Barossa Valley

The Barossa Valley is a major wine-producing region 60 km northeast of Adelaide. It has a population of about 20,000. It is the valley formed by the North Para River. The Barossa Valley Way is the main road through the valley, connecting the main towns on the valley floor of Nuriootpa, Tanunda, Rowland Flat and Lyndoch.

Tanunda is generally recognised as the most German of the three with long-standing traditions dating back to the 1840s when the first German settlers arrived in the area. Because many of them came from Prussian Silesia, they called the Barossa Neu-Schlesien, or "New Silesia". The German influence survives to this day. Angaston, in contrast, is considered the English town as it was settled predominantly by Cornish miners and others from Britain. The third (and largest) town, Nuriootpa, was influenced by both the German and British settlers, and today is the commercial hub of the Barossa where most of the larger stores are located.

The wine industry plays a major role in the Barossa, being the main source of employment for many residents. The predominant wine is red Shiraz.

On arriving in the Barossa we had lunch at Charles Melton Winery, which was close to our accommodation. We enjoyed a platter and a bottle of the excellent Nine Popes wine on the verandah. A peaceful setting on the verandah, charming ladies serving and a bottle of the ( expensive ) very good Nine Popes wine. I then went through their tasting, which was a very convivial affair in which many of us visitors exchanged views - and felt it worth paying the premium for their top of the range red The platter I would add was of good quality too. A recommendation for a Barossa lunch.

Barossa Vineyard Cottages in Bethany. We stayed here for 3 nights and really enjoyed the cottage. At 225 dollars per night I thought it was a bargain for what we got. The cottages (the complex is 2 semi-detached cottages, that is 4 units in all) are modern and well fitted out, nay very well fitted out. The modern bathroom has an enormous spa bath for 2, separate bedroom and kitchen/living room. A big supply of DVDs if you want to use them. There are verandahs front and back to enjoy both morning and evening sun. In addition there is a separate gazebo with barbecue. Free wifi in room (the room has a lap top connection, but they will get you a wifi to plug into the slot if you need it, as I did).

On arrival you get your breakfast materials for your stay.

On our holiday in Australia we stayed in 15 such properties and this was among the top recommendations. We paid between 125 and 325 dollars per night so the cost here was right on the average. The value for money was exceptional. The cottage is not serviced. We certainly expected to wash our own dishes in all the places we stayed across Australia. Though I would say most did make the beds daily. I had no problems making the bed, it just needs to be underlined when you arrive. You can certainly tour the Barossa easily from here, and we are really glad that we stayed at these cottages, and would recommend them to anyone staying in the Barossa.

 

Bethany is on the edge of Tanunda. The village was originally called Bethanien, and settled in 1842 by Prussian immigrants who arrived with Pastor Gotthard Fritzsche. Langmeil was the next settlement in 1843, which was settled by Prussian immigrants who relocated from Klemzig where they had originally settled in 1838, when they had arrived with Pastor August Kavel. Tanunda village was settled sometime later. Langmeil and Bethanien were both renamed during the Great War to Bilyara, and Bethany respectively. The German influence is still very evident even today. Times for the ealy settlers must have been grim, there is a tree (above) in which a whole family lived for a number of years.

The sculpture park on Mengler Hill provides panoramic views over the Barossa valley and Tanunda.

Saltram Winery. Their platter was the best of half a dozen platters we have had in wineries over the last few weeks. And we had a bottle of their Chardonnay to wash it down. The restaurant is modern, airy and air conditioned. It is noisy - other customers with out of control children being the main disrupters of the peace. Service was pleasant without being exceptionally good. Their tasting counter is kept busy, so I did not bother to have a full tasting. It is a slick commercial organisation here - they are owned by the same holding company that owns Wolf Blass. Overall an enjoyable lunch venue which I thought was very good value for money

1918 Restaurant. A meal for two came out at 150 dollars a head including wine, but I was happy to pay that as the restaurant has a nice atmosphere and they serve good food. You have the choice of eating outside on the grass, or in the air conditioned restaurant. We chose the indoor option as the evening was hot. The food is well sourced, cooked and presented. In particular I enjoyed the yogurt and lime parfait. Service is cheerful and the atmosphere is casual . Like most Australian restaurants, people eat early, and by the time we left at 10 o'clock, everyone else had gone - weird.

Sue took us to Sieber Vineyard. The Sieber vineyards are part of “Redlands”, a 3rd generation family property, situated on the rich red soils of Western Barossa. Traditionally a cropping and grazing farm, owned and operated by Richard and Val Sieber and assisted by sons, Jarrod, Ben, Tom and Daniel. Growing vines for their own wine has been an exciting diversification. The cellar door is attached to their home and overlooks a beautiful garden and their vines. we were received very warmly here.

Peter Lehman Wines. Sue had arranged a lunch for us here. We had their lunch platter in the air conditioned interior, which was well decorated. There are a number of dining rooms, or you can eat outside. The lunch platter that you share between two is substantial, and has a good selection of meats. Washed down with a glass or two of their wines, makes for a very pleasant lunch. You enter the winery via an imposing drive and it is set in very well maintained grounds. It was busy when we we were there, but I did not feel that this detracted in any way from our visit.

We went to the "Make your own blend" experience at Penfolds, and I was disappointed with it. The girl that did the whole thing had little knowledge of either wines nor blending. To start with we spent 10 minutes being given the history of the founder Mr Penfold - without the mention that Penfolds is nothing to do today with the Penfold family, being owned by Fosters via Treasury Wines. The make your own blend idea is in principle good, but when led by a girl without any knowledge (and apparently not wanting any knowledge) the whole thing was a bit of a non-event. The idea is that you try Bin 138, and the three wines that make it up in varying proportions. You then have 3 opportunities to make your own blend. The girl in charge is very strict on this. Now she does not tell you the proportions of each of the three wines in the Bin 138, nor does she tell you how or why the blending is carried out, you just pooter round and make three new blends from the available wines, with no reason except luck, that you might hit upon one blend that you might prefer to their Bin 138 from the ingredients supplied. The make you own blend was a badly organised and badly executed tourist exercise. Save your money and spend it on a decent bottle of wine instead.

A morning coffee stop at Grant Burge where we enjoyed coffee and cake with Sue and Pat.

And Lunch was at Maggie Beer's Farm Shop. We sat on the verandah here and enjoyed our lunch overlooking the lake with little turtles (?) swimming in it. This place is busy, as a foreigner I had no idea who Maggie Beer was, but she is a legend in her own lunchtime in Australia through her TV programmes. You can wander round the shop and taste products. Her specialty is pheasant products and the pates are extraordinarily good. Getting lunch is a strange process - there are picnic baskets with pate, bread, salad that you get yourself, then find a table to eat it at. Similarly with wine, you buy a bottle and bring it to your table yourself. You can then go to the serving area and order a coffee which they will bring to your table. The quality of the pate and the outside setting made up for the rather odd ordering process.

After lunch ran its course we had to head off to Adelaide airport, about an hour away, check the car back in to Hertz and hurry to catch our Singapore Airlines flight from Adelaide via Singapore to Milan, then on to Barcelona.

Sadly in Barcelona Airport Chris had her backpack stolen in a scam operation, and the Boys are now no longer with us. Her camera also vanished - thus explaining my near absence in the photographs here.

Australia 2013/2014