The Barossa Valley - South Australia Wine Country

Some of the oldest and purest Shiraz cuttings on the planet, nurtured by early settlers from the old world, still produce grapes for local wineries in the Barossa.

The 100-year-old vines are highly treasured not only for their age, but because many of the original species were almost wiped out by the phylloxera virus overseas during the 19th Century.

Barossa Valley Vines in South Australia
Barossa Vines
The Barossa (just an hour's drive from Adelaide) is today one of the most famous wine regions in the world, with 50 wineries ranging from some of Australia's largest companies through to small independent vignerons - and most offer tastings at their cellar doors. Overall, South Australia produces 50 per cent of Australia's wines and 70 per cent of the nation's wine exports. Every year nearly one million people visit the State's cellar doors, spending $342 million in the process. Sixty per cent of all those cellar door tourists visit the Barossa, making it the State's most popular wine region.
Barossa Valley Wine Tasting in South Australia
Barossa Valley Wine Tasting
Settled in 1842 by Silesian and Prussian refugees on the invitation of local English landowner and entrepeneur George Fife Angas, Barossa townships today retain an audible trace of their heritage with a form of German called "Barossa Deutsch" still spoken in some circles. The 1,970 square kilometre Barossa was mapped out in 1838 by the colony's Surveyor-General Colonel William Light. Originally named after the Spanish town of Barrosa, where the English were victorious over the French in the Spanish Civil War,

it was later mispelt by its Lutheran settlers and came to be known as Barossa.

Many descendants of original settlers still live and work on the same family plot of land and the preservation of local culture and activities is vigorously maintained with a diverse range of small and large festivals and special events held throughout the year.

The region has a rich European culture with German and English-style villages and chateaux dotted throughout the valley and church spires rising amid the vineyards. Local restaurants and cafes reflect this heritage and butchers and bakers offer traditional wursts, breads and German-style cakes. Few Australian regions boast a food and wine culture to rival the Barossa and local restaurants and cafes specialize in serving regional foods, accompanied by fine local wines.

The Barossa is also home to top Australian chef Maggie Beer and her tantalizing array of fine foods, produced and sold at her farm shop just outside Tanunda. Her produce includes Pheasant Farm pate, quince paste, olive oil and verjuice.

The Barossa is a patchwork of small villages and townships including Lyndoch, Rowland Flat, Tanunda, Bethany, Angaston, Marananga, Seppeltsfield, Nuriootpa and Greenock. Located in the heart of the region, Tanunda was the focal point for early German settlement. It was once the village of Langmeil, established in 1843 and is still renowned for its authentic heritage and character.

Tanunda today is a busy, prosperous town surrounded by dozens of small and large wineries, most of which offer cellar door tastings and sales. Goat Square is the site of the original town market and many historic buildings are classified by the National Trust. Every two years the Barossa Vintage Festival brings the town and region to life in a colourful celebration of local wine, food, heritage and culture. The next Vintage Festival is in April 2003.

Bethany is a small village just outside Tanunda and was the region's first Lutheran settlement. The local pioneer cemetery and medieval-style traditional thatched barn offer a taste of days gone by. The beautiful and historic Bethany winery offers stunning panoramic valley views and is owned and operated by the Schrapel family, descendants of original settlers.

To the south of the region lies Williamstown and its Whispering Wall at the nearby Barossa Reservoir. An engineering feat, the wall is a perfect ellipse and allows messages whispered at one end to be heard 140m away at the other. Built in 1902, it is 39m high and the top concrete section is reinforced with old tram rails.

If you're planning an extended stay in the Barossa, the Butcher, Baker, Winemaker food and wine trail is a two or three day self-drive journey showcasing the best regional wine and produce along a scenic drive through the Barossa and Eden Valleys.

If you want someone else do the driving, the Barossa Wine Train takes visitors from Adelaide to the Barossa on refurbished Bluebird rail carriages. At Tanunda Station, passengers can transfer to waiting coaches or limousines for a tour of the area, including sightseeing, wine tasting and lunch.

Accommodation in the Barossa ranges from hotels, motels and resorts to cottages, farmhouses and stately homes offering traditional bed and breakfast or self-contained facilities.

Learn more about Australia's wine country....

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