6 ways to spend a weekend in the Barossa Valley

South Australia’s Barossa Valley is the heart of the big, bold shiraz, quaint bed and breakfasts and more restaurant experiences than your trouser waistline can handle.

It’s a region that prides itself on producing some of the world’s best wines, and is scattered with cellar doors, cafés, restaurants, gourmet trails and visitor experiences showcasing gastronomic delights.

The Barossa Valley attracts a high proportion of interstate overnight visitors (35% of all visitors) and generates $190 million in visitor expenditure (Tourism Research Australia, 2017).

But with many towns, including Angaston, Lyndoch, Nurioopta, Tanunda and Williamstown, to explore it can be hard to decide which places to hit first.

Here’s a guide for the best wine tasting, gin sipping and cheese grazing activities to indulge in, plus something a little spooky and out of the ordinary. Hint: Ghosts in Kapunda!

The grand Yalumba just outside of Angaston.

1. Venture along Seppeltsfield Road
A must see for first-time Barossa visitors, Seppeltsfield Road is one of the most renowned stretches of road in the region and is lined with tall palm trees dating back to the 1930s.

The tourist hotspot Seppeltsfield is a must-visit, featuring a winery and cellar door, Fino restaurant, café, art gallery, craft workshops and studios and the Vasse Virgin skin care factory all in one.

Give yourself a couple of hours to explore the entire Seppeltsfield estate, including a complementary wine tasting or premium wine flight at the cellar door, and a wander around the European-style gardens.

Those wanting to indulge in something a little fancy can venture over to Fino Restaurant for a long-lunch experience while those after more relaxed, casual vibes will enjoy regional cheese platters, toasted paninis, and snacks at Benno’s Kiosk and picnic grounds.

Also, explore JamFactory shop for beautiful SA and Australian-made artworks, sculptures, vases, jewellery and homewares, and the contemporary craft and design studios. Make sure you stop by Barry Gardner the knife maker’s (mesmerising to watch) workshop.

Of course Seppeltsfield Road is home to a number of other top destinations including Whistler Wines, Seppeltsfield Road Distillers and many more cellar doors.

The Seppeltsfield estate is an all-in-one visitor experience. Photo: Seppeltsfield.

2. Explore Angaston’s main street
Angaston is a charming and well-kept country town with a small main street that will occupy you for hours.

Start by fueling up on coffee and Italian pastries at Casa Carboni in the morning (or enrol in a cooking class!) before cheese tasting and stocking up on haloumi, brie, camembert, feta and other cheesy delights at Barossa Valley Cheese Company next door.

Sit back and relax with a bowl of pasta at the cosy Wanera Wine Bar nearby and walk it off by wandering past the quaint cottages and old buildings including the magnificent grey marble town hall on Washington Street.

Finish off the afternoon by enjoying a glass of shiraz at Saltram Wines, a 160-year-old estate with old charm at the entrance to Angaston on the Angaston to Nuriootpa Road.

Matteo and Fiona Carboni are behind Casa Carboni Italian Cooking School and Enoteca. Read our story on them here.

3. Stock up on the sweet stuff at Barossa Valley Chocolate Company.
One of the Barossa’s newest and exciting destinations, Barossa Valley Chocolate Company opened just before Easter and is an all-in-one chocolate factory, cellar door, café and ice creamery.

At the centre of the facility is a mesmerising chocolate wall, inspired by the Venchi Cioccolato e Gelato in Florence, while visitors can also take wonder in watching the chocolatiers at work through a glass viewing area into the factory itself.

The range of sweet treats is extensive and includes the classics milk, dark, white and the newer Ruby chocolate, while unique additions include a salted caramel and cider truffle, as well as a signature truffle infused with sparkling wine.

The chocolate company is also home to Benni’s Café, which has a menu heavy on local produce, a cellar door showcasing Vineyard Road wines and a serene outdoor deck.

Wine lovers can take part in a specially-curated chocolate and wine pairing, while chocolate making classes will be introduced in the near future. A great visitor experience for families and people of all ages.

The Barossa Valley Chocolate Company in Tanunda is a great spot for families, chocolate lovers, wine drinkers and those just wanting to take time out for a while.

4. Spend an afternoon at Provenance Barossa
A food and wine lover’s delight, Provenance is best explored with a couple of hours to spare. The blend of Barossa businesses includes Penfolds wine sales and cellar door where visitors can taste what the region is famous for – the world-renowned Grange – as well as other premium drops.

Pop into Ember Pizza and get stuck into one of their pizzas, and finish it off with a gin and tonic around the corner at Barossa Distilling Company.

There is also artisan coffee roaster Bean Addiction to explore and Steiny’s Traditional Mettwurst’s new tasting room to check out. Stein’s Taphouse will satisfy beer drinkers with 14 craft beverages to choose from on tap, and over 80 more in cans or bottles.

Last but not least there’s Home of the Brave wine and tapas room at The Provenance where you can fill up on delicious tapas matched with drops of your choice from First Drop Wines.

There’s a lot to explore at The Provenance, you might need more than one occasion to experience it all!

Barossa Distilling Company is located at Barossa Provenance a hub of food, beverage and tourism businesses.

5. Choose SA at the Barossa Farmers Market
Chat to local producers about how their food is grown and made, stock up on fresh produce and treat yourself to something special, such as a bottle of olive oil, a pack of freshly roasted coffee or blended tea, a tub of honey, or a selection of smallgoods.

The Barossa Farmers Market is a community produce market running every Saturday (7.30–11.30am) undercover in the Vintners Sheds, Angaston. Check the website on Friday afternoons for an update on stallholders who will be present.

Head for the Breakfast Bar for a coffee by Bean Addiction and munch on a breakfast burger before browsing the stalls, many of which offer samples to try before you buy. The market is a good way of getting a taste for many local food producers and beverages in the one spot.

Sample local produce, treat yourself to a morning coffee and pastry and stock up on fresh produce and goodies at the Barossa Farmers Market. Photo by SATC/Sven Kovac.

6. Get spooked on the Kapunda Ghost Crime Tour
Kapunda is an old mining town just outside of the Barossa and is regarded as the most haunted town in Australia. It’s also home to the most haunted pub in the country, the North Kapunda Hotel.

History buffs and those into a bit of paranormal activity will be in their element, while those who are easily spooked may not!

The Kapunda Ghost Crime Tour will take you on a three-hour tour around Kapunda and into some of the town’s most haunted buildings including the North Kapunda Hotel and the Chapel Street Theatre which was once a church.

Your tour guide will recount stories from Kapunda’s famous haunted past, share tales of locals who met unfortunate endings and notorious cases that will send chills down your spine.

Held every Friday and Saturday night, the ghost tour departs from the North Kapunda Hotel and will take you into dark, gloomy places (which is all part of the fun!) including the pub’s basement which was once a morgue.

You’re not guaranteed to see a real ghost or feel a ‘presence’, but you are encouraged to record on your mobile phone and to take pictures, as technology may pick up things your eyes won’t! Spooky.

Editor’s note: highly recommend fuelling up on a chicken schnitzel at the Kapunda North Hotel beforehand!

Header image by Drea Chong.

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Local knowledge informs clever new Barossa tasting room

With its sophisticated wine and food presentation echoing chic European style, Vino Lokal in Tanunda offers a completely different vibe that visitors to the Barossa may not expect – and this is exactly the reaction that its proprietors, the Artisans of Barossa winemakers collective, want to achieve with its innovative new cellar door offering.

Creating the new tasting room in Tanunda’s main street is a bold step for the Artisans, which comprises five boutique Barossa wine brands that formed a collaborative marketing group a decade ago and have shared a communal cellar door tasting room overlooking vineyards at Vine Vale, just outside Tanunda, since 2011.

The winemaker owners of John Duval Wines, Schwarz Wine Co, Sons of Eden, Spinifex and Hobbs of Barossa Ranges recognise that small wine brands in Australia are under enormous pressure to connect with customers – especially when visitors travel to a wine region and are on the hunt for a unique and memorable wine tasting experience.

Their innovative shared tasting room set a new high benchmark for an informative cellar door tasting experience, yet now they have radically changed a successful operation by opening Vino Lokal.

A wine tasting flight at Vino Lokal in Tanunda, Barossa Valley. Photo by John Krüger.

“Since 2005, Artisans of Barossa has pioneered the clustering of small wine brands through effective marketing and succeeded beyond our wildest dreams, but we still feel a need to stay ahead of the curve,” says Howard Duncan, Artisans of Barossa’s chief operating officer. “This will be a new positioning statement for both the Artisans and the Barossa.”

Vino Lokal, connecting the Spanish word for wine with the German term for local, re-imagines the winery tasting ritual by introducing a shift from just sampling wine, to sharing wine with food – and from standing up, to sitting down and slowing down.

The restored stone cottage in Tanunda’s main street has 50 seats across two rooms, offering twin experiences by taking bookings for tables in the Wine Room, but welcoming walk-ins for the more informal Wine Bar.

It illustrates the modern Barossa personality, underlining that a new generation of winemakers are looking to Mediterranean wine cultures for inspiration, while also respecting the Barossa’s deep German heritage and historic vineyards.

“A new history is emerging, and Artisans are very much a part of it,” says Howard. “This is not just reflected in the style of wines being made, but how we enjoy them in the company of good food and conversation.”

Good food, good  wine and good conversation is what Vino Lokal is all about. Photo by John Krüger.

Artisans of Barossa’s shift to its new location has been swift – only 100 days from realising the site was available to opening its doors for customers – but they are delighted to have created a one-stop wine enjoyment shop, familiar to global wine travellers but not yet seen in Australia.

“This is the next phase of where culinary tourism is headed in this country’s wine regions, with a more complete integration of wine and food tasting,” says Howard. “It’s the facility that will create a broader conversation about how we enjoy wine and food together.”

The Wine Room’s selection of over 50 Barossa wines from the Artisan group’s winemakers tells the changing story of Barossa wine through different categories – of dry savoury rosé, of grenache and of blends, introducing mataro and cinsault into the conversation.

Importantly, underlining a Mediterranean accent promoted by the venue name, there is a category titled Not Your Usual Barossa Suspects, showcasing locally-produced tempranillo, aglianico, sagratino and pinot noir. Even the familiar shiraz category has been fragmented into different styles of expression – savoury and textural; soft supple and elegant; rich and flavoursome; bold and extravagant.

Photo by John Krüger.

“All this is designed to take wine tasters further down the Barossa rabbit hole, and it’s an eye-opening experience to find so much variety in one winemaking region,” says Howard.

“It’s a different way of guiding people through a tasting. Rather than present a sliding scale of good/better/best, we encourage vertical tastings across artisan styles, to make comparisons and appreciate the points of difference.”

Visitors can book for Wine Skool tutored tastings, or purchase wines in flights of four, six or eight tasting pours, which can be accompanied by four bite-sized selections from a menu that also offers snacks, charcuterie, cheeses and Chef’s Plates created by Ryan Edwards, former executive chef at Appellation restaurant.

While Vino Lokal is now open for daily business, Artisans of Barossa wine tastings will continue at its original Vine Vale site until Sunday February 3, when the space will become the new tasting room for Calabria Family Wines, supported by food from Harvest Kitchen.

Artisans of Barossa will also commence building another new home from April, at Kroemer’s Crossing outside Tanunda, with plans to open in January 2020.

“We want to expand so that we can also present a great vineyard-based experience, where people can enjoy a longer, slower exploration of wine,” says Howard, explaining that Vino Lokal will also stay open, to offer two different Barossa wine, food and hospitality options.

“We’re confident the two Artisans experiences will happily co-exist. It’s an exciting time for us to keep our eyes on the horizon.”

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Craft beers creating top brew of SA entrepreneurs

A heady mix of top South Australian creators of beer, gin and wine are about to launch a unique Adelaide Hills cellar door with two of the state’s leading chefs running the kitchen.

“Lot 100 is being launched on December 8 and I’m getting married there next Friday,” Mismatch Brewing and group brand manager Leigh Morgan says.

The ambitious, all-in-one brewery, distillery, cellar door and restaurant just outside of Nairne will showcase produce from Mismatch Brewing, Adelaide Hills Distillery, Adelaide Hills Cider, Vinteloper and Ashton Valley Fresh.

The creators of the $4.5 million production facility and cellar door want it to be a memorable experience. From the entry gates to the sprawling 84 ha property, a driveway sweeps up the hill to a modern barn-style cellar door featuring raw timber and concrete, surrounded by 100-year-old gum trees.

Inside Lot 100 at Nairne in the Adelaide Hills.

Inside, the kitchen will be overseen by acclaimed chefs Shannon Fleming formerly from Orana and Tom Bubner from Pizza e Mozzarella Bar, Chicken and Pig – and there’s enough space to host weddings of 660 people.

Next Friday marks its first outing with 226 guests arriving to celebrate Leigh tying the knot with Adelaide occupational therapist Hayley Foreman.

“We won’t be honeymooning yet, I’ve managed to convince my beautiful soon-to-be wife we should escape winter next year instead, which gives me six months working with the team,” Leigh says.

It’s been a jam-packed few years for the co-founder of successful online wine company Vinomofo after joining forces with Mismatch Brewing head brewer and founder Ewan Brewerton full time earlier this year.

All will be revealed at Lot 100 on December 8.

Having launched in 2013 as a gypsy brewer using space in other facilities, Mismatch last year built its own brewery alongside the Adelaide Hills Distillery company famed for its hand crafted spirits.

Its first beer was completed in December 2017 and, in June this year, it took out the Champion Trophy at the prestigious Australian Independent Brewers Association Awards.

At Lot 100, Leigh says the team wants to create leading products but sustainably. There are solar panels and water from two onsite bores is put through a reverse osmosis system and any waste is used to irrigate surrounding orchards. Plans are also afoot to plant a market garden and hops for the brewing process.

“We’re doing this for our children’s children, if more companies think that way it’s going to be so much better for everyone,” Leigh says.

The Wilkadene Woolshed Brewery in the Riverland is another craft brewery operating sustainably.

It’s a similar theme in the Riverland, where Tom and Sarah Freeman first opened their craft brewery, Wilkadene Woolshed Brewery, in a 100-year-old shearing shed overlooking the River Murray in 2009.

At that stage, only five other SA businesses were operating in the niche market.

“Now I think there’s about 37 craft or independent brewers in SA alone and another 11 or more applications are with councils,” Tom says.

Wilkadene is 20km north of Renmark with a cellar door overlooking the picturesque river.

It’s 100% family owned with a focus on producing its beers and Utopia range of ales, cider, hard lemonade and the Rude Ruby, a grapefruit drink which the brewery produced 100,000 litres of last year. Its beverages are produced with zero waste, with wastewater used to irrigate the garden, there’s 40kW of solar panels installed and used grain is fed to the chickens.

Rainwater is also used to save on the River Murray with Tom saying as the brewery has expanded so too has the amount of roofs capturing water.

“We have a good relationship with our neighbours who have a packing shed, they give us water and we give them beer,” Tom says.

The Woolshed Brewery is located on the banks of the mighty Murray at Wilkadene.

Tom says ever-increasing consumer interest in craft beers has spurred growth at Wilkadene Station where he grew up before moving to study and work in wine marketing in Adelaide.

It was when his parents were looking to sell the farm and houseboat business that Tom and his wife Sarah came up with the brewery idea.

“I’d developed a real passion for the beer industry particularly the craft industry, and we’d always wanted to do more with the shearing shed,” Tom says.

Over the past seven years the business’s beer production increased by 80% per year and last year by a further 30%, with 70,000 litres of beer now produced on site and another 15,000 litres at other breweries.

Tom’s personal favourite from the Woolshed Brewery is the drop most sought after in the colder months, a dark ale made with locally grown and roasted wattleseed called Judas the Dark.

“We get the wattleseed from just down the road at Australian Native Bush Foods, it’s run by Mark Lucas and he was a wool classer here when I was a kid,” he adds.

Industry in focus: Craft industries

Throughout the months of November and December, the state’s craft industries will be celebrated as part of I Choose SA.

South Australian craftspeople make up some of our most creative thinkers and makers of sustainable and innovative goods. Read more craft stories here.

Visit I Choose SA to meet the people building business and industry in SA, and to find out how your choices make a difference to our state.

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Gumpara offers a different taste of the Barossa

Mark Mader has always known there’s something special about a part of the Barossa where his family first planted vines on Gumpara vineyard 90 years ago. Now he has a major award for his shiraz to prove it.

Gumpara 2014 Hexen Shiraz was named second behind Penfolds’ Grange in Winestate Magazine’s 13th International Syrah and Shiraz challenge, announced in September.

In Mark’s eyes, the prestigious award is a long overdue stamp of recognition for the largely unheralded Light Pass sub-region of the Barossa where Gumpara vineyard is located.

“More sub-regions of the Barossa are being identified on wine labels as the source of exceptional and distinctive fruit, but Light Pass is one area that should be a lot more famous for the quality of what is produced,” says Mark.

He points to the unusual mix of ironstone, marble and terra rosa clay in the Barossa’s gentle north-eastern hillside soils as the reason for the intensity and length of Light Pass fruit flavours.

The Gumpara 2014 Hexen Shiraz.

Mark says the Gumpara brand name clearly explains the significance of his vineyard, which is laid out beside the North Para River and flanked by ancient gum trees.

Its position captures cool gully winds through the summer that bring a unique complexity to the fruit, according to Mark. He identifies this in the best 20 tonnes of fruit from the vineyard that he keeps for Gumpara Wines (the remaining 140 tonnes is sold to Peter Lehmann Wines).

Now Mark and his wife Mandy are keen to share and explain the story of their Light Pass vineyard when they open the Gumpara Wines cellar door to public visitors on November 24.

After many years of supporting two daughters playing high-level basketball through their teenage years, Mark and Mandy now say they’ve got the necessary time to host cellar door visitors – and enough stock to warrant a cellar door presence. While the first Gumpara wines were released 18 years ago, volumes were initially very small.

“Our growth has been cautious. We haven’t wanted to carry massive debt,” explains Mark.

“Our family has traditionally been grape growers selling to other wineries, so it was a big step for me – the sixth generation on this land – to start making wine. It’s been a great thrill to identify how exceptional our fruit is.”

The Gumpara Wines family.

For a while, Gumpara was part of a collaborative cellar door with several other boutique Barossa labels, sharing a rented shop in Tanunda’s main street, but the arrangement proved difficult to manage and stopped after a few years.

Now, an old shed on the Gumpara vineyard has been re-purposed and refitted with timbers salvaged from the 1857 Light Pass Church Manse, and a 4m Redgum slab used as the bar. It will now be open for regular public tastings on weekends, by appointment.

Visitors will be able to purchase the limited-release $240 Hexen Shiraz, named after an old Silesian “witch”, Mutter Jaeckel, who lived near the Gumpara vineyard and created homeopathic remedies for the first Barossa settlers in the 1840s.

This is the first release of this wine – the culmination of a five-year project, sourced from vines up to 90 years old. It replaces the Reserve Shiraz as Gumpara’s flagship wine, which was also a significant award-winner, taking third place in Winestate’s 2012 International Syrah and Shiraz Challenge.

The cellar door opens November 24.

Cellar door visitors seeking a more modest wine will find great value in Gumpara Victor’s Old Vine Shiraz ($32), which also registered the maximum five-star rating in this year’s Winestate International Shiraz Challenge.

Mark is confident that his small cellar door will help bring visitors to Light Pass, and feels the time is right to put this overlooked part of the Barossa on the map.

“A lot of the fruit grown in the Light Pass area has traditionally been sold to big wineries, but never identified on the bottle as a source,” he says.

“There’s a few small cellar door tasting rooms – Pete Scholz’s The Willows, Gibson Wines, Ben Chipman’s Tomfoolery Wines – but it’s not really known as a region to visit.

“I think it’s time to shine a brighter light on the place and highlight what we have here that’s special.”

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Yorke Peninsula boutique winery stacks high against the rest

Vineyards and rustic cellar doors are not usually associated with the towns that line the traditional barley belt of South Australia’s Yorke Peninsula.

The coastal playground is more likely associated with camping and fishing, with its economy running on an engine fuelled by agriculture.

But 12km from Maitland not far off the Spencer Highway is a boutique winery offering visitors an unexpected experience.

Barley Stacks Wines husband and wife duo Lyall and Cynthia Schulz opened the cellar door 10 years ago and are now the largest wine producers on the peninsula.

While winemaking is usually left to the state’s wine-centric regions such as the Barossa Valley and McLaren Vale the Yorke Peninsula still knows how to make a good drop.

Aside from Barley Stacks Wines, the region is home to a small handful of vineyards and another cellar door Emoyeni Wines at Ardrossan.

The Barley Stacks Wines cellar door.

“Because of the fact we are surrounded by wheat, barley, canola and lentils it’s probably the pollens that are impacting our grapes in a positive way, giving us flavours that a lot of people don’t expect,” says Lyall Schulz.

“We’ve done the Cellar Door Fest at the Adelaide Convention Centre for the past four years and people say to us that our wine is so different to anywhere else in SA.

“We have people drive up the road and come to our cellar door thinking it’s a practical joke because there is a winery on the Yorke Peninsula, but they come in and they’re amazed.”

Lyall and wife Cynthia bought the property 10 years ago from its previous owners, the Gregory family, who planted the original vineyard in 1996 and later launched Gregory Wines.

While Cynthia is originally from the Barossa, Lyall is a “local born and bred farmer”, harnessing his skills on the land producing wheat, barley, canola and lentils.

So when the pair decided to give viticulture a crack, they sought the help of local consultants and have since welcomed two esteemed winemakers, Tim Smith, who is widely regarded in the Barossa, and Colin Sheppard, of Flaxman Wines in Eden Valley.

Lyall Schulz of Barley Stacks Wines.

Colin is also well versed in the culinary arts having made it to the top 10 in the TV series MasterChef in 2014.

Over the past decade the Schulz’s have built the Barley Stacks brand through word-of-mouth and making appearances at a number of industry events.

Over the years they’ve also scooped a number of awards including medals at the Yorke Peninsula Tourism Awards, the Australian Small Winemakers Show and a gold medal at the Winestate Magazine World Shiraz Challenge in 2015.

Their wines are influenced by the peninsula’s climate, sea breezes and limestone sub-soils, with past reviews describing tasting notes of ‘plum’, ‘lingering liquorice’, ‘apricot’ and ‘passionfruit’.

Barley Stacks produces 25 different lines from four grape varieties, shiraz, cabernet sauvignon, chardonnay and viognier.

They aim for an average production of 40 tonnes of grapes and between 2500–3000 cases of wine each year.

All growing, picking, processing and bottling occurs on site, except for the whites and sparklings which are bottled elsewhere.

The 2013 shiraz.

Most Barley Stacks Wines are sold direct from the cellar door, with some also sold through the Barley Stacks website, and at a couple of Cellarbrations stores in the region.

Aside from the four main varieties, Barley Stacks also puts out a rosé, sparkling wines, a fortified range and a verjuice.

Verjuice is a sour drink made from unripe grapes, made famous by SA cooking queen Maggie Beer who produces her own line.

“It’s like a Granny Smith apple juice and kids can drink it, it’s not alcoholic and you can mix it with soda water,” Lyall says.

“On the Yorke Peninsula we have the new Sunny Hill Distillery about to start up at Arthurton, so you could mix your verjuice with gin.”

Barley Stacks Wines also caters for weddings, functions and events.

Speaking of the new distillery, Lyall says he’s working with its owners as well as two other local business operators to look at ways of leveraging each other’s success.

“We are looking connectively to run tours and do things together to give a tourism experience on the Yorke Peninsula that’s quite unique,” he says.

“The tourism side of the peninsula is growing exponentially, we now have Watsacowie Brewing Co at Minlaton who are doing a great job at driving high volume tourist interest.

“We want to collectively work together.”

Barley Stacks Wines is open seven days a week at 159 Lizard Park Drive, South Kilkerran.

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Header image courtesy of SATC.

Henschke moves ahead by taking heed of history

History is of great importance to Stephen Henschke. As the Henschke family celebrates 150 years of winemaking in South Australia through six generations, the celebrated winemaker has much to reflect on – and look forward to.

For starters, there is a new cellar door at Henschke’s Keyneton winery in the Barossa, featuring the stone walls of the farm’s original grain barn, to complement the adjacent cellars constructed in the 1860s by Johann Christian Henschke.

The new tasting space will be open to visitors from early November.

Being respectful of history is important to Stephen and his viticulturist wife Prue. “We all live in a continuing history, and times are moving fast,” Stephen says.

“I delve into history to make sense of what generations of my family have achieved. I’m a serious student of the past to learn what worked and what failed. Understanding this defines the provenance of what we have with our vineyards and winery, and why ours is like no other.”

The new cellar door at Henschke’s Keyneton winery.

This care is reflected in the painstaking recent reconstruction of The Julius Room, another private tasting room at Henschke’s Keyneton winery.

The room was moved stone-by-stone from within the belly of the winery to its new home among the gardens, still with it’s forked bough supports for the roof, original timber-framed windows, and with historical family photographs and documents lining the walls.

Stephen says his passion for uncovering history has accelerated recently, as his and Prue’s three children Johann, Justine and Andreas proceed through adulthood, and with the recent arrival of first granddaughter Matilda.

“You build on history, and this is our challenge as generations change and a winery of our modest size sets itself to move into the future,” he says.

The opening of the new cellar door coincides with the release of an outstanding crop of elite new Henschke wines – including the stellar 2013 vintage of the winery’s flagship Hill of Grace single vineyard shiraz, along with new additions to the portfolio, being the 2015 The Wheelwright Shiraz, and matured sparkling wine Johanne Ida Selma Blanc de Noir MD.

The 2013 Hill of Grace Shiraz.

Presenting these wines to the media for the first time, Stephen offered examples of Hill of Grace vintages across six decades for comparative tasting, dating from 1962.

“Here it is on the table before us – my lifetime with Hill of Grace,” says Stephen.

“It’s all about memories – memories that we cherish.”

Beyond receiving global accolades for the large suite of Henschke wines, Stephen also likes to shine a light on his family’s achievers, especially those whose toil was not widely recognised during the war years, when German influence in the Barossa was frowned upon and quelled by government administrators.

This includes gifted sculptor and stonemason Albert Julius Henschke, whose 1920s masterwork, carved from Angaston marble, is the giant angels that stand as centerpiece of the National War Memorial on North Terrace, Adelaide.

He also carved war memorials in Tanunda and Freeling, but was refused a commission for the Gawler South war memorial in 1920 solely because of his German name.

Winemaker Stephen Henschke.

Stephen even embarked on a campaign to restore the original Germanic name of the small river that runs close to the Henschke winery, called the North Rhine by the area’s Silesian founders, then changed to the Somme in 1918, reflecting strong anti-German sentiment after World War I.

It was one of many German names in the Barossa changed under the Nomenclature Act of 1917, but Stephen’s rigorous public campaign saw it officially gazetted once again as the North Rhine River.

He’s not just curious about his family’s German history. Stephen has become a student of Aboriginal culture and influence throughout the Eden Valley, learning about the movements, settlements and harvesting by different Indigenous people in the long history before colonial settlement.

“Through this, I’ve learned a much deeper history, that gives me a more complete understanding about the story of this land,” he says.

Prue Henschke in the Mt Edelstone vineyard, located in the Eden Valley. Photo by Dragan Radocaj.

Stephen, who was recently invited by the University of Adelaide to deliver a public lecture in the city about what happened to the Barossa’s German descendants between the two World Wars, tells tales of Henschke history from the heart, with a mixture of awe, deliberation and pride.

The family is also the subject of a commemorative hardcover book, Hill of Grace: 150 Years of Henschke Under Southern Skies (Hardie Grant Books, $60), tracing the history of the Henschke family’s flight from religious persecution in Germany during 1841, through its continued nurturing of the Hill of Grace vines at Keyneton, planted from the early 1860s.

The book is completed by historical photographs, colour plates by Barossa photographer Dragan Radocaj, and tasting notes of Hill of Grace vintages, from their first bottling as a single vineyard expression in 1958.

“History is such an important part of who we are and what we do,” says Stephen. “We’re fortunate that we have it on the page, in pictures, and in the incredible living library of wine that comes out of our cellars.”

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Top three fresh talents at Cellar Door Fest 2018

Next month’s Cellar Door Fest will welcome the South Australian wine industry’s newest talents in the first-time installation of the Emerging Winemakers Kitchen Table.

Among internationally renowned brands and well-established boutique labels will be 20 emerging winemakers’ drops from regions across the state.

Now in its eighth year, the festival will run from March 2–4 at the Adelaide Convention Centre and will also showcase more than 180 South Australian wineries, breweries, distilleries and food producers.

Local wine hero and Cellar Door Fest ambassador, Paul Henry, will host the Emerging Winemakers Kitchen Table, a free event that gives visitors a chance to sample a series of new drops.

Wine ambassador Paul Henry.

Paul, who runs Winehero and is a driving force behind Adelaide’s membership within the Great Wine Capitals Network, shared with Brand SA News three notable new players in SA wine.

“SA is the engine room of the whole Australian wine industry,” he says.

“So whether you’re from an internationally recognised brand like Jacob’s Creek or you’re a 23-year-old from a fourth-generation (wine) family and have had a passion for something you’ve seen in your travels – what businesses always need are interesting people coming into the wine market.”

See the full Emerging Winemakers list here.

Paul Henry’s Top three emerging winemakers

Ricca Terra Vintners, Riverland

Ashley and Holly Ratcliff are behind Ricca Terra Farms which over the years has grown grapes for some of the country’s greatest names in wine.

Now the pair have launched their own label, Ricca Terra Vintners, exploring interesting varieties suitable to the Riverland’s dry climate.

“They’re doing some fantastic things with Vermentino and Nero d’Avola,” Paul says.


Turon Wines, Adelaide Hills

This small batch winery is led by winemaker Turon White who sources fruit from the top vineyards within the Hills.

Paul says Turon Wines is “making some really beautiful field blends”, but their creative packaging is also to be admired.

“The labels are done by a local artist to create an image to reflect the individuality of the wine,” Paul says.


Lévrier by Jo Irvine, Barossa Valley

After making top wines for other winemakers, Jo Irvine recently launched her own luxury brand inspired by her long love of rescued greyhound dogs.

“I won’t give too much away,” says Paul.

“But it’s the sparkling brut I’m particularly fascinated by.”


Make your way to the Emerging Winemakers district at the following times to secure a spot at the ‘kitchen table’; Friday March 2, 7pm & 8pm, Saturday March 3, 1pm & 3pm or Sunday March 4, 1pm & 3pm.

The complete Cellar Door Fest is on Friday March 2, 5–9pm, Saturday March 3, 11am–6pm, and Sunday March 4, 11am–6pm.

The festival will also include long table dining experiences, masterclasses, a new interactive DIY series and Food, Booze + Dancing Shoes on the Friday from 8pm – midnight.

Check out ticket information and the full program by following this link.


Feeling lucky? Enter the draw to win our Ultimate Cellar Door Fest Giveaway.

We’re giving you and three mates the chance to win free Cellar Door Fest entry, Festival Flavours Goodie bags, and half-dozen mixed wines.

Ten double passes are also up for grabs for runner ups.

Click here to enter. Terms and conditions apply.

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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