There’s something special about the Barossa Valley. They say the people make a place, here, it’s true. The Fritz team took a trip up north to sink our teeth into the friendly region’s dusty dirt and vibrant culture. Amongst the vineyard valleys you’ll find boutique coffee roasters, brewers, gourmet cafes, award-winning fine dining, unique tasting experiences and talented hand-crafters. Stay for the weekend (or a week) and sample the regional beauty’s best.
Eat and Drink
Fino at Seppeltsfield
Grand palm trees mark the entrance to the Seppeltsfield property, and wide walkways lead you to the historic cellar door and restaurant. The courtyard is divine for a summer lunch, or you can dine in the expansive dining room with original stone surrounds and looming high ceilings. It’s the service which puts Fino on its pedestal. Co-owner and manager Sharon Romeo is maître d’ extraordinaire, her Italian heritage the driving force behind her award winning service. Sharon and her team make every experience one to remember. The food, crafted by celebrated chef and co-owner David Swain and his team, is seasonal and simple. “We don’t do any fancy plating or anything like that, it’s just good, honest food,” Sharon says. It’s about making the most of local ingredients. “We have this great relationship with our local growers here.” Sharon also concocted a cocktail list incorporating Seppeltsfield’s iconic sherries. “For something a little bit different, using what the winery does best.”
730 Seppeltsfield Road, Seppeltsfield.
Sharon ‘Shaz’ Romeo, co-owner, Fino
“I was a little bit apprehensive about coming to the Barossa but I have been so, so welcomed. It’s been phenomenal. The excitement, the support, the community behind what we do and what we stand for, is unreal. I’m still amazed by it every day. Truly. I love El Estanco at the moment, but FermentAsian is great, too…so many places.”
Pasta. It’s happiness in a carbohydrate and is plentiful at Barossa Cucina. Housed on the ground floor of the Barossa Weintal Hotel, Barossa Cucina is the region’s latest answer to simple, affordable food for everyone. “I realised there were lots of high-end eateries but not much in between,” owner and head chef Adam Swanson says. Adam also runs the kitchen at Zucca, Glenelg and is executive chef at Lot 1 in Sydney. “I saw a great opportunity in the Barossa and I just fell in love with the place. I knew I was going to do Italian food, in the true Tuscan style of cooking.” Adam is well known for his pasta, particularly through his television show Adam’s Pasta Pilgrimage. “I keep to the classics [carbonara is a favourite]. There’s a reason these dishes are classic and traditional – they don’t muck around.” You’ll also find ceviche, fall-apart lamb shoulder, and antipasto boards on Adam’s menu. Don’t leave without eating a bowl of the roast potatoes.
235 Murray Street, Tanunda.
Flowers, bagels and coffee – oh my! You can’t miss this fun Nuriootpa coffee stop on your way through town from Adelaide. Try one of their local brews alongside a fresh bagel made locally using traditional Jewish techniques by Esther Barnett at Barossa Bagels. Boiled bread never tasted so good, and you get to pick your toppings. “We have a strong focus on local,” co-owner Ryan Remillard says. “We use Barossa Coffee Roasters who roast fresh beans every week, and we use Jersey fresh milk out of Greenock. My wife (Sara –
co-owner) grew up playing with the Jersey Fresh family on their farm, so it was really important for us to bring it back full circle and use their milk.” Fleur Social developed out Sara’s desire to start a flower shop. “We decided that we needed something to pair with it, and coffee is something we saw a niche for in the Valley.” Make sure you grab a bunch of blooms on your way out. We’ve never seen peonies this enormous.
55C Murray Street, Nuriootpa.
Ryan Remillard, co-owner, Fleur Social
“I love driving from home to work. I have no traffic and I drive by the vines and the beautiful hills every day. On my way to work I feel refreshed and rejuvenated and excited to do it all over again. On our days off, we like going to El Estanco, and they often come here.”
Venture down the vineyard path to Whistler Wines and discover the most delightful cellar door space tucked away from the world. Their wines are delicious. There’s a reserve range, an estate range and the Next Gen range which dabbles in alternate varieties, funky names and equally funky bottle designs. Read more about winemaker Josh Pfeiffer and his wines on page 104. Don’t forget to check out their Summer Sessions after 5pm on the second Friday of the month for food truck fun and wines poured on the lawn under the festoon lights. Dreamy. 241 Seppeltsfield Road, Stone Well.
Barossa Valley Brewing
Just outside Tanunda, Barossa Valley Brewing could be mistaken for a historic home. The working brewery, tasting bar and eatery is housed in a classic Barossan abode on the main drag between Lyndoch and Tanunda. Sample the collection of beers with a tasting paddle, or grab your favourite brew and sit out on the deck or front verandah and watch the working brewery bustle away. “What we’re looking to do is give people another option to spoil their palate,” says Denham D’Silva, founder and head brewer. “We’re trying to incorporate that culture of quality that’s been honed over hundreds of years in the Barossa, and we’re applying that to beer.” Beers range from lager to interesting varieties like a coffee chocolate stout and a smoked ale. “We use fair trade coffee from Bean Addiction in Nuri and we do another beer called ‘I Can’t Believe It’s Not Bacon’ where we take our malts down the road to Steiny’s Smallgoods and they smoke our malts. We want to show people that they don’t have to drink the beer their grandfathers drink and that there’s this incredible flavour profile that they’ve been missing.”
They also craft and stock Sunlight Liquor.
2A Murray Street, Tanunda.
Eddy Collett, co-owner and beekeeper, Sunlight Liquor
“I just really love the food and wine culture and the amazing history. There’s nothing quite like going to Seppeltsfield, which has 100 years of wine in sequence in their catalogue of barrels. It’s such a beautiful place – old vines, old buildings, great history.”
El Estanco was the name given to a South American tabaqueria, usually a hole-in-the-wall where locals buy their daily needs. In the Barossa, El Estanco is much the same, except it’s all about food. Couple Julian Velasquez and Abby Osborne opened their Greenock café-restaurant in early 2016 to celebrate Julian’s South American heritage with a Barossan twist. “We’re both chefs, and I used to be a viticulturist,” Abby says. A pastry chef by trade, she bakes all the cakes with her mum, while Julian largely takes care of the changing menu, especially now baby Paloma has arrived. “In a week, we could have up to three different menus,” Julian says. They have a paddock to plate approach. “Our pork is from local farms, herbs from the local market or the greenery is from our own veggie garden.” The pair stocks wine from local boutique wineries who (mostly) don’t have cellar doors. They have fortnightly wood oven pizza nights, and themed nights.
23 Murray Street, Greenock.
Julian Velasquez, owner/chef, El Estanco
“The opportunity came about to set up in the Barossa, which I had a lot of interest in because of thewine. It was such a pleasant surprise to find all the other add-ons when we came, like the produce and the people. It was just a whole package for us.”
A new kid on the vineyard blocks here in the Valley, Izway stepped outside the square when it comes to cellar door design. The space itself is a marvel to behold, and well worth the visit. Nestled in the earth on the side of a slope next to the winery, it’s unassuming as you enter the property. Make your way down the steps and you’re met with a stunning display of concrete and timber, the perfect space to showcase beautiful bottles. The wine is crafted next door by winemaker and owner Craig Isbel. Visitors are encouraged to check out the action on their visit, especially during vintage. Much like the cellar door, their ethos is to keep the wine simple and minimal. Read more about the Izway team and their alternate wines on page 104.
923 Seppeltsfield Rd, Seppeltsfield.
A stunning example of Barossa’s heritage wine properties, Hentley Farm produces premium single estate or single block wines. They’re crafted by Andrew Quin, 2017 Barons of the Barossa Winemaker of the Year. “Our wines are reflective of our site’s diversity and natural style,” Daryl Spencer, operations manager says. Their restaurant has also garnered plenty of attention. Two set menu options use ingredients predominantly from the 150 acre property. They’ve recently been awarded two hats in the Good Food Guide 2018.
Cnr Gerald Roberts Road and Jenke Road, Seppeltsfield.
Penfolds – Barossa Cellar Door
In addition to their Magill Estate base, Penfolds also operates a Barossa cellar door. Built in 1911, the cellar door is housed among impressive winery facilities. Try your hand at winemaking in the laboratory onsite with the ‘Make Your Own Blend’ experience. For Grange fans, they also offer ‘A Taste of Grange’ experience.
30 Tanunda Road, Nuriootpa.
Is there anything better than the first whiff of freshly baked bread? We think not. Even at 6am. Apex Bakery is one of the oldest bakeries in the country and their 300-loaf wood oven is rumoured to be the oldest and longest fired. “Our wood-fired oven has been here since 1924 when we opened and has been operating [fired] ever since,” co-owner and baker Corey Fechner says. Corey’s grandfather started at Apex in 1925 and his family never left, rolling dough at this Tanunda icon for close to a century. “My grandfather started working here when he was 12 years old after school and stuck it out until he was about 93 years old.” Apex has used a unique slow-baking technique since opening. “Our process takes 12 hours. It’s a slow fermented bread. The way we make it is the still the same way my grandfather learnt. It’s kind of a lost art really. It’s not a sourdough but it’s slower than modern breads these days. Grandpa used to make his own yeast from potato skins, but apart from that our recipe is the same.” Their pumpkin bread is to die for, as is the white sourdough and traditional multigrain bread. They hand-roll their slow-fermented doughnuts too (yes, the cinnamon sugared kind). Pick some up at the bakery (be early, locals get in quick) or sample at one of their stockists (Rockford Wines, Peter Lehmann, Maggie Beer, Lambert Estates – the list goes on).
1A Elizabeth Street, Tanunda.
Corey Fechner, owner and baker at Apex Bakery
“Our family history dates back to the start of the Barossa Valley. I think we were on the second boat out of Germany. There are so many things happening in the Barossa now since then… that’s probably my favourite part, just how vibrant it is. I’m actually not a massive wine drinker, believe it or not, but I just love all the beers popping up now. I definitely love the food, too – FermentAsian is just across the road – we’re so spoilt here.”
Historic winery Elderton recently underwent extensive renovations. The original Ashmead homestead was purchased by the family in 1979 and the bungalow is a classic example of architecture during the First World War. It is now a luxurious cellar door space. “When the Ashmead family purchased the property, they were told that if they purchased the home, they’d be given the surrounding vineyards for free. What luck!” says Jodhi Thoms, experiences, events and concierge at Elderton. The cellar door offers tastings, masterclasses and pairings (chocolate and wine anyone?). Become a member of their Commander’s Club (in reference to their premium wine range) to gain access to their swish club rooms and facilities including a pool, shower, and lounge area.
3-5 Tanunda Road, Nuriootpa.
Jodhi Thoms, experiences, events and concierge at Elderton Wines
“I love the food culture in the Barossa, the sense of community, and obviously we produce great wine. We’re fortunate in Nuriootpa because we’re very close to Barossa Distillery and I’m particularly partial to a gin. They make great gin. I also went to the new Eatery at Maggie Beer’s the other day which was fantastic.”
Our cover – Yalumba
You can’t help but stop and admire this beautiful old gal, which is why she dons the Fritz summer issue cover. One of Australia’s oldest, family-run wineries, Yalumba is still a Barossa icon. Boasting an impressive 167 years and five generations, it’s a must-visit for history buffs. Keep an eye out for some exciting new wines – Nick Dry (at the Yalumba nursery) and chief winemaker Louisa Rose are pushing the alternate variety envelope.
40 Eden Valley Road, Angaston.
The Farm Eatery
The latest addition to the Maggie Beer property, The Farm Eatery is youngest daughter Elli’s newest project. While you can eat at Maggie’s Farm Shop, The Eatery now adds a new sit-down experience inside the renovated function space and outdoors by the lake. It’s simple, fresh and picturesque. Chef Tim Bourke comes highly regarded from Southern Ocean Lodge and crafts local dishes for their daily menu. Their drinks are uniquely Barossan, with house made fizzies like wild fennel cola. A large function space next door still exists, and is available to book for functions, cooking classes and a gin school. There are 12 copper stills installed in the individual bench spaces.
50 Pheasant Farm Road, Nuriootpa.
Congratulations to Henschke…
Celebrated Barossa winery and South Aussie icon Henschke was recently awarded accolades for their Eden Valley wines. Their Noble gewürztraminer 2016 won gold at the 2017 Adelaide Hills Saint Martin Wine Show, while their Peggy’s Hill riesling (2017) won Riesling Trophy at the National Wine Show of Australia. Cheers to that! Stop in at their Keyneton cellars to try a drop (or several).
1428 Keyneton Road, Keyneton.
Bethany Wines – beautiful walking trails.
Torbreck – stunning estate grounds.
1847 Chateau Yaldara – riverside restaurant in a historic chateau.
St Hugo – new Courtyard Grill for groups.
Have you got a favourite spot in the Barossa you love to visit? Let us know about it in the comments, below.
Photos: Naomi Giatas
Video: Aaron Nassau