Australia is blessed with an abundance of wine regions, but the Barossa Valley is special. The first white settlers to arrive here more than 180 years ago were German migrants with a strong sense of community, an ethos that still defines the area today. Along with fine food and wine, there are historic townships and gorgeous bush trails to explore – not to mention one of the best farmers’ markets around.
Here’s a riddle for you: how is the newest cellar door in the Barossa also one of the oldest? Answer: it belongs to Henschke, the family-run winery that has been making wines for six generations. They recently transformed a 150-year-old grain store into one of the area’s most welcoming cellar doors. Book ahead to taste some of their 35-strong range of wines, many of which have been named after family members. Cyril is a velvety cabernet sauvignon; Julius is a steely Riesling.
Wine is often a family business in the Barossa, but the connections are not always obvious. Take David Franz, a picturesque cellar door that also sells a range of local delicacies so you can put together a picnic to enjoy on the verandah. The winemaker’s surname, it turns out, is Lehmann – yes, he is one of the sons of legendary winemaker Peter Lehmann (his brother Phil also owns a winery nearby, called Max & Me.) No wonder those sémillons and muscats are so superb.
With more than 80 cellar doors, part of the joy of exploring in the Barossa is the opportunity to discover a new favourite. We love Krondorf Creek Farm, a cosy, compact winery that has just five hectares of hand-planted wines and just five wines in their range, all reds – but what superb reds they are. Try their cabernet sauvignon and you will be converted.
Behind solid stone walls, the elegant FermentAsian showcases the food of northern Vietnam. Standout dishes including the squid with sorrel and coriander, the Tommy Ruff (herring) with green mango salad, and an utterly irresistible pork belly. The wine list is encyclopaedic; keep it simple and ask the sommelier for their recommendations.
If a poll were held to nominate the Barossa’s signature dish, Maggie Beer’s pheasant pie would probably win hands-down. After having been off the menu for years, it is finally being served up again thanks to Maggie’s daughter, Elli Beer. Head to her relaxed eatery, The Farm, to enjoy it on a special four-course degustation. Book 48 hours in advance to enjoy it, or opt instead for a mouth-watering selection of shared plates.
Pre-COVID, Hentley Farm was one of the area’s go-to dining experiences, known for its extraordinary multi-course menus. These days, they are offering a range of more casual wine-and-dine experiences but don’t fret – the wow factor is still sky-high. Try one of their delicate bites, such as the poached quail egg on a puffed quinoa cracker, to see what we mean.
On Saturday mornings, locals head straight for the Barossa Farmers Market at Angaston to stock up on fruit and veg, honey, herbal teas, cheese and much more. Pick up some cardamom buns for breakfast at the Eleni Barossa Handmade stand, and don’t forget to pack some goodies to take home with you. We are particularly partial to Michael Wohlstadt’s pork and fennel sausages and his bacon.
Bring your credit card when you head to Seppeltsfield Winery; there is a lot more than wine for sale here. Housed in a heritage barn onsite is an outpost of the Jam Factory, Adelaide’s famous design and craft centre. Explore the rotating range of exhibitions and the wonderful shop where you can buy ceramics, blown glass objets or even a handmade knife.
Fond of a fossick? The Barossa is home to some lovely vintage and antique shops where a rummage is always well-rewarded. Check out Abbey Antiques and Vintage Store and The Vintage Wardrobe in Angaston, and also Kraft Mavis Pioneer Antiques in Tanunda.
Ready to go bush? A stroll through the Kaiserstuhl Conservation Park is one of the Barossa’s most tranquil experiences. Come early in the morning or in the late afternoon when the ‘roos emerge from among the ghost gums and start grazing on the wild grasses. It is a great opportunity to get wild without going too far off the grid.
Prefer two wheels to two legs? The 40km sealed Barossa Trail caters to both bikers and walkers but is particularly suited for cyclists wanting to explore the area’s townships and wineries. If you’re after a short stint, the 7km between Nuriootpa and Angaston is dotted with both sculptures and seating.
Looking for the perfect picnic spot? Mengler Hill Lookout near Angaston has both a pretty sculpture park and a scenic view over the valley. Come in the morning for a stroll, or head here in the afternoon with a bottle of something special to savour with the sunset.
Check out South Australia’s National Parks and Wildlife website for an extensive list of outdoor hiking, mountain biking, camping and dog walking trails.
The Barossa is known for its German heritage and at Greenock Brewers, they honour one German tradition in particular: the 500-year-old beer purity law, which states that beer can only be made with barley, hops, and water. Sticking to those essential ingredients, they produce an impressive range of beers, from the Bunawunda Blonde pilsener to the dark, malty Brunskill Stout.
It is known for its cooking classes and its superior pasta, but Casa Carboni has another ace up its sleeve. This Angaston eatery also doubles as a café during the day, serving up the area’s best Italian coffee. Like something to nibble on while you savour your cuppa? Their breakfast bruschetta is also superb.
At Seppeltsfield Rd Distillery, tastings are a three-stage process. Try each drop neat, then over ice, and finally with tonic, to fully appreciate the subtle changes in flavour. Top drops include the Barossa dry gin, which gets its zing from pink peppercorns, to the Barossa shiraz gin, which has a rich purple colour and is not just a superb winter warmer, but also makes a great base for a summer sangria.