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Australia has been high on our travel bucket list for a very long time, which is why we are excited to share today’s guest post by travel writer Emily Thompson. An Adelaide native, she shares why this city and surrounding region shouldn’t be skipped on a visit to Down Under:
Visiting South Australia in the near future? Adelaide is a must-see city, with plenty to delight couples and groups of friends traveling together. To understand the regional reach of Adelaide’s charm, though, you need to visit the Barossa Valley, one of Australia’s top wine regions and a place of historical significance for the first European settlers.
For the most convenient arrangements, find a hotel in Adelaide (Booking.com is my go-to hotel booking website) and make day trips to the valley, which is only 60 kilometers northeast of city limits. The valley has four main country towns: Tanunda, Rowland Flat, Lyndoch and Nuriootpa. Most of the joy in visiting Barossa, however, is found between those towns, in the spacious vineyards and farms that produce world-quality wines and other gourmet items.
Visiting the Wineries
No visit to Barossa Valley is complete without a look at the famous wineries in the region. Even if you’re not a wine-drinker, seeing the cultivation of grapes here first-hand is a fun day out. The vineyards were planted by German and Prussian settlers, who brought an appreciation for fine soil and quality wines with them from Europe. The area’s fertile dirt is one of the reasons the vineyards took off; another is that the cool summer temperatures and high levels of precipitation in the winter make for ideal conditions when growing grapes for red wine.
Nowadays, such famous Australian wine labels as Penfolds, Wolf Blass, Yalumba and Peter Lehmann have their main vineyards in the Barossa Valley. The types of wines grown here include full-bodied shiraz varieties, cabernet sauvignon and grenache for reds and rieslings and Chardonnays for whites.
With more than 150 options for winery visits in the Barossa Valley, your trip through wine country can be as organized — or free-spirited — as you please. You might choose to drive along the country lanes stopping at whichever places strike your fancy or tailor your trip to particular tastes in your group by browsing through the online directory of winemakers and devising a route to take.
Sampling the Food
Don’t expect to get by on wine alone in the Barossa region; the area has many enticing local farms to draw from with your meals. Cheeses, meats and vegetables grown through sustainable farming practices will give you options to accompany your pursuit of the perfect wine. The local lamb is a must-try, served of course with locally made chutneys and fresh-grown herbs.
Most famous for food in the area might be the ventures of celebrity TV chef Maggie Beer and daughter Saskia Beer. Their Farm Shop in Nuriootpa offers picnic and sit-in lunches and cooking demonstrations. Or, if you prefer a DIY approach, pop into Angaston for to an Italian cooking class or stock up on supplies at the Barossa Farmer’s Market.
Trying Activities Other Than Food or Wine
The Barossa Valley is a foodie’s dream come true, but there are also activities in the area that will appeal to senses other than your taste. Welcome the morning sailing above the vineyards in a hot air balloon, or go for a bushwalk in the Kaiserstuhl Conservation Park. This is the best place to get a vista of the Barossa Valley (other than from a balloon, that is) and offers several kinds of landscapes. It’s only 12 kilometers from Tanunda and is open year-round.
If you’ve hired a car for your visit to Adelaide, you’ll find the route to Barossa Valley well-marked and easy to follow: it’s most direct to take National Highway M20 from the airport to Tanunda. Alternatively, you can enjoy the country scenery by following National Highway A1 to Tanunda. This way will take you past the entrances to Para Wirra Recreation Park and the Mount Crawford Forest Reserve, which are both worth a peek.
If you’d like to leave the driving to others so that you can sample more vintages at the award-winning wineries in the region, you have that option too. Ask at your hotel about signing on for a coach trip to the valley, or take advantage of public transportation and go via bus or rail. Once in the valley, you can get from point to point by hired bicycle.