WINE / TRAVEL

Mercury (Hobart) - Magazine - - Up Front - WORDS ELISSA DO­HERTY

With Jet­star set to of­fer di­rect flights from Ho­bart to Ade­laide from Novem­ber, now is the perfect time to start plan­ning a trip to tour South Aus­tralia’s won­der­ful winer­ies

The life of a wine­maker con­jures up a raft of ro­man­tic im­ages: toil­ing in the fresh air, shi­raz-soaked Sun­days by an open fire and sun­down­ers in the vines. Meet Peter Barry, head of the ac­claimed Jim Barry Wines, and it ap­pears, at first blush, to be no fan­tasy.

By day, the Clare Val­ley vet­eran drives us to a se­cret look­out to watch the sun rise, re­gal­ing us with the his­tory of the third­gen­er­a­tion win­ery as kan­ga­roos hop by.

By night, he holds court at Clare’s lat­est din­ing hotspot, Seed Wine­house + Kitchen, select­ing the finest red to de­canter and rat­tling off the menu by mem­ory. He’s so en­am­oured with the rus­tic restau­rant, he jokes he even bought the mo­tel next door: “It’s stum­bling dis­tance away if I need it.”

The wine­maker has turned the clutch of dated rooms into lux­ury suites called the Mill Apart­ments, with tree­top views of the Hutt River, free­stand­ing bath­tubs and com­pli­men­tary bot­tles of Jim Barry wine. It’s just one ex­am­ple in a re­gion un­der­go­ing an evo­lu­tion and mak­ing a name for it­self be­yond its famed ries­ling.

A week­end slosh­ing about the Clare Val­ley of­fers a tast­ing plat­ter of ex­pe­ri­ences as fine-din­ing restau­rants, ar­ti­san food outlets and up-mar­ket lodg­ings pop up and winer­ies stretch their legs and ap­peal to a new mar­ket. The pocket-sized re­gion boasts about 30 cel­lar doors in many guises, from tra­di­tional stone cot­tages to farm sheds and mod­ern build­ings.

Shut the Gate win­ery, for ex­am­ple, is a mix of eclec­tic wares and comfy couches, hip wine la­bels dec­o­rated with art and fa­bles, and gourmet fare.

Up the road, work your way through the pres­ti­gious As­set Col­lec­tion in a so­phis­ti­cated tast­ing room at Ki­likanoon, and dis­cover why James Hal­l­i­day’s Aus­tralian Wine Com­pan­ion was named the fam­ily busi­ness Win­ery of the Year in 2013.

In nearby Seven­hill, Pikes Wines is a mix of old and new. The stone cel­lar door harks back to its tra­di­tional roots, but a sleek, in­dus­trial-styled brew­ery next door, built three years ago, is spruik­ing its stouts, pil­sners and ales to a hip new clien­tele.

For a time­less clas­sic, visi­tors can’t go past the pic­turesque Skil­lo­galee win­ery, the home of the area’s first win­ery restau­rant. While away the hours on the ve­randa quaffing its cel­e­brated ries­ling, or linger over blue­berry and rasp­berry Dutch baked pan­cakes with creme fraiche at brunch. Add in an open fire­place and it will have you float­ing on cloud wine.

IN THE HILLS

Closer to the city, the Ade­laide Hills of­fers plenty of op­tions for a week­end lunch at winer­ies and dis­til­leries

Ap­ple­wood Dis­tillery

The new Ap­ple­wood Dis­tillery is at­tached to Unico Zelo Wines Ocher Na­tion Cel­lar Door, a 50-minute drive from Ade­laide. Here, you can ex­pe­ri­ence flights of Unico Zelo wines or Ap­ple­wood spir­its – or knock back a cock­tail.

Sig­na­ture spir­its are Ap­ple­wood Gin and the bar­ley-based Ap­ple­wood Colo­nial Malt. Food is lim­ited to bar snacks but you can buy a cheese plat­ter from Wood­side Cheese Wrights on your way there for $25 and take it in to the Cel­lar Door with you. ap­ple­wood­dis­tillery.com.au

Pranc­ing Pony brew­ery

These suc­cess­ful lo­cal craft brew­ers use fire brew­ing, a tech­nique once pop­u­lar across Europe to cre­ate the sig­na­ture In­dian Red Ale that was named Supreme Cham­pion Beer at the In­ter­na­tional Beer Chal­lenge awards in Lon­don. The brew­ery also serves hearty coun­try-style meals and runs guided tours most days. pranc­ing­pony­brew­ery.com.au

The Lane Vine­yard

Down a wind­ing coun­try lane near Han­dorf, just a 30-minute drive from Ade­laide, is this state-of-the-art win­ery, restau­rant and cel­lar door, which is one of the new­est small batch sin­gle vine­yard winer­ies in Aus­tralia. Enjoy lunch or din­ner over­look­ing the pic­turesque Ade­laide Hills, enjoy a wine flight in the 360 De­gree Hill­top Ex­pe­ri­ence with views of the Ade­laide Hills or Blend Your Own wine. the­lane.com.au The writer was a guest of the South Aus­tralian Tourism Com­mis­sion and Audi

MAKE A NOTE GET­TING THERE:

Jet­star has an­nounced it will launch the only di­rect flights be­tween Ho­bart and Ade­laide from Novem­ber. The Clare Val­ley is less than a two-hour drive from Ade­laide. Bring a car, hire one from Ade­laide air­port, or jump on a coach ser­vice. Once there, the 33km ries­ling trail is a pop­u­lar way to ex­plore the lo­cal towns and winer­ies

STAY­ING THERE:

The Mill apart­ments, on Hor­rocks High­way in Clare, cost $290 a night for a one-bed­room apart­ment and $390 for two. themill.apart­ments

FOR MORE:

Visit southaus­tralia.com

From top left, a group tast­ing at Ki­likanoon Win­ery; and Shut the Gate win­ery.

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