Could South Australia’s Barossa serve as the country’s ‘best of’?
Take a look at the region’s latest additions and you’ll be answering with a big ‘yes!’
When you’ve got a reputation as an internationally acclaimed wine region and a foodie Valhalla, it would be perfectly acceptable to rest on your laurels. The folks in the Barossa, of course, aren’t ones to do that. Instead, they’ve spent the past year launching a wide range of contemporary experiences for wine buffs, gourmands, luxury lovers and more.
Lock in a stay in the Barossa and be sure to put the following experiences on your ‘must visit’ list.
Best new Barossa restaurants and places to eat
True, nobody is ever at risk of going hungry in the Barossa, however with new dining establishments opening at the speed of light, there’s always somewhere interesting to treat all five senses.
Start the journey at the magnificently titled Otherness, a wine bar that offers what could be the best value tasting menu around: $65 for five courses plus dessert. Of course, theref’s nothing to say you have to eat that many courses (although you really should give it a go); diners at Otherness can enjoy pastries for breakfast, all manner of cured meats, olives and cheess for lunch, and contemporary dishes with matching wine experiences for dinner. And we’re not talking an interstate job lot, but the result of collaborations with local growers.
Nothing says ‘Germanic precision’ quite like a name like Essen, and at this restaurant – the benchmark dining space at Artisans of Barossa – the menu selections are listed according to palate weight, from lightest to boldest. The kirsche on top? Iconic Barossa chef Ryan Edwards is at the helm, and more than 200 wines from eight local wine producers are featured in a variety of wine flights. Fancy a quick Reuben instead? There’s an option for something a little more casual at Artisans of Barossa’s Delikatessen & Store.
Of course, if you’re more of a ‘private long lunch among the vineyards’ kind of person, a reservation at Flaxman Wines is what you’ll require. In this bespoke (and ridiculously scenic) dining experience devised by former Masterchef contestant Col Sheppard, you can enjoy a mid-week, three-course lunch among the vines for four to six people, or a private long lunch on the weekend. The weekend option is suitable for groups of eight to 12, and the five-course meal can be held under the pergola, in the cellar door or even in the cellar: it’s your choice.
Best of Barossa wine bars and cellar doors
We hate to bring out the mathematics so soon… but we’re going to. The Barossa has in excess of 150 wineries and 80 cellar doors, the sum total being that no matter which corner of the region you base yourself in, you’re going to be spoilt for choice when it comes to finding an atmospheric drinking den.
To reduce analysis paralysis, we recommend kicking off with a tasting experience – not to mention a local produce platter – at Brothers at War, a quaint wine bar in an 1800s cottage in Tanunda. Here, the young guns of the Barossa will take you on a journey through their Family and Friends, Premium, Single Vineyard and exclusive Icon collections. Be ready.
Want to know how seriously the folks at Alkina take their wine? As their website explains, you can experience “ancient stones and soils, organic and biodynamic viticulture, small scale winemaking and the creation of unique micro-terroir wines, grown and made on our estate in the Western Barossa ranges”. Enjoy a tasting flight, lock in an experience such as their Rock Hammer Tasting, Tour & Lunch, or simply buy a few bottles and stay overnight at The Alkina Old Quarter Homestead and Cottage.
Over at Z Wine, sisters – and fifth generation Barossans – are doing it for themselves and everyone else, their ‘it’ being award-winning wines served in a moody speakeasy with live music and deep, comfy chesterfields. Expect to spend the day: this venue has not only got sensational produce platters, but it also features a kids’ play corner and platters of child-friendly delights.
Of course, no visit to the Barossa is complete without booking an experience at The Barossa Cellar, a regional wine cellar (Australia’s first) that’s home to a staggering collection of rare and aged Barossa and Eden Valley wines. The Barossa Cellar Experiences offer guests hosted, exclusive access to the country’s top drops, and an invitation to taste wines from the Barons of Barossa’s 6000+ on-site wine collection. The Grand Baron’s Tasting Experience, for example, allows you to sit in the heart of the cellar, The Vault, and enjoy a private tasting, while the Vine & Wine Experience offers guests the ability to purchase a vine in perpetuity.
Best new Barossa accommodation
Once you’ve worked your way into a food coma, you’ll be looking for accommodation for the night (or nights). Happily, Barossa accommodation is steeped in luxury.
Your first option, Le Mas, is a quintessentially French ‘petit hotel’, offering three elegant rooms – soon to be seven – in a prime Barossa location. Unwind in the privacy of your stone bath (complete with Hermès products), relax in the heated mineral pool surrounded by lush lawns and vineyards, and indulge yourself with authentic Provençal cuisine in the private dining room setting of The Orangerie.
Prefer something with a more Australian flavour? 1858 Barossa Accommodation serves up a luxurious Aussie farmhouse experience for up to eight guests in a magnificently restored 1850s cottage. The perfect stay for multi-generational or multi-family groups, the farmhouse has four bedrooms and a fully equipped kitchen (including Barossa Valley chocolates and Gumpara wines), plus board games, a fire pit, outdoor dining and barbeque.
Benbullen Retreat, too, is perfect for large groups of up to 10, the five-bedroom homestead offering valley views and a more modern aesthetic, plus 10 acres of immaculate parkland on which to frolic and relax. Add to that an open fireplace, gourmet Hamptons kitchen, private library, games room, fire pit, barbeque area and a whole host of outdoor games and you’ve got everything you could need for the perfect getaway.
And finally, for those who’d like a real talking point for their getaway, why not stay in a converted railway station? Located just 10 minutes from Greenock on the edge of the Barossa, The Station at Kapunda plays home-away-from-home for up to 15 guests at a time, the 160-year-old property coming to the party with seven bedrooms plus a host of activities. Lock in a murder mystery night, book a wine masterclass or simply enjoy the services of a private chef.
Best Barossa tours
If there’s one thing better than spending a few days in the Barossa, it’s spending a few days in the Barossa under the wing of a local. Many new tour operators have recently hit the local scene and it’s clear there really is something for everyone.
Consider, for example, touring the region in a red London cab and getting ‘the full English experience’ of Barossa’s top hits courtesy of Barossa Red Vintage Tours. Offering a wide range of themed tours, from London’s Calling (a British experience featuring everything from Devonshire tea to stout tasting) to a Boys Big Day Out, your ride for the day is a 1972 Austin FX4 once owned by Sir Richard Branson.
Prefer a tour that’s built around your interests? With Barossa Valley Wine Tours you have the option of customising your own private route or booking one of their popular tours, such as the Chocolate & Fine Wine Tour, Eden Valley Tour or Tipple of Gin Experience. Of course, if you have a clear idea of what you’d like, Barossa Bespoke Tours specialises in creating detailed private itineraries so you get exactly what you paid for and more. A typical tour includes hotel transfers, visits to cellar doors, and a food and wine pairing at a local restaurant.
Of course, sometimes hard choices will have to be made; with Barossa Unique Tours, that choice will be between a classic 1966 Ford Mustang convertible, a Jaguar XF or a motorcycle trike (with helmet intercom). You’ll be hitting the road in luxury with a tour customised for you, whether it’s three-and-a-half hours visiting cellar doors of your choice or an eight-hour food, wine and sightseeing experience.
Best new Barossa wellbeing experiences
Convinced the Barossa is all about food and wine? There’s no denying it’s a big component of a holiday in the region, but for those intent on keeping (or perhaps even getting) fit, there are plenty of activities to get the heart racing.
For instance, why settle for a standard tasting experience when you can book the Elderton Taste, Set & Match experience at Elderton Wines? Perfect for groups of four to six, the experience starts with a one-hour private tasting (with a local produce plate to share), followed by a friendly tennis match on their grass court at the cellar door.
Would you rather tackle the Barossa on a set of wheels? Barossa Bike Hire not only has a wide range of e-bikes, helping you see the best of the area without breaking a sweat, but it also offers tours for every kind of cyclist. Tackle the Sunset and Sparkles Cycle Tour or the Barista, Brewer, Wine Cycle Tour, or just strike out on your own.
Of course, turning your Barossa adventure into a wellness makeover is easy, too, thanks to the team at Barossa Wellness Concierge. Whether you’re after a scenic yoga session, health coaching, sunrise hiking or a multi-day health retreat, they’ll have you at your sparkling best before you can say “let’s celebrate the new me with a bottle of shiraz”.