Madelin Tomelty embarks on a Barossa Valley reconnaissance to learn why a trip to the South Australian region is never too far away for any foodie in the know
Any foodie knows that a sign of a good epicurean holiday is leaving with a tighter waistband, and after three days of gourmet touring in the Barossa Valley my jeans are satisfactorily snug. I didn’t waste any time in South Australia’s premier wine region. I came armed with an artillery of recommendations for the long weekend, from award-winning wineries to hatted restaurants with panoramic vistas of those orderly vineyards, but I’ve since discovered that flying by the seat of my (fast-tightening) pants would have been equally successful.
It’s almost impossible to put a foot wrong. Simply drop into any one of the 80 cellar doors and you’re guaranteed good wine and a good time. The picturesque landscape and patchwork of historic parishes straight out of a children’s book will keep you wide-eyed as you journey from one location to the next.
As for the myriad gourmet eateries, don’t be surprised if you find yourself forced to embark on a juice cleanse on your return to reality. But for me, the exquisite experiences that await in the Barossa make any number of kale smoothies worth it. From chardonnay to shiraz and the morsels in between, here are some of the delicious reasons why the Barossa Valley is one of Australia’s favourite food and wine region.
Many of the Barossa’s vineyard restaurants are fine-dining, serving up degustation experiences on white-clothed tables, and St Hugo is no exception. One of the most beautifully designed wineries you’ll find in the Barossa, St Hugo’s restored historic interiors overlook the spellbinding symmetry of rolling green vineyards, and its luxurious wine lounge is all about sexy brown leather seats, warm wood and exposed stone walls. Everything about St Hugo feels expensive, but not at the cost of a warm and welcoming ambience. True foodies won’t want to miss the restaurant’s ‘Chef’s Table’ experience, either, which includes a personal tour of the historic site and a chef- and sommelier-led menu. Pure class.
Located among the Barossa’s voluptuous green hills in the heart of Seppeltsfield is the charmer that is Hentley Farm. Housed in a cosy 1840s cottage, complete with an open fireplace, exposed stone walls and wood-beam ceilings, this boutique, single-estate vineyard has an award-winning cellar door and restaurant. A rotating set menu changes with the seasons and is presented from the cosiness of converted stables, dating back to the 1880s.
In the paddock-to-plate vein much of regional Australia’s restaurants are known for (and increasingly, city establishments, too), Hentley Farm’s restaurant has a strong focus on harvesting seasonal produce and foraging ingredients from the property’s 60 hectares.
One of the region’s most iconic wineries, Henschke Cellars is a sure-fire list-topper on any good Barossa itinerary. With its original 1860s stone cellar, it oozes historic charm on the surface, and backs it up with a six generation-strong pedigree of winemaking. Recognised around the world for
its innovative methods, dedication to environmentally sustainable practices, and, of course, really tasty wine, Henschke also offers an exclusive VIP Tour and Tasting experience. Amble around the ancient, gnarled vines in the famed Hill of Grace vineyard, tour the working winery and round it out with a tasting of the Henschke icon wines – Hill of Grace, Hill of Roses, Mount Edelstone and Cyril Henschke – in the private cellar.
Another boutique, family-owned winery, Kellermeister is rated in the top seven per cent of wine producers in Australia, and in the past few years has had immense success on the world stage, winning numerous awards including the World’s Best Shiraz and Australia’s Best Shiraz at the Syrah du Monde 2018 in France. The winery has been awarded five red stars by Australia’s most authoritative wine critic, James Halliday, since 2007 and it has the highest-scoring grenache in the 2019 Halliday Wine Companion. You can get a taste of those famous shirazes along with apple cider and fortified wines at Kellermeister’s charming mud-brick cellar door, or step outside for one of the best views in the Barossa.
Luxury hotel The Louise’s intimate and understated on-site restaurant, Appellation, has long been considered one of the stars of the Barossa. The menu changes nightly and
uses fresh, local ingredients in dishes such as: spencer gulf kingfish with stonefruit, buckwheat and sour cream; and coal-grilled squid with green pea mousse, fried potato, and herb and lime oil. Throw in sweeping vineyard views and a world-class wine list and your afternoon is sorted.
It’s worth taking a quick detour into the Adelaide Hills to experience the recently-refurbished winery and cellar door, Nepenthe. In addition to its spectacular vistas, architecturally-designed Nepenthe boasts four tasting spaces along with a striking barrel room that opens directly onto a sprawling lawn, where visitors can enjoy a tipple alfresco.
Choose the new guided wine tasting menu – where you can select between sparkling and white, red wine, alternative European and Adelaide Hills-renowned varietals – or the Taste of Nepenthe self-guided flight, to taste at your own pace. If you appreciate your whites, don’t miss Nepenthe’s 94-point Sauvignon Blanc.