Barossa Valley and South Australia's Epicurian Way

It's a food and wine extravaganza  here in the luxuriant hills that gently curve and roll around Tanunda  – the town at the heart of the Barossa Valley.

There's local chocolate, fabled bread and pies, olives days off the tree, specialist smallgoods and imaginatively flavoured, valley-made cheese. 

Award-winning chefs assemble their spectacular range of locally produced fare into inventive dishes, while the region's wine-makers produce world-famous drops.

But right now all I want is a cup of tea.  

We're inside Maggie Beer's famous Farm Shop at Nuriootpa and I've made my way into its retro-tastic, bright yellow kitchen where cooking demonstrations take place. 

Cooking paraphernalia, heavy with nostalgia, crams the benches. Tall glass jars of preserved fruit and fat pots of freshly made jam jostle for space with cut flowers and stacks of crockery.

There are bowls piled high with lemons, big bunches of just-picked herbs and shelves bulge with old-fashioned gravy boats and floral tea cups.

It makes me want to sit down with the woman whose presence is everywhere and have that cup of tea.

But alas, the cook, writer, verjuice producer and presenter of ABC TV's The Cook and the Chef is not here today.

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I must settle for reading the story of how she helped put this area on the national gourmet map on posters in the shop's entrance. My friends and I buy olive oil and try the pates and pastes while we shop.  

Back in the car we return to the Epicurean Way, one of Australia's great food and wine touring routes linking SA's four iconic wine regions –  McLaren Vale, Adelaide Hills and the Barossa and Clare valleys.

The four famous winegrowing regions are under an hour from each other, making criss-crossing the luscious countryside quick and easy.

Over three days our road trip will take us to cellar doors and providores, a chocolate and wine pairing session, a hand-made cheese tasting, a cooking school experience and two top winery restaurants.

After leaving Adelaide Airport in our loan Audi A6 allroad quattro, it takes a mere 40 minutes to reach McLaren Vale, after barely passing another car. 

It's mid-morning on a weekday and we couldn't have ordered a prettier day to drive through this bon vivants' valley, winding our way through the vineyards and fields of gold.

Crunching on to the gravel driveway of Pindarie Wines, it's only 10.30am but we decide to adjust our watches to Barossa time, when any time is wine-tasting time.

Pindarie has taken out the Qantas national tourism award for best winery two years running. Impressive, since the cellar door opened only five years ago. 

Also a sheep station, the original stables of the 1850s homestead are now a tasting room, where a hearty menu of seasonal fare pairs well with Pindarie's drops. Beautiful sweeping views across the neat vineyards, and a roaring fire in the cold months, make grazing at this working farm a memorable pit stop. 

Back in the Audi, it's on to Apex Bakery in Tanunda where three generations of bakers have been making daily bread since 1924.

Not much has changed in 92 years. Apex is still using the same scotch oven as on the day the door first opened, making it the longest continually used wood-fired oven in the nation, turning out 500 loaves a day.

Harvest Kitchen at Artisans of Barossa serves up the most spectacular spread of the trip. Show-stopping share plates for lunch from the Feed Me Like a Barossan menu gets everyone at our table on their feet shooting away in an Instagram frenzy. 

Designed to  complement the wines of the seven, small-batch, sub-regional producers who make up the Artisans group, the ever-changing menu delivers delectable morsels sourced on the doorstep at surrounding farms. 

Overnight at The Louise vineyard retreat proves yet another hedonist's delight with both the accommodation and dining infused with elegant, understated luxury.

A traditional drive-up motel until owners Jim and Anna Carreker got hold of it with their eye for style, The Louise is now a chic retreat and a culinary destination thanks to Appellation restaurant, where chef Ryan Edwards creates contemporary, farm-sourced dishes.

Suites have private terraces at the front and vast vineyard views at the back. Lavish bathrooms get the tub lover's pulse racing while a dressing room, dining area and a fridge full of delicious snacks make it a spacious retreat after a day of touring. 

Guests who decide to leave their room can amuse themselves in an infinity-edge pool, or with an oversized chess game, on a bocce court or at the gym.

Woodside Cheese is our first stop on day two after a meandering, pretty drive to the Adelaide Hills.  Morning tea in the rustic warehouse where new flavours of hand-made cheese are invented, consists of smoked bush tomato, chilli, flower-infused and lemon myrtle varieties.

Our lunch venue – Bird in Hand – is equally known for its creative pursuits as its cool climate wine. It's Gallery restaurant is decorated with local art specially commissioned for the space, while its annual concerts transform its scenic fields into a popular outdoor music venue. Its indoor event space is sought after, while a luxury collection of designer goods and furniture  is also on sale under the brand.

Later at Hahndorf Hill we climb the stairs to the cellar door and take a table on the balcony overlooking the vines to experience its famous ChocoVino tasting. That's fine wines matched with fancy chocolate to the uninitiated – cementing for us yet again the region's credentials as innovators when it comes to new epicurean experiences.

TRIP NOTES

MORE INFORMATION:

Qantas.com.au

Southaustralia.com

Audi.com.au


GETTING THERE

Qantas flies to Adelaide daily see qantas.com.

STAYING THERE 

The Louise, Corner Seppeltsfield and Stonewell roads, Marananga, has luxury suites with breakfast from $605.00 thelouise.com.au 

Mount Lofty House, 74 Summit Road, Crafers, has rooms and three-course dinner deal for two from $499.00 mtloftyhouse.com.au

SEE + DO

Maggie Beer's Farm Shop, Nuriootpa maggiebeer.com.au

​Pindarie Wines, Gomersal pindarie.com.au

Apex Bakery, Tanunda apexbakery.com.au

Artisans of Barossa, Vine Vale artisansofbarossa.com

Woodside Cheese, Woodside woodsidecheese.com.au

Bird in Hand Winery, Woodside birdinhand.com.au

​Hahndorf Hill Winery, Hahndorf hahndorfhillwinery.com.au
 

Angie Kelly was a guest of South Australian Tourism and Audi.

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