We are no strangers to visiting the Barossa Valley in South Australia, after all it’s one of Australia’s premier wine regions with many well-known winemakers and brands that are renowned around the world.
Our latest visit was for a reunion amongst friends and we literally arrived from points north, south, east and west of the Barossa, for a long weekend to enjoy each other’s company and indulge in the best of what the Barossa has to offer.
We stayed at the Big 4 Barossa Tourist Park in Nuriootpa and were lucky to have a communal area to stay where we could all park together and have a campfire every evening. The park provides fire pits that can be used in certain areas and you can bring your own wood or buy some from the park for $15 a bag.
Our first gathering was at the Vine Inn which had good hearty food, quick service and of course a great selection of wines. Billy Jack’s Bar has an extensive dining menu and we couldn’t go past the current wine selection, Mothers Milk Shiraz from First Drop Wines.
The Vine Inn is just a short walk from the Caravan Park, through the Nuriootpa Linear Park on a well-lit walking path, providing you don’t get lost of course, but that’s another story.
As well as sharing time together, we split up for different events and while the menfolk enjoyed the local footy the next day and the club’s hospitality, (Go Nuri Tigers!), the ladies enjoyed a long lunch at Lambert Estate Wines.
Lambert Estate Wines
Although there was a mix up with our booking, (our booking wasn’t actually noted), our party of eight were effortlessly found a table and from then on, we were very well looked after by Rachael. We had a tasting of everything we wanted to try in the Lambert Estate range, from Varietals through to Premium and specialty wines. My favourites were the ‘Forgive Me’ Zinfandel and ‘Silent Partner’ Cabernet Sauvignon.
The ambiance of the winery is warm and welcoming with references to the Lambert family’s American background. On a cold winter’s day the huge open fire was much appreciated. We ordered a variety of food from the seasonal menu which hints at the family heritage and travels. There were so many choices that we ordered a number of plates and shared them, tapas style along the table.
The pumpkin dip and flat breads, beetroot arancini, prawn skewers and empanadas and everything we tasted really, were divine. Make sure to leave room for the Picarones, Peruvian style donuts with anise syrup and ice cream or the dark chocolate crème brulee and biscotti.
We were taken to the winery and back safely in a mini bus organised through Barossa & Light cab service. Most of us had purchases to take with us too. Not, unfortunately the Magnum below.
With around 80 cellar doors in the Barossa, there are no shortage of choices for places to taste wines and try more delectable local produce so one day was set aside to try a few wineries and businesses we hadn’t been to before.
Artisans of Barossa
Starting at Artisans of Barossa relatively early on a Sunday, we decided to opt for coffee and brunch in the Delikatessen. This is a very relaxed area for all day eats and drinks and you are surrounded by artisan wines and Barossa produce which you can browse and buy.
There are more than 100 wines from eight of the Barossa’s small independent family owned wineries, as well as local smallgoods, cheeses, chocolates and more. The coffee and almond croissant were oh so good.
While you’re at Artisans of Barossa, you can also have a tasting in the Wine Room or enjoy a meal in Essen Restaurant. The terrace and lawn areas look to be the places to go in the warmer weather.
David Franz Wines
Our next stop was David Franz Wines, a small, rustic and quirky cellar door with a very warm and welcoming atmosphere, and young vibrant staff buzzing about looking after the customers.
Our sommelier took us through a tasting of our choices from an extensive list starting with a complimentary sparkling grape and apple Scrumpy, then on to our choices from whites, Rose and reds.
You can create your own food platter from a wide choice of charcuterie goodies and settle in to admire the views with a glass of your favourite drop, but definitely have a tasting if it’s your first visit.
My picks would be the ‘Madiera Clone Semillon’, the ‘Vintage Red Rose’, ‘Plane Turning Right’ Merlot Petit Verdot Malbec Cab Sauv, or ‘Nicki’s Symphony No. 3’ Cab Sauv. As you can probably guess by the variety names, there are a lot of stories behind the wines and the winemaker, David Franz Lehmann is passionate about producing the wines from vine to bottle.
First Drop Wines
Our last stop this Barossa trip was First Drop Wines, a full circle from the wine we tasted our first evening. The cellar door is hard to miss, set in a striking tall tin building which was a distillery in the 1930s. Inside it’s a quirky mix of industrial meets your mum’s 70s kitchen, with chrome and laminate tables and vinyl chairs.
Their ethos is fun, food and flavour and that pretty much sums up our visit with more very tasty tapas dishes and another bottle of Mothers Milk Shiraz to share. You can sit outdoors or in and it has a very family friendly dining area or other small spaces and nooks to suit everyone.
Three more experiences ticked off our Barossa list but oh so many to go!
Until next time, cheers