Barossa Valley local Maggie Beer shares her favourite places within one of Australia's most idyllic wine regions.
With its history of early settlement by immigrants that brought their food with them and adapted it to the climate, we have a food culture today that is still firmly rooted in these original Silesian ideals and principals.
Moving to the Valley and being surrounded by ever-changing seasonal produce has always been my greatest inspiration, and that, in turn, has allowed me to learn my craft by trial and error and I’ve gone along from one idea to the next. That is the Barossa way of life to me; being inspired by and using what is at hand and living the rhythm of the seasons. In other words, for me its where I always want to be; its where I belong.
Make sure your route includes a spot for something to eat. Although my life is about cooking at home with the produce I have to hand from a very large vegetable garden and our own produce, I still love to eat out.
This is where my whole food journey began; Colin farmed the pheasants but no one knew how to cook them so we seldom had a repeat customer. Once the Farmshop opened in January 1979 to sell our fresh produce direct to the public, I also cooked our pheasant and quail to show how wonderful they tasted and it served not only as a ‘picnic’ fare but a way of sharing the best way to cook whatever we were producing.
This morphed into a restaurant within that first year which we ran for nearly 15 years to much acclaim; in fact, closing at the height of our fame because I was burnt out. A few years later we reopened the building as a Farmshop again, as it is today. This is where you can taste everything we make at our commercial kitchens in Tanunda and the delights we value add from the fruits of our orchard. We serve great coffee and cake and every day at 2pm we have a free verjuice cooking demonstration. It’s in the most beautiful setting by the side of a huge dam and very rustic in the best sense of the word.
We are so excited about this new chapter at the farm. Led by my youngest daughter, Elli, The Eatery has a talented young chef, Tim Bourke, on board, creating beautiful, simple, seasonal food for lunch every day. Sharing the space with The Eatery, the Experience Centre offers a more hands-on experience with gin and cooking schools available.
We love to eat at FermentAsian, which is so very close to hand in Tanunda - such fresh, simple and beautifully cooked Vietnamese food with one of the great wine lists of Australia. Hentley Farm is a wonderful cellar door and restaurant with the history of the buildings carefully blended into the newer renovations and additions to make it what it is today. For a degustation dinner showcasing local produce and fine wines in a beautiful and rustic setting, this is another place I am always happy to share with friends when they come to visit us.
Appellation restaurant at The Louise and Mark McNamara cooking at St. Hugo at Orlando are both high-end dining experiences. Fino at Seppeltsfield, then Vintners near Angaston with chef Peter Clarke and so many more to choose from of such varied styles and price points.
I’m told the Barossa has the most well-known wine internationally and we’re very proud of that as the Barossa stands for not only the quality of our wine but the collective belief of the winemakers of the Barossa that they are united in their love of the Barossa, so we have an incredibly cohesive industry even though they all are in a sense competitors. It makes for a wonderful camaraderie amongst them. This gives us of course so many choices from the historic Yalumba Wines of Angaston; of Seppeltsfield Winery that gives a glimpse of history that is so embedded in our culture.
There are the mid-size wineries you shouldn’t miss like Rockford, Lehmanns, Torbreck and St. Hallett and then the smaller but very important wineries of Willows, David Franz, Teusner, Tom Shobbrook and Two Hands… and that is just to name a few. And, I have to put my dibs in here for Colin’s Pheasant Farm wines, made from the grapes of our home block. There are so many wonderful wineries and I can only name a few here so do go on to the Barossa information website to plot your wine journey and give yourself time to really explore these and many more.
An absolute must is a visit to the Barossa Regional Gallery that as well as the current exhibition has the amazing drawcard of the Hill & Son Grand Organ given to the Barossa from the Adelaide Town Hall and restored over a 16 year period. A visit to the local galleries; Jam Factory at Seppeltsfield gives such an insight into the broad spectrum of local artists that live here and the fact that it’s on the grounds of Seppeltsfield make it so worth a visit after having lunch at Fino, another of the great eating experiences of the Valley.
Cycle along the bike path that runs all through the Valley, this is a wonderful way to see parts of the Barossa the road wouldn’t give you access to. Bikes can be hired from the Tourism Centre in Tanunda, pack a picnic lunch, or make sure your route includes a spot for something to eat.
If you’ve brought your own picnic basket then drive up Mengler’s Hill to the lookout and walk through the sculpture park. If you’ve come empty handed, stop by the Farm Shop and pick up all the ingredients you need for the ultimate picnic lunch.
To stay at Orchard House is to surround yourself with the very reason we made the decision to nurture this beautiful orchard back to its full flavoured glory - the fruit! No matter what the season, the orchard always offers a stunning surrounding; each year culminating its efforts in trees laden with the abundance of the season’s apples and pears. If ever there was a perfect time to spend a weekend in the middle of our Barossa orchard, it’s now!