The new Barossa Food and Wine Experience Tour uncovers secrets even the locals are only just discovering. Roderick Eime tags along rediscovering the Barossa Valley.
Like the rich red terroir itself, the Barossa is in my blood. My father’s family were among the first pioneers to settle here in the mid 19th century, setting up farm at Concordia, just outside Gawler. While I’ve never lived in the Barossa, I’ve always had relatives to visit and I even learned to drive on the quiet, scenic backroads behind Tanunda.
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My last few visits have been as a tourist and my most recent excursion was with Sealink, the Kangaroo Island Ferry people who have expanded into the tourism business proper with tour buses, cruises and resorts.
Some people are starting to think the Barossa Valley is getting over-exposed, throwing shadows over the neighbouring, lesser, wine regions of the Clare and Eden Valleys. But the Barossa has always remained relevant with new ways to entice the visitor and it’s great to know that after a lifetime of visiting the place of my roots, it can still surprise.
Here are three new locations I’d never visited (and one I had) for me to commend to you.
We begin at Pindarie where winemaker Wendy Allan and husband Tony share the story of this stunning property that has evolved from a run-down and over-cleared family farm to a sustainable and totally regenerated property. The couple have planted over 12,500 trees in the last 20 years alone and are now producing wines that can hold their own among some of the big South Australian names. Their ‘Risk Taker’ Tempranillo is a stand out performer with the dark Spanish grape gaining momentum despite it being unfamiliar among Barossa vineyards. Apparently this exotic varietal is finding the warm climes of South Australia appealing and produces a richer, darker wine than it does at home on the Iberian Peninsula.
Next is Maggie Beer’s Farm Shop which, I must confess, is now my third visit, reinforcing the success of this celebrity chef’s entrepreneurial skills and natural leadership abilities in the gourmet food arena – all culminating in this busy little outlet. If you are visiting on your own time, lunch is a must in daughter Elli’s eatery next door. But be sure to book, as it’s chockers every day of the week.
Our hot lunch, meanwhile, is at the eye-popping Lambert Estate winery at Angaston. The story behind this unusual property is unique in the Valley in that it is not founded by one of the old families, rather an American businessman who brought his family here from, of all places, Winsconsin. Better known for Milwaukee’s beer and big motorcycles, Lambert fell in love with the Barossa in the 1990s and decided to grow grapes on 100 acres of fabulous soil. Today his ultramodern cellardoor is a winery, tasting room and restaurant with super quality food and wine.
Lambert’s 2015 Shiraz ‘The Commitment’ is a knockout and a credit to winemaking son Kirk and Peruvian daughter-in-law Vanesa. Step up to ‘The Family Tree’, one of the best premium, old vine, single vintage Shiraz under $100 you will find anywhere. I couldn’t decide, so I bought one of each.
As a fitting send off, we capped our day with a visit to the brand new premises of the Barossa Valley Chocolate Company at Tanunda where we sit down to a flight of local Vineyard Road wines and a selection of divine chocolates, with an expert to guide us in the mysterious (to me, at least) art of wine and chocolate pairing. The new ‘ruby’ flavour is a surprise to my tastebuds, that’s for sure. Come back in your own time and take one of the chocolate making classes or hold your special event.
After our tasting, we stumble past more than 250 chocolate products in dark, milk and white with a healthy sampling ringing the till at days’ end.
Fifty years ago there wasn’t a great deal besides the big wineries of Seppeltsfield and Kaiser Stuhl and the faint hints of old Barossa Deutsch in the sidestreets. Today the Barossa is world famous for more than just superb wines. It’s a destination in itself and one you should visit at the earliest opportunity. My great-great grandfather would be pleased.
The Barossa Food and Wine Experience Tour is priced at A$135 per adult and includes morning pick up and evening set down at selected Adelaide Hotels, full day guided small coach tour with expert commentary by local driver/guide, lunch, all activities and tastings.
The tour departs at 9am from the Adelaide bus terminal (near the Central Market) Wednesday, Thursday, Friday, Saturday and Sunday, returning about 5pm.
For further information contact Adelaide Sightseeing on T: 1300 769 762 or visit www.adelaidesightseeing.com.au
Feature supplied by: www.wtfmedia.com.au