The Barossa is overflowing with history, food, art and, of course, wine. But beyond the bold and rich Shiraz that put the region on the map, it’s a place where community is life and a stay at The Louise puts you at the epicentre
The drive out of Adelaide airport and up into the hills helps to shake off the pace of city life and clear the mind. Add to that a well-informed local guide (Kym Farley, Bespoke Barossa Tours) and in no time at all, I’m deeply engrossed in the history of what makes the Barossa unique.
Located approximately an hour out of Adelaide, the Barossa’s rolling hills and crisp air is a welcome respite. Pulling up to The Louise, the latest addition to the Baillie Lodges portfolio, I’m struck by the abundance of grapevines and the building’s Spanish-looking influences.
Stepping inside the newly renovated reception is another reminder that I’m in the heart of wine country, with long views out to the vine-topped hills, straight past a lantern-like wine cellar. This is a place to slow down.
Max Pritchard Gunner Architects used a deft hand to redefine the guest arrival experience at The Louise. “Our main aim was to create consistency and flow through the main building with organic, sculptural elements. The reception should communicate that you’re entering somewhere special,” says founding principal Max Pritchard about the redesign.
Once inside the suite, that connection to the surroundings and the expansive views continues where private outlooks are activated with abstract sculptures. But the real treat is the array of thoughtful local inclusions in the room—from bespoke incense to homemade honey cookies, every element is an expression of the artisanal food and products that are so accessible and abundant in the region.
The Barossa is a place where foodies can come alive. Local artisan cheeses, wines from some of the oldest vines in Australia, and passionate people dedicating their life to their craft. Community connection is central to life in the Barossa, and wine is certainly a mainstay.
A stand-out while staying at The Louise is dining at Appellation. The fine dining restaurant is headed by chef Asher Blackford who has crafted delicate and sophisticated food that draws on produce from local growers. The five-course degustation is a symphony of what’s on offer from the region.
Dining at Appellation is heightened by the new seating arrangements that look out onto the vineyards, originally planted by Peter Lehmann, through large picture-frame windows.
“Appellation was already in the best location, so we designed a series of semi-circular banquettes to create intimate dining settings and capitalise on the views,” says Pritchard.
Luxury wine experiences abound
A stay at The Louise brings unfettered access to some of the best experiences in the region, no matter what your interests might be.
Of course, for many journeying to the Barossa, wine is no doubt top of the list. Tscharke Wines is easily one of the most interesting wineries in the Barossa, and its location right across the road from The Louise has fostered a special relationship.
Tscharke has set out to do things differently, creating wine that is both certified organic and biodynamic. Tscharke also creates amphorae wines, housed in terracotta urns that sit in a massive underground cellar—a way to naturally regulate the wine without artificial heating and cooling. Damien Tscharke, the winemaker, confirms the new setup has reduced evaporation in the process. Stepping down into the underground vault brings with it a very James Bond moment; the round glowing bar calls me to sit and learn more with a special wine-tasting experience.
Tscharke has also just opened the doors on a new wine bar concept, The Protagonist, where locals and visitors can drop in and enjoy a glass of wine, including from the museum archive, or a glass of champagne. The imported German barn has been fitted with touches that reflect the owner’s quirks and predilection for quality, for instance, the sumptuous Walter Knoll armchairs up on the mezzanine offer an inviting place to sit and truly settle in. But Damien Tscharke, and Mark Smith (who heads up The Protagonist), have infectious personalities that spill over with verve and passion.
Another local winemaker coming at the industry in a different way is Grant Dickson, the founder of micro-producer Otherness. As the name alludes, it’s a brand that is proud to be forging a new path with a guerrilla-style approach to making wine. With eight wines in the line-up, each is a collaboration with a different winemaker. To enjoy the range, book into a wine tasting at the Otherness cellar door, which is so much more than a cellar door. Designed by Tanunda-based studio JBG Architects, the space is minimalist and agrarian in its aesthetic, with a delightful food offering.
St Hugo is steeped in history, which is apparent as soon as passing through its ornate gates. Situated on Jacob’s Creek, this is Australian wine-making royalty, and given the strong legacy, there are plenty of stories to take in.
The restaurant, tasting rooms and function spaces have been built into what was the original gravity-fed winery. Also designed by JBG Architects, the building blends with the historic fabric of the site. The food, however, is modern and refined, harvested directly from the rambling gardens where possible.
The St Hugo x Riedel glass masterclass is truly mind-blowing—educational and inspiring. Even as a wine novice, you will walk away feeling confident in your own ability to taste, smell and savour wine and how the glass it comes in changes its profile.
Another winery with far-reaching roots in the area is Yalumba. At more than 170 years old, it’s one of the oldest family-owned wineries in the Barossa. Recognising the value of such a rich history, a tour of Yalumba feels personal and significant.
As such a large-scale wine producer nothing is done in halves. There’s an onsite cooperage with a master cooper and apprentices that make 300 barrels a year, and old underground tanks have been converted into a show-stopping space by Grieve Gillett Andersen—all of which can be booked on the Yalumba Unlocked tour.
More than wine
If wine is not your favourite pastime, rest assured there is still plenty to do and see around the Barossa. A trip to Seppeltsfield is a journey into history and craftsmanship.
Vasse Virgin natural perfumery masterclass
The connection between taste and smell is well documented. In between or instead of undertaking a wine tasting, put your ability to layer a scent to the test at Vasse Virgin. This all-natural skincare brand has its manufacturing and retail operations housed within a historic building on the grounds, and a private workshop space downstairs.
Overflowing with handmade and design-driven art, ceramics, glass, jewellery and all manner of intriguing one-of-a-kind pieces, the Jam Factory shop is hard to walk away from without making a purchase.
Seppeltsfield Road Gin Distillers
And for those who need a break from wine altogether, head to Seppeltsfield Road Gin Distillers. It’s up the road from Seppeltsfield Estate and down the road from The Louise, a perfect spot to stop for a refreshing gin.
The beauty of a trip to the Barossa is the fact that it can be as leisurely and relaxing, or action-packed as you’d like. Leave plenty of room in the suitcase to bring some local bottles home.
The writer was a guest of The Louise.