An introduction to the Barossa

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I recently visited the Barossa Valley wine region in South Australia with my best friend Lexi as a belated birthday treat.

The overall experience was filled with wine, picturesque countryside and good company.

IMG_8367After eating a big hotel brekky at The Playford on the North Terrace in Adelaide’s CBD, our tourguide and driver, Steve, from Cellar Door Wine Tours picked us up from our hotel. Joining Lexi and I on our tour was a lovely coupled named Bridget and Alex.

As we drove out to the Barossa, Steve, who is also the owner of the business, got a feel for our tastes in wines and preferences as to whether we wanted to visit the more commercial cellar doors (think Penfold’s, Wolf Blass and Jacob’s Creek) or boutique wineries.

Our first stop on the tour took us to Kalleske a family of farmers and winemakers dating back to 1853 in the small town of Greenock. These handcrafted organic wines were a delight to try and this was where we as a group bonded over the first wines of the day. Alex came up with, ‘smells like rental car’ when we aired our thoughts of what we could smell in the wines.Processed with VSCOcam with f2 preset

The next stop in the Greenock Estate was Murray Street Vineyards. This cellar door was unlike anything I had experienced. My first impression was ‘I want to get married here’ and in fact they do host weddings on a regular basis. The beautiful cellar door venue, the view and lavender in abundance were simply magical.IMG_8269

We were seated at a table on the veranda and the lovely Heather guided us through each tasting as we were free to enjoy the sunshine and some damn fine wine. I fell in love with their Shiraz Mataro blends and purchased the 2008 Benno for my partner. This ‘dark and brooding’ wine was masculine and full bodied. Perfect for the man in your life. They also had a wine called TBM Riseling – short for ‘The Baby Maker’ which no doubt has helped in the baby making process for some

IMG_8448A visit to the Barossa would not be complete without visiting Maggie Beer’s Farm Shop. While inside the Farm Shop we could taste just about every product in Maggie’s range, such as her Salted Brandy Caramel, Apricot Jam, Olive Oil, Dukkah and her wide range of pastes and pate. Of course I couldn’t leave without a tub of her famous Burnt Fig, Honeycomb and Caramel ice cream. Lexi was so hungry she tucked into her tub before we even left the shop!

After Maggie’s it was on to lunch at The South Australian Company Store, Company Kitchen. We relaxed for an hour over a bottle of wine and a meal to help us refuel for the rest of the afternoon

Processed with VSCOcam with f2 presetNext we visited Charles Melton Wines, our third for the afternoon. It was here that we were able to taste Bridget’s favourite wine, Sparkling Shiraz. This small winery established in 1984 has received national and international recognition for their red wines especially the Nine Popes GSM (Grenache, Shiraz and Mourvedre).The last cellar door that we visited for the day was Rockford in Tanunda. Founder and Winemaker, Robert O’Callaghan, purchased an 1850’s stone settler’s cottage and outbuildings in five acres of land in 1971.

Processed with VSCOcam with f2 presetWhen I walked into the cellar door at Rockford I thought, ‘now this is what I call a cellar door!’ It was dusty, dark and rustic. Joe led us through the tasting and although Rockford makes a Sparking Shiraz, they were sold out, much to the dismay of Bridget and myself (I was intrigued by this concept of chilled, sparkling red wine). Nevertheless, we were entertained by Joe’s dry humour and knowledge of the region.

As this was our last stop of the day it was time to bid Steve, Alex and Bridget farewell as they dropped us off at our hotel, The Louise. Our suite was simply stunning with vineyard views across the Barossa.IMG_8305

Lexi treated me to a four-course meal at Appellation, the restaurant located at our hotel. We experienced world class dining with food that reflected the season and local producers from the region.

The next morning we walked across the road from our accommodation to find Tscharke Wines and cellar door. Damien Tscharke is a sixth generation Barossian and winemaker.
Along with his wife, Eva, who makes beautiful pottery, Damian has created an exceedingly popular winery and cellar door for tourists and locals alike. Each wine had its own story, like the Only Son Tempranillo, as Damien was the only boy with five sisters and Eva a stunning Savagnin Frizzante named after Damien’s wife and made especially for their wedding day.Processed with VSCOcam with f2 preset

Lexi and I fell in love with almost every wine that we tasted. It was so hard to leave with only a few bottles of wine from Tscharke’s.

Finally we were off to our last winery and cellar door of the trip, a three-hour tour with owner, viticulturalist and winemaker, Wayne Ahrens, from Smallfry Wines. Wayne took us around one of his vineyards in Vine Vale, which he purchased, from the Schlieb family back in the late noughties. As we walked through the vineyard, Wayne explained how he is redeveloping the vines and helping them breathe new life thanks to his biodynamic methods.IMG_8398_2

I was particularly intrigued by his cow horn method, Preparation 500, which saw cow manure buried in cow horns in soil over the winter, then the horn is dug up, its contents emptied and stirred in a waterfall like contraption and sprayed on the soil in the vineyards. This was fascinating and something I hadn’t heard of before.

IMG_8408_2Wayne then took us to his cellar door and home, an old bank located on the main drag, in Angaston where we met his partner Suzi who had prepared food to match the wine tasting. I was particularly impressed by Wayne and Suzi’s passion for organic and biodynamic wines and their generosity towards us. Their passion was infectious and being a relatively small production, they only host tours like ours about once a month, making it a really personalized experience.

As our tour was coming to an end Wayne kindly offered to stop at The Barossa Valley Cheese Co. Cheesecellar. Victoria McClurg first trained as a winemakeer in Bordeaux, she shifted to the art of cheese making now and produces artisan cheese in the heart of the Barossa Valley wine region. With over 25 cheeses to choose from I was in heaven amongst the cow, goats and washed rind varieties.IMG_8415_2

After we said goodbye to Wayne we managed to squeeze in a quick game of chess on The Louise’s lawn while waiting for our car back to Adelaide Airport and off back to NSW and Victoria respectively.


I would like to sincerely thank Steve, Wayne and Suzi for their generosity and for providing us with a rich experience for us wine novices. And to Lexi fororganizing the entire trip and spoiling me rotten with food and wine, thank you.

Where we stayed:
The Playford
The Louise

Where we ate:
Peel St
The Company Kitchen

CellarDoor Tours
Smallfry Wines Vineyard Tour

What I bought:
Murray Street Vineyard 2008 Benno Shiraz Mataro
Rockford 2015 White Frontiac
Tscharke 2014 Stonewell Mataro
Tscharke 2013 Gnadenfrei Shriaz 

Tscharke 2012 Distinction Shiraz 
Tscharke 2015 Eva Savagnin Frizzante
Smallfry Wines 2015 Eden Valley Riseling Biodynamic
Maggie Beer Dukkah
Maggie Beer Home Block Extra Virgin Olive Oil 2015 Harvest
Maggie Beer Salted Caramel Brandy
Maggie Beer Burnt Fig, Honeycomb and Caramel Ice Cream Small Tub

What I wish I bought:
Tscharke 2014 Estate Grenache / Mataro
Kalleske 2014 Greenock Shiraz
Charles Melton 2012 Nine Popes GSM
Murray Street Vineyard 2008 Sophia Shiraz
Smallfry Wines 2012 Barossa Shiraz
Smallfry Wines 2015 Stella Luna

Photography: Aubrey Hamlett, Bridget Loudon.


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