South Australia is home to wine regions that offer sublime tasting experiences. Discover the best food and wine pairings from Barossa, Adelaide Hills, and McLaren Vale.
Many wineries have created clean and modern spaces for wine tasting where the wines and views do the talking. However, d’Arenberg takes it one step further with their Rubik’s Cube designed center.
1. Hahndorf Hill Winery’s ChocoVino
Located at the edge of Hahndorf village is this boutique winery, winner of many tourism awards. Relax in seated comfort on the glass-enclosed balcony and enjoy a selection of the world’s best chocolates matched with two of the vineyard’s finest wines.
The tasting experience aims to showcase the concept of terroir (the flavor of where something comes from) in an entirely new way. The chocolates are sourced from around the globe, and each is matched with a specific wine from the Adelaide Hills estate.
A few fun things to do in the area include cheese tastings at Udder Delights and Woodside Cheese Wrights, picking your own strawberries at Beerenberg Farm (November to April), or visiting Buzz Honey Hive Door where you can stand in a glass-walled observation hive and sample single-flower source honeys. You can also dine at The Lane Vineyard restaurant and cellar door for some of the region’s best cuisine.
South Australia’s wine is a world-class product that has been recognized in some of the world’s best restaurants and is produced from some of the country’s oldest vines. The state’s most prestigious wines hail from the Barossa Valley, McLaren Vale, and Clare Valley wine regions. The cellar door experiences offered by these wineries are some of the best in the nation, and a great way to explore South Australia’s culinary culture. The Central Market is another place to taste the diverse food and wine offerings of the state. The sprawling marketplace is home to more than 80 stalls and is considered one of the most multicultural markets in the world. The market is also a popular stop for tourists to stock up on wines and other local products before heading back to their hotel or home.
2. d’Arenberg Winery’s The Cube
Located in the McLaren Vale region, d’Arenberg Winery is the home of one of Australia’s most legendary winemaking dynasties. The fourth generation chief winemaker at the helm, loud-shirted Chester Osborn, has taken the cellar door experience into the 21st century. The result is the Cube, a glass and white-clad cube that looks like it is floating amid the vineyards of McLaren Vale.
It’s a five-story multi-function centre with restaurants, tasting rooms and private dining areas. Osborn drew inspiration from the puzzle-solving nature of winemaking when he created the design for the building, and it took 14 years to bring his idea to fruition. The Cube, which reflects the vines surrounding it from its mirrored cladding, appears to be hovering over a Mourvedre vineyard on the property.
Guests enter the Cube through a piece of reverse perspective art before making their way to the tasting room at ground level. As you move up through the floors of the cube, you will hear music playing that is based on the weather readings in the vineyards of the McLaren Vale. This is a nod to the fact that grapes are also susceptible to climatic conditions and can change in flavour based on the weather.
Once you reach the tasting room you can choose between two degustation menus that are matched with wines from d’Arenberg’s impressive list. The winery produces 72 different wines and the tasting room is an opportunity to experience all of them in the one place.
The space is light, bright and airy with a sense of fun and whimsy that carries through to the food. The dishes are a mix of modern Australian cuisine with some local flavours. The desserts are especially impressive, with the ‘Cheesecake’ made out of lots of little things to create big flavour impact and the ‘Deconstructed Lemon Meringue’ featuring a flat hexagonal shaped 3D printed piece that is the only one of its kind in South Australia.
3. Penfolds’ Blend Your Own Wine Experience
There are certain people, places and things that are simply so far beyond their peers, they’re in a class all their own. This is certainly true for Penfolds’ illustrious Grange wine. This flagship Australian red wine has been a consistent winner at international wine competitions, garnering prestigious awards and high marks from renowned wine critics including the Wine Advocate.
But Penfolds doesn’t rest on its laurels and has vineyards throughout South Australia in the Barossa Valley, Adelaide Hills, McLaren Vale, Coonawarra and Eden Valley producing a wide range of premium wines. Their white wines have also garnered high acclaim, especially their Reserve Bin A Chardonnay.
If you’re a Penfolds fan, you’ll want to book a tasting experience at the Magill Estate Restaurant. This stunning dining venue overlooks historic Penfolds vines and the city of Adelaide. The culinary team combines highly imaginative nuevo Australian cuisine with Japanese and Brazilian influences to create a truly exceptional meal. The food is perfectly matched to a number of Penfolds’ finest wines.
Guests can opt for a more casual tasting at the cellar door or a seated master class. The latter offers an in-depth look at the history of the company and its wine philosophy. This is followed by an intimate tasting of Penfolds’ most coveted wines, including the Grange.
There’s a certain sense of satisfaction when you complete a task and it doesn’t come any greater than creating your very own wine blend. With this hands-on blending experience, you can do just that at the Penfolds Magill Estate. This winemakers’ laboratory enables you to mix your own Grenache, Shiraz and Mourvedre blend similar to their own Bin 138. The best part is you get to take your very own bottle home.
4. Adelaide Central Market
The Adelaide Central Market has come a long way since its inception in 1869, and now stands as one of Australia’s largest undercover fresh food markets. It’s home to a variety of traders, all stocked with everything from fresh fruit and vegetables, meat and poultry, seafood and seasonal cheeses to delicious bakery and smallgoods, not to mention some of Adelaide’s most popular cafes and eateries.
Stroll around the market in small groups, tasting a selection of foods from a variety of South Australian artisan food producers. Meet and chat with the stallholders, some of whom have traded at the Market for generations. The 90-minute tour, which was awarded Silver 2018 Excellence in Food Tourism, is designed to give visitors a taste of the Market’s history and culture as well as an opportunity to do some shopping with the help of a local guide.
In addition to the many stalls that are full of culinary delights, you can also grab a coffee at some of the Market’s best cafés and cafeterias. For example, Si Sea serves up traditional Portuguese/Spanish style fare while Lucia’s Pizza & Spaghetti Bar is a city institution that has been serving up its retro-style pizzas since 1957. There’s even the chance to recreate your Italian holiday mood board with a plate of cured meat and antipasto from the family owned Con’s Fine Foods stall.
With so much on offer at Adelaide Central Market, it’s no wonder it’s a favourite among locals and tourists alike. Check out the stalls for yourself, and be sure to visit some of the more popular ones like Something Wild for exotic Australian produce or the Kangaroo Island Stall that boasts wine from this beautiful island.
5. McLaren Vale’s d’Arenberg Cube
The d’Arenberg Cube is a mind-blowing wine experience that challenges convention. Designed to entice and excite the senses, it is home to a wine sensory room, a virtual fermenter, and 360-degree video room, among other things. It also offers a range of other dining experiences, including the d’Arenberg Veranda Restaurant and Polly’s Wine Lounge.
The winery’s owner, loud-shirted fourth-generation winemaker Chester Osborn, is a bit of a character, and his mind-bending cube certainly shows that. The Cube is a five-story take on a Rubik’s Cube that sits among the vineyards and seems to hover above a mourvedre vineyard – an illusion created by its glass and white cladding. Its five levels are packed to the brim with weird little sensory experiences, like piped music that is set to interpret the weather, a peephole that shows a 1920s debauched dinner party, and a wine fog room.
It’s hard to imagine where Osborn came up with the idea for his cube, but it is certainly one of the most unique and interesting cellar doors in the country. It has become an emblem of the McLaren Vale region, and is a must-visit when visiting South Australia’s wine country.
The d’Arenberg Cube offers a number of dining options, but if you want to experience it at its best, book a tasting and lunch in advance. The tasting includes a guided tasting of four wines, as well as a three-course meal at the d’Arenberg Restaurant and a tour of the Cube. Guests will enjoy a variety of local produce and the wines of the region while enjoying the spectacular view from this iconic structure. The d’Arenberg Cube restaurant is open Thursday through Sunday, and bookings are essential.