Discover the best of Barossa Valley
I think we took a wrong turn, because I was sure that the drive into the Barossa Valley wasn’t meant to be along a dry, one lane dirt road that crunched beneath the tyres. As the car rose and dipped across its uncertain track, it clocked towards sunset; getting lost in wine country was meant to be proverbial. Along a convex ridge of vineyards, our wrong turn happened to give us a most unencumbered and unexpected view of the setting sun, piercing bright into the lines of grapevines. Just a few minutes in and we could already tell that no one was overselling the Barossa. Here’s our tips to discover the best of Barossa Valley;
The big, bold and beautiful
A fitting description for both the warm reds and the open landscape. Within a day of sampling vineyards across the valley, you’ll have joined the dots to the larger of the quaint villages. Tanunda is the largest and most central and with all the charm of its heritage, plays contemporary host to travellers with its swish corner wine bars and artisan cafes. On the eastern edge where the Barossa skirts into Eden Valley, is the township with the rather brut name of Angaston. Nothing else reminds you of of cows, except perhaps the Barossa Cheese Shop, but the leafy streets and settlers architecture carry all the historic charm of this pretty town situated at the highest point of the Barossa. Tanunda, deriving its name from the aboriginal word meaning water hole, is placed between here and Lyndoch.
“Barossa-Deutsche”, yes it’s a language!
Angaston was once named German Pass and like much of the Barossa, the Germanic influence is not just tasted in the wines, but seen and felt in the stone castle wineries and the town names. The villages of Bethany, Langmeil and Krondorf were laid out in a style used for centuries in the colonial lands of eastern Germany, and Barossa’s landscape is still distinguished by many Lutheran church steeples. It was the Lutheran’s who came in search of religious freedom in the 1830’s and settled on South Australia as their heartland. Almost the very next day they started planting vineyards and drinking mulled wine. No one has ever looked back.
Give yourself time
Wine has been a way of life in the Barossa for almost 2 centuries. It’s no surprise then that the valley has yielded some of the world’s best loved wines, splashing around awards like world’s best shiraz, best winery in the southern-hemisphere and top point scoring full bodied reds. With over 170 wineries and some of them multi-generations, it can be tricky to map out where to savour the best Barossa experience. Local winemakers will tell you that around every bend you’ll find at least 3 wineries, so with that in mind, giving yourself time to meander down roads you might otherwise pass, landing you at some of the most curious cellar front doors.
Lost in Barossa
Baroque castle-inspired wineries like Chateau Yaldara, Yalumba and Tanunda are a great start to experience the grandeur of an industry hallmarked by time. The gardens are immaculate and playful, a thousand shades of green, cultivated by European and native plants against a skyline of Eucalypts. There’s the ivy covered sandstone walls, cool brick cellars and warm tasting rooms of Seppetfields, the open fireplace and warm conversation at Kaesler and the rustic charm of Kellermeister. The history though long, is on the tips of everyone’s lips; people love chatting about how the winery owners have been growing and tilling on the same plot for 100 years, how the nephew is the chief winemaker and why the Barossa has all the wonderful characters found in an old eccentric, aristocratic family.
Alive with history
Stop by Maggie Beer’s farm shop where her generous love of food is felt in the handwritten quotes on the wall and the afternoon tea. Wine tasting tours abound for couples and groups but if you’re flitting from one wine tasting to another, stretching your legs in a 1962 Daimler with a guided tour by your driver, rounds out the experience. Short chopper rides are readily available and champagne breakfast following a slow and gentle balloon flight, riding the drifts across the valley.
Mottled winter shades of burgundy and gold, lime green leaves and stretches of olive groves and palm trees are a road-trippers delight. The Barossa is a guidebook to nature trails, cycling paths, handmade chocolates and freshly churned cheeses, it’s also a menu for cafes, restaurants and locally grown produce and a wine list straight out of the pages of Australia’s finest. Prost!
Want to find out about more of Australia’s wine country getaways? Click here to explore Hunter Valley.