Clare and Barossa Valleys

South Australia's Wine Country

Jan 28, 2008
Outside Magazine
South Australia's Wine Country

South Australia's Wine Country    Photo: courtesy, Tourism Australia

Wake up to row after row of grapevines backlit by the sun and you'll be forgiven for thinking you're in Northern California. The epicenter of Australian viticulture sits squarely in the Clare and Barossa valleys (twin appellations, like Napa and Sonoma), a couple of hours north of Adelaide. With gently undulating vineyards, wooded hills breaking the horizon, and fields covered with purple wildflowers, the terrain is idyllic, and the lifestyle is just as sublime: weekly farmers' markets; tiny villages, each with their own butcher, baker, and winemaker; and between them, more than 100 "cellar doors," or tasting rooms.

WHERE TO STAY: In the Barossa Valley, the Louise is a newly renovated Tuscan-style inn with private courtyards and the region's most celebrated restaurant—its menu, featuring Barossa corn-fed chicken and steamed asparagus, is sourced almost entirely from local farmers (doubles from $280;

WHAT TO DO: Sample the region's estate wines at Loan, one of the valley's only organic winemakers; Two Hands' shiraz cellar; and internationally acclaimed Penfolds, just three miles up the road from the Louise. The 745-mile Heysen Trail climbs the east flank of the Eden Valley on its way from the Southern Ocean to the Flinders Ranges. Ask the chef at the inn to pack a picnic, then hike a section of the trail for breakfast with the kangaroos. In the Clare Valley, the gravel Riesling Trail loops for 15 miles past dozens of cellar doors, including Sevenhill, run by Jesuit priests since 1851. Rent a bike from Cogwebs, at the trail's start in Auburn, and taste as you ride (full day, $35;

GETTING THERE: Rent a car in Adelaide for the two-hour drive.

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