Driving through the Adelaide Hills, just 20 minutes from the CBD, feels like entering another world. Winding roads and dappled lanes lead to valleys where tendrils of smoke rise from the chimneys of sprawling manors surrounded by lush gardens. This is your guide to the Adelaide Hills.
Chillier than the plains below, the region favours chardonnay and pinot noir grapes that grow on steep hand-tended vineyards scattered among orchards and patches of bushland where koalas and ’roos thrive. Pair wellness retreats with scenic drives and top it off with a glass of cool-climate chardonnay for the best way to experience the region on your next weekend escape in South Australia.
In the shadow of the region’s highest point, the luxurious suites at Sequoia Lodge have access to three spring-fed hot pools that overlook the valley, while the day spa uses organic products from nearby Jurlique farm.
The wine cellar at the beautifully refurbished Crafers Hotel stretches into the thousands and the rooms are just as impressive, with reclaimed timber and copper furnishings alongside modern touches like underfloor heating.
Delicious eats are staple in the Adelaide Hills. On the tiered decks of Mt Lofty Ranges Vineyard in Lenswood, elegant dishes displaying a strong European influence compete for top billing with views of vineyards and cherry orchards flanked by native scrub.
Self-sufficiency is of paramount importance at The Summertown Aristologist, where waitstaff spend their weekdays growing, foraging and preparing ingredients for the hyper-seasonal menu of vegetable-led small plates accompanied by natural wines.
Though much larger, Lot.100 in Hay Valley pursues a similar philosophy to The Aristologist, with ex-Orana chef Shannon Fleming overseeing a kitchen garden and pairing vibrant dishes with offerings from the five onsite beverage producers.
Whole fish hang in a dry-ageing cabinet and the menu contains curiosities such as carp “bacon” but there are no pretensions at Angler in Stirling, where you can order sustainable fish and chips that have never seen a freezer.
The easygoing attitude of Hills locals is reflected in the burgeoning natural wine scene led by names such as Ngeringa, a biodynamic farm in Mount Barker with a rustic appointment-only cellar door slinging easy-drinking wines including a delightful pink semillon and viognier pet nat.
In a broad valley at the end of a winding driveway in Hahndorf, The Lane Vineyard’s scenic cellar door offers experiences including a dedicated chardonnay flight and a hilltop tasting room with a retractable wall that reveals the surrounding vineyards and the lake-studded patchwork of mixed farmland beyond.
Two Masters of Wine at Shaw + Smith in Balhannah produce impeccable drops – such as the perfectly balanced M3 chardonnay – that capture the essence of the region and the sleek tasting room pairs them with equally impressive Alpine-style cheeses.
Amid a sea of whites, Ashton Hills in Ashton sets the benchmark for pinot noir with gorgeous wines that are among the best in the country.
Motorcyclists love this area’s serpentine roads but hand the driving duties over to Coast & Co. and relax in a 4WD that’ll take you off the beaten track.
Penfolds Grange is Australia’s most famous wine and a tasting at its spiritual home is a pilgrimage for oenophiles. Wander the Magill Estate tunnels where Max Schubert famously hid the first vintages from prying eyes then taste a recent expression alongside an indulgent dégustation.
Image credit: Duy Dash