Without a doubt the Barossa Valley in South Australia is one of the premier wine regions in Australia. The first settlers came to the Barossa Valley in 1842. The first town that was settled was Bethany and was closely followed by Angaston. A large number of the settlers were of German origin and their influence can still be seen in many of the churches and homes in the area, as well as in the many wineries.
When the area was first surveyed it was noted how fertile the soil was. The first grape vines were planted at Jacob’s Creek in 1847. Today, there are over 150 wineries in the area. These range from small boutique wineries, to large, grand estates. These major wineries, produce quality wines and have a wonderful history as well. Any trip to the Barossa Valley just wouldn’t be complete without visiting the Grand Wine Estates of the Barossa Valley.
JACOBS CREEK WINERY
As I mentioned, the first vines were planted along Jacobs Creek by Johann Gramp in 1847. However, it wasn’t until 1976 when the first wine bearing Jacob’s Creek on it’s label was released. In 1984 the first wines from Jacob’s Creek were exported to the U.K. From there Jacob’s Creek went from strength to strength releasing their ‘Reserve’ range in 2000 and winning Winemaker of the Year in 2002.
Also in 2002 the Jacob’s Creek Visitors Centre opened it’s doors for the first time. This architecturally designed and purpose built cellar door is absolutely stunning. Set in beautiful grounds, overlooking acres of vineyards, the building houses a restaurant and shop as well as the cellar door.
We arrived at Jacob’s Creek mid afternoon and I headed to the cellar door to sample some wines. A tasting will cost you $5.00 to taste up to 9 wines or $10.00 to taste from their Heritage List. I opted for the $5.00 tasting as it had a couple of different wines that I wanted to try including a new release Prosecco Spritz Rose and a Sparkling Shiraz.
I really enjoyed the tasting and found the staff member who served me to be very helpful and knowledgeable. It was lovely to be able to take a glass of wine outside and take in the beautiful surrounds. It really is a fantastic spot to spend a few hours.
Yalumba has been in the same family for over 160 years and is Australia’s most historic family owned winery. Yalumba’s Chief Winemaker, Louisa Rose is considered to be a leader in her field and is responsible for the creation of the Virgillus Viognier. This is an extremely drinkable and refreshing white wine with hints of just picked apricots, cardamom, white pepper and fresh ginger.
The grounds of Yalumba are just stunning and very fitting of a Grand Wine Estate. The Cellar Door was previously the brandy bond store. The alfresco area is the perfect spot to sit and relax with a glass of wine and admire the grounds. The grounds are immaculate and are tended by five full-time gardeners. The head gardener has worked for Yalumba for 20 years and the grounds are obviously something of a labour of love for him.
Overlooking the large expanse of lawn and the Cellar Door is the Yalumba Clocktower Building. Constructed from Angaston marble, which is a blue quartz, the Clocktower is the centre piece of this amazing building. Another interesting fact is that Yalumba is the only winery in Australia that has it’s own on site cooperage. Yalumba definitely fits into the category of a Grand Wine Estate.
CHATEAU TANUNDA ESTATE
I fell in love with Chateau Tanunda the moment we drove down the cobble stone driveway. It’s just so grand and it’s right here in South Australia. Built in the late 1880’s, Chateau Tanunda is home to some of the earliest plantings of vineyards in the Barossa Valley. I discovered this this and much more when I took part in a tour of the winery. For just $19.00 and with a glass of red in my hand, we were led through sections of the winery not normally open to the public. At the same time we learnt that Chateau Tanunda was established purely to send wine back to Europe. In the 1860’s an outbreak of phylloxera destroyed many of Europe’s vineyards.
But it is Chateau Tanunda’s recent history that I found most interesting. Up until just over 20 years ago, Chateau Tanunda sat empty, vandalised and derelict. That is until John Geber spotted it whilst visiting Tanunda. Just a day later he had bought the property and set about restoring it to it’s former glory. This he has certainly done. It is a magnificent building and well worth a visit even if wine is not your thing.
Barossa Chateau is the former home of wine baron Hermann Thumm. It was built by him in the late 90’s when he was 88. It celebrates his love for wine, antiques and art. And roses. Apart from housing a cellar door, cafe and gift shop, Barossa Chateau is also something of a museum. It houses a vast collection of porcelain from the 18th and 19th Century. Also if you have a spare $650 laying around you can stay a night (or two) in the luxury of the residence.
Hermann Thumm also loved his roses and there are around 22 acres of rose gardens on the estate. He started his rose garden so as to leave a legacy for the people of South Australia and this vision led to Queen Elizabeth opening the gardens in 2002. It is worth a visit herejust to enjoy these magnificent gardens.
The Cellar Door is home to Creed Wines and Chateau Collection. Both have a fantastic range of very drinkable wines. The cafe is very popular for their High Teas and is a great spot to celebrate a special occasion.
CHATEAU YALDARA 1847 WINES
Chateau Yaldara was established in 1947 by Hermann Thumm, shortly after he emigrated to Australia. He found an abandoned flour mill dating that dated back to the late 1800’s and this is where he saw his dream of producing world class wines in the Barossa Valley come true.
The name ‘Yaldara’ means sparkling in the local Indigenous language and is very appropriate as Yaldara is famous for the sparkling wines it produces.
The building that houses the Cellar Door is most impressive as are their wines. Their focus is very much on hand-crafted wines and locally produced foods, which can be sampled in Hermann’s – their on-sight restaurant.
As for their wines, I highly recommend tasting the 2016 Chateau Yaldara Foundations Shiraz and their 20 Year Old Tawny Port. I would have also liked to taste their 40 Year Old Tawny Port but as it is $600.00 a bottle there is a $20.00 tasting fee!
So that completes our tour of the Grand Wine Estates of the Barossa Valley. Of course there are so many other smaller, boutique wineries to visit as well. But if you want the history to go with the wines then the Grand Estates are the answer.
If you love your wines and visiting wineries then make sure you check out the wineries in Mudgee, NSW.