Hentley Farm Wines
You can sample right from the barrel, including the current 100-year-old vintage and the one from your birth year. I had several great meals in the Barossa, but none topped the seven-course extravaganza at the Hentley Farm winery. Chef Lachlan Colwill creates showstopping dishes like bluefin tuna, chicken liver, and toasted sunflower seeds in a shroud of cured egg yolk—an unlikely symphony of flavour, texture, and temperature—all well paired with the winery’s vintages and served in the original stables. It was the perfect expression of what the Barossa is all about: a beautiful marriage of the rustic and the refined.
Shut the Gate Wines
A maverick spirit permeates one of my favourite Clare wineries, Shut the Gate, where winemakers Richard Woods and Rasa Fabian are working with purchased fruit to produce some fascinating wines, like their intensely minerally Fiano and a restrained Shiraz expressing plush red fruit and smoke. They sell local cheeses and terrines in their rustic cottage, so you could pick up a few snacks, select a bottle, and while away an afternoon in the pretty garden out front.
On one end of the spectrum is d’Arenberg, which makes some knockout Shirazes and is currently building an ambitious piece of modern architecture called the Cube; when completed it will house a restaurant and cellar door where visitors will be immersed in a ‘wine fog.’ I had a lot of fun doing the blending course, in which you taste and learn about the juice that comes from different parcels and then craft your own wine.
Penfolds Barossa Valley Winery
I love discovering smaller makers like these, but you’d be remiss if you skipped Penfolds’ slick tasting room, where you can sample the full range of what this famous producer does, including the Grange, one of the country’s most cellar-worthy reds. And don’t miss the recently restored 19th-century Seppeltsfield winery for a glass of port—called Para Tawny here.