Rolling hills. Lush green countryside.
Expansive views through one of the world’s finest wine producing regions.
What better way to spend a day than a self-driving tour through the Barossa Valley?
The Barossa is one of the most beautiful areas in Australia.
Sorry Hunter Valley, but the Barossa really does a much better job catering to its visitors. That’s a hard thing to admit, because I’m a Hunter Valley girl.
The roads are in great shape, the wineries are well maintained, and the region is unspoiled by strip mines. The Barossa is home to 150 wineries and more than 35 cellar doors that are open to the public.
We came for two reasons: wine-tasting and spectacular views.
Here are my recommendations on how to maximise your day in the Barossa (and beyond)
1. Pick up your rental car from Europcar (best deals, we’ve found) near the Adelaide Train Station.
2. Head north taking the expressway route to Angaston. Don’t worry, the views are great, especially as you near Nuriootpa. Vast fields of golden canola set against the deep, velvety green hills, shimmering with the sunlight can be found in winter. Wildflowers during the spring. And in summer, rows and rows of luscious grapes are ready to be harvested.
While you’re in Nuriootpa, stop at Maggie Beer’s Farm Shop for a lovely ‘nature walk’ and ‘farm walk’ before you discover some delicious goodies inside. You won’t be disappointed. Maggie is a legend!
3. If travelling on Saturday, hit the Barossa Farmer’s Market in Angaston to have a peek into how the Barossa spends their weekends. Look for the rows of cars on both sides of the road and you’ll know you’ve made it. It’s a great stop for or a mid-morning coffee and snack. Take a look around if your interested in picking up some organic and artisan foods like jams, honey, and marmalade.
4. Head over to Tanunda and stop at the Information Centre. Check in with one of the helpful staff members. They’ll expertly guide you to where you need to be.
For wine tasting, we were advised that you can usually get in about 5 wineries in a day with driving, tasting, and buying taken into account. They’ll ask you if there are particular wineries you want to visit, and then highlight the map with a detailed explanation of how to get there.
Our guide also advised us to check out the Mengler Hill Lookout Sculpture Park. We were happy to do so since it offered beautiful views across the valley floor.
5. From here, make your way around to your favourite vineyards and do some wine tasting. We decided to visit Peter Lehman and St. Hallet since those are two of our favorites winemakers
For non-experts, like us, be prepared to taste much higher quality wines (and more expensive), than you might normally choose at a bottle shop.
Peter Lehman was quite busy, perhaps because they are better known, so the experience felt rushed.
In contrast, at St. Hallet, we got a lot of information about WHY the wines tasted the way they did. Eden Valley wines are grown at a higher, cooler altitude so they are less acidic, hence smoother, than the warmer region of the Barossa. For kicks, we tried Old Block Shiraz, grown on 90-year-old vines. At $100 a bottle, it’s beyond the budget but the taste buds were screaming: “To die for”! Someday (sigh). Definitely recommend you try it!
6. Heading south, stop at Jacob’s Creek, which seems almost like a pilgrimage. The Barossa’s first commercial vineyard was planted along Jacob’s Creek in 1847. Since then, it’s become one of the most recognized wine brands in the world.
As with the other wineries we visited, the grounds were spectacular, but we didn’t find the ambiance we found with St. Halletts. For us, it was too commercial. However, the historical information they display in their lobby includes not only their history, but also an historical account of the entire region. It’s definitely worth the stop to understand the humble beginnings of this area.
7. From here, wind your way through the Adelaide Hills on the scenic drive to Hahndorf. It can be a bit confusing, so make sure you have a decent map. Also note, this is a popular area for riders, both cyclists and motor alike, so share the road.
8. Hahdorf is a quaint, yet funky little German town. We couldn’t help but compare it to the Texas German town we know: Fredericksburg. (Sorry Texas, but South Australia displays their history better!) Listen to the German polka broadcast from a local pub. Enjoy wandering the shops. There are some truly unique offerings, as well as the usual tourist traps.
9. Before relaxing with a genuine German feast in Hahndorf, check out Mount Lofty at sunset first. It’s only a 5-minute drive toward Adelaide and well worth a visit for great sunset views overlooking Adelaide, all the way to the coast. The Adelaide Hills are revealed on the other side.
10. Once the sun has set, finish your trip off with a lovely dinner in Hahndorf before heading back to the city. There are quite the number of restaurants in this area to choose from. Check out Trip Advisor for what the locals and recent visitors are recommending.
NOTE: Keep in mind if it’s just the two of you, you need a designated driver if you are spending the majority of your time wine-tasting while discovering the Barossa. Drink driving is taken VERY seriously in Australia. Besides, it’s not that much fun to do wine tasting on your own. There’s so much to explore and discover that wine tasting is only part of this adventure. There’s just so much to see and experience here.