The Barossa Valley is one of Australia's most famous wine regions. Tourists come from all over the world to sample Barossa wines, as well as to experience the rich culture which has evolved since the first Prussian settlers came to the area in the late 1830s.
As a tourist to the region it can be hard to know where to start. Whether you're visiting for the day, the weekend, or longer, there are some things that are worth experiencing more than others. As a local to the area, it's hard to pick just a few favourite things to do. These are my top 5 suggested starting points for anyone planning a trip to this world famous region.
This is a given, but with over 170 wine companies (from around 750 grape growing families) it's often hard to know which wineries to check out, especially if you have limited time, or limited experience with Barossa wine. It really depends on what type of wine you enjoy as to where you go, so doing a bit of research never hurts. Some wineries in the area do however have other draw cards besides their selection of fermented grapes.
Rockford Wines Cellar Door is a favourite of mine, surrounded by historic farm buildings, they also offer tastings of a variety of home-made chutneys, jams and preserves, which are available for purchase. Chateau Tanunda is another popular choice, home to the historic Cricket and Croquet grounds, which are still in use today. McGuigan Wines cellar door is also situated within a historic building, previously 'Chateau Yaldara'; the location is popular with families looking for a nice picnic spot or a light meal at nearby Cafe Y.
2. Visit the Farmer's Market If you can make it to Angaston between 7.30 and 11.30am on a Saturday morning, head to the Barossa Farmer's Market. Whether you want to stock up on fresh produce, are looking for somewhere to grab a hot coffee and a quick breakfast, or simply happy to wander around tasting the samples and chatting to the stallholders, there's something here for everyone.
3. Maggie Beer's Farm Shop Not only is Maggie a famous icon throughout the Barossa, she's also an advocate for sustainable, fresh and quality produce. This is evident in the quality and popularity of the Maggie Beer Farm Shop, which is a buzzing place all year round. It's more than just a shop though; here you can sample just about every oil, vinegar, chutney, jam, pate and even wine that's for sale. I recommend turning left as you walk through the door and making your way clockwise around the shop. You'll end up at the counter were you can purchase all the goodies you've picked up along the way. And if you aren't yet full from all the sampling, order a 'picnic fare' lunch or a sweet snack, find a window seat overlooking the lake, or head out to the decking and enjoy what's sure to be a gourmet bite. If you have the time, take a stroll around the pheasant farm and take a squiz at the demo kitchen (where The Cook and the Chef was previously filmed). Please note that they don't take bookings, however if you're coming with a large group, phone ahead and they'll try to accommodate your needs.
4. Barossa Cheese Company 'Cheese and Wine Trail' The Barossa isn't just famous for making wine, some pretty darn good cheese is produced in the region too. The Barossa Cheese Company makes hand-made artisan cheese behind their shop front in Angaston. The company boasts a range of 14 distinctive cheeses, from local cow's and goat's milks, many of which are available to sample at the cheese cellar. While you're in the area, why not head into the cheese cellar and pick up a hamper and a winery map trail. For $50 you'll get: Barossa Valley Cheese Company cooler Bag Cheese knife
Small cheese board made from an oak barrel The map of cheese and wine matches Half round of Barossa Camembert
120 gram piece of Wanera cheese
• Ballycroft 120 gram piece of Annulet
• Ballycroft 120 gram piece of Fresh Fust
• A roll of Waterthins crackers
Take your hamper on the road and enjoy matching the cheeses to various wines, using your tasting notes as a guide. The hamper is large enough to share between four, so at $12.50 a piece, it's value for money and a great way to explore the region with friends, without the need to book an expensive bus tour.
5. Antique and Second-Hand Shopping
There are a couple of really great antique, vintage and second-hand stores dotted throughout the Barossa. Of particular note: Pioneer Antiques in Tanunda, Bowsers of Barossa and the Community Helpers 'Bric-a-Brac' store along William Street at Nuriootpa, and The Abbey in Angaston. Second hand stores can often be the perfect place to find a cheap memento of your time in the area. You might even stumble across a bargain heirloom or priceless collectible, so snap it up quickly before someone else does!