There are plenty of cool things do in South Australia – a stroll through the Flinders Ranges National Park, a dip with dolphins at Baird Bay or maybe even check out an Aussie Rules footy match in the capital city, Adelaide. But I would argue the best thing about our Great Southern Land’s southern state is the wine.
You don’t need to be a wine snob, or even much of a wine drinker to enjoy a glass or two of the local produce. Trying regional wines allows you to support the local economy, learn more about the food and history of a region and even break the ice over a glass (or three) with the locals.
The four main South Australian wine regions are the Barossa Valley, McLaren Vale, Clare Valley and Adelaide Hills and each have their own distinct wines to try. Even if you’re not heading directly to one of these areas, you can buy them anywhere in the state (and country). From a small town bottle-o (that’s liquor store for all you non-Aussies) to a swanky bar in Adelaide’s CBD, you’re guaranteed to find a good glass of local plonk wherever you go.
Arguably South Australia’s most famous wine region, the Barossa Valley is known internationally for it’s big, bold Shiraz and dry Riesling. In the 1840s, not long after the English had settled in the area, farmers were sent out to grow fruit – and obviously, the king of all fruits is the grape, because it can be turned into tasty, tasty wine. It wasn’t long before wineries starting popping up everywhere, including Seppeltsfield, Yalumba and Henschke Wines, which are still operating today. Since then, heaps of other wineries have joined the original crew including St Hallet, Wolf Blass and Jacob’s Creek, so if you fancy a winery day in this region you’ll have plenty to choose from. Normally, red wines like Shiraz or Shiraz-Cabernet blends are pretty high in alcohol – due to the scorching Aussie sun – and go well with red meat. A perfect drop for a Sunday roast, if you ask us.
Interestingly, McClaren Vale is also known for its Shiraz, but the different climate means it doesn’t taste like the stuff you’ll get in the Barossa. The Barossa gets pretty extreme – think freezing (by Aussie standards) winters and hot, dry summers. McClaren Vale is described as a Mediterranean climate, with a warmer winter and coastal breezes. This moderate weather is the reason the Shiraz is softer than what you can expect from the Barossa region. The Mediterranean influence doesn’t just shine through in McLaren Vale’s weather – they also do cracking European-style wines like Grenache, Tempranillo and Sangiovese.
If you’re after something completely different, Clare Valley is the place to go: it’s the Australian home of Riesling. While Riesling may have originated in Germany, the Aussie variety has a distinctly lime-y flavour, with a high acidity. It’s not for everyone, but definitely worth a tipple. Asian food goes really well with our Riesling, so enjoy a glass with dumplings, curries and stir-fries.
If you visit Adelaide it’s almost a crime not to visit the Adelaide Hills (either literally, as it’s only a 45-minute drive from Adelaide’s CBD, or figuratively, via the wine list at the pub you’re at). If you’re a white wine drinker, this one’s for you – some of Australia’s best Chardonnay and Sav Blanc comes from this region. You can expect your Chardonnay to be naturally acidic and your Sauvignon Blanc fruity and crisp. The Chardonnay is also often used as the basis for sparkling wine, so if you’re feeling festive you may want to grab a bottle and say ‘cheers’ to a brilliant Aussie holiday.
Want to taste the local wines of South Australia? Why not join us on a small group tour, where you’ll have plenty of opportunities to share a drop with new friends.
Feature image by Troy Wegman via Shutterstock.