South Australia’s Barossa region is a treasure trove of delights, replete with an abundance of delicious food and wine, and striking sights aplenty. whether your ideal visit includes fine dining, or you’re more partial to a leisurely stroll through the farmer’s market, there’s certainly something for everyone. Here, the Barossa Grape & Wine Association’s chief executive officer, James March, shares insight into all the region has to offer.
Photography courtesy of Barossa Grape & Wine
Association / Sven Kovac
What activities are an absolute must-do
for readers planning a visit to the Barossa
With such diverse wine, food and landscape [in the Barossa region], my favourite must-do activity is typically something that includes all three, in the company of good friends. The type of food and wine depends on the occasion. Celebratory occasions may see us at St Hugo’s, indulging in their eight-course degustation menu, where each dish is superbly matched to Barossa’s classic varieties – riesling, grenache, shiraz and cabernet sauvignon; or Hentley Farm, where the set-course menus are an inspiration, using foraged wild ingredients and the farm’s locally grown produce to create its fare. Each course is also carefully paired with Hentley Farm’s own range of wine.
A more casual Sunday might find us at Seppeltsfield’s Fino, or Tanunda’s Vino Lokal, eating contemporary share plates sourced from local producers and enjoying their diverse range of wines, which often includes more unique varieties such as chenin blanc and vermentino.
What I love [about the region] is that there is always an underlying sense of generosity. This generosity not only extends from the food and the wine to the people behind the wine, but also in the spirit with which it’s served. A lot of regions have good food and wine, and while we have more than most, I believe this genuine generosity is unique to Barossa.
For the wine-lovers among us, how can one best experience the bountiful offerings of the region?
The diversity of wine styles is amazing in the Barossa Valley and each winery will spoil you for choice with their wares. Once you establish your preferred taste, our welcoming cellar door hosts will be more than happy to share their highlights and recommend you to other cellar doors in the area. Structured tastings and wine flights are on offer – it’s best to check in with the Barossa Visitor Centre to start your tasting journey.
Any of the knowledgeable local tour guides will also provide recommendations on places to visit, and will work with you to establish what’s likely to appeal to your palate and personal preference.
There are more than eighty cellar doors to visit within the Barossa region. Many of which have unique experiences, which extend beyond a standard cellar door tasting. Jacob’s Creek in Rowland Flat runs a blending experience, while Château Tanunda has a terroir tasting; Langmeil offers ‘The Freedom Experience’, which includes a tasting of museum-release wines in the Freedom Cellar, a private den.
One way to navigate your way through these vinous treasures is to think of grouping by geography. Experience the Southern Barossa Valley at 1847 Chateau Yaldara, Burge Family Winemakers, Kellermeister, Jacob’s Creek Visitor Centre, and more.
The Bethany to Angaston trail will take in Yalumba, Bethany and Turkey Flat; Krondorf Road links St Hallett with Charles Melton, Rockford, Grant Burge and Krondorf Creek Farm. Around Nuriootpa you could start with Elderton Wines, First Drop, Kaesler Wines and Penfolds, before heading north to the likes of Gibson and Tomfoolery. Or, opt for Eden Valley, where you can visit Henschke, Brockenchack, and Taste Eden Valley.
Back in Tanunda you’re spoilt for choice with Château Tanunda, Z WINE and the Artisans of Barossa at Vino Lokal all within walking distance. Not far away are Langmeil, Michael Hall Wines, Rieslingfreak, David Franz, and Hayes Family Wines.
Don’t forget Greenock, a hidden gem in western Barossa. Whether it’s the view from Pindarie, or the atmosphere at Kalleske, Murray Street Vineyards, Hentley Farm, Seppeltsfield, Torbreck, and Tscharke, there’s a plethora of great wine experiences to discover.
The region has such a rich and diverse history. How would you suggest visitors immerse themselves in the region’s heritage?
Barossa is a rural community that believes in open-hearted welcoming and sharing, so visitors will get to experience this generational heritage just by meeting and talking to locals. Visitors will also experience it in the handcrafted produce on offer, and the sense of custodianship and provenance that marks our old-vine heritage and food culture. Drop into the little shop of Allerlei and you’ll see what I mean. Keep your eyes open and you’ll see it in the signs and displays featuring European and Indigenous heritage. There are walking trails in some of the towns and a wonderful museum in Tanunda showcasing historical artefacts.
What do you think are the most exciting and unexpected aspects of the Barossa region for first-time visitors?
Barossa has a long and proud tradition of more than 175 years, but acknowledges the need for constant re-invention and re-imagination. There’s so much to discover as a first-time visitor, but the great thing about the region is the open-heartedness shown by people in the region. You’ll make a connection somewhere along the trail that will inspire you to keep coming back and building your sense of belonging. It’s a wonderful place.
Is there a particular time of year when it’s best to visit the Barossa region?
Every season has its own charm and reason for visiting – there’s something exciting about visiting in autumn to feel the vintage atmosphere and sense of anticipation by the community as to the promise of a great harvest. The colours then change, and winter’s scenic appeal is the neat rows of freshly pruned vineyards, matched by a glass of generous red wine enjoyed next to the natural warmth of a wood fire paired with a hearty meal.
Spring renews the senses with fresh, new white wine releases and moreish grenache-based wines, spring menus and longer days to spend outdoors. In summer it’s obligatory to purchase your Eden Valley riesling to get you through the warm days watching the cricket and before you head to the beach, so make sure you’ve visited to stock up!
If you could only spend one day in the region, how would you spend it?
One day is too short! That being said, if you only had one, I’d start somewhere in the beautiful high country of Eden Valley and soak up the big blue skies and amazing natural light, then come into one of the towns for a great coffee. Drop into the Barossa Visitor Centre in Tanunda to enquire as to a recommended cellar door and book for lunch in one of the many great restaurants. Apex Bakery also makes fantastic pies and pasties in their woodfired oven, if time is short.
After lunch try another wine tasting, or take in the view at Mengler’s Hill Lookout and walk around the sculpture park. Drop into Seppeltsfield to ‘Taste your Birth Year’ and tour the Centennial Cellar in the late afternoon; then, as you’re close to The Louise, enjoy a glass of something memorable, while delighting in the sunset from the bar area. By that stage you might be tempted to book into somewhere to stay the night… and do it all again the next day!