Top three spots to ‘glamp’ in SA … and how to do it in style!

We are spoilt for choice when it comes to local holiday destinations in South Australia – be it resorts, holiday homes or caravan parks.

But have you ever thought of glamping?

For the uninitiated, ‘glamping’ is shorthand for glamorous camping, and involves accommodation and facilities more luxurious than those usually associated with traditional camping.

So, pack the car – leave the sleeping bag at home – and set off for one of these top three SA glamping destinations.

A six-course feast with matched wines? Yes please!

1. For the wine lover

Located in the Coonawarra wine region, 7km north of the township, is Bellwether Wines – a boutique winery, community kitchen, cellar door, produce garden and campground.

It’s every wine lover’s dream – stay at a winery and see/experience the wine being made during vintage.

The foodies of the family are also looked after, as you can cook your own meals using fresh herbs and produce from the garden including fresh eggs.

Bellwether Wines also offers you the chance to dine at the ‘Table for Twelve’.

Imagine sitting in an 1868 shearing shed, around a former wool sorting bench turned dining table, ready to enjoy a six-course degustation cooked by your own personal chef, while wines are selected by the winemaker.

The campground features 10 sites, including four with beautiful Bell tents, surrounded by magnificent 500-year-old red gums and a central communal campfire.

Prices start from $200 per night.

You don’t have to travel to the other side of the world to go on safari.

2. For the safari seeker

The Wilpena Pound Resort is an amazing way to escape the ordinary and enjoy outback hospitality and the extraordinary beauty of one of the earth’s oldest landscapes.

While much of the region’s accommodation are located on the outskirts of the Ikara Flinders Ranges National Park, the Ikara Safari Camp is the only accommodation located within the park.

The glamping site features 15 high quality spacious and powered safari tents.

Each tent has an ensuite bathroom, king sized bed, mini bar, reverse cycle air-conditioning and ceiling fan, private deck and fire pit. Accommodation options are available for couples and families.

Breakfast is served daily in the main tent while a lounge area allows guests to relax and socialise.

Prices start from $320 per night.

Get amongst nature in all its glory.

3. For the wilderness warrior

The Gawler Ranges is located 600km north west of Adelaide on the Eyre Peninsula and is home to Gawler Ranges Wilderness Safaris.

The small family owned and operated business specialises in the wildlife and nature the region has to offer.

Kangaluna Camp – the glamping site – has been developed by owners, Geoff and Irene Scholz, from a lifetime’s experience of trekking and camping.

The luxury safari tents feature two bedrooms, as well as their own bathrooms which use rainwater collected from the site.

The camp also has a central dining room which is a great place to relax, socialise and enjoy nature at its harmonious best.

Top five tips for glamping in style

1. Pack a capsule wardrobe of basics in neutral colours that mix and match. We’re talking t-shirts, tank tops, shorts and a light jacket for cool evenings.

2. Bring footwear that’s functional and fashionable. Good quality hiking boots and sneakers for daytime adventures and the old faithful flip-flops for when you need to throw something on in a hurry are your best bet.

3. Hats are stylish but also sun smart. We all remember the ‘no hat, no play’ policy at school and it goes without saying it’s a philosophy we should still be following as adults. Pack a hat or two to wear on your glamping getaway such as a wide-brimmed straw hat, fedora, baseball cap or a floppy felt hat.

4. Bring photoshoot props you can use, eat and drink. For those that like to ‘gram their getaways, pack props that can perform double duty. Think: wine, cheese, books, playing cards, board games. Once you’ve captured that perfect photo, you can put the phone down and finally enjoy all the activities!

5. Pack a first aid kit. Not cute, but essential. OK so this isn’t a fashion tip as such, but no one looks good or feels great when they’re covered in mosquito bites or – worse – sunburn.

Sonia Bavistock is a fashion and lifestyle blogger and also has her own social media management and copywriting business. Sonia is passionate about all things South Australia and can often be seen dining out with a glass of wine in hand.


Green grain guru Tony Lutfi on the ‘huge’ potential of SA freekeh

What is freekeh and have you ever tried it?

The ancient grain process has been around for more than 4000 years, but the average Aussie household has probably never heard of it.

Based in offices off Adelaide’s Grenfell Street, Tony Lutfi is the brains behind Greenwheat Freekeh, the world’s first major company producing freekeh via modern automated means.

He says the superfood is experiencing increasing demand in the western world, and that it holds huge potential for South Australia.

“We offer a unique product that doesn’t exist anywhere else in the world except in primitive conditions in the Middle East,” he says.

“Why? Because it’s very difficult. Freekeh is a high technology process.”

Greenwheat Freekeh is sourced from grain harvested by farmers in the Lower Light region. PHOTO:

Greenwheat Freekeh is produced by harvesting grains from five SA famers from the Lower Light region.

The grain is harvested while it’s still green before it’s parched, roasted and dried.

The freekeh process halts maturation of the grain and captures its nutritional benefits, including high levels of protein, vitamins and minerals.

Typically wheat is harvested when it’s matured and golden.

Prior to 2001, Greenwheat Freekeh sales in Australia were less than 1% of production, but by 2017 that figure hit 52%.

Now Greenwheat is in the midst of establishing a new plant at Dublin in the Lower Light to keep up with demand.

The new facility is backed by a $900,000 State Government Regional Development Fund grant, and will increase production to 3000 tonnes by 2019.

Tony in the wheat fields in regional SA. PHOTO: James Knowler/@jkcrewphotos

Greenwheat Freekeh exports to 19 countries and is the world leader in scientific research into green grain.

It has worked with the CSIRO and the Flinders Medical Centre to undertake two studies which cemented the nutritional value of the ancient grain as well as its health benefits.

“They (Flinders) found that when they injected the mice with a carcinogen to simulate the development of cancer, the mouse that ate the freekeh didn’t develop a tumour,” Tony says.

“The apoptotic affect sweeps out damaged DNA cells from the body before they mutate into a tumour.

“There is no way I can claim it can cure or prevent cancer, but based on those scientific indicators it does help in preventing and controlling bowel cancer and possibly soft tissue cancer.”

Tony says there is potential for Greenwheat to delve into the field of nutraceuticals, pharmaceuticals and to extract the protein from freekeh for use in skincare.

“There is a whole area of industrial opportunities that exist in other countries,” he says.

“What freekeh does is create huge potential opportunities for this state.”

Originally a chemical and petroleum engineer, Tony first tasted freekeh when working as an advisor to the Crown Prince of Jordan.

Greenwheat Freekeh is enjoyed as a side dish, in soups, stuffings and burgers. PHOTO: Dougal McFuzzlebutt.

“He said to me that I was very lucky to eat freekeh in his house because typically freekeh is full of stones and dirt, and that by eating it in his house I could guarantee that I wouldn’t break a tooth,” Tony says.

“He told me that if someone ever developed a process to make freekeh via modern automated means and completely free of stones, then they would be successful.”

Due to the primitive way freekeh is processed in the Middle East (on the bare ground) stones and rocks are usually found in freekeh from these regions.

After leaving the role in Jordan, the American moved to Australia with the intention of settling in Perth.

Instead he fell in love with Adelaide.

“It’s one of the most beautiful cities in Australia,” he says.

Tony reflects on a comment made to him by the first person who imported Greenwheat’s freekeh to the US.

“He told me that there is nothing more painful that a product whose time hasn’t arrived and there’s nothing more rewarding that a product whose time has come,” he says.

“Well, freekeh’s time is here and now.”

Visit the I Choose SA for Industry website to read more stories about key industry leaders, why they’ve chosen SA as a base and how the state is enabling them to succeed.

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You know you’re from the Riverland when …

You’re aboard a houseboat, canoe or paddle steamer most weekends, you’ve had a few rowdy nights at Rivaz and you know how hot it really gets in summer.

You’re from the mighty Riverland, the region abundant in citrus, almonds and wine grapes and with the glorious Murray River on its doorstep.

But how do you know if you’re a real Riverlander? Here are 24 ways to find out.

1. You never buy oranges or apricots from the supermarket. You pick them by the bucket load from the orchard out the back!

2. Your shoes almost stuck to the bitumen when it reached 48.2C in Renmark on the stinker of a day that was February 7, 2009. Yes, 48.2C.

3. You’ve been brave enough to zip along the river in a tinny at the annual Riverland Dinghy Derby (or just cheered from the sidelines).

4.  You’ve had a yarn with Frank ‘The Chook Man’ Turton on the MV Willitsinkorwontit.

5. Your weekends in winter are spent between the netball court and footy oval.

6. You reeled in carp, one after the other, at the SA Carp Frenzy at Lake Bonney.

7. Seeing a flock of sheep ram-paging down Barmera’s main street is not that unusual.

The annual Running of the Sheep in Barmera is one of the town’s quirkiest events. PHOTO: Berri Barmera Council Facebook.

8. You’ve carved up the d-floor at Rivaz in Renmark or Club V (or The Vines as some might remember) in Berri.

9. You’re a proud Loxton Lights goer and firmly believe it’s the best festive display in SA.

10. Summers are spent pulling the boat up to a sandbar in the river and having a swim.

11. You’ve enjoyed a beer at the Woolshed Brewery or sipped on a sangria at Caudo Vineyard.

If one hasn’t enjoyed a cold beer at the Woolshed Brewery in Murtho is one even a Riverlander?

12. You know what Wednesday nights mean at the Loxton Club. Schnitty night, correct. Quiz night, also correct.

13. You know that ‘Cobby’ is short for Cobdogla. You also know that Loveday, Winkie and Pyap are actual places.

14. You’ve made it to the social pages of the Murray Pioneer, Loxton News or River News.

15. You know to watch out for grape spills on the road during harvest season.

16. You’ve done the wetland walk at Banrock Station and grazed on a tasting platter on the deck.

Relaxing on the deck at Banrock Station at Kingston-on-Murray is a pretty good way to end the week.

17. You’ve heard of speed demon Sir Donald Campbell and his record-breaking attempt in the Bluebird on Lake Bonney.

18. You’ve hung out on Industry Road, Renmark, opposite Maccas with a cheeseburger in hand.

19. You know what a lock is (the other kind).

20. You’ve made the arduous three-hour journey home to the Riverland on a Sunday afternoon after a big weekend in Adelaide.

21. You know how to grow a giant winning pumpkin.

Giant vegetables at the Murray River Giant Pumpkin Competition at the Cadell Harvest Festival. PHOTO: Facebook.

22. The Riverland Football League Grand Final is the most important day of the year.

23. You know to not mess with Renmark’s roses in October.

24. You remember the thrill of exploring the Monash Playground.

From the Adelaide Hills instead? Check out ‘You know you’re from the Adelaide Hills when …’

More of a city slicker? Here are 22 signs you’re from South Australia.

Wildest dreams a reality for zoos chief Elaine Bensted

Wild African-style adventures, birds of prey flying overhead and tourists sleeping to the chilling laugh of hyenas – South Australia is set to have it all.

Two of the state’s best tourist attractions, Adelaide and Monarto zoos, are set for big changes on the back of rising visitor numbers which hit more than half a million in 2016/17.

At the helm of the plan is Zoos SA CEO Elaine Bensted who officially opened Monarto’s latest heart-stopper, Lions 360, in November 2017.


The Lions 360 experience brings humans face-to-face with the king of the jungle.

The hair-raising attraction has already put hundreds of visitors within clawing range of a pride of African lions.

“The Lions 360 is definitely a first in Australia, and we think the first in the world,” Elaine says.

“It reverses the zoo concept by putting people inside the cage.

“Our lions have 10ha and they can choose where they want to be, but they generally choose to be all around the people in the dome.”

The Lions 360 is a big ticket project included in Zoos SA’s 20-year Masterplan, a document outlining immersive experiences, displays and improvements expected to set Adelaide and Monarto zoos up for further success.

Changes at Adelaide Zoo over the next two decades include a gorilla exhibit and nature-based adventure playground.

But it’s what’s in store for Monarto Zoo that has hearts racing.

Birds of prey flight presentations, safari-style accommodation and Madagascar walk-through experiences are all on the cards.

“The really exciting one that’s just around the corner is Wild Africa and that’s the development of a safari experience (that will be) by far the largest drive through experience outside of Africa,” Elaine says.

“You’ll be able to go on a sunset safari drive and come back and stay in accommodation from family cabins to a safari resort and ‘glamping’ in tents.”

Elaine says big things are on the horizon for Monarto Zoo, Australia’s largest open-range zoo and a major tourist attraction in SA.

With SA’s tourism industry worth $6.3 billion and attracting 13.6 million day trips to and around the state in a year, Elaine says tourism is a big employer.

“Zoos SA employs 250 people … and we’re lucky to be supported by over 500 volunteers,” she says.

“People think of the obvious jobs, the animal carer and the vets but we also have horticulturalists, asset staff and retail staff – so a really diverse range of jobs.”

Local communities also benefit from the zoo’s operations, Elaine says.

“We have about 3000 animals and they all need to be fed,” she says.

“If you see our fruit, veg and meat bill, it’s fairly large, so of course all this is supporting local communities.

“When we built the Lions 360 is was engineered by a Mt Gambier firm and then another SA company Sarah Constructions did the building work.”

Elaine has been Zoos SA CEO for the past five years and says her role is “an absolute dream job”.

“It’s really diverse, you are doing a range of conservation projects, but you’re also looking at sourcing funding and looking at new tourism operators to partner with so that people can explore this fabulous region,” she says.

Elaine grew up in SA wanting to be a veterinarian but later decided it would be a poor choice as she faints at the sight of blood.

She says the state’s scenery and business environment make it “a great place to live”.

“I’m very passionate about SA,” Elaine says.

“We have amazing local scenery, and it’s also a really nice place to do business.

“I think we’re the right size and we have a lot of connections.”

Visit the I Choose SA for Industry website to read more stories about key industry leaders, why they’ve chosen SA as a base and how the state is enabling them to succeed.

The Clare Valley cellar door with a bush tucker twist

Lemon myrtle, native pepperleaf, desert lime and bush tomato syrup are not usually ingredients found at a cellar door.

But for Clare Valley’s Paulett Wines, the addition of a native bush café and garden has been a recipe for success and has increased business significantly.

Before 2015 Paulett Wines, located in the Clare Valley sub region of Polish Hill River, was renowned for producing a riesling that was crowned as the world’s best in 2010.

But yearning to create an even greater point of difference, the family owned and operated business planted a sensory bush garden and opened the Bush DeVine Café.

Grazing on a ‘bushies’ platter with a drop of white or red is perhaps the perfect way to enjoy the view at Paulett Wines and Bush DeVine Café.

At the helm of Paulett Wines is chief winemaker Neil and his wife Alison (general manager), their son Matthew who manages the vineyard and his wife Ali who looks after sales and marketing.

“There was no shortage of cellar doors in the Clare Valley, but there was a shortage of places to eat,” Ali says.

“We needed that point of difference.”

Paulett Wines established the Bush DeVine Café with the help of a $116,000 grant from the State Government’s Regional Development Fund in late 2014.

Ali says the grant has proved invaluable in getting the project off the ground and bringing the family’s value-adding idea to fruition.

Head chef Roger Graham.

“We had the idea in the pipeline for a long time – if we had a dollar for every time someone said ‘you should put a restaurant in’ we could almost have paid for it ourselves,” she says.

“It (the café) has been boosting traffic to the cellar door amazingly – and that means more and more jobs.

“We’ve taken on over 30 employees now; we only had six before.”

Bush DeVine’s head chef Roger Graham creates dishes with a native Australian twist, including the Jamaican jerk chicken with pepperberry sweet potato, desert lime and chilli sauce.

Another favourite is the bushies platter, featuring Roger’s chutney, meats, olive tapenade, marinated mushrooms, labneh, fetta, chirzo from local meat shop Mathies, and crusty bread.

The menu features matching wines, while diners who prefer to sip on a brew can enjoy the Last Minute Extra Special Bitter – a collaboration between Paulett and Clare Valley Brewing Co.

Ali says the café is supplied with native ingredients from local producers as well as Paulett Wines’ own bush garden, which was planted in 2010.

The bush garden is a sensory area allowing visitors to touch, smell and taste native produce.

The garden features hundreds of native plants and bush tucker foods, including bush spinach, muntrie berries, native raspberries, bush mint and thyme, lemon myrtle and riberries.

The Paulett’s also grow quinces, pomegranates, figs, walnuts and mulberries.

Visitors are free to wander through the ‘sensory’ garden and pick a berry or two for a taste and a smell.

Ali says opening the café has allowed them to support youth employment and training.

Bush DeVine has recently taken on two young apprentices in the kitchen, and Ali says the family business is set for further growth.

“What we would love to do next is enhance the cellar door experience by creating a separate tasting space alongside the café, allowing us to maintain the premium experience for those wine lovers who are focused solely on the wine,” she says.

The first Paulett Wines vintage was produced by Neil and Alison in 1983.

Paulett Wines will appear at the Cellar Door Festival in Adelaide from March 2–4.

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Wine media cadet telling our grape stories to the world

For fifth generation Barossa Valley local Emily Hay wine journalism is about more than clinking glasses with the industry’s movers and shakers.

Emily is helping to sell South Australia’s premium wine stories to the world as the inaugural Wine Communicators of Australia wine media cadet.

Since September 2017, she has gained exclusive insights into SA’s wine industry, attended key events overseas and met with high profile wine identities.

Emily snapped this photo of SA winemakers representing the Great Wine Capital of Adelaide in Hong Kong.

Publishing her stories on a blog, Emily is set to not only build her career and polish her communications skills, but help share the state’s wine stories.

“I think the wine industry needs more voices telling the stories,” Emily says.

“We have incredible landscapes and people know we have this incredible sense of beauty and purity.

“We have this sellable product that’s tourism driven – this is our future.”

With SA’s wine industry generating $2.1 billion in 2015/16, Emily says the industry is one that shouldn’t be underrated.

In 2016 Adelaide became a member of the exclusive Great Wine Capitals (GWC) Network, which recognises eight other internationally renowned wine regions including the Napa Valley, Bordeaux and Verona.

“It’s an incredible accolade,” Emily says.

“Internationally we are putting ourselves alongside the greats rather than pitting against them.

“We’re at the same table as Napa Valley and Bordeaux – all these incredible places that have a high sense of quality and pedigree. We’re equal to these places.”

A Barossa wine stall before the Hong Kong skyline.

In October/November Emily travelled to Shanghai for the Wine Australia Australian Wine Fair and China Wine Awards before visiting Hong Kong for the Wine and Dine Festival.

“It was a huge eye opener for me,” she says.

“To see Australia’s place in food and wine was confirming that we are doing the right thing and we can hold ourselves high.”

Emily says she took the overseas opportunity to talk about the diversity of SA’s wine offerings, as well as the regions’ close proximity to one another.

“What was really exciting was talking to people about the Clare Valley, Eden Valley, Coonawarra, Kangaroo Island, the Adelaide Hills,” she says.

“When you look at these places on a map they are all so close together.”

During her travels Emily met with renowned wine critic James Halliday and published a story on his take on ‘the state of play of Aussie wine in China’.

Her appreciation of high quality produce dates back to the age of 15 when she was working as a waitress for Barossa food identity Mark McNamara.

Emily Hay is a proud advocate of not only her hometown in the Barossa Valley, but all SA wine regions.

She pursued a degree in visual arts at university and has also worked in the tourism industry on Kangaroo Island.

Six years ago Emily returned home to the Barossa, working in a marketing role at Turkey Flat Vineyards where she wrote for a blog on the company’s website.

“I just fell in love with writing,” she says.

“It was my favourite day at work when I could sit down and write.”

In 2015 Emily was a finalist in the Wine Communicators of Australia Awards in the Gourmet Traveller WINE new wine writer category.

This cemented her decision to pursue a career in wine writing, and so when the wine media cadetship came up she grabbed it with both hands.

“It’s absolutely blown me away with how much it’s done for me,” she says.

“It’s ignited a huge desire in me to continue in this role.”

Read more of Emily’s posts on the GWC blog and at Wine Communicators.

Visit the I Choose SA for Industry website to read more stories about key industry leaders, why they’ve chosen SA as a base and how the state is enabling them to succeed.

FruChocs owner brings Violet Crumble back to SA

Chocolate honeycomb treat Violet Crumble will once again be manufactured in South Australia, bringing 30 new jobs and a $4m factory expansion.

Longstanding SA confectioner Robern Menz, mostly known as the maker of FruChocs, will acquire the Violet Crumble brand from Swiss confectionary giant Nestlé.

The iconic purple and yellow wrapped sweet – known for the tagline ‘it’s the way it shatters that matters’ – will be manufactured at the Robern Menz factory at Glynde, increasing production volume by 30%.

Robern Menz’ Phil and Richard Sims are now in charge of the Violet Crumble.

The Violet Crumble was invented by Melbourne man Abel Hoadley in 1913 and was made in Adelaide by previous manufacturer Rowntree Hoadley up to 1985.

Four years later Nestlé bought Rowntree and the Violet Crumble has been made in Melbourne ever since.

Robern Menz, which is also behind Crown Mints, JeliChocs and its own honeycomb chocolate, will invest in a $4m upgrade and expansion of the Glynde factory.

The State Government has backed the sweet purchase with a $750,000 Future Jobs Fund grant while Robern Menz will also borrow $900,000 from the Investment Attraction Agency.

Robern Menz executive officer Phil Sims, who is an I Choose SA ambassador, says the opportunity to be the new gatekeeper of the Violet Crumble was “too good to pass on”.

“We are really excited to have partnered with Nestlé and reached an agreement to acquire what is undoubtedly one of Australia’s great brands,” he says.

Phil says plans will be developed in 2018 for the Violet Crumble to be created “in a variety of nostalgic formats”, while the recipe will remain the same.

Premier Jay Weatherill is also a fan of the crumbly, choc-coated honeycomb.

“Like many South Australians, I love Violet Crumbles, and it’s great we can now all enjoy these chocolate bars knowing we’re also supporting South Australian jobs,” he says.

“Robern Menz is a household name in South Australia, and it’s great that this local business has ambitions to grow their operations and create more local jobs in food processing.”

Visit I Choose SA to find out how you can support our State by choosing South Australian businesses, products and services.

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Local young gun cyclist gears up for our biggest TDU yet

Last year South Australian teenager Maeve Plouffe was working behind the scenes as a podium assistant in the Tour Down Under (TDU), the biggest cycling event outside of Europe.

Now the 18-year-old is preparing to race alongside some of the world’s best cyclists as she makes her debut in the women’s tour today (January 11).

As one of the youngest riders in the competition, Maeve will compete in her first Women’s TDU as part of the Tasmanian Institute of Sport team.

“To be able to race at this level at home, in front of my family and friends is an amazing opportunity,” she says.



In 2017 the TDU became the first major cycling race to stop using female models as stage assistants and instead use junior cycling champions to hand the jerseys to winning riders.

Maeve was one of the eight stage assistants who met their idols on the podium.

The move put SA in the spotlight of the cycling world, with Spain agreeing to consider adopting the move.

More than a dozen junior cyclists will assist on stage this year, having access to the world’s top riders and gaining an insight into the world of top level international racing.

Tourism Minister Leon Bignell says he’s hoping the event will draw a record one million spectators along the various routes across the state.

“It’s such a thrill to be standing roadside as the peloton rushes past, so I urge all South Australians to support this fantastic home-grown event and get us to the magic million spectator mark,” he says.

A TDU cyclist powers past spectators in the Fleurieu Peninsula in 2017.

The biggest names in cycling will power through the city, suburbs, Adelaide Hills and seaside towns across the next nine days.

Today’s (January 11) Women’s TDU kicks off in the Adelaide Hills town of Gumeracha and will see elite international and Australian female riders compete in four stages.

The TDU’s official opening will take place on Saturday at the Tour Village in Victoria Square, where Adelaide’s ARIA Award winner Guy Sebastian will headline a free concert.

A stall promoting SA cycling businesses and organisations will be set up in the village – spot it by looking for the I Choose SA brand.

From the city to the sea and the vines, SA landscapes will be on the world stage over the next nine days.

The TDU is one of the biggest events on SA’s calendar and 2018 marks the 20th anniversary.

In 2017, the event injected $56.5m into the state’s visitor economy and created the equivalent of 683 full time jobs.

A record 840,000 spectators lined the streets, with 43,000 cycling fans travelling from interstate and overseas for the event.

A number of TDU events and street parties will unfold over the next week, including in Adelaide’s CBD, Prospect, The Parade at Norwood, Stirling and the Barossa. Head to the website for more information.

Header photo: Facebook, Maeve Plouffe/Con Chronis.

Barossa barrel-aged gin released

A barrel-aged gin with whisky-like toffee and caramel characters is being launched in Australia’s most famous wine region – the Barossa Valley.

The Barossa Distilling Company is releasing a limited edition gin, which has spent seven months in tawny port barrels.

It is the company’s third gin following the release of the Generations Gin in 2016 and its Budburst pink gin later that year.

The barrels originally held Barossa red wine and then spent eight years ageing Tawny Port before being cut down to 100 litres at a local cooper, oak charred to a crocodile char and filled with Generations Gin.

The same style barrels were also sourced to make the company’s first whisky, which is still at least 12 months away from release.

Barossa Distilling managing director Neil Bullock says the gin was barrel-aged in the same way as whisky is traditionally matured.

“Back in the old days they would store the gin in an oak barrel in a ship’s ballast and effectively by the time it got to its destination it would have been barrel aged, depending on how far the journey was,” he says.

“It’s confusing to the palate in a way because it’s got a little bit of a whisky characteristic – it’s very much a gin but it sits somewhere between the two in terms of the flavour profile it’s delivering and you get those toffee and honey characteristics that you would find in a Speyside style sherry or port cask finished whisky.

“It’s a cracking sipping gin, over ice it’s just beautiful but we have tried it here with a splash of dry ginger ale and a bit of fresh lime squeezed over the glass.”

The 40 per cent abv Barrel-Aged Gin is $125 for a 700ml bottle and is available through the Barossa Distilling Company website or at its cellar door in the Old Penfolds Distillery building in Nuriootpa.

“I took a bottle out a few weeks ago and we’ve been doing tastings of it over the bar here and 100% of the feedback has been ‘wow, that’s incredible’ so we’re quite excited to get it out,” Neil says.

Gin is the star attractions at “The Distillery”, the tasting room and craft spirits bar the company opened permanently in the iconic distillery in August.

The original Penfolds distillery was built in 1913 and for almost a century produced brandy and fortified wines for one of Australia’s most famous wineries.

Neil says the rooms, featuring old stills, 10m-high ceilings and an original cast iron spiral staircase, provide the ideal setting for people wanting an alternative to wine.

“Once people have done their wine tasting they’re very keen for a bit of a palate cleanser and something a little bit different. They can walk in here and try our spirits or simply sit down to enjoy a cocktail or a gin and tonic,” he says.

“People walk in through the doors and they stop about a metre inside the building and say ‘oh wow’ because it is a magnificent space.”

The Distillery is open seven days, 11am–5pm Sunday to Thursday and 11am–8pm Friday and Saturday. It also serves local beers, artisan Barossa wines, tasting platters and a range of other local and imported spirits.

Header image: Martin Ritzmann.

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Inspiration aplenty for outback jewellery designer

Jewellery buff Emily Fels may live 400km from Adelaide on a sheep station in outback South Australia, but that doesn’t stop her creative juices from flowing.

The mother-of-two says the Flinders Ranges’ striking sunsets and sprouting wildflowers are a constant source of inspiration for her jewellery line, Emily Jean Designs.

“I’m obsessed with colour so the way the light falls on the ranges is always an endless inspiration for me,” she says.

Emily uses lamp worked glass techniques to create one-off earrings, pendants, rings and bangles.

Emily spends hours in her home studio crafting the delicate pieces.

Made in her home studio on a 50,000-acre sheep station in the Far North town of Hawker, the pieces take hours to create.

Emily uses a high-quality furnace to melt the glass and shape it onto earring posts, pendant bezels and ring bases.

The glass is then fired at a high temperature in a kiln making it “strong and durable”.

“Everything is fused together – there is no glue, meaning it’s stronger,” Emily says.

“I have an idea of how it’s going to turn out and I can recreate color combinations.

“But none of the pieces ever come out the same – that’s the fluid and tactile nature of glass.”

Working dog Roo keeps Emily company during the polishing process.

Originally from Adelaide, Emily studied visual arts at the University of SA, majoring in jewellery design and silversmithing.

“I then studied to become a teacher and twelve years ago I came to Hawker as a prac (practice) teacher.

“As the stereotype goes, I met a farmer and never went back.”

Emily worked as a visual arts teacher in Hawker for 10 years before having two small children.

“When I had kids I was home and had the time to focus on the jewellery,” she says.

“I had learnt silversmithing at uni, but I was always interested in beading and glass.

“So I did a lot of research and focused on making a go of it and creating a proper business.

“I had wanted it for a really long time.”

Emily says living on a 50,000-acre sheep station in the Far North provides plenty of inspiration.

Emily set up an online shop through popular marketplace, Etsy, selling her pieces to jewellery lovers across Australia and in the US.

She also began showcasing Emily Jean Designs at markets in Adelaide, including Etsy Made Local, Gathered and the City East Markets.

Emily recently secured a deal to stock her jewellery in arts and crafts store Kingo Trading in Nagasaki, Japan.

At home, Emily Jean Designs can be spotted at Relove SA, an Ebenezer Place store representing dozens of local independent makers.

In 2016 she showcased her craft at Hawker’s inaugural Flinders Fest, which aims to support local makers and artists.

The bangles are a recent addition to the line.

Emily says the arts scene in Hawker is strong and that living in a regional town is no barrier to creative success.

“Hawker is an amazing place, there are really talented people who live in the area,” she says.

Emily encourages consumers to give local makers and designers a look-in when shopping.

“There’s always a beautiful story behind the label,” she says.

“The products aren’t faceless and have that special feeling.”

Emily Jean Designs can be found at the Fleurieu Fringe from February 16-25 and the Glenelg Sunset Markets on February 25.

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