How To Spend 60 Hours in the Barossa Valley
Spoiler: it includes a lot of wine.
November 11, 2014
Booking a weekend to the Barossa Valley is like purchasing a licence to indulge without judgement. That's because the Barossa is all about the flurry of local flavours; it's about the touch of a full-bodied red on the tip of your tongue, and the sharp hit of the cheese made at a dairy farm down the road. This place is heaven to anyone with working tastebuds.
A mere hour from Adelaide's CBD, the Valley is made up of small towns like Angaston, Nuriootpa, Tanunda, Seppeltsfield, and the wineries that surround them. You won't be able to visit them all, but you can fill yourself to the brim regardless. After all, that's what a trip to the Barossa is for. If you have three days and two nights in the region, here's how to spend them.
10AM: COFFEE IN ADELAIDE
The short flight time to Adelaide from most capital cities means that getting there before noon doesn't require a horrendous wake up call. That said, you'll probably be looking for a coffee as soon as you touch down. Hire a car from the airport, drive straight into the CBD, and in less than 20 minutes you'll be sipping a Market Lane seasonal blend at Exchange Specialty Coffee on Vardon Avenue. The coffee is some of the best in the city, and the space is stunning. Grab a pastry for the road while you're there.
11AM: STOP IN AT THE ART GALLERY OF SA
As you're already in the thick of things — with a coffee in hand, no less — you may as well get your art fix too. The Art Gallery of South Australia is a leisurely 10-minute stroll from Exchange. This international exhibition displays garments from the world's most comprehensive collection of French fashion, Musee des Arts Decoratifs. Needless to say, it's the most Parisian Adelaide has ever been.
1PM: EXPLORE JACOB'S CREEK
Now it's time to hit the road to the Barossa — it's time for wine. The drive up only takes around an hour and, as you're heading north on Barossa Valley Way, you'd be well advised to veer left for Jacob's Creek. This is one of the more popular tourist wineries, and not without reason. There's a lot to do here, and it doesn't matter if you're a soon-to-be sommelier or a passionate rookie. If it's a golden day, we recommend hiring a bike ($22 for four hours) and riding through the vineyards like you're in a whimsical Woody Allen flick set in the Napa Valley. Reward yourself with a wine tasting, or grab a whole bottle and a bit of lunch out on the deck.
5PM: CHECK INTO YOUR ACCOMMODATION
When in wine country, always book a place to stay. That means no one has to be Designated Dave and everyone gets to sleep easy. Luckily, there are a heap of places to stay in the Barossa, no matter what your budget. If you've got the cash to splurge on a totally luxe weekend, definitely stay at The Louise. Rooms at the Novotel and Lyndoch Hill are more affordable, and there are plenty of B&Bs scattered around on various vineyards and properties. There's even a Barossa Backpackers if you'd rather save your cash for wine times.
7PM: DINNER AT FERMENTASIAN
As you would expect, dinner in the Barossa revolves around wine and fermentAsian is no exception. Despite a somewhat dorky name, this little gem won best South Australian wine list at this year's Wine List of the Year Awards. Located in Tanunda, fermentAsian is run by Vietnamese chef Tuoi Do and her partner, sommelier Grant Dickson (who is winner of two Gourmet Traveller awards himself). Together they match fresh Barossa food with decadent local wines, and create a perfect Barossa symphony. This is a must-do when dining in the area.
8.30AM: START THE DAY AT A FARMERS' MARKET
If you didn't go too heavy on the red stuff the night before, drag your fuzzy head out of bed early for the Angaston Farmers' Market. The earlier you get there, the more produce there is to pick from. Now's a great time to stock up on cheese, bread and veggies for the weekend — or just to get stuck into an egg and bacon roll.
10.30AM: WANDER AROUND ANGASTON
The Barossa is a small community, and the locals know the lay of the land as well as they know the bottom of a wine glass. That's why you should grab an Angaston to Bethany trail map. Designed by locals, the map pinpoints the main vineyards, producers and places to visit between the two towns. You can walk all the way into Bethany, but we recommend taking a wander around Angaston, and making a stop in at the Barossa Valley Cheese Co.
12.30PM: DUCK INTO A CELLAR DOOR
While you're in Angaston, call in at Smallfry Wines, a small, family-run winery. Saturday is the best time to visit, as they open their cellar door from around 12pm (after they finish at the market) until 4pm. Owners Suzi Hilder and Wayne Ahrens will be happy to have a chat and give you a taste of their different drops.
2PM: LUNCH AT 1918
By 2pm, you'll have worked up an appetite for a sit-down lunch — especially with all that wine you've been drinking. Take a drive over to neighbouring town Tanunda (please note: only non-drinkers should be driving) to refuel at 1918. The dining here is Modern Australian, with all produce and wine coming from the Barossa region. Nab a spot on the terrace and order their freshly baked bread. From there you can decide to go all out with a main, or nibble on a cheese platter, charcuterie plate or some coconut and lemongrass prawns. It all depends on what you're drinking, really.
5PM: GET A WIDER VIEW
A fifteen minute drive east of Tanunda will get you some of the best views of the Barossa's sweeping valleys and golden fields. Head towards Vine Vale and veer off Mengler Hill Road for the Mengler Hill Lookout and Sculpture Park. Late in the afternoon is the best time. Take your camera. Sigh with the serenity of it all.
7.30PM: BYO BOTTLE TO DINNER
Found your ultimate wine and can't wait to savour every drop? Take it to Vintners. They'll cook you up a feast — oysters, yellow fin tuna, quail, to mention a few — and let you bring your own bottle for $15 corkage. Don't worry if you come empty handed; their wine list will not disappoint.
11AM: RESET YOUR PALATE
Just like sparkling water cleanses your palate before an espresso, a well-made coffee will get rid of last night's lingering Shiraz and reset your tastebuds. Blond Coffee sits on the Murray Street in Angaston, and will be your go-to Sunday morning coffee stop. Then it's onward for a full day of wine tasting.
12.30PM: TRY A GRANGE
A stop at Penfolds is really a no-brainer if you find yourself in the Barossa. Not only are they one of Australia's oldest and most recognised winemakers — as it happens, their cellar door is filled with Grange. As their tastings are dedicated to heritage-listed wine, you'll get a cheeky taste of it too. If bespoke blends are more your thing, you can make your own from Grenache, Shiraz and Mourvedre. And when you're happy, you can take it home to drink. Bookings are essential for these ones.
2PM: TASTE SOME NATURAL WINE
From Penfolds, drive west. Heading away from Nurioopta, make an effort to coast down Seppeltsfield Road — the country road is lined with beautiful palms — towards Shobbrook Wines. These wines are the salt o' the earth kinda guys. They're natural wines! Made using as little sulphur as possible, these are some of the more unique drops you'll find in the Barossa. Drop in and try the Syrah for yourself.
3.30PM: LONG LUNCH AT PINDARRE
It's late afternoon, you're worn and weary, but this is the last stop before driving back to Adelaide. Just half an hour down the road in Gomersal you'll find Pindarre. The property is stunning, and you can watch the everyday happenings of the farm with a Barossa tasting plate in front of you and a shiraz in hand. It's the perfect place to draw out a long lunch, and say goodbye to the Barossa (well, until your wine supplies run out).
Mengler Hill image courtesy of Amanda Slater. Coffee image courtesy of jenny downing via photopin cc.
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