Wednesday, February 1, 2023

Bold in the Barossa – Why South Australia’s Famous Wine Region Needs to Be on Your Travel List

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Kelly Bertrand takes a trip to Aussie to experience all that is beautiful about the Barossa – and finds so much more than wine on the menu.

I’ve waxed lyrical about South Australia before on Capsule – the culture, the climate, the people are all super-lovely and IMO, super-underrated. So it makes sense that as an, ahem, wine *enthusiast* that I’d take a trip back over the ditch to spend a little more time in the state’s famous wine region, the mighty Barossa, famous for their Shiraz (pro tip – don’t call it Syrah in front of the locals, whoops) and stunning scenery.

It’s an easy 45-minute drive out to Barossa from South Australia’s capital Adelaide, and you’re transported to a wine-lovers paradise – but it turns out Barossa offers the imbibing tourist so much more than good vino.

It’s the perfect place for a post-pandemic break – wide open spaces, sustainable luxury and a focus on deliberate, mindful travel that actually gives you a proper break, rather than you getting home feeling like you need a holiday from the holiday!

DRINK:

Ok, the reason you’d hop over the ditch and head to Barossa in the first place – the WINE.

There’s a lot of history in the Barossa, with the first Shiraz vines planted in 1847. It remains their signature wine variety and LORD are they proud of it. But the valley does also boast impressive amounts of Riesling, Semillon and Chardonnay, so all wine drinkers will be catered for.

My advice? Take a tour with someone who knows their stuff. Barossa Bike Hire is a fantastic option – they have normal bikes and e-bikes (we absolutely opted for the e-bikes despite the VERY flat terrain because we were on holiday and I won’t hear anything against it) and we set out on a day-long tour of some of the region’s best vineyards on their Barista, Brewer, Wine cycle tour.

Still no regrets about the electric bike TBH.

Starting with a coffee and finishing at the pub, we were taken to some of the best vineyards including Cirillo Estate. Home to the oldest Grenache vines in the world, and let me tell you, this stuff was so good we bought as many bottles as we could fit in our suitcases. Owner and winemaker Marco will personally walk you through a tasting – he’s an absolute character – and his passion for his craft is unsurpassed.

Marco and his wines.

You’ll be taken to three vineyards on your tour – which ones are decided on the day depending on availability – and you’ll also enjoy a delicious lunch.

We also took a separate tour of Yalumba – this is a HUGE winery that features a cooperage (where they make the barrels) sweeping grounds, a massive tasting room and a huge amount of history. Whatever you do, make sure you taste The Caley (an insane Cabernet Shiraz that has won more awards than the Black Ferns) and enjoy the stunning surrounds.

And you can’t go to Barossa without stopping in at Seppeltsfield, one of the region’s most iconic wineries. We enjoyed an incredible lunch at the Fino, before embarking on the ‘taste your birth year’ experience where we got to enjoy a tawny port straight from the barrel of our birth years. They have single vineyard wine dating back to 1878 (?!) and a wine educator will walk you through the site’s amazing history.

1990, what a great vintage.

STAY:

You’ve got plenty of options – luxury, hotels, motels, camping – but my partner and I opted for a self-contained option for the ultimate in chilled-out privacy.

Barossa Pavilions was the perfect choice. Nestled on hills that look out to the valley, the site features six self-contained villas that have been designed especially for travellers looking for an elevated experience.

We lay in bed sipping coffee as the sun came up (much to my partner’s annoyance, I refused to shut the curtains to experience a perfect sunrise but to be honest, I did realise how early it was going to be!) and watched the valley slowly illuminate.

If only all mornings could start like this!

One of the villa’s best features has to be the massive spa bath that also looks out onto the valley – the best place to sip some of the stunning wine you’ve bought earlier in the day.

You’d need a car if you plan on staying here – it’s a bit out of the way of the town – but the owners supply you with more than enough gourmet food for breakfasts and dinners, so if you choose to, you can truly have a private escape and not have to talk to anyone else. Bliss.

If you’re looking for privacy and romance, this is the place for you!

DO:

Don’t get me wrong, I am an *experienced* wine drinker, but even I had to pause the imbibing a little and take a break from drinking, and Barossa Wellness was the perfect option for a little early morning health.

Co-owner Jenny’s dad Ken (who might just be the nicest man on the planet) picked us up from our accommodation and dropped us at the start of a gentle hike with Jenny through the hills of Barossa, before we met her co-owner Tanya on a clearing, where she promptly offered us a cup of tea before we began some (beginners) yoga.

Looook at us go.

Now, I’m not what you would call a yoga fan (Jetstar is more flexible than me) but I gave it a go, and I was surprised to find I actually enjoyed it. I REALLY liked the 20 minutes of mindfulness at the end and I kid you not, a kangaroo hopped along in front of us as we stared out at the beautiful views. Straya, mate. Even if you’re not yoga/meditation inclined, I would highly recommend taking a few hours out of your drinking time (even I can’t believe I said) to, if nothing else, reconnect with nature and appreciate the beauty of the Barossa. And they even set up a picnic and gourmet breakfast for us afterwards! My kind of wellness.

Ah, *wellness*.

Kelly and her partner were hosted by South Australia Tourism – however her opinions are entirely her own.

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