Since we got back from South Australia, I’ve lost count of the number of people who’ve asked Did you visit the Barossa Valley?’. My usual reply contains the words bears’ and woods’!
Of course, the Barossa Valley isn’t the only wine-producing region in Australia or even in South Australia. But, it’s one of the most famous, for it was here that the early pioneers such as Seppelt and Gramp first planted vines brought from their native Germany.
Sometimes, in the Rhine or Mosel valleys, it seems like grapes are planted on every piece of open ground that isn’t absolutely vertical. It’s not like that in the Barossa quite!
The older wineries are established in ersatz schlosses or faux chateaux. The newer ones can be in anything from purpose-built buildings to old farmhouses. The best view, I think, is across the valley from the Bethany Winery, near Tanunda, which stands on a slight eminence. The wine’s pretty good, too!
Probably the best wineries are out along the Para Road and Seppeltsfield Road from Tanunda, The imposing Zenda-esque fake castle at Richmond Grove, with its slick, commercialised cellar door rather put us off. But, at Whistler’s Winery, in an old farmhouse, a lady broke off from working in the garden to see what we needed.
The Barossa Valley isn’t only about wine, though. We had lunch a platter of German-style sausage, cheeses, salad and relishes at the Peter Lehmann winery. The wine, incidentally, is every bit as good as the food.
Later, we had coffee at Maggie Beer’s Farm Shop, on a balcony overlooking a placid, artificial lake. There’s a tempting range of foods offered, as well as relishes, pickles, preserves and olive oil. Mrs. Beer’s husband has a winery, too but his wine, while not bad, isn’t outstanding.
Our last call was at the Chateau Barrosa a misspelling I think is deliberate, and a not very good pun! Yes, we tried some of their wine, and liked it enough to buy a couple of bottles. But, we’d really come to see their famous rose garden. There’s nearly 30,000 roses in it! And, it’s become so famous, they’ve renamed the road on which it stands Hermann Thumm Drive, after the founder.