So I think most people have heard of/seen excessive pictures of Sydney, New South Wales, Australia, but how many of you are familiar with another great state in Oz called South Australia? (Just FYI: the states/territories of Australia are NSW, Victoria, Tasmania, South Australia, Western Australia, Queensland, Northern Territory, and Australian Capital Territory).
A few weeks back, my friend Ashlie (another American expat from NC living here in Perth with her husband and son – our husbands work together) and I decided to do a girls trip (+ Keller, her son) somewhere new and different in Australia. Ashlie & Co have been living in Melbourne (make sure you say it Mel-BEN, really quickly, if you want to say it like a true Aussie) for about a year and they have seen quite a bit of this country. We decided to book a trip to Adelaide (the capital of South Australia) and from there, explore the wine country nearby.
The flight from Sydney to Adelaide was super quick, and Ashlie had already rented a car so we were ready to go! Unfortunately, we landed to rainy and cold weather (it’s winter here, remember, and South Australia is quite a bit colder than Sydney and Perth). We checked into our hotel in the CBD and decided to grab some lunch at Adelaide Coffee Bar (easy, inexpensive, and gluten free options galore) and assess the rest of our day. We opted to drive up to Hahndorf, a little German village about thirty minutes from Adelaide. I think we were both anticipating something a little like Old Salem in Winston-Salem, NC, but we were a bit disappointed (the torrential rain probably didnt help). I’m sure in sunny, summer, it’s a cute little place, but we didnt stick around long.
The next day in Adelaide proved to be much better! Ashlie (soo randomly!) has a contact/friend in a little town an hour outside of Adelaide called Aldinga, in the McLaren Vale. It’s a friend of a friend of hers from Greensboro, but she had met him at a wedding earlier this year in the states, and although he and his family werent in town when we visited, we decided to go to he and his wife’s bakery, Home Grain Bakery – we were also in touch with his mom, who we met up with at the bakery. Now we hadnt initially planned to hang around Aldinga/McLaren Vale, but yall, it was SO cute and Jenny (the friend’s mom) was SO sweet/gracious, that we ended up spending the day there! (Not to mention the bakery was so homey and yummy!)
After breakfast and coffee (top notch) at Home Grain (I couldnt indulge in much at the bakery – though everything looked and smelled like heaven – but there was a GF chocolate “slice”, which was so incredibly dense and decadent), we popped by the beach where Ashlie’s friends were married – the coast (Port Wilunga) was just magical:
Jenny had previously worked in the wine industry so she showed off the wine country in the McLaren Vale, and man was that the way to go! She knew some of the cutest cellar doors and all the folks at the vineyards treated us so kindly and generously. We first stopped at Gemtree Vineyards, a completely organic and biodynamic winery (Mel – I thought of you!) It was a gorgeous setting with all the sheep in the pasture, and the wine wasnt bad either! 🙂 I particularly enjoyed the Moonstone Savagnin and the Tempranillos.
From Gemtree, we visited Wirra Wirra – I loved the huge woodworking design and old German beer house feel.
After Wirra Wirra, we headed to Primo Estates – it had a much more modern feel to it, but still some knockout wines!
After our unexpected day o’ wine and good company in the McLaren Vale (with the best guide we could have ever imagined – thank you again, Jenny!), we decided to head back to Adelaide as we had dinner reservations at Orana (which I think I’ll save for my next post – a twenty-two course meal definitely deserves its own write up!), but not before we got back to Aldinga only to find out we’d left the rental car lights on and the car was dead as a doornail. It was a bit funny (especially in hindsight) because Aldinga is pretty quiet (understatement), and although our car battery died in front of an auto shop, it was of course, closed. Mercifully, a sweet local we flagged down had jumper cables and we were soon on our way – thanks, Manfred! 🙂
The McLaren Vale is a real treat, especially if youre a Shiraz fan – the wine regions we visited are known for their “big” reds, particularly Shiraz, and we didnt even scratch the surface of all the great cellar doors and vineyards that are there. The other nice part about visiting the wine country in SA is that it is completely unpretentious and not commercialized – no paying for a tasting or making a reservation (unless youre a large group, I’d assume) – just simple tasting and unique wines.
Until next time…