A fennel masala mushroom pizza is just one example of the delicious vegetarian dishes you can sample in South Australia. The state’s cheese and wineries are renowned for their paddock-to-plate philosophy and artisan food producers.
Visit Woodside Cheese Wrights to meet self-taught artisan cheese maker Kris Lloyd. She specializes in seasonal variations and beautiful finishing techniques – from rolling in ash to wrapping in vine leaves. She also offers cheese making classes that double as tastings.
1. Woodside Cheese Wrights
For Kris Lloyd, a woman who’s spent most of her life in the wine business, nothing prepared her for the wildfires that ripped through the state in 2019. The flames came unnervingly close to her cheesemaking facility in Adelaide Hills and forced her to dump nearly all of it. But Lloyd’s can-do spirit refuses to give up – she started Fork on the Road, a monthly event that champions Adelaide’s food trucks, vans and carts, bringing people together over meals made from local ingredients.
She also forged ahead, setting up Woodside Cheese Wrights with her son Mitch and hiring staff to make traditional cow and goat cheeses that’ve won national and international accolades. Their most notable successes include ‘Edith’, a French-style goat cheese rolled in ash and ‘Anthill’, a creamy goat cheese encrusted with native green ants (and which won the Grand Dairy Award in 2002).
In addition to their line of single-originity cheeses, Woodside also works closely with chefs creating one offs for their menus and making wedding cakes that incorporate a mix of their products. Their latest project is reviving carob, an ancient shrub that grows in drought-prone SA and has a history as a health food before chocolate went mainstream.
Fork on the Road is a fun, community-building event that allows small businesses to test their new ideas on an appreciative audience. It’s the kind of initiative that could only be launched in a place like South Australia, where a passion for the arts and a commitment to local produce are so strongly interwoven. From the Barossa’s acclaimed wine-tasting trail to McLaren Vale’s cellar doors of rare treasures, the region is a feast for the senses.
2. Melba’s Chocolates
Melba’s Chocolate Factory is a ‘working’ tourism factory located in a heritage listed complex 40 minutes from Adelaide in the picturesque township of Woodside in the Adelaide Hills. Using 1940’s era chocolate and confectionery making equipment, original proprietors Joy and Graeme Foristal are creating old Australian favourite chocolate & confectionery in time honoured tradition.
Visitors are welcomed into a large emporium style chocolate and confectionery factory shop where manufacturing processes are easily viewed. This includes the Chocolate Room, Depositing Room, Packing Room, Panning Room and Toffee Room where visitors can watch a range of old fashioned machinery in action.
As you tour the different rooms it is impossible not to sample a few pieces of heavenly goodness. There are so many chocolate and goodies on offer that even the most determined dieter would have a hard time walking away with just a few purchases. The location is pretty awesome too, right next door to the cheese factory. I would recommend a day outing to the area combining a visit to Melba’s with Barrister’s Block Winery, Olive Branch cafe and playspace in Balhannah and Beerenberg Farm (just across the road). All these sites will make for a great family day out.
3. Barossa Cheese Company
While world-class wines are a major drawcard for visitors to the Barossa, it’s the region’s dairy producers that are stealing their thunder. Here’s where to go for hands-on farm-to-fork experiences that showcase the finest local produce in a spectacular setting.
Founded in 2003, Victoria McClurg started the Barossa Cheese Company with just one aim: to produce and sell local cheese. Since then she’s collected a slew of awards, but she knows that accolades don’t pay the bills, and the best cheese won’t sell unless people come and buy it.
She invites the local community into her Angaston factory to show them what’s possible when curds become cuisine. She has a whole range of artisan cheeses to sample, including bloomy rinds, washed rings and haloumi, as well as a four-year-old aged goat’s cheese. The latter is so special that it’s sold via the cellar door and in a couple of local restaurants.
The younger goat’s cheese is silky smooth and has a mild creamy palate. It’s perfect for snacking and pairs beautifully with a glass of Chardonnay. The Princesse is a mini-sized goats Camembert with tangy rustic flavour and hints of lemon and hay. As it ages the cheese becomes rich, creamy and oozy.
The tasting room at Beer’s features a full range of their artisan cheese products, plus a variety of local gourmet condiments and accompaniments. They also stock a selection of locally made picnic food, ideal for taking on those longer Southern Barossa bushwalks. You can even pick up a pre-packed cheese esky bag to enjoy on your hike! The team at Beer’s also make a range of deli meats using small-batch, artisan techniques.
4. Seppeltsfield Winery
Hentley Farm is the epitome of gastronomic excellence. This a la carte restaurant and wine bar in Seppeltsfield serves up an impressive selection of regional delicacies, favouring items wild-grown on the estate, caught in nearby waterways and grown within the property’s own garden.
Established in 1851, the farm originally focused on livestock and agricultural pursuits but was soon realised that the land was better suited to grape growing. The first vintage was produced in 1878, and the winery became known for its ‘delicately coloured and highly flavoured’ fortified wines. Today, the winery is famous for its Centennial Cellar with an unbroken line of single vintage tawny ports dating back to 1878, plus luxe collections of premium Barossa red and white table wines that are crafted through a restored 1888 gravity flow cellar.
The historic winery’s renaissance continues with the addition of food, art and design through JamFactory Craft + Design, and gastronomic excellence at FINO restaurant, adding to a unique mix of heritage, community and fine winemaking endeavour. Tours of the village and wine tasting experiences are also available, including a Fortified & Canape Tasting Experience and the Moments in History tour, which allows visitors to sample fortified wines from significant historical events.
Whether you visit the cellar door to taste wines by the glass, in a tasting pod or at a seated table, the knowledgeable staff will take you through the winery’s extensive portfolio and answer any questions you might have. Then, wander the grounds and marvel at the thousands of date palms lining Palm Avenue or meander through the shade of cork elms on the Elm Walk. Or, if you’re feeling a little more ambitious, head to the FINO restaurant for a meal that highlights cuisine with a strong connection to the Barossa and local, seasonal produce.
5. Yalumba Winery
Yalumba was founded in 1849, making it one of Australia’s oldest family-owned wineries. Today the company has an international reputation and a hugely impressive compound located in Angaston in the Barossa Valley that you can tour on a range of tours starting at A$50. Yalumba’s vineyards are managed with the aim of balancing the winery’s impact on its environment, and the company’s on-site cooperage allows the winemakers to be in complete control of their oak supply.
Louisa Rose is head winemaker at Yalumba and she has been instrumental in bringing new styles of wines to Australian drinkers. Look out for perfumed white viognier, slinky red tempranillo, and in a few years – if she has her way – crisp dry whites from drought-tolerant verdejo grapes. Yalumba is also an innovator in environmental performance, reducing carbon emissions, encouraging biodiversity and exploring organic viticulture.
The company’s heritage is celebrated through their Old Vine Charter and they are a champion of the cause of preserving very old vines. The Hill Smith family still run the company and fifth generation owner Robert Hill-Smith is currently chair of the Australia’s First Families of Wine group which was set up to champion some of the country’s oldest wine brands that remain in family ownership.
One of the wines that best sums up Yalumba’s legacy is their Signature Cabernet Sauvignon & Shiraz, a sentimental favourite that aims to reward those who inspire and those who drink. The wine has honoured 54 individuals since 1962 who demonstrate hard work, inspiration, dedication and that most old-fashioned of virtues, loyalty. The Signature is made from a blend of some of Yalumba’s best vineyard sites and is available around the world.