The Barossa is synonymous with the most famous wine region in Australia thanks to a long lineage of producing some of the most awarded, sought after and expensive wines. It is also synonymous with very friendly winemakers who gathered with me at the Good Food & Wine Show in Melbourne including Andrew Seppelt Wines, Blue Rock Wines, Dutschke Wines, Flaxman Wines, Gibson Wines, Hemera Estate, Hentley Farm, Kellermeister, Landhaus Wines, Murray Street Vineyards, Pindarie, Peter Lehmann Wines, Rolf Binder, Soul Growers, Schwarz Wine Company, Teusner Wines, Thorn-Clarke Wines and Yelland & Papps.
An hour's drive from Adelaide, this popular destination for locals and tourists is more than just a wine producing area. The Barossa is full-bodied with a viscosity of history, local artisans, sensational local produce, famous restaurants and amazing vistas that linger on the senses. If my conversations with the clear-headed locals are anything to go with, here are 9 of the top things to see and do in the Barossa. 14 of the region's top winemakers can't be wrong.
Savour the local produce
Photo courtesy of Tourism Barossa
Artisan butchers, bakers and cheesemakers deliver the Barossa on a gourmet paddle using the region's premium produce. You can taste the Barossa's traditions, history and quality through the baked, smoked and preserved food that are a highlight of the area. The regional food producers have teamed up to celebrate the local food culture through Barossa Food Inc.
The best known personality in the region is Maggie Beer. Her humble shop selling game birds is now the popular Maggie Beer Farm Shop, offering tastings, limited edition seasonal produce and cooking demonstrations. Saturday markets like the Mount Pleasant Farmers Market and Barossa Farmers' Market offer another avenue to sample the wide range of local fresh produce.
The fresh air, rolling vista of vineyards and designated tracks make the Barossa an excellent place for walking and cycling enthusiasts. You can meander along the North and South Para rivers on the Glawers River Path and enjoy the fauna and flora, or wind through villages and vineyards on your mountain bike along the 27 kilometre Jack Bobridge Track.
The Barossa Trail which is popular for walking and cycling links the major towns of Tanunda, Nurioopta, and Angaston via the railway corridor, taking advantage of panoramic views and the topography of the land. Barossa Classic Cycle Tours can provide you with quiet and scenic routes if you prefer to travel with a group. So just lace up the right pair of shoes or hop on your bicycle and you're off to a leisurely tour of the Barossa.
The Barossa has a rich Lutheran heritage that is not just reflected in its food, but also in the community. The region is home to well-preserved historic churches with distinct Lutheran spires, farmhouses, cottages and barns made with locally quarried bluestone, ironstone, sandstone and marble.
Tractor Collection in Roseworthy Agricultural Museum / Photo courtesy of History SA
The Barossa Museum, Luhrs Cottege Museum and Doddridge Blacksmith shop capture the lives of the region's early settlers while the objects from the early agriculture and winemaking days can be viewed in the Roseworthy Agricultural Museum.
Enjoy the serenity and beauty of the Barossa by air. Barossa Valley Ballooning allow you to float in the calm early morning breezes at sunrise over the Barossa while Barossa Helicopters provide 10 to 60 minute flights to drop-ins on wineries for a tasting.
The arts and wine are best buddies and what is Barossa without its own cluster of art galleries, craft outlets and studios. Some of the popular venues include the Barossa Regional Gallery which hosts local and touring exhibitions; the Gawler Community Gallery with 19th century paintings; and McCrae Gallery which hosts art, music and workshops.
Barry Gardner, Cutler (Knife-maker) at the JamFactory Contemporary Craft and Design / Photo courtesy of Seppeltsfield
The same earth that nutures the premium wines deliver great produce which inspire some of the best restaurants in Barossa. Eat your way through the region with establishments like Hentley Farm Restaurant which won the Best Restaurant of the Year in The Advertiser 2013 Food Awards and Appellation at Marananga which is regarded as one of the finest regional restaurants in the country.
Photo courtesy of Tourism Barossa
Many of the wineries offer great feed on premise and conduct food and wine masterclasses from time to time. Do not forget the many cafes and bakeries offering menus featuring produce from around the Barossa.
Barossa is not just home to vineyards but roses and lavender. The Rose Garden at Lyndoch Hill has the largest collection of roses in the Southern Hemisphere when it was opened by HM Queen Elizabeth II in 2002. Exchange the scent of roses for the fragrance of lavender at the Lyndoch Lavender Farm where you can view more than 90 lavender plant varieties in the gardens.
Embrace the wine
Ross Estate and Hemera Estate Wines / Photo courtesy of Tourism Barossa
Your trip to the Barossa would not be complete without a swirl, sniff and sip of the fine wines available in this world famous region. It is best known for its Barossa Shiraz, the country's most unique varietal style. Located in the Barossa Valley and Eden Valley that make up the Barossa are 750 grape growing families who supply to over 170 wine companies. Some of the families are entering their 7th generation.
Hentley Farm Wines / Photo courtesy of Tourism Barossa
You can access a long list of cellar doors from the larger establishments like Wolf Blass and Jacob's Creek to small family producers like Burge Family and Heritage Wines. Seppeltsfield Road, a palm tree-lined stretch of road named after the locally famous Seppelt family offers 19 world renowned and boutique wineries.
There are too many sights, activities and experiences to enjoy in a day. A weekend in the Barossa is an excellent way to savour the best of the region at your leisure. There is a large selection of accommodation options to suit your intent from locations in town to cottages tucked in vineyards. For a gourmet luxury retreat, check out The Louise with its co-located Appellation restaurant and the luxuriously renovated 1856 building of the Kingsford Homestead.
Photo courtesy of Barossa Old Garage Bed and Breakfast
There are many B&B options such as Barossa Shiraz Estate with views of the vines and Barossa Old Garage B&B set in a 50s to 60s design. Tanunda Caravan & Tourist Park offer affordable options if you're looking for a caravan or tourist park.