Some thing amazing happened a few weeks ago! The stars aligned, and my sister and I had time away together! I finished Uni, and needed to mark the milestone with someone near and dear. Our thirst for wine, and desire for indulgence, steered us straight to the Barossa!
So - what do three days in the Barossa look like in the eyes of two young girls …
En-route from the airport, and after seeking a local’s advice, we landed at the Karma and Crow. In a previous life, this quirky café was a garage, and you could be mistaken for thinking a mechanic’s going to take your order! So, first things first - a long brunch, followed by a bit of poolside cabana!
We gave our first meal in Adelaide a 10/10. From then on, our expectations were high!
After brunch, and a well earned rest poolside, we jumped in our hire car and started the incredibly scenic drive through the Barossa, stopping by the gardens of Barossa Chateau - a must see if you’re in the area. The 30,000 rose plants were a sight to behold! The only thing missing was a glass of red wine!
Exhausted by all the walking, it was back to the pool! To finish our first day in the Barossa - a romantic dinner for two sisters!
So - what do two days in the Barossa look like? If you prefer the smaller boutique wines, fine dining and occasional cheese board, come with us …
Bethany Wines is a lovely, angelic red-bricked cottage on the top of a hill, overlooking the town of Tanunda. We tasted some beautiful red wines, and learnt about their Grenache which has berry notes, and became one of my many favourites along the way! So … we left with a bottle of Shiraz, the wine that is said to be “Barossa in a bottle”, and a growing knowledge and appreciation of wine.
Next stop - Rockford Wines and a taste of their Grenache, Mataro, and Shiraz. Made from the grapes in Moppa Springs, one of the driest areas in the Barossa, these wines are said to enhance a wide range of Mediterranean food styles - who knew!!
Founder Robert O’Callaghan describes Rockford’s uniqueness: “I have always lived in, and feel most comfortable with the warm Mediterranean climate of the Barossa where grapes ripen easily. My preference is to make the wine by hand with traditional methods, attitude, and equipment to produce rich, earthy, soft, generous wines that will age … the kind that I drank in my youth”
Down the road, was Charles Melton Wines, specializing in premium Barossa reds. These wines were wonderfully rich, dynamic, and had unexpected hints of pepper, rose, berries, vanilla, plum, oak and coffee - according to Charles! I know that sounds like a lot of background flavours, but after completing a tasting menu at Charles Melton you’ll know exactly what he means.
Time flies when you’re drinking wine, and before we knew it, we were homeward bound to frock up for our reservation at the Appellation. It was locals’ night, and the kitchen was featuring all the produce, meat and dairy produced by the surrounding farmers.
On locals’ night the only menu available is for drinks, so of course, we ordered more wine! You don’t get any background on the courses until they are served, and on this particular evening we had 10 spectacular dishes!! The Appellation was an exciting dining experience and the food was incredible - the highest quality produce, cooked simply and to perfection.
Oh! So our room was upgraded to an apartment – jackpot! I decided to make good use of the kitchen, and cook breakfast. I’m a morning person and woke up knowing I had a good 2 hours before Daisy surfaced. I took the car down to the local supermarket and bakery, grabbed some things and hurried back. This would’ve taken a lot less time had I known the difference between first and third gear! The hills certainly didn’t help either!
With limited pantry supplies, I managed to rustle up a beautiful stewed stone fruit dish, served with slices of warm almond croissant. Our apartment had a balcony that overlooked the hills, which made the perfect backdrop to enjoy our breakfast.
The first winery on day 3 was the Artisans of Barossa. Their tasting room is home to six small producers. A group of like-minded people with a common goal - to protect and promote small batch, sub-regional winemaking. We tasted A LOT of wine - and all were remarkable - however my two favourites were by John Duval Wines and Sons of Eden.
We bought two glasses of the Sons of Eden Grenache to accompany our antipasti board at the Harvest Kitchen. Beautiful, simple food, paired with a magnificent view. This is now one of my favourite restaurants in Australia, and one that I’ll return to …
Pindari Wines was next on my list of boutique wineries. The tasting rooms were previously horse stables that had been carefully restored, and opened out to a view of the vineyard. If I had to describe the character of Pindari wines I would say they were balanced, mature, with intriguing aromas and tastes - so much knowledge, and so little time!! My favourite was the 2015 Sangiovese.
I LOVED Yelland and Papps! These guys were first generation wine makers. A young couple with a young family and a love for wine. In the Barossa they say that you’re not considered a local until you have a grandparent ‘in the ground’. This couldn’t be more wrong. Susan Yellend and Michael Papps have set up a well established home in the Barossa, built on their passion for wine, and love for the region.
The MASSIVE difference about this winery is it's extremely hip. In fact a common phrase used when describing their wine is ‘smashable’. For example, "this wine has a smashable factor of about 8.5". This is not a term that other wineries use, I can assure you!
My favourites of their wines were the Grenache, the Roussanne, and the Divine Shiraz. The Second Take Grenache was from an old vine, planted in 1960, and had the most beautiful depth. The Second Take Roussanne was hands down, the most unusual wine I have ever tasted. It was unfiltered, cloudy with notes of Meyer lemon, white flowers, and honey. I HAD to buy a bottle. The Divine Shiraz uses premium grapes, and it definitely shone through. A wine with weight, as smooth as velvet, and tastes of black cherry and spice - a wine I want to drink again and again and again …
Some inside information - my sister Daisy is incredibly spontaneous and unstructured when on holidays! Being the passenger, I was given the role of Google mapping. Every time I’d tell Daisy we were close to our destination - Daisy would say, “George, put the maps away, we’re just going to go by feel from here”. Nine times out of ten, we missed the turn off, but what’s a weekend away without a bit of exploring?
I was ecstatic when Daisy finally felt her way to Maggie Beer’s Farm Shop. Guessing your way through the Barossa countryside can make you very hungry! The farm shop was charming, quaint, and everywhere, had Maggie’s warmth and character.
We sat out on the deck, watched the turtles swim in the pond, and shared a Chicken and Tarragon Pastry, and a Mushroom and Verjuice Pate Basket. The food was very ‘Maggie’, simple, comforting, with oodles of flavour!
I saw Maggie and tried to follow her into the kitchen. Daisy stopped me and said “it’s best not to interrupt her while she’s on the phone”. She was probably right. I decided I could observe from a distance. She’s definitely a busy lady, directing a private cooking class and taking phone calls in between. That must be what success looks like!
Maggie’s Farm Shop was our final visit in the Barossa and what a way to finish!
My closing message is this - if you haven’t been to the Barossa, you really must. The people are lovely, the food is great, and the wine is magnificent!