The Food & Wine Capital of South Australia Additional photos thanks to SATC, Sven Kovac, Adam Bruzzone and Jacqui Way.
I have never considered myself to be a connoisseur of wine or anything along those lines. To be honest I barely know the difference between a Shiraz and a Merlot and only recently, I found out the actual meaning of a ‘cleanskin’- that’s how much of a novice I am. I am by no means a person who oozes any great levels of flavour knowledge or sophistication nor do I have one of those cleverly trained palettes perfect for distinguishing the musk flavours from the nutty flavours of a ‘good drop’. But don’t get me wrong, I love a glass of wine with dinner or enjoying a glass whilst watching a magical sunset.
Regardless of my wine knowledge I still enjoy visiting wineries and Australia has so many great wine regions. Its a great excuse for me to put on a collared shirt and swap my thongs for a more tidy pair of shoes.
Recently I had the opportunity to experience the lovely Barossa Valley in South Australia. A region famous world wide for producing many high profile wines such as Penfolds and Wolf Blass but also for being a prominent food bowl of the South. With so much more on offer than just wine it was easy to stay a week and keep busy.
The Barossa Valley gets its name from the nearby Barossa Ranges and is made up by many small towns and little villages. The three major towns are Tanunda, Angaston and the central hub of the valley is Nuriootpa- each town having its own charm and long standing traditions brought about from the German, British and Cornish settlers to the area dating back to the early to mid 1800’s.
The Barossa Valley has a collective population of around 20.000 people and relies heavily on its wine producing industry followed secondly by its tourism trade. Visitors to the Barossa Valley are really quite spoilt for choice when it comes to attractions and activities to keep busy. The towns of Tanunda and Angaston would be considered the most ‘touristy’ with more attractions catering for visitors however the busy town of Nuriootpa has all the main services and facilities you would need but still boasts some pretty exciting places to visit too.
After our stay in Adelaide it was only a short drive to our next stop- Tanunda! An hour and a half after leaving Adelaide we had arrived and set up camp at the wonderful Tanunda Caravan & Tourist Park. Although not located centrally to all the other towns and places of interest it was still a lovely choice to base ourselves for the week. I think its a great starting point from which to start exploring the area. The town itself was only a short walk from the park and its facilities were top notch. One thing that stuck out for me was a presence of a strong religious heritage with lots of churches for such a small town and the traditional European styling of the buildings throughout the streets.
The main street of Tanunda is lined with cafes and restaurants, gift shops and has a great lolly shop that you absolutely need to visit. So many old fashioned lollies to choose from
The Barossa Valley Information Centre is located in Tanunda and a visit upon arrival is an definite must. Here the friendly staff can help you find activities and places of interest that suit your preference for fun and entertainment. With so much on offer in the area everyday of the week, regular festivals and farmers markets, its always best to speak to someone who knows what’s going on. The best way to get the most out of your visit. We are glad we stopped in, we grabbed some maps and some local knowledge and began our self guided tour of the region and prepared ourselves for a fun week.
As you drive through the scenic hills carpeted with grapevines and through the many beautiful little towns of the Barossa Valley you are sure to arrive at Angaston, situated not too far from Nuriootpa. Angaston is known for being the real ‘foodies hub’ of the valley. Many of the cafes, restaurants and eateries have won awards for their food, drinks and service. Something the locals are very proud of.
This quiet little village comes alive during weekends as it plays host to the Barossa Valley Farmers Markets- a real treat for any visitor. This is truly a real authentic farmers market with a ‘paddock to plate’ concept. With over 40 stallholders offering everything from fresh seasonal produce, breads, meats and plenty for those with a ‘sweet tooth’. We picked up some great local produce, bought some great coffee and really enjoyed looking at the many stalls. The markets are kind of a ‘big deal’ and we suggest you definitely add the markets to your itinerary. Nothing beats fresh local produce and it really doesn’t get any fresher than the produce sold at the markets.
Whilst in town checking out the markets, we stopped by The Barossa Valley Cheese Co.
This family run business believes in only using local and of course the best ingredients in their cheeses. They source the cow’s milk used in their range from a local dairy that is only 18kms away. We love the fact everything is about local produce. By sourcing the milk so close to the shop they can be sure the milk is always as fresh as possible which ensures they produce the tastiest cheese. We recommend the Haloumi!
Moving on from Angaston, Nuriootpa sure steps up the pace a little- especially on weekends when visitors flock to the region for weekend getaways or romantic rendezvous. Numerous B&B’s, motels and classy retreat style accommodation options make for a perfect short holiday. People with caravans are also well catered for. The Barossa Valley Tourist Park is located centrally in Nuriootpa itself and is very popular with travellers.
A walk along the North Para River is well worth the effort- from Coulthard Reserve to Tolley Reserve. Take a picnic or BBQ supplies and make the most of the pleasant scenery.
The lush and fertile country side of the Barossa Valley is the reason why many people and especially chefs love the produce of this area so much. Maggie Beer and her Farm shop is a great example of someone wanting to share their expertise and passion with the world and at the same time showcasing the wonderful local produce of the Barossa Valley. As you make your way down the main drive way to the Farm Shop you pass the bird-runs with all types of game and farm birds.
We were able to walk around the farm looking at the fruit trees, vines, bird runs, olive groves and the dam home to many turtles. The Farm Shop was filled with all of Maggie’s products, many of which you were able to sample. The Cafe sold a selection of picnic baskets with seasonal produce, cakes and drinks; you could sit outside on the veranda and enjoy your snack while watching the turtles and birds frolic in the dam. We were delighted with the basket of pates and fresh rolls we choose and loved the fact that they even had a basket just for the kids to share.
After lunch we were able to watch the daily cooking demonstration run by one of the staff members in the famous “Cook and The Chef” kitchen (TV show). They used fresh local produce and some of Maggie’s products to show how easy it is to cook food that not only looks great but tastes fantastic. I even got to sample Verjuice which is the juice of unripened grapes that Maggie has been promoting in Australia and has been used for years in France. It was a very interactive and informative demonstration which had a volunteer from the audience assist. Maggie herself even popped in to say hi during the demonstration.
Another place to visit is the Whispering Wall at Williamstown. Holding up the Barossa Reservoir, this wall is a local landmark that brings lots of visitors eager to try it out. Its known that a whisper at one end can be clearly heard at the other end- over 100 metres away. Try it for yourself!
The world famous Barossa wines
Its amazing to think that there is over 13000 hectares of vineyards planted within the Barossa Valley and over 160 wineries. The wines of the Barossa are one of the biggest draw cards to the area. A winery tour either guided or self-guided is a great way to see how wine is made, the local history and of course purchase some of your favourite bottles after sampling a range of popular wines at the cellar door. Some wineries even allow the want-to-be winemaker blend and create their own signature batch complete with personalised labels. A great gift idea!
I could go on about the great wines and great food of the Barossa Valley all day, but I won’t. Its so hard to believe that an region so small can boast so much. A fantastic excuse to come and see the Barossa Valley for yourself is to plan a visit during the annual Barossa Valley Vintage Festival. Australia’s largest and longest running food, wine, arts and music festival.
The best way to start planing your visit is to hit the Barossa Valley Tourism website. Here you will find more information about the region accommodation options and some hand trip planing tools and suggested itineraries. www.barossa.com
Top 5 things to do
- Visit Maggie Beers farm shop.
- Spend a day touring a selection of wineries
- Visit the farmers markets at Angaston
- Have a coffee and brunch in one of the many cafes in Angaston
- Visit Mengler’s Hill Lookout for stunning views over the valley