A new home in the Barossa

A couple of months ago, we got the keys to our new house in Tanunda. It all happened quite quickly and two months after looking at this property (the weekend after we got back from Vietnam) we had our very own place after renting for the past 2.5 years.

Our new house
Our new house

We spent a few weeks doing a few things to freshen up a 50 year old property that had been empty for five years – new lights, new paint and ripping up the carpets and lino and polishing the beautiful floorboards. Then at the end of October,  just before our 10th wedding anniversary, we moved in.

That was six weeks ago and yesterday, I finally unpacked the last box – if you ignore a few boxes of books and the “stuff” in the carport. We are slowly finding space for everything (we’ve lost a bedroom but gained linen cupboards and a pantry, lost wall space but gained amazing windows). We’ve gained an incredible established garden that continues to throw out surprises – like the discovery of some peonies last night. We’re trying to get on top of it and plan for how it should look, but we’re taking our time as we work out what is actually out there.

The peonies I discovered in our beautiful but overgrown garden
The peonies I discovered in our beautiful but overgrown garden

We had three plumbing disasters in two weeks – the final one being a leaking pipe that will eventually see the whole bathroom replaced. And a couple of weeks ago, our beautiful cat died suddenly which has made the house a little emptier than it was before.

And while we still don’t have pictures on the walls, and there is still another wardrobe to paint so we can hang all our clothes up, and there are curtains to be hung and weeds to be pulled, the most important this is it feels like home.

Put the tree up before all the boxes were unpacked
Put the tree up before all the boxes were unpacked

I wrote the words below the night before we got the keys back in September (almost a whole school term ago):

As I went to bed last night, I thought about the last 2 months, and the long process from looking at this house “just to see what’s out there”, to buying a house that will be the closest to a forever home since I moved out of Mum and Dad’s (the house I’d been brought home to as a baby).

Since then, houses had been transient – even though I settled in and made them home, I always knew they had a limited lifespan. Host families in Denmark, a share house in Sydney, a dorm in Slovakia, the Palace in Canberra, my apartment in Beijing. Even coming back to Canberra, I rented, not willing to commit to buying a place of my own, although it would turn out that Simon moved in within the year. After we got married, we bought our own place but even then we knew a 3 bedroom town house was not forever. But it was  the home we brought both boys home to, and the home we left for Hanoi, so selling it last year, even after 5 years away was strange.

Our first Hanoi home had seemed great on paper – 4 levels, multiple bathrooms and bedrooms – but the reality was the neighbourhood was isolated and there was no living space. Our next home in Hanoi was special – it was where our babies grew up, parties happened (often impromptu) and decisions were made about the next stage of our life.

Arriving here in the Barossa, we just wanted to unpack our stuff, and as we arrived on the Tuesday afternoon, I basically took the attitude that as long as this place was livable, we’d sign a lease. We saw it the next day, said yes on the spot and signed a lease on the Thursday night.  It was only lying in an uncomfortable motel bed that night that I realised I’d not only be without a housekeeper, but also a dishwasher.

But apart from this, the house was just what we needed. It was on one level, had a backyard and there was sky. We were living walking distance from vineyards, I had a great running tracks, and lovely neighbours and school was 5 mins away.While it was perfect for our introduction into the Barossa, today we get the keys to a place we can call our own. More importantly, for the first time in my adult life, I’m getting ready to unpack and throw away the packing boxes and say, this is it. This is home.

Reading this again two months later, makes me quite emotional because as someone who has spent most of the last 24 years travelling (or at least thinking about where to live next), it is a strange feeling to finally unpack and say, this is home.

But, as strange as that feeling is, it is both comforting and exciting and I can’t wait to see what unfolds in the coming years here.

Roses in our backyard
Roses in our backyard

 

 

 

I’m back…where to start?

I cannot believe I haven’t written since last year. That said, I’m not sure where the first two-thirds of this year disappeared. Writing a blog post about all that has happened might seem like a whole lot of excuses – so instead, here’s a month by month snapshot and some photos with the promise of more to come.

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Stunning beach at Port Hughes – a couple of amazing days at a cabin in the caravan park

January – a great Christmas in Sydney, sold our house in Canberra and came back ready to start the year. A few days in Port Hughes making the most of a great summer. Decided I really needed to get a job so started looking around for cellar door roles. Got the boys ready for school. Simon finally decided to see why his arm was bugging him so much – and bought a ute. Finally we had 2 cars.

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First Day of school – Year 2 and Reception (Kindergarten)

February – 1st of the month saw our youngest join his brother at school and I got a job. Simple. Met for a coffee, chatted, walked to the office – organsied handover. I like to decsribe my job with Schwarz Wines as anything but making the wine – which isn’t entirely true but it’s an awesome mix of office administration, finance, marketing and recently, even some selling. We got back into the groove of working and school and I got ready to run my first training session on free trade agreements as part of a China Ready program run by the local regional development association. Great presentation – not such a great day. Turns out the pain in Simon’s arm was a tumour.

March – day 1 of the month was Simon’s biopsy and 11 days later his amazing surgeon confirmed the worst. A 9.5cm tumour (chondrasacoma) in the cartlidge in his upper arm bone.. The treatment – removing about 20cm of bone and replacing with titanium and so another 11 days later, Simon was under the knife. Amazing doctors and nurses at Flinders made us very glad of our choice to move to South Australia – and thankful my Mum could come down and help. After a week in hospital, brough Simon, his bionic arm and his sling home to start rehab. Fortunately with this kind of tumour, treatment was limited to cutting it out – and as he went into surgery, we learned it hadn’t spread.

April – no idea what we did. Simon went back to work pretty quickly. His employers and colleagues at Artisans of Barossa were amazing. The boys took it in their stride. Friends were amazing. Teachers and after school carers a huge help. I started Crossfit because I needed some exercise after Easter! The Dawn Service in Tanunda was lovely and I realised it was the first time I’d attended a local service. We had a wonderful visit from old Beijing/Canberra friends and again got to play tourist in our own town. Lots of great wine was drunk. Simon’s first follow-up appointment showed all was looking well and the surgery had removed all the cancer. Went on my first decent bushwalk in the Barossa – so beautiful.

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First proper Barossa bushwalk – 10km from Little Kaiser Stuhl to Bethany

May – continuined the juggle of work, my business, trying to stay fit, kids sport etc etc. Went to Sydney for my sister’s 40th – great to spend time in their newly renovated house and catch up with some many friends. On a whim, booked the trip to Vietnam we’d thought about earlier in the year.  More walking and the rain began….

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Rainy morning in the vineyards

June – June was just June. Winter so cold and so wet. The countdown to Vietnam was on. More fantastic walks, work, work and family stuff.

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Hanoi really turned on the weather

July – The countdown to Vietnam continued and Mum came to look after the boys for the first week of the school holidays. It was freezing. I got hailed on going to the toilet at work one day and Mum pointed out it was colder than Lithgow or Canberra. We got our work done and finally we left for Vietnam. 10 amazing days. We landed in Hanoi exactly 2 years and 1 month after leaving – but I’ll save that for another post. We came back and it was still cold, wet and there was work to do. But then a friend pointed out a house that was on the market.

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Beautiful weather for our escape to Hoi An too

August – The first week was jam packed. Did our tax (yahoo money back), saw the mortgage broker and I went to Sydney to sell wine. Was glad I’d listended to Simon over the years. Sucked at getting public transport (even with apps on my phone I missed trains) but discovered Uber. Caught up with friends as well as my family. Came home and got serious about buying the house (more on that to come). Simon’s recovery continues and he’ll hopefully be behind the wheel again soon. I’m getting clearer about the work I want to do with my consulting business and got to work with my execllent B2B colleagues on a fantastic conference (more on that soon too).

September – its trying to warm up but it’s still wet. The canola and blossoms are beautiful. I’m working on a great project that will helpo business to understand how to create better value for consumers. Settlement it later in the month. Right now its all about booking tradespeople, deciding on colours and choosing lights.

It’s definitely been busy, and had it’s ups and downs. I’ve wanted to write but couldn’t work out when or where to start. But while we were in Vietnam, I suddenly had this huge urge to write about our posting experience and the experience of my three trips to Vietnam – first as a single girl in my 20s (during my posting in China – so lots of comparisons), then our posting which started with a 3 month old and a two year old and me going back to work, and then going back.

So, it’s time to start writing blog posts again, and while there might not be a theme (and expect lots on rennovations, gardens and decorating), I’ll try and make it fun – and include lots of photos.

Happy Indpendent’s Day

BizHub Facebook

So today is apparently Independent’s Day. A day to celebrate the work done by people like me, working alone in their spare rooms, at the kitchen table and at cafes around the world.

Perhaps simply because I’ve started a business, it seems like there are so many more people doing the same. And while some are boot strapping start-ups with a goal of becoming the next big thing, there are many like myself who have chosen the path of working alone to escape from a full-time job.

I have definitely gone from one extreme – a large Commonwealth government department to working alone. Of course, this was never my plan, but as I have written in other posts, as I explored my options after 15 years as a diplomat and trade policy specialist, I realised that I could make a contribution in the Barossa, and in South Australia more broadly by sharing this experience with small business looking to take advantage of the many opportunities coming from the FTAs Australia has recently signed with Japan, Korea, China and the 12 countries of the Trans-Pacific Partnership.

Working alone is challenging. There are days where the juggle seems too much and where you second guess whether you are doing the right thing. These days there are so many e-courses, apps, podcasts and webinars available to help run your business, but every so often you need to step back and just DO THE WORK.

One of my biggest challenges is finding the people I can best assist. While many small businesses know they need an accountant or lawyer, bringing someone in to help identify trade opportunities might not be something they have considered. Which is why, I am doing lots of networking, a course on social media to try and work out how best to reach my ideal customer and trying to write more.

We are also very fortunate in the Barossa to have a very active Regional Development Australia organisation who have established the B2B (business-to-business) network of service providers. I was able to access – for free – 2.5 hour sessions with accountants, marketing specialists, social media experts, business coaches and others as I launched Angela Pickett Consulting. And now, i’m very excited to be one of those providers, giving local business a chance to sit down and discuss their trade and export goals and opportunities.

The B2B group also run some great networking breakfasts, and I also leave these feeling really inspired by the business people in the room. The small business community seems to be growing and there is so much knowledge to be shared, which is why I am so excited about our application in the Your Say program to share in a $50 000 grant to get a co-working space and business hub off the ground. This will be a great opportunity for small business owners to network and collaborate and more importantly assist and mentor new small business owners or those considering starting their own business.

I’d really encourage you to head here and vote.

Rolling with tradition

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The Tanunda Kegel Barn – the oldest wooden kegel barn in the Southern Hemisphere

It’s almost 8pm on Day 3 of my 24 days until Christmas writing challenge and this is the first chance I have had to sit down and write today.

For the first time in ages last night, I was back at the Tanunda Kegel Club for the Ladies night. Kegel is a little like ten-pin bowling but using 9 pins and a very long narrow alley. It’s a game that was brought out by some of the original German settlers and the Tanunda Kegel Club is the only wooden kegel barn in the South Hemisphere. (You can watch a video about it here). The original barn was started in 1858 and some of the pins and balls are the original wooden balls. Many school groups visit, especially German schools from around Australia and overseas visitors, like the Barossa China Wine School group are treated to a night in the Kegel Barn as a unique Barossa tradition.

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Women weren’t allowed to play until the 70s but now a group of us “roll” on Wednesday night with a mixed group playing on Fridays. It’s a chance for a laugh and a catch-up, usually accompanied by wine and some food. Last night we ate Chinese dumplings – true multicultural Australia.

The scoring system is fairly complex and each player rolls 3 times per turn, one of which has to be an old wooden ball (the others are regular bowling balls). There are loads of different techniques and styles but the old wooden track certainly makes for some challenging bowling. It definitely changes after periods of wet weather too!

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Unlike the modern Kegel clubs in Germany, a pinsetter is still required to re-set the pins after each roll and send the balls back down.

As you can see from my scores, I am definitely still a beginner but I love being a part of something that has been going in Tanunda for over 150 years (and it gets written up in the local paper). It’s also funny that the Barossa Living magazine we picked up in Sydney soon after arriving back in Australia that inspired our move to the Barossa also featured the ladies kegel players on the cover. Certainly can’t say I expected to join them but definitely glad I have!

 

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First match report in the local paper – a “pudel” is a gutter ball

 

Writing away my writer’s block

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Summer Days in the Barossa – green hills replaced by green vines

I’m suffering a bad case of blogger’s block. I’m in a rut. I can’t even think about what to write about, let alone what to actually write.

I’m not even sure what I want this blog to be about – or who I want to read it. I know I should do one of those “ideal reader” exercises but that would be just another excuse not to write.

I need to write. When I don’t write, my brain gets clogged up with lots of random crap and I feel myself getting frustrated and annoyed. It’s also annoying because I started this blog when I started my career change because after years of being restricted about what I could write about due to my job. Suddenly I was free to write about whatever I wanted to write about. The irony – now that I can finally write about anything, I can’t think of anything to write.

I need to write because while suffering writer’s block with this blog isn’t really a big deal, I should be writing for my business blog and for a women’s networking organisation I’m a part of. At least for those blogs, I have a target audience and some guidelines on topics.

 

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Loving the colours of late Spring and Summer

So, what am I doing while I’m not writing. Well, I have developed an unhealthy addiction to Nashville (damn you Netflix for allowing me to continue straight to Season 2 – and hurry up and get the next two)! I guess my Dad did play a lot of country music in my childhood….

I’m stuck on level 120 of the Inside Out Thought Bubbles game. I originally downloaded this for the boys because we loved the movie so much and now we’re all playing it. Evening conversations go – “so how was your day, what level are you on?” For the first time ever, I’ve consulted the internet for tips – but as the levels get harder, I am getting bored so hopefully I’ll get over it soon.

I’m getting excited and stressed about heading off to Canberra, Wollongong and Sydney in just under 2 weeks. Excited because I can’t wait to see family and friends but a little stressed about what needs to be done before then – teacher gifts, early birthday party for our Christmas Day baby, catch-ups with friends, a house inspection, and lots of cooking. And I’m not even worrying about shopping until we get over there.

 

On that note, where did the year go? I think part of my anxiety about what needs to be done in the next few weeks is the realisation that the year is almost over and that my business is likely to hit a quiet period, just as I’m starting to build up contacts and networks. On the upside, this is good motivation to put some things in place over the next few weeks so I can enjoy a few weeks off.

 

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I took this photo on Tuesday – while this area escaped the fires, seeing how dry it is, it’s no surprise how quickly they spread

Finally, I think the fires close to us last Wednesday have probably unsettled me and many around me. While I monitored the fire throughout the day, I really didn’t expect it would get so close and that I’d be hearing a catastrophic fire warning for our town as I picked the boys up. While we were lucky that we didn’t have to evacuate, we did start getting things together and came to the scary realisation that we were ill-prepared – no battery powered radio, one torch and not enough hoses. I was blown away by how calm the boys were and how much they knew about fires from school and from visits from the local country and metropolitan fire services.

 

As a 20 year old, I had bags packed of letters and keepsakes. On Wednesday, looking round the house at all our beautiful things collected over the years, I felt like everything was irreplaceable but that didn’t mean we could take it all. At the end of the day, the pictures, rugs, ornaments and photos are just things. Packing this time it was about some changes of clothes, the boys’ special toys, negatives, the hard drive and some jewelry. As long as we were together and safe, that was all that mattered.

 

Knowing we have friends who are volunteer fire fighters and who were evacuated has made this disaster all the more real. The outpouring of community assistance has been amazing and in many cases, relief centres are already overwhelmed with donations. I was glad to have a friend who works in one of the affected areas and I could at least send a few bags of groceries up with her on Friday. It doesn’t feel like much but hopefully communities will continue to help out when they can – and for the long road ahead as people rebuild.

 

I had not plan when I started tapping on the keyboard today. I just wanted to write something because once you start writing, it gets easier.

 

So, for the next 24 days, as the boys open their advent calendars counting down to Christmas, I’m going to write. One blog every day for the next 24 days. I’m not promising it will be exciting, or insightful or even funny, but bear with me – who knows what might come out.

And if you like what you’re reading, please leave a comment and share with your friends.

 

 

My Barossa – Part 2 – all about the food (and coffee)

It’s a couple of weeks since part one of my newcomer’s guide to the Barossa (me being the newcomer). Work, school holidays and the realisation I’d deleted part two has delayed this post. But school is back and thanks to the computer back-up, I have been able to resurrect the post and share some of my other favourite things to do.

One upside is that I have been able to sample a few more places, so I have a few more tips to add.

Fresh Produce and Food

Our first visit to the Farmer's Market was as good as we expected, and has been a weekly trip since
Our first visit to the Farmer’s Market was as good as we expected, and has been a weekly trip since

It’s probably no surprise that the wine culture and German heritage in the Barossa means that food is an important part of the Barossa lifestyle. If you visit on a Saturday morning, be sure to head to the Barossa Valley Fanmer’s Market to pick up great produce, coffee, treats and even breakfast. I also love that our local supermarket support so many local producers by stocking their products, which means that even if you can’t get to the Farmer’s Market, you can still try products like Jersey Fresh milk, Barossa Roasters coffee, Careme Pastry, Steiny’s mettwurst, Wiech’s noodles, Barossa Valley Ice Cream, and many more. I love the fact our local supermarkets get behind local products and make sure they are available if you can’t make it to the Famer’s Market.

Chicken and Leek Pie made by me with Careme Pastry
Chicken and Leek Pie made by me with Careme Pastry

In an era where many cities have lost their butchers, we’re lucky to have butcher’s in most towns in the Barossa including Thornby’s in Tanunda, Schultz in Angaston (home to the famous Schultz bacon) and Linke’s in Nuriootpa.

Right next to Thornby’s in Tanunda, is the Apex bakery which has been baking bread since 1924.

Maggie Beer’s Farmshop is definitely worth a visit – you can enjoy a light lunch overlooking the dam, an ice cream or stock up on amazing condiments, jams, sauces and other cooking items. I am slightly obsessed by the Salted Brandy Caramel and Dark Chocolate Vincotto. Great spot for kids with nature walks, birds (including a couple of beautiful peacocks), turtles, ducks and sheep.

We watched for ages as this peacock (name King Fu peacock by the kids) put on a show for us at Maggie Beer's Farm Shop
We watched for ages as this peacock (name King Fu peacock by the kids) put on a show for us at Maggie Beer’s Farm Shop

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Coffee

The options for coffee are expanding weekly it seems and it is hard to believe that a decade ago there was hardly a coffee shop in town. Being in Tanunda, I tend to get my daily fix at Keils, Nosh or the recently opened Mac Shac (which all serve a good range of sandwiches and meals). I have yet to try out the new Beans and Cream which is using my favourite Barossa Coffee Roasters– as does Harvest Kitchen and the kiosk at Seppeltsfield. Another popular newcomer on the Main Street of Tanunda is Darling’s Food with Passion cafe right next to Ironstone Cottage (which along with Elemental, Seasons and Alabaster are some of my favourite places to shop, especially for gifts).

Soul With Zest and Casa Carboni make great coffee in Angaston, I’ve heard good things about Barista Sista Beanery in Nuriootpa. Bar41 in Wiliamstown makes a great coffee as does That Little Café in Stockwell, which is open Thursday-Saturday with an ever changing menu

Dining out

Once you have enjoyed all the wineries and cooked up a storm with local produce, there are also some great restaurants to try. Here’s the list I share

  • Fino at Seppeltsfield – award winning and just as good as the original Fino in Willunga (McLaren Vale) and set in the recently renovated Seppeltsfield building

    A selection of the dishes from Fino at Seppeltsfield, May 2015
    A selection of the dishes from Fino at Seppeltsfield, May 2015
  • Appellation at the Louise – amazing food and also does a “locals night” (although you don’t have to be local) on a Tuesday night) which is a 3 course menu $59 – bookings essential. We went for our anniversary last year and it was great not having to order and just enjoying the dishes the chef had designed to showcase great local, seasonal produce
    Entree at Appellation
    Entree at Appellation

    View over the Stonewell Vineyard from Appellation
    View over the Stonewell Vineyard from Appellation
  • Ferment Asia in Tanunda is rated really highly with Chef and Owner Tuoi Do preparing Vietnamese style dishes using local South Australian produce. It also has a great wine list and has been recently extended
  • Harvest Kitchen at Artisans of Barossa – run by Tracey Collins and Pete Little, I have eaten here several times since they opened in February and can’t say a bad word – except for the fact I am slightly addicted to the salted caramel popcorn sundae! I also recently tried the Feed Me Like a Barossan lunch, which for $49 provides a fantastic selection of all the small plates, mains and desserts on offer. If you have the time, settle in and enjoy. Open 7 days for lunch, they are also open on a Friday night for dinner – but make sure you book.

    The Salted Caramel Popcorn sundae at Harvest Kitchen is amazing
    The Salted Caramel Popcorn sundae at Harvest Kitchen is amazing
  • Casa Carboni – coffee is fantastic and Fiona and Matteo offer great meals and cooking classes. On Friday evenings they offer wines by the glass with a menu of seasonal, local small plates.
  • Greenock Creek Tavern – great old pub with beautiful courtyards and grassed areas. We were spoilt with a huge sample platter of homemade icecreams from the chef the day we went. The lemon meringue pie ice cream had actual pieces of pie in it and was delicious.
  • Hentley Farm – this is definitely something to put on your Barossa bucket list! We were very lucky to be taken there by friends recently and enjoyed the Discovery menu with paired wines. The service was impeccable and the food was amazing – incredible flavours and very innovative without being over the top. It’s decsrived as “about” 7 courses and while there were 7 mains, there were also 5 small “snacks” to start, a dessert and 3 different petit fours. Save your pocket money and book in advance!

    A selection of the dishes we enjoyed recently at Hentley Farm
    A selection of the dishes we enjoyed recently at Hentley Farm
  • First Drop/Home of the Brave – great tapas, daily specials and a funky setting. Service is fun and the wine is pretty good too.
  • Barossa Valley Brewing – apart from local brewed beer and a beer garden perfect for the summer months, there is a great menu

1918 Bistro and Grill and Vintners Bar and Grill (which recently won the SA Best regional and Contemporary Restaurant) are two restaurants on my must visit list which are popular with locals and visitors alike.

There are also pubs in most of the towns serving up good local pub food.

For families (especially with younger kids), the options for dinner are more limited, but given the number of new restaurants that have opened since we arrived, I don’t think it will be long before there are more options. I often suggest to friends travelling with kids that they make the most of lunches out, and then stock up at the market, butchers and supermarket (and cellar doors) for dinner – and of course, get a babysitter and book one fancy child-free dinner out.

One gap that I hope is filled in coming years is a really good, upscale Chinese restaurant that showcases Australian produce and most importantly wine from the Barossa with dishes cooked from a variety of Chinese regional cuisines. I think this would be a valuable addition from both a tourism and wine point of view.

And it could hardly be a post about Barossa food without mentioning all the brilliant home made and home grown produce. We have be spoiled by friend’s bringing us cherries, lemons, eggs, almonds, apricots, preserves and chutneys. I’m also learning that the country roads are filled with wild fruits and nuts, and I’m looking forward to my first foraging trip. I’m also going to give jam making another go, although I think the winners from this year’s Tanunda Show are safe for a little while yet!

Tanunda Show Produce Display, March 2015
Tanunda Show Produce Display, March 2015

Transport

There are loads of options for tours so that you don’t need to worry about driving yourself. There is not much in the way of public transport and if you think you need a taxi, especially around school start and finish times, book in advance.

Tourism Barossa has some great resources and you should also visit the Visitors Centre in Tanunda when you arrive for more tips and local knowledge.

I’m sure there are many more places I could include, but these are just a few of the places we’ve enjoyed since we have been here or been told we should try. If there is anything I’ve missed, please let me know.

My Barossa – a few of my favourite things – wineries and other things to do

View over the Steingarten Vineyard
View over the Steingarten Vineyard

In recent months, we’ve had visitors, done a house-swap and been asked to provide suggestions for friends of friends coming to visit. So I thought I should write a blog post with the various emails I had sent. However  I have been procrastinating over this post for weeks because every time I work on it, I think, “now I should just visit a few more places” and then post.

The Freedom Vineyard at Langmeil - some of the oldest Shiraz vines in the world, 5 minutes from home
The Freedom Vineyard at Langmeil – some of the oldest Shiraz vines in the world, 5 minutes from home

The reality is, when you decide to call a place home, it can sometimes be too easy to slip into a local’s, “I’ll do that later” attitude and forget to play tourist. On the positive side, writing a list like this is a good reminder about all the places I still want to visit and to make time to do so. So Mum’s visit last week was a good excuse to tick a few more of the “must-dos” off my list which means it’s become an even longer and I’ve split it into two parts.

This is by no means a definitive list, in fact, if I ever get to a point where I say I have seen everything there is to see, and done everything there is to do, well, I should just up and find a new place to live. But I doubt that will ever happen because there are always new restaurants to try, new vintages of wine to sample, new shops and new exhibitions. Not to mention the fact that the Barossa is one of those fabulous places that thanks to the vines and fruit and almond trees (think blossoms), actually has seasons that you can see.

Wineries

Of course this is one of the main reasons people come to the Barossa and there are so many options. I have promised myself that in the coming months, I am taking myself of to do more wine tasting so I can expand my list of recommendations. I am no wine expert – so I’m not providing tasting notes – but I’ve included a link for all of them

  • Artisans of Barossa – 7 small winemakers in one of the most picturesque spots looking out over the vines towards Tanunda. Usually great art and jewelry on display, space for kids to run around or play soccer/cricket and the fabulous Harvest Kitchen (which I’ll include in next week’s post on places to eat). You might even get to enjoy a tasting with my husbandIMG_3716
  • Langmeil – great wine, fantastic history and a lovely platter (see my post on a day of wine tasting for more of the history about Langmeil)IMG_0515
  • Peter Lehmann – great tasting room, loads of beautiful space outdoors to enjoy a platter while kids run around and toys inside if the weather isn’t so great
  • Rockford – great wines being made in a winery that looks like it is a museum. Great insight into how wine is made

    Rockford Wines
    Rockford Wines
  • St Hallett – another beautiful spot to enjoy a picnic or a platter – I think they still do a fantastic duck platter
  • Whistler – a great one for families with BBQs, swings etc for kids and you can build your own platter
  • Thorn-Clarke – beautiful property out at Angaston and some great wines
  • Grant Burge – beautiful views up on a hill overlooking the Krondorf area, platters and lovely bubbles

    View from Grant Burge Wines
    View from Grant Burge Wines
  • Jacob’s Creek – a huge tasting room, excellent museum with history about the Barossa and wine making, a restaurant and beautiful outdoor areas. Also the opportunity for tours and cooking classes in the Jacob’s Estate cottages

    Jacob's Creek
    Jacob’s Creek
  • Two Hands – beautiful tasting room and a big focus on Shiraz

    A few of the wines tasted at Two Hands
    A few of the wines tasted at Two Hands
  • Seppeltsfield – a huge tasting room with circular tasting benches, the opportunity to try a fortified wine from your birth year, s and beautiful architecture (plus the fantastic Fino restaurant and the Jam Factory – where you can see artists at work)

    Courtyard at Seppeltsfield
    Courtyard at Seppeltsfield
  • Chateau Tanunda – celebrating 125 years this year, it’s certainly one of the most iconic landmarks in the Barossa Valley
  • Pindarie – won one of the top tourism awards, giant hay bales to climb (which has made it my boys’  favourite winery to visit) and a recently renovated tasting room. Great wine (especially the 2015 Riesling) and one of the most fantastic views out over the Barossa. The food is also great – we had a saltbush lamb pie and one of the best platters I’ve had in the Barossa in the time we have been here when we visited with Mum recently.
    Lunch at Pindaric
    Lunch at Pindaric

    Climbing hay bales at Pindarie
    Climbing hay bales at Pindarie
  • Home of the Brave/First Drop wines – finally visited with Mum last week. Wines we had with our incredible tapas lunch were great so must get back for a tasting soon.

    First Drop Wines/Home of the Brave
    First Drop Wines/Home of the Brave
  • Yalumba – one of the oldest family owned wineries in Australia and a beautiful property with it’s iconic clock tower.

    My boys at Yalumba during Vintage Festival
    My boys at Yalumba during Vintage Festival

Places I’m off to visit soon

  • Yelland and Papps – run by Michael and Susan Papps who are lovely people (which makes it even worse that I haven’t visited). First generation winemakers making great wine and with a tasting room that always gets rave reviews
  • Tscharkes
  • Turkey Flat – visited years ago, drive past on a weekly basis – must make time to stop!
  • Elderton
  • Taste Eden Valley – a tasting room in Angaston showcasing around 12 Eden Valley producers

This is just a tiny selection of the 170 wine companies in the Barossa. More details and a history of wine making in the Barossa, check out the Barossa.com website

Don’t forget, tasting a few wines at a few different places can add up. So unless you can spit like a professional, you’ll need a designated driver or the services of one of the local transport companies. There are lots of options from taxis, to private cars (including beautiful vintage cars), buses and even a three-wheeled motorcycle tour.

However there is much in the way of public transport and if you think you need a taxi, especially around school start and finish times, you’ll need to book in advance.

Other Things to do

Of course, it’s not all about wine tasting and there are a number of towns throughout the Barossa with great places to eat, beautiful shops, parts, galleries and other sites.

I tend to spend a lot of my time in Tanunda, Nuriootpa and Angaston but there are lots of other great towns to visit including Lyndoch (where we have spied a number of restaurants, a bakery and most importantly a park for the kids), Eden Valley, Kapunda, Springton and Williamstown (close to the Whispering Wall)

The Whispering Wall
The Whispering Wall

And while we’re on parks, favourites in our family include the Sculpture Park at the Mengler’s Hill lookout, Tanunda Oval, Angaston and the train park at Nuriootpa.

Mongrel's Hill and the Sculpture Park - great views out over Tanunda
Mongrel’s Hill and the Sculpture Park – great views out over Tanunda

There are also loads of great antique and second-hand stores full of furniture, home wares and other curios that provide a fantastic insight into the history of the Barossa.

Finally, the Barossa is a fabulous place to just walk or drive around. This place is a photographer’s dream, especially if you love landscapes dotted with old stone churches, farmhouses and the ever-changing colours of vineyards and paddocks.

IMG_4901

As I said at the outset, this is just a sample of the things we have enjoyed or have on our wish list to explore in the coming months.

Tourism Barossa has some great resources here (and you should also visit the Visitors Centre in Tanunda when you arrive for more tips and local knowledge.

If you’ve been to the Barossa (or live here), I’d love to hear your tips for wineries I might have missed.

I’ll try share and my list of favourite places for lunches, dinners, food and coffee soon, so be sure to tweet or email if there are places I should include.