WINE / TRAVEL
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
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
The Mill apartments, on Horrocks Highway in Clare, cost $290 a night for a one-bedroom apartment and $390 for two. themill.apartments
From top left, a group tasting at Kilikanoon Winery; and Shut the Gate winery.