and an enormous reviving cup of tea as we watched the turtles in the shop pond. We exchanged our voucher from some quince paste and made a move, but neither of us were much looking forward to the journey home. By now our panniers were pretty heavy!
Barossa Bike Hire came to our rescue, or rather we managed to cycle the much shorter distance to their headquarters. They gave us a welcome lift home to our loft. We were shattered but smiling. However, we did manage to stumble into Angaston for a pizza supper from Roaring 40’s Cafe.
Thighs smarting a little after our two-wheeled adventure yesterday, we planned our second day over breakfast. First stop, the famous Barossa Farmer’s Market in Angaston. Unlike the previous day, the weather was drizzly and overcast. However, the market was buzzing. Showcasing the very best of what the Barossa Valley has to offer, we meandered through the crowded market stalls, sampling the delights and chatting to the vendors. Our mission: To get a range of delights for a homely feast that evening, adding to some of the treats we gathered yesterday on our tour. We smashed it!
Over fifty vouchers are supplied with the cycle tour that we had booked. For an amateur cyclist like me, that was far too many to redeem in a day. Luckily, the booklet is valid for up to twelve months from purchase, so today we set off on day two to cash in some more.
Further afield than we dared venture on our bikes we found Lyndoch Lavender Farm. Picturesque even on a dull day, it was worth the drive. Little fairy wrens darted around our table collecting morsels of left over tea room treats. We had a voucher for lavender scones and they seemed most delighted at that. The farm also has a lovely little shop showcasing the amazing things that you can do with lavender. Lavender jam, for example – who knew?
On route back to he heart of the action, we just had time for a quick visit to the Visitor’s Centre in Tanuda to cash in a voucher for some beetroot chutney. Another treat for later.
St Hallett wines have long been one of our family favourites. A giant of the Barossa since 1944, we often enjoy their Gamekeeper’s shiraz at home. We were therefore very excited to visit the cellar door. In fact, so impressed were we with their finer wines from the older vines, that we became members of the Old Block Club. St Hallet Old Block shiraz comes from vines that are over 100 years old and they are invariably exceptional. The 2013 Old Block can be cellared for decades so we bought a few – with a view to doing just that.
Most famous for being one of the oldest estates in the Barossa, we had to visit Seppeltsfield. Clearly many other visitors had had the same idea – the enormous cellar door was packed. Luckily the place was well suited to catering for the masses with lots of tasting stations. Cashing in a voucher for a free flight, we enjoyed sampling what they had on offer, and later purchased a lovely bottle of Tokay for home.
Looking for a slightly more intimate venue, we headed in the direction of Greenock. We had a voucher for a tasting experience at Kelleske Wines, another longstanding winery in The Barossa. Seven generations of the Kalleske family have worked those paddocks since 1853. The experience itself consisted of six wines expertly matched to a corresponding six canapés. Set out on a comprehensive information sheet, it was self-lead and truly delicious. Both the wine and the food were exceptional.
Intrigued, we decided that we needed to taste a few more of their organic and biodynamic wines on offer. Eventually leaving with a collection of bottles for the cellar including a Johann Georg Shiraz 2014, from their oldest block of vines. After having the fortunate opportunity to taste this wine, we just had to have it. Cellerable for thirty years.
Fantastic final farmer’s feast
Our last night in the fabulous Barossa, was spent in our cozy loft with the cornucopia of delights we had collected during our stay. Our farmer’s table was laden with fresh vegetables, cheeses and chutneys; a real feast. Reflections on our fabulous stay darted back and forth between us as we sipped some delicious wine. We felt thoroughly spoilt. One thing is for certain, we will be back again!