One of my girlfriends had booked a trip with her fiance to Adelaide, but was unable to make the trip and was looking for someone to give her flight to. The adventure-loving, free-loading soul that I am, my ears pricked up! “I’LL TAKE IT!” I screamed before she could even finish the sentence. Being a new mum, I had every intention of just going solo and enjoying some downtime by myself to lounge in a spa and drink loads of wine! Being Adelaide, I immediately knew that I would need to make my way out to The Barossa Valley. The Barossa is a world-renowned wine region right here in Australia, with Shiraz grapes being the specialty! I jumped on booking.com to sort my accomodation, and knew exactly where I wanted to stay: The Louise. The Louise is a boutique hotel in Marananga, and is best known for the Appellation restaurant, which is award-winning, regional contemporary dining – AND IT IS A DINING EXPERIENCE YOU CANNOT MISS!
As the trip started drawing near, I jumped in to our flybuys account and realised that we had a load of points to use. So I booked a flight for my husband to join me, and thought we could both use the down time from work, and being new, first-time parents. So basically, we both got to fly to Adelaide for free, which made the trip even more enjoyable!
We picked up our hire car from Hertz car rental at Adelaide Airport, and received a complimentary upgrade from a Toyota Corolla, to a new Hyandai Kona! If you’d seen the peanuts I paid for our rental car, you would realise how bloody good of an upgrade this was! haha! After the usual “trying to navigate driving in a new City”, we made our way out to the Barossa Valley which is only a short hours drive from Adelaide. We weaved our way between miles of spectacular landscapes of wheat fields and vineyards, rolling hills and scenic vistas and eventually through the quant little town of Lyndoch, through Tanunda and then on to our accommodation at Marananga. I’ve never seen so many different variations of roses in bloom, ever!
We finally get to our accommodation at The Louise, and the moment we stepped foot on the grounds, the Concierge had already started walking out to greet us! One of the main things we loved about staying here, was how exceptional the staff were! So attentive, without being intrusive. They really make your stay an absolute pleasure. We received a complimentary upgrade from a Vineyard suite to a Stonewall suite – which meant a fireplace, and a bigger bathroom for me to enjoy a few bottles of red by myself in the spa, while the husband got to catch up on the V8 Supercars on TV haha!
For dinner, we dined at the in-house Appelation restaurant. The restaurant itself is small and nothing to write home about (bookings are essential), and we had the four course degustation with sommelier-selected pairings which will set you back $200AUD pp, but it is honestly worth every single cent! The food was fresh and flavoursome, and the sommelier and waitstaff were exceptional. I will definitely return for these mouthwatering morsels!
After a chilled evening of settling in to our accomodations, our hotel had arranged a private wine tour for us the next day. Werner from Barossa Valley Tours picked us up and drove us around the region with a few pit stops to some boutique cellars. I cannot rave enough about this tour, Werner and his wife have been running tours in the region for over twenty years so they have an abundance of knowledge about all of the different grapes, wineries, and the rich history of the Barossa. Werner was a complete wealth of knowledge and went in to so much fascinating detail on our tour. We figured that we could get the big brands (a la Jacobs Creek, Penfolds, Seppeltsfield etc) from anywhere, so we asked Werner to take us to some of the lesser known, “boutiquey” cellars and the first stop was Izway wines, and it did not disappoint
A small property just off Seppeltsfield Road, a completely off-the-grid winery and cellar door. We were met by Craig, one of the owners, who led us in to his very modern, Scandinavian inspired boutique cellar. It was so refreshing to actually speak to the owner of the winery, and hear and see first-hand the passion behind the wine they make. They don’t try to force their wines to be anything that they aren’t, and they bottle their wines to be a true reflection of the grapes and conditions throughout the growing season. My personal favourite being the 2017 Three Brians Grenache, bottled from the twisted grenache bush vines on the property. We spent a pretty penny at this winery, and placed an order for our wine to be shipped back to QLD – and we were concerned if this is what we spent at the first winery, than we were in for a very expensive day. Fast forward to the end of the day, just turns out that Werner took us to the best winery first! We will certainly be purchasing from these guys again, and love supporting a smaller run winery over the big guns – and I really encourage you to jump on their site and order yourself a bottle (or twelve) if you’re a big fan of bold reds!
Tasting Fee: $5 redeemable on any purchase
We thought it was fitting that our guide took us to this particular vineyard, just as we were starting to feel guilty for leaving our 4 month old daughter “Willow” at home so we could spend a weekend in the Barossa getting shitfaced, our guide brings us here to The Willows Vineyard. This property goes back to the late 1800’s where Johann Sholz, a famous bone-setter at the time, opened up the Barossa’s first private hospital. The building still stands on the property (now the main living quarters), and you come to pass it as you meander through the property toward the cellar door. The first vines were planted in 1936 with the Sholz family opening up the cellar door in 1989. They are most popular for their Riesling, and seeing as though I’m not much of a white drinker, I do have to say that their 2018 drop was quite a crisp, dry wine and not too bad. But I have to say, my pick of the day was “The Doctor” Sparkling Shiraz which took out the BEST SPARKING WINE award at the Barossa Wine Show in 2017
Tasting Fee: $10 fee redeemable on any purchase
Rockford Wines would have to be one of the Barossas most popular cellar doors to visit. Admittedly, we didn’t stay for very long because the small cellar door was super crowded. But the property itself is absolutely gorgeous, and well worth the stop.
As our tour starts winding down, Werner told us he was going to swing by a “cheese cellar” and my ears pricked up as soon as I heard “CHEESE”. The Barossa Valley Cheese Company cheesecellar is open 7 days a week, and tastings are FREE. All cheeses are hand-made on site, using fresh, local ingredients from local Barossa cows and they also use a vegetarian rennet (natural rennet is usually derived from the stomach of slaughtered calves). They have a range of both cow and goats milk products, with their Barossa Haloumi and Barossa Triple Cream Brie both taking out GOLD awards at 2018 Dairy awards. We stocked up on a few items to take back to our accomodation to enjoy, while we sip on some local red at our outdoor setting overlooking the vineyard back at The Louise.
Tasting Fee: Free
The cellar door for Turkey Flat Vineyards is in the old Schulz family butchers shop. In the tasting room you will find the original stump that they used for the butchers block back in the day! On the menu you can find a nice collection of red to work your way through. My personal fav being the “Butchers Block Red” a spicy, aromatic blend of Shiraz, Grenache and Mataro with the sweetness of the Grenache balancing this blend to make it an easy, smooth red to drink. My husband however, had set his eyes on the “Pedro Ximenez” after reading the tasting notes and seeing “Buttered Popcorn” haha! Not usually one for sherry-style wines, I was actually impressed with this one. And it makes it so much more fun for the fact that after you get over the bold Christmas Cake taste, you can absolutely taste buttered popcorn!
Tasting Notes: Originating from Spain, Pedro Ximénez is a rich and luscious Sherry-style wine. The palate is laced with notes of toast, buttered popcorn, salt caramel and Christmas cake.
Tasting Fee: $10 fee redeemable on any purchase
We had a really lovely time travelling around the Barossa with our tour guide, Werner. He had so much to tell us about the rich history of the Barossa, and we came away feeling like we were saying goodbye to a new friend. I would absolutely recommend a trip to both the Barossa, and a private or group tour with Barossa Experience tours, for all wine-lovers!