Posted by: travelrat | February 22, 2012


We visit South Australia often, and I’ve lost count of the number of people who ask ‘Did you visit the Barossa Valley?’ My usual reply contains the words ‘bears’ and ‘woods’!

Of course, the Barossa Valley isn’t the only wine-producing region in Australia … or even in South Australia. But, it’s one of the most famous, for it was here that the early pioneers such as Seppelt and Gramp first planted vines brought from their native Germany.

So, one morning, we put a large coolbox into the boot of our rented Toyota, and set out for Tanunda, the centre of the wine-growing district.

Sometimes, in the Rhine or Mosel valleys, it seems like grapes are planted on every piece of open ground that isn’t absolutely vertical. It’s not like that in the Barossa … quite!

The older wineries are established in pseudo-castles, ersatz schlosses or faux châteaux. The newer ones can be in anything from purpose-built buildings to old farmhouses.

We didn’t have to go far to find some of our favourites. The Bethany Winery stands on a slight eminence, with a great view of the vineyards in the valley. The wine’s pretty good, too! I took a mouthful of it (I was driving) and Lorraine took a more generous sample, and the first two bottles entered our coolbox.

We’d been recommended to try the wineries to the north-east of Tanunda, where our information said the best wineries could be found. There was one, however, where we didn’t even leave the car park. It was in a fake, Zenda-esque castle which I could just imagine the peasants crossing themselves fearfully as they passed.

The wine was probably excellent … no doubt it would taste just as good if it was made in a nondescript shed on an anonymous trading estate. But, the atmosphere wasn’t one we cared to drink in, which might be a downside to buying your wine at the cellar door rather than the local bottle shop.

But, in complete contrast, at Whistler’s Winery, in an old farmhouse, a friendly lady broke off from working in the garden to see what we needed. And, some more bottles joined their companions in the coolbox.

The Barossa Valley isn’t only about wine, though. We had lunch … a platter of locally-produced German-style sausage, cheeses, salad, olives and chutney at the Peter Lehmann winery. We thought it a little bit expensive, till the lady behind the bar told us the platter was intended to be shared between two people! And, the lunch included a carafe of their own wine … and, of course, we bought some to take away with us.

Later, we had coffee at Maggie Beer’s Farm Shop, on a balcony overlooking a placid, artificial lake. There’s a tempting range of foods offered, as well as relishes, pickles, preserves and olive oil. I thought of all the wine we’d bought … and an imaginary little man whispered ‘Baggage Allowance!’ in my ear. Mrs. Beer’s husband has a winery, too … but his wine, while acceptable, I wouldn’t drive across town for.

Which was our favourite wine? Well, unfortunately, it isn’t a Barossa wine, notwithstanding how good it is. Our prize must go to ‘Corkscrew Road’, which we bought at the Chain of Ponds winery in the Adelaide Hills a couple of days before.

We didn’t bring any ‘Corkscrew Road’ home with us, though … it was so good, we’d drunk it all long before we got on the aircraft!


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  1. HI Keith,
    What a fantastic read.
    It is a shame you couldn’t of taken more home with you, but still, sounds like you had a good taste of different variety’s of wine.

    It is beautiful country in the Barossa Valley, that is for sure, and some lovely scenery which I noticed you have captured in your photos. 😀

  2. I feel bad that I’ve never been to the Barossa because it is a gorgeous part of Australia. That is always the danger when you find a good wine – not having any left to take home. The photos by the lake are lovely. It’s a beautiful spot!

    • I haven’t been there, but I’ve heard Hunter Valley is just as beautiful; I think Barossa only scores over other wine producing regions because it’s the name that everyone thinks of when discussing Australian wine.

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