Local's guide: Barossa

Wine Barossa Valley my nrma locals guide
Wine Barossa Valley my nrma locals guide

Aside from hosting many of Australia's most recognisable wine brands, the Barossa offers a rich cultural heritage, flawless scenery and plenty of genuine country hospitality.

  • Fly in a hot air balloon
  • Play a game of kegel skittles
  • Sample authentic German fare

Think Barossa, and names such Maggie Beer, Peter Lehmann, Jacob’s Creek and Wolf Blass spring to mind. But strip away the celebrity, and the Barossa remains what it has always been – a proud, hard working community set in a magical valley. Just 75km from Adelaide the Barossa guards its old buildings, slow food traditions and privacy. From wine to cheese, smoked meats, quinces and figs, this larder is overflowing with delights – if you know where to look.

Where to eat

There are three great obsessions in the Barossa: Aussie Rules, wine and food. Thanks to an abundance of great seasonal produce and the arrival of several talented young chefs, the region has quickly established itself as one of Australia’s most sophisticated rural food destinations. Leading the charge are Hentley Farm and Appellation, two fine dining establishments that create ingenious, flavoursome and wine friendly dishes using fresh local ingredients. The arrival of Fino, part of the historic Seppeltsfield estate, has only bolstered the Barossa’s reputation. Indeed, owners Sharon Romeo and David Swain have taken country hospitality and raised it to sublime heights – their shared menu is great value.

Creating a shortlist of places to drink in the Barossa is more problematic since the region has more than 170 wineries, many with cellar doors. For relaxed but finely structured wine tastings try Two Hands Wines or share a glass of Tscharke Mataro or Shiraz with the winemaker himself.

Alternatively, drive over to Artisans of Barossa a converted farmhouse that showcases wine by six smaller producers – and also enjoys panoramic views of the Valley.

Where to play

Once upon a time the most energetic activity in the Barossa was pulling the cork on a bottle of wine. These days the region has embraced outdoor adventure with a passion. Hiking, cycling and hot air ballooning are all popular. The newly completed Jack Bobridge Track, which links Gawler and Tanunda, is a clever way to combine physical activity with a spot of wine tasting. Maps are available from the Visitor Information Centre, while bikes can be hired in both Tanunda and Nuriootpa.

If bikes aren’t your thing, let off some steam at The Rex, a modern community fitness centre in Tanunda which includes a 25m heated swimming pool, well equipped gym, squash courts and a creche. The centre, which is open daily, is a boon for anyone travelling with young, highly active children.

For something a little different why not try your hand at a game of kegel? The eccentric German bowling game is still played at the Tanunda Kegel Club. Visitors are welcome to attend the club’s evening sessions, but it’s wise to call ahead beforehand to confirm the bowling alley is open.

Where to forage

First settled by hard working, German speaking immigrants, the Barrossa has a strong culinary heritage. Visit Linke’s Central Meat Store in Nuriootpa for traditional smoked smallgoods, and Apex Bakery in Tanunda for German breads, pastries and cakes. Make sure you try the salty pretzels, authentic Bienenstich (Bee Sting) cake and 1924 Dough Ferment Loaf. The bakery also cranks out the best meat pies, baked in an ancient woodfired oven.

Still in foraging mode, drop into The Barossa Valley Cheese Company in Angaston. In addition to its range of cow and goat milk cheese, the shop also sells trail packs – ideal for a vineyard picnic later in the day. A little further along Murray Street is Casa Carboni, a cute little cafe open Thursday to Sunday 9am to 3pm, serving tasty Italian lunches and the Barossa’s best cooked breakfast. It also has a cooking school and wine shop selling a selection of European drops, artisan ingredients and homewares. For a foraging extravaganza, however, join the locals at the Barossa Farmers Market held just down the road in an old Vintner’s shed every Saturday morning

Where to stay

Apart from being Australia’s most celebrated wine region, the Barossa is Adelaide’s number one destination for weddings. This means that you’ll always find a bed somewhere in the Valley. The options range from large scale hotels and motels to private holiday cottages. Novotel Barossa Valley Resort is a big brand hotel with stylish, modern rooms, excellent facilities (including a spa and outdoor swimming pool) and access to the region’s premier golf course.

Equally worthwhile is Lyndoch Hill, a magnificent chateau with a tasting room, huge rose garden and 34 motel style rooms. It’s among the best value accommodation in the whole of the Barossa. Many of the old stone farm cottages in these parts have been converted into holiday accommodation, and one of the finest is Seppeltsfield Vineyard Cottage, a charming 1860s farmhouse surrounded by well tended vines. The property is handy for a number of wineries including Hentley Farm, Seppeltsfield and Tscharke.

Image credit: South Australian Tourism Commission

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