The Barossa Valley and its wine industry are inseparable, and there’s no better place to taste Australia’s most famous drops than where they’re made.
Venture beyond the cellar doors and you’ll also discover beautiful rolling countryside alongside native bushland, gourmet local produce, and charming towns that still wear their German heritage with pride. An hour’s drive north of Adelaide, the Barossa feels like a world away and is a popular weekend getaway for locals as well as visitors.
Here are ten top things to do in the Barossa Valley.
With more than 80 cellar doors across the Barossa Valley open every day, it’s safe to say there’s a drop to suit every taste. Among the best is Kalleske, run by seventh-generation Barossans and specialising in organic and biodynamic wines. Their Zeitgeist shiraz is one of the best on offer. Tscharke (pronounced ‘Sharky’) handcrafts lesser-known varietals and the intimate cellar door at Tscharke’s Place showcases the quirky, minimal intervention wines alongside gorgeous pottery made onsite (and be sure to check out the bathroom!).
If you’re short on time, Artisans of Barossa brings together five smaller winemakers in one handy location. Sample their wares at Vino Lokal Barossa Wine Room in Tanunda.
The Barossa Reservoir might seem like an unusual tourist attraction, but the unique curved shape of the structure means that even the tiniest sound is carried more than 100 metres from end to end. Nearby signs explain the science behind it, but the best part is watching sceptical kids’ jaws drop when they hear it in action.
Despite being named after a Spanish valley, the Barossa was largely settled by German Lutherans. Their cultural heritage is reflected in the many German placenames throughout the region, and in its food. Pop into the Tanunda Bakery for traditional German-style breads and cakes, or sample some of the smallgoods from Linke’s Central Meat Store.
The broad, flat floor of the Barossa Valley is perfect for cycling — and with more than 40 kilometres of trails, it’s an easy way to explore the region. The main towns of Lyndoch, Tanunda, Nuriootpa and Angaston are all connected by sealed roads and a number of more challenging loops take in the valley’s other sights. With bike hire, storage and maintenance, along with friendly advice and showers, the Barossa Cycle Hub is a one stop cycling shop.
The Barossa is renowned for its abundant fresh produce and the best place to experience it firsthand is the Farmers Market, which is held every Saturday in Angaston. Essentials like eggs, fruit and vegetables sit next to preserves, baked goods and farm fresh dairy. Make sure you save room for one of the famous egg and bacon rolls.
You can also visit Australia’s best known home kitchen at Maggie Beer’s Farm Shop. Stock up on gourmet goodies or watch a demonstration in the ‘studio’ (where The Cook and the Chef was filmed).
There’s a rich past to uncover in this region, but few places can rival Seppeltsfield’s Centennial Cellar for sheer historic gravitas. The cellar has a library of barrelled Tawny port vintages stretching all the way back to 1878. There are barrels that predate the moon landing, World War II, and even the sinking of the Titanic. The private Centenary Tour of the cellar lets you taste the tawny that was made in your birth year.
The Barossa Sculpture Park on the valley’s eastern edge offers amazing views, along with a range of giant abstract sculptures inspired by the natural landscape. Also check out Tanunda’s Barossa Regional Gallery, which displays work by local artists and touring exhibitions. If you’re looking for a souvenir, the JamFactory at Seppeltsfield hosts contemporary artists and a shop selling stunning (and functional) pieces like glassware, jewellery, hats and knives.
Although this is prized winegrowing land, there are plenty of parks and reserves in the region and Kaiserstuhl Conservation Park is one of the most stunning. Walking trails meander through open forest and past unusual rock formations, and dawn and dusk are great times to spot native wildlife.
Celebrating the end of vintage, Barossa Vintage Festival is a valley-wide knees up that also happens to be Australia’s longest running wine festival. It’s part of a year-long calendar of events that includes winter bonfires and summer concerts. Barossa Gourmet Weekend marks the start of spring with a host of collaborations between local wineries, food producers and chefs.
Despite its reasonably close proximity to Adelaide, the Barossa retains a rural feel and is the kind of place where locals have historically had to make everything themselves. Many producers now pass those skills onto visitors, and you can learn to blend your own wine and gin, or even make your own pasta from experts who’ve been doing it for years.
Do you have any suggestions to add to this list of ten top things to do in the Barossa Valley? We would love to hear from you. Please leave a comment below.
Cover image: Adrian Brown. Additional images: Bigstock
After spending years as a music journalist and beer taster, Alexis Buxton-Collins sold everything he owned and spent three years travelling the world. He now writes about his experiences on the road, both abroad and at home in Adelaide. Alexis has written for Australian Traveller, Qantas, Virgin, Lonely Planet, Wild, and many other publications. He’s currently undertaking a comprehensive search for McLaren Vale’s best value bottle of wine.