A wrinkled quilt of vineyards and farmland about an hour north of Adelaide, this region in South Australia is defined by opulence. Known best for its bold, jammy shiraz, boutique accommodation and charming villages, there's plenty of things to do in the Barossa Valley.
Shiraz grapes greedily soak up the sun’s rays on the broad valley floor to build concentrated flavours of chocolate and plums, and the local fine-dining scene is equally decadent. It’s a far cry from the the Barossa Valley's devout German settlers whose church steeples rise above some of the world’s oldest surviving vineyards of mourvèdre, grenache and semillon.
Wake up to the smell of freshly baked croissants at Rowland Flat’s Le Mas, a restored 1857 farmhouse with a touch of Provençal elegance that extends to the proudly Gallic restaurant overseen by impossibly stylish matriarch Marie-France.
Leave some time to explore the grounds at Kingsford the Barossa, a grand sandstone manor on 91 hectares of prime farmland west of Tanunda, with palatial rooms and streamlined suites as well as an onsite bar, wine tunnel, fine-dining restaurant, pool and nine-pin bowling alley.
SEE ALSO: A Weekend Escape to the Barossa
The early German settlers’ culture of self-sufficiency still resonates at Appellation at Marananga, where house-cured meats hang in the wine cellar and dishes – every bit as elegant as the onsite accommodation at The Louise – reflect a symbiotic relationship with local producers.
In a converted stable at the end of a dirt road, Hentley Farm at Seppeltsfield transforms produce from the kitchen garden and local farmers into a dégustation with a flair for the dramatic – imagine oysters emerging from a bed of dry ice that enhances the aromas of passionfruit, lime and rosemary.
Some of Maggie Beer’s handwritten recipes are still used at the light-filled Farm Eatery on the outskirts of Nuriootpa, where Beer’s daughter Elli presides over casual dining that offers modern vegetable-led dishes plus more classical offerings. Call ahead for a set menu featuring three pheasant courses.
Tanunda’s FermentAsian offers aromatic North Vietnamese dishes superbly complemented by a comprehensive and well-priced wine list, including plenty of fabulous local producers that don’t have cellar doors, such as Ruggabellus and Shobbrook.
Beyond a driveway lined by cork trees, St Hugo at Rowland Flat rises from the ruins of an abandoned winery in a chimera of sturdy ironstone walls and plate glass. Just as compelling are the ultra-premium reds that toe the line between vigour and elegance.
It took 150 years for the Kalleske family to move from grape-growing to winemaking and that patience is on show in the muscular reds at their Greenock cellar door full of hidden nooks and crannies. Compare the powerful shiraz from gnarled 1875 vines with the unoaked Zeitgeist that’s made to reflect each vintage.
At David Franz just outside Tanunda, tradition and innovation combine in wines that are as generous as winemaker David Lehmann and match the eclectic found furnishings that decorate his cute 1860s cottage cellar door.
Ten minutes away, in a low-slung building surrounded by antiquated equipment that looks like it belongs in a museum, Rockford makes modern wines that pay tribute to the old ways, as the flagship Basket Press shiraz attests.
Put down the top of a 1966 Ford Mustang convertible and explore in style with Barossa Unique Tours. The company offers set itineraries or you can choose to go your own way.
You can literally breathe in the Barossa’s history at the Centennial Cellar at Seppeltsfield, where an enticing cloud of honeyed almond emerges from 143 consecutive vintages of ageing tawny. Even better, the Centenary Tour includes a taste of the century-old liquid gold drawn straight from the barrel.