The one with South Australia: The Barossa Valley

I’ve come to the final leg of my South Australia journey – the Barossa Valley! Prior to my trip I had never heard of the McLaren Vale or the Clare Valley, but the Barossa was one wine region of which I was previously aware, Penfolds and Jacob’s Creek, specifically.

The glorious Barossa

The glorious Barossa

The Barossa Valley

The Barossa Valley

The Barossa Valley

The Barossa Valley

We went the B&B route again and really lucked out to book into Goat Square Cottages (located in the village of Tanunda), which were some of the oldest (and extremely well preserved) homes in the area – it was such a cute set up!

Our first vineyard visit was to Gibson Wines – the grounds were incredibly quaint; we especially liked this original little house next to the cellar door:

The grounds of Gibson Wines

The grounds of Gibson Wines

We actually stumbled upon our next stop quite by accident: Flaxman Wines. Remember how I mentioned that Ashlie and I had another Masterchef Australia “experience”? Well our quick stop at Flaxman was it! One of our favorite contestants from Masterchef Australia, Colin Sheppard, is a winemaker in the Barossa – we randomly drove right past his vineyard so we decided to stop to see if the cellar door was perhaps open. Sadly, it wasn’t, but that didnt stop us from cheesing in front of his house (total creepsters, but who cares?!)

I posted this shot on Instagram and tagged Flaxman Wines - they commented on it! Made my day :)

I posted this shot on Instagram and tagged Flaxman Wines – they commented on it! Made my day 🙂

Our last stop that day was Penfolds. I wont lie (and I’ll probably be lambasted for saying this), but I wasnt a huge fan of the wines we sampled. We were about to head out when I saw that you could try a Grange! Granted you had to pay $50 for just a small taste, but we figured that between the three of us (Ashlie’s friend from Melbourne, Jessica, joined us for the Barossa leg of our trip), this may be one of our only shots at trying some (without having to purchase an entire $800 bottle!) The woman at Penfolds really did an excellent job at “selling the experience” of having a Grange – she told the story of how it came about and some of the more famous (ahem, pricey) vintages – she was also very generous in her “sample” pours for Ashlie, Jessica, and myself. The Grange saved the entire Penfolds experience for me; it was absolutely amazing wine (though I’m not sure I would shell out hundreds of dollars for it, even if I had that kind of money on hand!)

Definitely worth it! (The tasting at least)

Definitely worth it! (The tasting at least) Do you see the $1,250 price tag in the background associated with a certain vintage of the Grange??

After washing up, we went to dinner at fermentAsian (pronounced “fermentation”, which I thought was exceedingly clever), a Thai restaurant in Tanunda. Several folks in Perth had raved about this spot, and I can absolutely see why. Do not miss it should you be in the Barossa!

On our last day in South Australia, Ashlie booked us into a cooking class at Casa Carboni Enoteca in Angaston (another town in the Barossa). Run by the sweetest couple, Matteo and Fiona Carboni, this wine and food shop also has hands down one of the best cooking classes I’ve ever attended.

Casa Carboni (via SAlife.com)

We started at the farmer’s market to get some fresh ingredients for our recipes, where Matteo pulled me aside to let me know that they had made special accommodations for my Celiac. Yall, I had no expectations of being able to eat much (if any) of the recipes we made in this Italian cooking class, but the fact that Matteo had thought of me when purchasing flour, drawing up the menu, and ensuring I had a special cooking area, really allowed for the customer service of Casa Carboni to stand head and shoulders above anything I’ve experienced.

Our menu included:

  • Piadina Romagnola (flatbread served with antipasti)
  • Yellow (egg) pasta dough, served with pumpkin and bacon balsamic sauce
  • Potato gnocchi, served with a lamb ragu
  • A chocolate bonet and rosemary syrup

We’d never made our own pasta before, so I would say that was a highlight! Rolling the dough and cutting our own noodles was really neat (Ashlie and I actually got back together last night to try it ourselves!)

The class was small, with a limit of eight students, and getting to know all of them during our long lunch (made from scratch, thankyouverymuch) was another highlight. Check out Souvlaki for the Soul’s post on her experience with a Casa Carboni class – I echo a number of her sentiments (plus her pics are a lot better!)

Showing off our freshly rolled pasta at the Casa Carboni cooking class

Showing off our freshly rolled pasta at the Casa Carboni cooking class

Showing off our freshly rolled pasta at the Casa Carboni cooking class

Showing off our freshly rolled pasta at the Casa Carboni cooking class

Following the cooking class, we made one more special stop to a vineyard appropriately named Kellermeister. Keller was so great during our very grown up trip, and it was icing on the cake that one of the wines was named the “Firstborn Shiraz” (K is Ashlie’s first born, she likes Shiraz, you get the idea…)

Luckily, the domestic flying with liquids rules are stringent like they are in the states, so we could carry on as many bottles of wine as we could carry (chill out – it wasn’t that much wine!), but it was nice to be able to just carry them with you versus having to ship the wine or sneak it in a checked bag and hope it doesnt break.

If I were to do a similar trip again (or make a recommendation to anyone interested in the South Australia wine country), I’d say that the Barossa has the most to offer in terms of other activities outside of wine tasting – actually, the wine in the Barossa wasnt really my favorite; however, the towns are larger, with a lot to offer in terms of eateries, shops, etc. Try to fit in a visit to the McLaren Vale if possible! The wines were definitely my favorite there. You can’t go wrong with any of the three regions we visited, though – the views and people (truly, the people we met were just incredible) make each worth the trip. I’ll leave you with one of my favorite pictures from the trip. 🙂

Bye bye Barossa!

Bye bye Barossa!

Until next time…

3 responses to “The one with South Australia: The Barossa Valley

  1. Wino Wayne

    Next time you just need to take your own personal wine Guru guide …Wayne

    • You are correct!! I made that edit…the nickname included 🙂 Next visit we’ll definitely need your expert opinion and company!!

  2. So glad you loved the Barossa. I’ve done the cooking class at Casa Carboni too, possibly one of the best experiences ever and I adore whipping up a batch of fresh pasta these days. Their long table dinners are also worth doing. In terms of wineries, I tend to avoid the ‘names’ and go the more boutique labels. Next time try: Artisans of Barossa (and the food there is amazing!), Bethany Wines, Rockford, The Willows Vineyard, Charles Melton… to name only a few. And Jacob’s Creek is the exception that proves the rule – it’s worth a visit to explore the vines, great coffee and restaurant, and just be.