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