Friday, March 11, 2011

South Australia Part Deux: Barossa Valley

The second half of our South Australian trip was spent driving up from Kangaroo Island to the Barossa Valley, Australia’s largest and most famous wine region. This being my first time to a wine region or even a winery for that matter, I was thoroughly impressed and at awe of the beautiful vistas that surrounded us.

We stayed in Lyndoch at the Abbotsford Country House, which overlooked rolling hills and vineyards. Our rooms were beautiful and we woke every morning to a fantastic home cooked breakfast.

Our first official day in the Barossa began with a hearty breakfast of our choice and then we were off to our first winery, Peter Lehmann. We arrived fairly early, thankfully beating the crowd that streamed in later. Upon arriving we were greeted by Sally. She guided us in the correct way to taste wines, moving from the lighter whites to heavier whites and then to lighter reds before finishing with the really strong reds. If you go to any winery I seriously suggest going here! Sally served us tastings for a wide variety of wines that were all free! Amazing! Bob and Holly liked some of the wines so much that they ended up buying 2 bottles. One such wine was called Stonewell, which we ended up bringing to dinner and drinking later that night.

Since this was my first time wine tasting, I was so happy to be accompanied by the lovely Holly Vagley and her exceptionally sophisticated palette.  She explained the basics and told me what to look, smell and taste for. Every wine tasting went a little something like this…

Sniff, Swirl, Sniff and Taste

Next we went to the Maggie Beers country store.  She is considered the Barefoot Contessa of Australia with her own slue of cookbooks and snacks. We did some sampling and were on our way.

The second winery of the day was Torbreck. It’s a smaller, boutique winery that was recommended to us by our lovely hosts, Dale and Quentin, from Kangaroo Island. They told us to ask for Ben Mullen, who happens to be their daughter's roommate. Ben was terrific! He helped us select some great wines to taste and told us about a wine of theirs that sold at a charity auction for over $88K. These wines were great but they are hard to find in The U.S. so he recommended buying them at the cellar door.

Last but not least we hit up the Charles Melton Winery.  Dale and Quentin also recommended this winery to us but not only because it has great wine but because their daughter Melanie Chester works there. Upon arriving we instantly found Melanie, a super bubbly and sweet young lady. Turns out she is going to school in Adelaide to get a degree in viticulture and oenology and let me tell you she knows her stuff. We started off with some sparkling rose wine that was followed by some reds. All very yummy but we were starting to get hungry so we sat outside (vineyard side) for a delicious lunch. I had a tasty cheese platter with local olives, bread and dried fruit. I sneaked a couple tastes from Adams beef pie that was pretty amazing as well.

Completely wined out by this point we decided to explore some of the surrounding towns before we heading back to Lyndoch to get changed and head to dinner. We ended up getting reservations at the NICEST restaurant in Barossa. Its called Appellation and its located at The Louise, a luxury hotel. Appellation was the perfect dinner to end a great vacation in South Australia as the next morning we ate breakfast and headed off to the airport.

We arrived at the airport and thanks to Bob and Holly, who were traveling on Qantas, we were able to accompany them to the Quantas Gold member lounge. We ate, drank and relaxed as we waited for our plane to arrive. We noticed a lot of guys that looked like they were in rock bands and right across from us was a guy that looked like Slash, from Guns 'n' Roses. Adam did a quick search on his iPhone and found out that a major rock festival had just come to Adelaide, and all the rockers were waiting to fly to Perth for the final show. It did turn out to be Slash, who kept his hat box right next to him!
Yet another great ending to a great vacation. Lots of love and thanks to Aunt Holly and Uncle Bob for including us in such a memorable vacation.


  1. Appellation...I'm jealous. Looks like amazing food. And you saw SLASH. How cool

  2. Wait till you see the pictures from Appellation! Yumm!