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Your 2022 Guide to the Barossa Valley Wine Region SA

Posted by David Laity on
Your 2022 Guide to the Barossa Valley Wine Region SA

A Snapshot of the Barossa Valley Wine Region

Chances are, if you could name only one of the Australian wine regions, it would be this one. The region is world-renowned for its excellent red wines and is Australia's second largest wine producer. In 2021 the crush in the Barossa Valley was 60,018 tonnes of grapes.

Ancestrally the home of the Peramangk, Ngadjuri and Kaurna people, by 1851 almost 7,000 Germans had come to South Australia. About half of these came as religious communities. To this day, famous wine maker names such as Peter Lehmann, Joseph Seppelt and Wolf Blass reflect the very particular settlement history of the area.

photo by hddigital- licenced under shutterstock

The history of the Barossa Valley is as distinctive as its terroir and climate. It's right next door to the Adelaide Hills, but quite different in climate and character. It doesn't have the same rolling hills, but it does have history and prestige galore to discover.

There are five distinct sub-regions in the Barossa Valley, each with its own terroir and climate:

- Eden Valley: The highest section of the Barossa Valley, with an average elevation of 400 metres. The climate is cooler than the rest of the region, which makes it ideal for Riesling and Chardonnay.

- Seppeltsfield: In the heart of the Barossa Valley, Seppeltsfield is home to some of the oldest vines in the world. The terroir here is characterized by rich red clay soils and a warm climate.

- Tanunda: One of the cooler sub-regions in the Barossa Valley, Tanunda is known for its excellent Shiraz.

- Lyndoch: The warmest sub-region in the Barossa Valley, Lyndoch is known for producing wines with intense fruit flavours.

- Rowland Flat: Rowland Flat is the largest sub-region in the Barossa Valley and is home to some of the most iconic vineyards in the region, such as Peter Lehmann and Yalumba.

Take Me There!

How to get to the Barossa Valley Wineries

It's just a little over 70kms north from Adelaide, South Australia to Tanunda, the red heart of the Barossa Valley, which means that you can jump in your car in a capital city and be in one of the world's great wine regions in less than an hour.

You could grab your pushie and cycle out. There are a variety of routes both scenic and direct, or take the train to Gawler and make it easy on yourself.

By bus isn't so straightforward. You'll have to travel an hour and a half from North Terrace, Adelaide to Gawler and then grab a taxi into the valley.

Barossa Helicopters can either get you there, or fly you over the place once you've arrived.

What are Barossa Valley wines like?

An overview of Barossa Valley wines

The Barossa Valley Wine Region is world-renowned for its excellent red wines. It was the first region to plant Shiraz, also known as Syrah, in the country. Some of the grapes grown in the valley come from the oldest producing grapevines in the world. When many old world grape varieties in Europe were devastated by phlloxera - an insect that sucks the very lifeblood out of grapevines - American grape varieties had natural resistance, but a somewhat different taste.

This has resulted in many old world grape varieties being grafted onto American rootstock, but the Barossa Valley's isolation and strict hygiene controls have enabled the survival of plantings from the mid 19th century.

These days, there's more red than white (85 vs 15%), lots of excellent Riesling and an impressive range of old world varieties (Sangiovese, Nebbiolo, Malbec, Zinfandel etc). I remember the fortified wines of the valley that my elderly relatives enjoyed when I was a kid which are now better known (and marketed) as a classy drop rather than something granny would drink. Tawny ports, Pedro Ximénez sherry and aged muscat are all made locally.

Terroir - Soil and Climate

How do the soil and climate affect wine flavour in Barossa Valley?

The terrain and the climate of Barossa are surprisingly varied . There are ancient red clay soils growing rich vibrant shiraz vines and shallow shale under sandy soils that produce great Riesling.

There are warm Mediterranean sub climates where full-bodied Grenache vines flourish on the more sandy soils of the warm valley floor, and cooler climes with over 400 metres of elevation in the surrounding hills where you can grow Riesling that would be the pride of the Adelaide Hills. This diversity is what allows the region to produce everything from delicate white wines to the most powerful red wine.

Hobb's is one example of a Barossa vineyard located on a clay subsoil that holds enough water to enable growing grapevines without supplementary irrigation. For me, a lover of fine shiraz wines, the Barossa Valley often has distinctive qualities of black pepper, plum, chocolate, cooking spice and dark berries.

The Barossa is one of the only wine regions in South Australia that has a true Mediterranean climate. This means that the summers are hot and dry, and the winters are cool with higher rainfall. The climate is ideal for growing full-bodied red wines like Shiraz and Cabernet Sauvignon. The Barossa Valley also produces some of Australia's best fortified wines.

Historically, more sandy soils have grown white wine grapes, but grenache and syrah can both produce bright, lively flavours from these more sandy soils.

Something out of the box?

Unusual wine varieties in Barossa Valley

If you're looking to try something a little different, the Valley has some excellent unusual Italian varieties on offer, such as Barbera, Sangiovese and Nebbiolo. Something very rare, though, is the following grape ...

Bourboulenc

A southern French white varietal that is one of the eighteen grapes permissible in the Châteauneuf-du-Pape AOC (Appellation d'origine contrôlée - the rules governing the production of certain wines in France). One of the qualities of Bourboulenc is being able to maintain a high level of acidity even in warm climates. It's very rare as a single varietal, but adds structure and some spicy citrus tones to blended wines.

Marsanne

A white Rhône varietal that is often blended with Roussanne, another white Rhône grape. It can make wines with a beautiful nutty quality and some excellent examples exist in the Barossa Valley.

It's most famously grown at Tahbilk Winery, Nagambie, in central Victoria. It's somewhat like semillon in that it is often made as a light, dry wine, but it can age into a complex, savoury/sweet dessert that can cellar for many years.

Zinfandel

A red grape that is actually of Croatian origin and was brought to the Barossa Valley in 1875. It produces a wide range of wines from dry, light styles through to rich, concentrated dessert wines.

It's become quite synonymous with California, but it is very adaptable and widely grown. In warmer regions, like the Barossa, expect it to typically have peppery, blackberry-like flavours and a high alcohol content. Some excellent Zinfandel is made by Peter Lehmann.

The stars of the show

The top varietals of the Barossa Valley wine region

When it comes to wine, the Barossa Valley is best known for its red wines, specifically Shiraz. However, the region also produces excellent Riesling, Cabernet Sauvignon, Merlot and Grenache.

Grenache

McLaren Vale might be getting a lot of the press when it comes to grenache, but South Australia's other wine regions are fast becoming some of the the world's great wine regions with this varietal.

As of May 2022, a $15 wine - The Ethereal One Fleurieu Grenache 2020 - from South Australia has been named the best grenache in the world at the International Wine Challenge in London. Turkey Flat’s 2016 Grenache won the Jimmy Watson Trophy in Melbourne, so I think it's fair to say that Australia is performing outstandingly well with this varietal.

Barossa grenache is a lighter, more fresh and fruity wine than the shiraz of the region. You might find some plum, rich spice or star anise on the nose, and the valley is full of hidden gems making fine examples of grenache.

Shiraz

Like Hunter Valley semillon, Barossa Valley shiraz immediately conjures up a sense of history, innovation, terroir and mystique. The Barossa is probably the most famous shiraz region in Australia and produces some of the country's most collectable wines. The style can be quite full-bodied with rich, dark fruit flavours, but there is also an elegance and restraint to many of the best examples.

Expect some big tannins and blackberry flavours, but Australian wines have moved on from the 1980s and Barossa shiraz can have a rich texture, a balanced acidity and a lot of length on the palate.

McLaren Vale is quite nearby, but often has an appreciable difference from Barossa Valley shiraz. It tends towards being somewhat spicier (more like a syrah, in fact) with a concentrated fruit flavour, but also softer with more gentle tannins.

However, you can take good advantage of the higher acidity and structured tannins of Barossa shiraz and stick it in your cellar for a few years. You may well end up with a red wine that is not only delicious, but also extremely valuable.

Cabernet Sauvignon

It's the second most widely planted red varietal after shiraz, although the difference between the size of the two plantings is huge (7,825ha vs 1,907ha).

However, similar to shiraz, the Barossa Valley has some of the oldest producing cabernet sauvignon grapevines in the world. Cabernet favours cooler sites in a hot climate like the valley floor, so the valley isn't as famous for its cabernet as other neighbouring regions.

However, the best examples tend to an inky colour and soft tannins with ripe berries, juniper, mint and dark chocolate aromas.

Stellar Cellars

Some of the best wineries in the Barossa Valley wine region

You're going to be spoiled for choice when it comes to the more than 150 vineyards of the Barossa. There is some fantastic architecture, massive cellar doors, glorious scenery and, most importantly, some incredible wine. I'd love to spend a few hours at any of these cellar doors....

  • Seppetsfield - Seppetsfield is one of the most remote and beautiful vineyards in the Barossa. The cellar door is set amongst stunning old gum trees and the wine tasting experience is unpretentious, relaxed and very personal. The estate grows a wide range of varieties, but their fortified wines are particularly excellent. Established in the Barossa in 1851, you can taste yourself some 100 year old port, drink a wine from the year of your birth or be a complete dork and ride around the estate on a Segway.
  • Henschke - Henschke is one of the most iconic producers in Australia and has been making wine in the Barossa since 1868. Highly placed as of the world's most admired wine brands from Drinks International and one of 2021 Wineries of the Year from Halliday. The cellar door is a beautiful old stone building set in stunning gardens. The wine tasting experience is very professional and you'll be able to try some incredible wines, including the highly sought-after Hill of Grace Shiraz.

photo by Hypervision Creative - licenced under shutterstock

  • Mt. Pleasant - Mt. Pleasant is one of the most picturesque vineyards in the Barossa and has spectacular views over the valley. The cellar door is a beautiful old stone building and the wine tasting experience is very relaxed and personal. The estate grows a wide range of varieties, but their Riesling is particularly excellent.
  • Turkey Flat - Turkey Flat is one of the most historic vineyards in the Barossa and has been making wine since 1847. The cellar door is a beautiful old stone building set in stunning gardens. The wine tasting experience is very relaxed and personal. The estate grows a wide range of varieties, but their Shiraz is particularly excellent.
  • Burge Family - Established in the 1860s and voted one of the world's greatest wineries. It has Barossa Valley Heritage Protection. The wine tasting experience is very professional and you'll be able to try some incredible wines, including their flagship wine, the Burge Family Reserve Shiraz.
  • Penfolds - Penfolds is one of the most iconic producers in Australia and has been making wine in the Barossa since 1844. The cellar door is a beautiful old stone building set in stunning gardens. The wine tasting experience is very professional and you'll be able to try some incredible wines, including their flagship wine, the Grange Shiraz.
  • Wolf Blass - Wolf Blass won the 2021 red winemaker of the year from the International Wine Challenge. For the fourth time! One of Australia's most iconic wineries started by one of our most famous German settlers has an ultra-modern cellar and a range of information regarding their winemaking practices.
  • Liebichwein - Liebichwein is a family owned and operated business which started in 1854. The wine cellar is located in an old cork factory and the wine tasting experience is very relaxed and personal. The estate grows a wide range of varieties, but their fortified wines are outstanding.
  • Kalleske - Kalleske is a family owned and operated business which started growing grapes in 1853. Kalleske has been Certified Organic and Biodynamic since 1998. All of the wines are estate grown using minimalist intervention techniques and they're all vegan as well!
  • Charles Melton Wines - Charles Melton Wines is a small boutique winery that makes premium Rhône-style red, shiraz, cabernet sauvignon and sparkling shiraz, though their flagship wines are gsm blends Grenache/Shiraz/Mataro) known as The Nine Popes. They have historic vineyards with low-yielding vines and a highly awarded cellar door.
  • Peter Lehmann Wines - Peter Lehmann Wines is one of the most iconic wineries of South Australia. Their Stonewall Shiraz is one of the classic wines of Australia. The cellar door was built in the 1880s, but the grounds around the door are legendary for both their beauty and the events they have hosted over the years. The eponymous Peter Lehamnn is sometimes credited as the man who saved the Barossa Valley, and his early support for growers indeed saved many of the grape vines that today help carry the reputation of the region.
  • Jacob's Creek - Jacob's Creek was first planted in 1847 and today offers accommodation, a fine dining restaurant featuring local produce, some of the most well-known and classic wines made in Australia and a magnificent venue for events. On a warm day, grab a blanket and enjoy a picnic in the vineyards. If it's cooler weather, or threatening rainfall, pull up a stool in the tasting room and run wild.

Need a nap after all the fun?

Best accomodation options

The Chapel, located in Lyndoch, is a renovated 1849 church set amongst cottage gardens. It's very pretty and rather historic.

Maggie Beer's Orchard House is pricey, but also unique. It's next door to the famous cook's childhood home, and it's still a functional orchard with more than 2,000 fruit trees.

The Abbotsford Country House is right by a vineyard, has a golf course, and has a stunning view of the surrounding hills and the valley floor.

Stay in an off-grid eco cabin - she's called Elsie - right by Seppeltsfield estate. They're very cute, minimalist and have lovely views.

Barossa Caravan Park is just like it says on the box. It's got cabins, a pool, powered sites and you can enjoy some wine tasting in the camp kitchen.

Why visit the Barossa Valley in 2022?

The lowdown

Well, the '21 vintage enjoyed cooler than average temperatures, with good rainfall, so the fruit had every opportunity to develop full flavour while remaining vibrant. Pinot gris from the valley particularly benefited from the cool season. Lots of bright fruit and Nashi pear to enjoy quaffing.

Wine Australia's general manager, Rachel Triggs, believes that "“Good fruit set, plenty of water at the right time, lack of heatwaves, low disease pressure, and favourable harvest conditions have resulted in a high-yielding, high-quality vintage.”

Something to see while you're there?

Such an historic and well-known location has its benefits for the casual visitor. You want to see it in style? How about checking out the Barossa from above - in a helicopter, from a hot air balloon, or from a vineyard on top of the ranges. Grab yourself some wheels (with someone sober behind the steering wheel of course) and head off on two wheels, three wheels, vintage wheels or embrace the historical aspect of your trip and get around on a horse.

Fancy a bevvy while visiting?

Beer, wine and cider in the Barossa Valley Region

Have someone else show you some of the best Australian wines you can taste in a day. Discover a cellar door you've never heard of and sample some classic red wine or white wine while looknig out over the rolling hills and valleys of the Barossa region.

Barossa Valley Wine Tours run tours Monday, Friday, Saturday and Sunday.

Barossa Brewing Boutique Wine Tours have been running for more than a decade

Big Shed Brewing have been making craft beers since 2002 and have a good few awards to show for their troubles.

The Tanunda Hotel is located in the heart of the Barossa and it has a very photogenic facade.

The Riesling Masterclass at Otherness sounds interesting and runs from March-June 25, 2022. Try ten different bottles of Riesling including some hidden Barossa gems.

photo by Capricorn Studio - licenced under shutterstock

How about some good tunes and good times?

Live Music and Festivals in the Barossa Valley Region

If you wanna rock out after a few reds, The Killers will be performing at Peter Lehmann vineyard come December.

The Barossa WinterFest takes place on Saturday 6th August. at Coulthard House. Local produce, some fine red wine or maybe some warm mulled wine, live music and a lovely venue.

Bringing Granny and the kids?

Family Friendly things to do in Barossa Valley

Visit the Barossa Farmers Market where they regularly hold kids classes, family friendly cooking, guest visitor talks and food based production techniques at the Markets.

Check out the family-friendly wineries - Seppeltsfield, Charles Melton and Turkey Flat are a few of the wineries we have already listed above for your edification.

Whistler Wines also has a good reputation as family friendly with a big lawn, a playhouse, a dog and a treasure hunt.

You can play a round of mini golf at Barossa Bowland, enjoy a BBQ lunch at Nuriootpa Train Park or.

photo by Summer Lovee - licenced under shutterstock

Geeking Out?

Quirky and clever things to do in the Barossa Valley wine region

Maggie Beer's Farm Shop because who doesn't geek out about Maggie Beer? Check out the food, the fresh produce.

Check out Kapunda - right up in the north of the valley floor - for the Kapunda Heritage Trail which will take you along 10kms of historic buildings, old mines, colonial homes and one of the best folk museums in South Australia.

Visit Château Tanunda for 130 years of winemaking history and a beautiful old bluestone building surrounded by very historic vineyards. It's an icon of the valley and home to some of Australia's most celebrated wine. Wine nerds rejoice!

Feeling Artistic?

Arts, Culture and Entertainment in the Barossa Valley

Try your hand at drawing with charcoal made from the prunings of shiraz vines at the Barossa Grape Vine Charcoal Workshop.

There are a host of galleries in the Barossa Valley, both in townships such as Tanunda, Angastonm, Lyndoch and in the surrounding hills. There is a rich heritage of contemporary, historical and indigenous art to be found in galleries such as Corroboree Dream Art, Barossa Regional Gallery, McCrae Gallery, Lyndoch Studio and The Gawler Community Gallery amongst others.

The Urban Jungle by Tom Phillips exhibition opening is on June 05. It's described as "In his raw and expressive series of contemporary works, Phillips explores the culture and identity of urban Australian society. Confronting the human struggle with fear, loneliness and isolation; this exhibition highlights our fragile existence in this modern world."

art by Tom Phillips at Barossa Regional Gallery

Looking for Something Sporty?

Active events and outdoor sports in the Barossa Valley Region

After some inevitable indulgence, how about running a marathon in May? Château Tanunda, birthplace of the Barossa, and one of Australia’s most historically significant wineries, has agreed to partner with SARRC and sponsor the upcoming Barossa Marathon Festival for 2022.

Grab your own bike or rent one and set off on the Barossa Trail. It's 40kms pf paved road with not too many hills and maybe a few classic wines to discover along the way.

For something even more adventurous, head over to the Fox Creek Bike Park. It's actually in the Adelaide Hills, but it's considered the best mountain biking experience in South Australia, so that makes it well worth the trip.

fox creek bike park

The Wrap

We've hope you've enjoyed this run down of the Barossa Valley wine region and some of the incredible wineries and activities it has on offer. We will be regularly updating this page and greatly welcome any input you can offer. And if you go ahead and visit the Barossa Valley, we hope you love it as much as we do.

Cheers

The team at Goodwill Wine

Who is Goodwill Wine?

Goodwill Wine is Australia's only certified social enterprise wine company.

What's that you ask?

We are a wine company with soul. While other wine companies are focussed on maximising their profit, we are focused on maximising our impact. We do this by donating half our profits to Australian charity. Better still, when you buy, you get to tell us where the money goes.

Our wines are every bit as good as our competitions - in fact hundreds of five star reviews would indicate better (see below) and thanks to Australian's choosing to buy their wine ethically, we have been able to donate almost half a million dollars to date.

So why would we do this?

Our founder, David Laity lost most of what he owned in the Black Saturday bushfires. Thanks to the generosity of fellow Australians, he was given the chance to start again and so he made it his mission to pay forward the help he received.

You can read his story here

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