Sun-dappled vineyards and unique dining experiences are merely the tip of the iceberg, writes Dilvin Yasa.
Let’s be honest: there’s no bad time to visit the Barossa, the Australian leader in winemaking and epicurean adventures.
Time your visit for spring – a time of year when the warmer weather creates a hive of activity by way of festivals, activities and attractions – and you’re likely to experience a whole new dimension to the region.
The good news? Whether you’re into cycling and kayaking like an athlete, eating and cooking like you’re hosting your own cooking show, or checking out some cultural events, the Barossa has something for everyone, including families, too!
Here are the four biggest reasons to visit the Barossa in Spring:
1. Food and wine workshops for everyone
2. Uniquely Barossa experiences you will love
3. The world on a plate (and in a glass)
4. Drink your fill of the Barossa’s great spring wine, Grenache
And finally make sure you don’t miss these new Barossa stays.
1. Food and wine workshop wonderland
Fancy spending a leisurely day crafting a handmade knife from an old family relic, or learning to make a spectacularly oozy camembert? In the Barossa, workshops and masterclasses are commonplace, as artisans (everyone from artists to mixologists) are keen to share the secrets of their trade with others.
At The Farm Eatery, a purpose-built experience centre, workshops are as varied as they are imaginative. For starters, you can pickle kimchi like a pro at the Pickles and Preserves workshop, make your own nut and grain milks and vegan cheeses at its plant-based Vegan Experiences workshop, or learn to master the art of seafood. What goes well with all of the above? Gin. You’ll understand this better than anyone after crafting your own bespoke gin at the Barossa Gin School at Durand Distillery.
Of course, it’s not all about food and beverages at the Barossa. At Vasse Virgin, popular for its natural skincare products, you can enrol in a workshop such as Natural Perfumery and create a signature scent to take away.
Meanwhile, those who prefer the edginess of knife-making should lock in a masterclass with Baz Gardner of Gardner Knives, a man who has been transforming everyday items (as well as the odd meteorite) into knives since the 1990s. What better opportunity to create the ultimate family heirloom?
2. Uniquely Barossa experiences
The Barossa will always be celebrated by gourmands and hedonists, but the region’s wellness market, too, has exploded in recent years with local operators keen to offer a healthy accompaniment to all that decadent nourishment.
Barossa Wellness, run by a duo of trained health and fitness professionals, allows you to sign up for as little or as much as you like, from hiking a wildflower-dotted section of the Heysen Trail, to undertaking a two-day luxury health retreat. Rather not walk? You can enjoy a self-guided tour of the Warren Reservoir in Mt Crawford Forest by hiring a kayak at Barossa Kayak Hire, or traverse the picturesque landscape by bicycle. The Butcher, Baker, Winemaker Trail by Bike package includes bike hire and a picnic hamper ready to be filled with gourmet goods as you cycle through the recommended spots.
You can still find endless food and wine experiences on offer of course, and Pindarie Wines’ Walk, Taste, Graze Experience, is one not to be missed. The two-hour hosted food and wine adventure takes place at the vineyard and farm, and includes a three-course seasonal grazing lunch underneath a 100-year-old pepper tree.
The cherry on top of the Barossa’s top hits? A Saturday morning session at Barossa Farmers Market. Serving up the best of fresh, seasonal, artisan-made produce, there’s no better place to meet the locals and immerse yourself in the colour (and flavour) of the region.
3. The world on a plate (and in a glass)
Booking a holiday to Europe or South America might be off the cards for now, but it’s entirely possible to be transported to pockets of Italy, France or Peru thanks to the Barossa’s world-class produce and culinary offerings.
Enjoy France in springtime by booking the Burgundy to Barossa experience at celebrated winery, Michael Hall Wines, a tasting journey of revered bottlings (and cheese pairings) from four iconic French producers as well as the winery’s superb offerings.
Across the border (or in this case, a short drive away), Italy is represented in the form of Casa Carboni, an Italian cooking school complete with The Enoteca (wine bar & dining) restaurant. To book in for a pasta workshop, or head straight for lunch served with a solid range of hard-to-find Italian wines? Your choice.
No trip to the Barossa, of course, is complete without visiting El Estanco, a lively eatery that serves up local fare with an authentic South American twist, or Appellation for a fine dining experience. The latter is rooted in South African influence and the set tasting menu embraces fresh produce from the kitchen garden.
4. Grenache (the hero of spring)
With its spicy, cherry and raspberry-scented characters, this medium-bodied wine is the perfect drink for springtime and happily, the Barossa offers not one, but three styles of Grenache – Old and Gnarly, Dark & Moody and Bright and Crunchy.
Fancy an Old & Gnarly? Head to the likes of Hayes Family Wines or Cirillo Estate – home to the oldest-producing Grenache wines in the world. Prefer Dark & Moody? Greenock Creek Wines and Turkey Flat Vineyards have got your number (and your bottles). Meanwhile, David Franz Wines and Tomfoolery Wines are the top places to pop by to get your hands on a Bright & Crunchy.
Top tip: check out The Grenache Project, which presents six wines made by six winemakers from one Barossa vineyard each vintage.
Don’t miss these new Barossa stays
From luxury retreats to restored vineyard homesteads, Barossa’s accommodation offerings are always evolving (and increasing).
Within walking distance from cellar doors and iconic dining experiences, The Villas Barossa offers the perfect blend of architectural design, agricultural roots and a focus on local produce, while Kingsford The Barossa – one of the country’s most exclusive and opulent retreats – opens in August after a multimillion-dollar makeover.
For those preferring a meticulously restored vineyard homestead getaway, Brockenchack Vineyard Bed & Breakfast and The Alkina Old Quarter Homestead and Cottage are perfect choices. The former serves up self-contained luxury complete with wood-burning fireplaces and wrap-around verandahs, while the latter features mod-con luxuries such as heated marble flooring.