January 8, 2015
Exploring Barossa Valley // South Australia
Just a quick hour drive out of the capital city of Adelaide, you’ll find the Barossa Valley, South Australia’s preeminent wine region revered for their Shiraz and Riesling. Not only is the region’s wildlife, agriculture and nature some of the most remarkable in the world, it’s also the spot many natives pick for their own holidays—it's been dubbed “the place where Australians fall in love with their own country." We know you will too, especially after you taste Henschke’s Hill of Grace Shiraz, a cult wine if there ever was. To wit, the quick and dirty on Barossa Valley travel:
Where to Stay: Kingsford Homestead, a seven-suite, all-inclusive property (evening canapés, drinks and breakfast are included), is hands-down the place to stay in the Barossa. Formerly sheep station turned set of Aussie TV show McLeod’s Daughters, today Kingsford Homestead is a charming inn on 225 acres, complete with an al fresco “bush bath”—an oversized, freestanding bath tub overlooking the river and historic sheep shearing sheds—winemaker dinners, an indoor pool and spa and a billiards/smoking room out back. Not only does Kingsford Homestead have an on-site chef who offers three– and five-course tasting menus, but guests can expect to meet local artisans and producers, as they frequently stop by the kitchen to deliver their fresh fare. Be sure to reserve the wine cellar, a gorgeous stonewall room in the 1,000-bottle, on-site wine cellar, which includes a premium Barons Of The Barossa Selection, which have been hand-selected by some of the region’s most touted names, for dinner. No two guestrooms are alike, and each features stunning soaking tubs and spa showers, not to mention flat-screen TVs, complimentary Wi-Fi and iPod docking stations.
What to Do: While some tour guides can be cheesy, John Baldwin of Barossa Daimler Tours offers an incredibly unique and experiential tour worth your while. A native Aussie with extensive knowledge on the region, not to mention wine (oenophiles won’t want to miss his wine-specific tours like “A Taste of Grange at Penfolds” or “100 year old Port (liquid history) at Seppeltsfield”), Baldwin serves up customized tours in his charming Daimler from 1962 (he owns the only three left in existence). He knows everyone in town, will tailor his tours to whatever your desires may be, and he’s simply a kind man with a fantastic mustache to boot!
Where to Drink Wine: With over 120 wineries in the state alone, visiting vineyards and wine gardens is the best way to learn about Australian production and what makes their labels so special. While companies like Vineyard Safaris, which is led by a Master of Wine who can make personal introductions to the area’s leading winemakers, are available, visitors can easily embark on self-guided tours, as well. Here are four you can’t miss:
- Penfolds: This iconic winery offers "make your own blend" classes, which are fun and interactive, and connoisseurs can also visit their recently revamped Penfolds Magill Estate Restaurant offering contemporary eats against postcard-worthy views.
- Henschke Hill of Grace: Perhaps the most highly regarded wine in the region, this is a can’t-miss stop, especially now that their Hill of Grace restaurant is open. Chef Dennis Leslie delivers dishes inspired by native Australian ingredients, his Filipino roots and French cooking techniques, alongside the only collection of a complete vertical of Henschke’s wines.
- Torbreck: Though this winery was only founded in 1994, it’s already been named one of the World's Top 100 Wine Estates by Robert Parker, likely for its traditional winemaking approach emulating the Rhone Valley. Don’t miss their flagship Shiraz!
- FINO @ Seppelstfield: This once iconic estate has been reborn with their unbroken line of fortified wines and a highly-anticipated new restaurant has a dedicated Fino Sherry barrel, in which by-the-glass can be drawn upon from daily.