6 Things to Know About the Barossa
Seeing the Barossa in South Australia is a trip on many traveller’s radar, especially when said visitor has a fondness of food, wine and everything gourmet indulgence.
So what do you know about the Barossa? Other than its reputation for inducing gastronomic comas, of course. To prepare for your Barossa getaway, we have a collection of things that will help you make the most out of your time away. One insight might even have you proclaiming, ‘I never knew that!’. And when you’re ready to book your Barossa break, you can find your perfect wine country escape in our collection of luxury and boutique stays. Happy travels!
1. The Barossa and the Barossa Valley aren't the same place
Although used interchangeably to refer to this powerhouse region of South Australia, the Barossa and Barossa Valley are actually different places. The Barossa is the name given to the vine-laden zone that stretches from part of Gawler in the west, to beyond Keyneton in the east. Without going into specific detail about the exact geographic boundaries, the Barossa encompasses popular hubs including Rowland Flat, Tanunda, Nuriootpa and Angaston, as well as smaller townships such as Springton and Penrice.
The Barossa Valley on the other hand makes up only part of the Barossa region. The easternmost Barossa Valley boundary skims the land and towns west of Penrice, Angaston and Krondorf. It also includes Williamstown and Cockatoo Valley. So what other area pads out the eastern section of the Barossa? The Eden Valley. With just as many cellar doors, eateries and sights as its neighbour, the Eden Valley is where travellers will find the likes of Yalumba, Henschke, Pewsey Vale and Brockenchack. To brush up on the wineries in both the Barossa and Eden Valleys (and to perhaps add some to your visit wish-list), head over to Halliday Wine Companion.
2. There's too much to see in one weekend
As touched on above, the Barossa is a big place and it comes jam-packed with things to do, eat and see. With more than 150 wineries in the area, plus all of the standalone restaurants, cafes, provedores and other non-food related experiences; it is an impossible feat to fit everything into just one weekend. Knowing where and how to start discovering the Barossa can be a daunting prospect for first-time visitors, so our tip is to make a list of anything you really, really want to tick off on this trip. It might be a tasting flight you’ve heard rave reviews about; lunch at a restaurant you saw a write-up of in the newspaper; or a cooking class so you can take some Barossa-honed culinary skills home with you. Another tip is to look towards some of the smaller cellar doors when planning your itinerary. While the big names – Jacob’s Creek, Chateau Tanunda, Seppeltsfield, Wolf Blass – all have their homes in the Barossa, these cellar doors can also be some of the busiest in the region. So if you don’t want to fight the crowds or notch up too much time waiting for your turn at the bar, direct your attention to some of the smaller wineries.
Likewise, it would be a test of anyone’s appetite to fit in a meal at all of the Barossa’s cafes, restaurants and eateries. It is a no brainer for those heading to the Barossa on a gourmet pilgrimage to start with those diners whose degustation menus have had them drooling for weeks, months or even years. Of course that’s not to say you have to eat only according to your itinerary. There are plenty of morsels to be had by swinging past a local café for a quick coffee, or stopping at a country bakery to try their take on a vanilla slice.
Make a note of those places you didn’t manage to get to and simply add them to the list of must-eats you’re keeping for your next Barossa getaway.
Image: Seppeltsfield Road, Seppeltsfield. Ian Routledge; SATC
3. Don't skip making dinner reservations
On the subject of Barossa eats, make sure not to neglect dinner reservations, especially if you will be travelling across long weekends or public holidays, in school holidays or over the Christmas/New Year break. While the Barossa is brimming with places to sate any appetite, some do get busier than others and as such, booking a sitting in advance is the best way to avoid the disappointment of being informed of the one-hour wait for a table upon arrival. Weekends are naturally busier than midweek too, so any plans of Friday or Saturday night dinners should be locked in with a booking as soon as possible.
4. Make time to do more than just visit cellar doors
Yes, the Barossa is known for its food and wine. Its reputation as a gourmet juggernaut is a drawcard for many of its visitors. However it would be an opportunity missed if you stepped foot in the Barossa and neglected adding at least one of the region’s non-foodie pursuits to your itinerary. Walking or cycling a section of The Barossa Trail/Jack Bobridge Trail is a scenic way of seeing more of the area – and it may also help work up an appetite for your next meal stop. Stop to smell the… lavender at Lyndoch Lavender Farm, or gaze at the works hanging in one of the local galleries such as Lillefield Gallery, JamFactory at Seppeltsfield or Barossa Regional Gallery. The Whispering Wall near Williamstown is a free-entry sight, and for families travelling to the Barossa there is mini golf in Tanunda, easy heritage walks and a train park in Nuriootpa.
Image: Henschke - Mount Edelstone Vineyard. Dragan Radocaj; Henschke & Co; SATC
5. One of the best ways to see the Barossa is from above
Driving is without a doubt the easiest way of exploring the Barossa, and a car will happily take you from Point A to Point B with plenty of scenic vine-strewn landscapes along the way. To really appreciate the beauty of this region though, it is hard to beat a vantage point with a little more height – from within the basket of a hot air balloon, that is. Ballooning over the Barossa is a truly memorable experience, with flights usually departing for sunrise. Some trips are followed by sparkling wine breakfast.
Those that would prefer to take to the sky with a little bit more motor power can swap a hot air balloon for the rotors of a helicopter. Strap in for a scenic joyride over the valleys, challenging yourself to point out your Barossa accommodation, the towns and other points of interest. Or, those looking to really splash out can book a helicopter to ferry them between cellar doors and wine tastings.
6. Leave room in the car boot for take-home treasures
We would challenge any Barossa visitor to not leave their getaway with at least one souvenir, be it a bottle of wine, a jar of homemade jam, or a new set of homewares from a local boutique. Most travellers with their sights focused on the Barossa will need a set of wheels to both arrive in the region and discover its treasures. So no matter if you’re flying into Adelaide and hiring a ride to reach the Barossa, or if you’re making the drive over from Victoria; it is wise to dedicate space in the boot to your Barossa haul. Some wineries and vineyards will ship wine to your home address if you reach an order threshold - usually around the 12-bottle mark. However if you’re keeping your wine, market or shop purchases to a manageable level, this is where you’ll be glad you have a whole car boot’s worth of storage. What’s more, you likely won’t have to unpack your purchases from the car until it’s time to head home.
Hero Image: Murray Street Vineyards. Natalie Rowland; Murray Street Vineyards; SATC