This chic re­treat in the heart of the Coon­awarra will tempt you back

The Advertiser - SA Weekend - - STAY WALKS COVER ST - Words and pic­tures jes­sica leo

AF­TER wine trips to the Barossa, McLaren Vale and Clare Val­ley it seemed log­i­cal that a jaunt to the Coon­awarra re­gion was on the cards. The wine-pro­duc­ing coun­try in the state’s South-East is unique in that the bulk of the cel­lar doors are dot­ted along a 10km strip of the Rid­doch High­way, a con­fig­u­ra­tion lo­cals re­fer to as “cigar shaped”.

In this densely pop­u­lated strip there are sev­eral ac­com­mo­da­tion op­tions stretch­ing from Penola town­ship in the south right up past the Coon­awarra town cen­tre.

Af­ter much re­search we set­tled on a night in The Men­zies Re­treat, which is dot­ted al­most in the mid­dle of that win­ery-rich cigar-shaped area.

At the time of our stay, The Men­zies Re­treat was op­er­at­ing as an ad­den­dum to the Yalumba cel­lar door, but on our ar­rival we learned that the ar­range­ment was set to change – the lat­ter was soon to close but the hope and plan was to keep the ac­com­mo­da­tion run­ning, pos­si­bly even via a dif­fer­ent op­er­a­tor.

It would be dis­ap­point­ing if this top­notch ac­com­mo­da­tion were to fall by the way­side – it of­fers a very cosy but also stylish and so­phis­ti­cated stay where just about ev­ery whim is catered for.

Sit­u­ated on vast grounds show­cas­ing plenty of na­tive veg­e­ta­tion, on ar­rival we were also greeted by a cu­ri­ous wal­laby who kept a watch­ful eye on us through the floor-to-ceil­ing win­dows that en­case the open-plan liv­ing area.

The wood fire was roar­ing and a hearty se­lec­tion of break­fast pro­vi­sions lay in wait, as well as a pod cof­fee ma­chine – just the tonic af­ter a day of wine tast­ing.

As we had in­di­cated it would just be the two of us stay­ing, ac­cess to the sec­ond bed­room was locked off, but our sleep­ing quar­ters catered ad­e­quately to our needs with qual­ity linen, com­pli­men­tary bathrobes and, mer­ci­fully, elec­tric blan­kets.

The de­sign and decor is a stand-out at The Men­zies Re­treat, com­pris­ing stone walls, ex­posed ceil­ing beams, glossy pol­ished floor­boards, an ex­pan­sive gal­ley kitchen and fur­nish­ings in neu­tral tones.

It quickly made us feel dis­ap­pointed to be spend­ing only one night in this luxe ru­ral re­treat, but we had din­ner to get to down the road at the renowned Pipers of Penola where we en­joyed del­i­cately crafted dishes that con­firmed the eatery’s rep­u­ta­tion as one of the state’s top re­gional restaurant­s.

But that’s not the only place for food­ies to seek out on a visit four hours south­east of Ade­laide. The next day, we stopped by Up­stairs at Hol­lick, a com­pan­ion restau­rant to Hol­lick Wines’ cel­lar door and again were gas­tro­nom­i­cally re­warded and also treated to stun­ning vine­yard views. We were also hop­ing to pop into Fod­der in Coon­awarra’s town cen­tre but time and stomach space eluded us.

And then there are the winer­ies. The area boasts too many to men­tion, but those that come with a must-go rec­om­men­da­tion in­clude Kat­nook Es­tate, Wynns Coon­awarra Es­tate and Pen­ley Es­tate.

If we learned any­thing from our fab­u­lous food and wine es­cape it’s to take more time in this re­gion – it truly is worth a visit.

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