Let’s be honest, any day spent wine tasting is pretty wonderful! But add the blue skies and the crisp, fresh air of a wonderful winter’s day, a fantastic guide, and one of Australia’s premier wine regions – and you have the perfect way to spend a winter’s day – wine tasting in the Barossa Valley!
With their fires roaring at each winery we visit, we definitely receive a warm welcome!
Well known for its wine regions, South Australia is blessed with McLaren Vale, the Adelaide Hills, the Clare Valley, Coonawarra, Riverland, and the Barossa Valley. One of the oldest and well-renowned, wine regions in Australia, wine tasting in the Barossa Valley provides an opportunity to see where it all began and largely put Australia on the map as one of the world’s premier wine growing countries.
With the early European settlers planting vines over 125 years ago that still produce wine, the Barossa Valley has some of the oldest-producing vines in the world!
Over 150 wineries call the Barossa Valley home. Some of the wineries are large and well known, others are small, boutique producers. We begin our tour of the Barossa Valley with the intent of finding some new discoveries, wines you might not find at your local wine store. So we are very excited to go with Small Batch Wine Tours. Matthew Kurko, the founder and our guide for the day, shares his wealth of knowledge about South Australian wine and the Barossa Valley. And it is just us on a private tour for a whole day of wine tasting in the Barossa Valley.
Wine Tasting in the Barossa Valley
With some huge, wine producers in the Barossa Valley, many of our international readers would know Barossa Valley wineries from their local wine store including Penfolds, Saltram, Henschke, St. Hallett, and Yalumba. And yes, they make some fantastic wines and there are many tours visiting these household names. However, that is not our goal today. We aim to find some of the hidden gems of the Barossa Valley.
This is where you need a knowledgeable guide. While you could research it yourself, I don’t think I would have found a couple of the wineries we visited. Plus we had additional benefits of not having to drive. Throw in a personable guide, Matthew, who happily shares his local knowledge and we relax for the day. Enjoying the wine tasting in the Barossa Valley is our only responsibility for the day! Perfect!
So what do we discover? After enjoying tastings at five wineries: Chateau Yaldara, Keller Meister, Peter Lehman, Izway, and Greenock Creek Wines we found some gems. Representing a wide range and variety of winemakers these five wineries are just a small peek at the Barossa Valley.
With a building worthy of being called a chateau, this winery started by Herman Thumm in 1947 is known for its sparkling red and fortified wines. Yaldara is the aboriginal word for “sparkling.” At Chateau Yaldara we tour the cellar, learn about the history of the winery and see how the fortified wines are aged and bottled. And tasting the 30 and 40 year old tawny ports is a highlight! Wow!
After a quick stop for a mid-morning snack at the local German baker (there is a strong, German heritage in the area), we make our second stop of the morning. Keller Meister is totally different in personality to Chateau Yaldara. Rather than a formal Chateau, this rustic, hilltop winery with spectacular views is a boutique, family-owned winery.
Some great wines are available for tasting including several specials available at the cellar door. One of their wines, the 2012 vintage of Wild Witch Barossa Shiraz won the “World’s Best Shiraz”! High accolades indeed. We couldn’t resist and make a couple of purchases here. The winery will ship anywhere in the world so you don’t need to worry about taking your wine home. (Very convenient!)
Next, our third stop is one of those big names! But Peter Lehman is a legend in both Australian wine and the Barossa Valley. You find some of their wines in the local shop. However, at the cellar door you can taste the full range including many of their small batch, single vineyard wines at the cellar door.
Peter Lehman Wines is a winemaker. They grow very little of their own vines, instead purchasing from over 700 small vineyards across the Barossa. There is a great story of how Peter Lehman made his start, but I won’t spoil it; visit for yourself and learn all about how he became a legend in the area.
This was also our lunch stop, with a fabulous, tasting platter of local produce from the Barossa Valley.
Honestly we would never have found this place without Matthew. A small, local producer making some amazing wines, Izway focuses on natural wine making. Never filtering their wines and minimizing the use of additives. This winery doesn’t take itself too seriously (only its winemaking) and the vintages all have an amusing back story and namesake. With names like “Angelo the Aglianico”, named after one of the owner’s mates, Angelo, a builder that helped with the building of the winery.
The fire was roaring and it was a friendly welcoming stop after lunch.
Greenock Creek Wines
Finally Greenock Creek Wines with a new, recently opened cellar door, utlizing many re-cycled materials, is the last stop of the day. A small, boutique winery I am not sure you would ever find their wines in a store. All the wine is produced from grapes grown on the property. Some of their fantastic wines quickly sell out not long after being released.
So as you can see, it was a full day, with a lot of variety. What we really enjoyed about the day was our guide! Matthew based the itinerary around our taste in wines. The tour is not a pre-set route of 5 wineries. He asks what type of wines you enjoy, what labels, and then takes you to some gems he thinks you will like. I am sure no two tours are alike!
It’s an entertaining day, learning lots along the way. About the region, the towns, the history, wine-making and also stopping at a few places to see more of the area and its history. Just a great time wine tasting in the Barossa Valley!
If You Go Wine Tasting
Small Batch Wine Tours also runs wine tours of McLaren Vale and the Adelaide Hills. We are already plotting our next trip, one of their Small Batch Tours where you can go behind the scenes and meet the winemaker. After today’s experience, I am sure it would be a wonderful day. Something special!
Finally a note to all international visitors: Australia is very strict on drinking and driving, the blood alcohol limit is .05 with random breath testing stops to check. If you plan on wine tasting for the day, organize a driver! Just another reason why taking a tour is a great option. With a private tour just relax, leave the driving to someone else and still go where you would like. You can find and book a tour with Small Batch Wine Tours online.
So we recommend spending the day with Small Batch Wine Tours if you go wine tasting in the Barossa Valley, McLaren Vale or the Adelaide Hills. It is definitely time well spent!
And here are some other ideas for easy day trips from Adelaide.
Good tip about having a dedicated driver or going with a tour for a wine tasting trip. Drinking and driving is a big no-no.
Yes Ryan and you can just relax and enjoy the wine. Definitely the way to go. We were very happy with Small Batch Tours.
This is a really heady experience. What is really good is that the tour is personalized based on your tastes.
We were impressed how Matthew from Small Batch asked us about some of our favorite wine labels and designed it from there.
Wine is the only thing that I have and this tour really sounds amazing. Some day!!!
Ami, you will love it. It was a very worthwhile and enjoyable experience.
I absolutely love wine tasting tours and Australian wine, so this is right up my alley. Saving this in the “one day I’ll make it to Australia” file. 🙂
Carlie, definitely a thing to do in Australia. You will enjoy the food and wine there.
I love Australian wines and this is the first article I have ever read about wine tasting in Australia. One more reason to visit!
Alexa, glad you enjoyed the post. The Barossa Valley really is the birth place of Australian wines. Famous for Shiraz (with the world’s oldest vines of that variety) and Grenache. Get down here and enjoy it, you will love it.
I’m not a wine drinker but my husband is. He would love a tour like this! I had no idea there were so many different vineyards in one area but Australia is so big that I guess you can spread out a fair bit.
Shobha, the wine regions are very concentrated with many vineyards as the soil conditions and climate dictate whether you can grow good-quality wine grapes. Australia is lucky having many different wine growing regions.
A tour guide is the best idea, not worth risking driving.
You basically can’t drink and drive in Australia so you can relax and enjoy the day when you engage a tour operator. Small batch were fabulous, it was a most enjoyable day!
I love reading about other wine regions, as we live in the Pacific Northwest and we have quite the booming wine industry. I much prefer the smaller tasting experiences over the grand estates, but this one sounds nice.
Rob, I think you would enjoy coming to Australia and touring some of the regions here. It is a different experience to the Pacific Northwest where you are. (Also great by the way.) Wines are such a great reason to travel.
I love wine and didn’t know about this region. Thanks for sharing.
The Barossa Valley is Australia’s most famous wine region with many of it’s best wines come from this region.
Looks like a great wine tour. I would definitely need a guide about all I know regarding wine is either red or white.
Bob, sounds like something you should explore, it is a fun reason to travel.