Epicurean Way: Is this the best food and wine trail in the world?

Is this the best food and wine trail in the WORLD? Treat your tastebuds to a culinary adventure by savouring the wonders of South Australia in 2020…

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  • The Epicurean Way, an easy-to-follow driving route will take you from the vineyard capital of Adelaide to four of the country’s most famous wine regions
  •  Calling in at farms and microbreweries, chocolate factories and gourmet eateries, it’s a travel story you’ll savour forever 

South Australia makes out-of-this-world wine. In fact, you’ve probably spotted its most famous vineyards on the vintages you drink at home.

McLaren Vale, the Barossa, the Clare Valley and Adelaide Hills are four of the foremost wine regions in Australia, a country not exactly short of great places to grow grapes.

But what’s even better is that these four wine regions are all within 90 minutes or so of Adelaide and a short hop from each other, creating an easy-to-follow route that takes you from crisp riesling to hearty shiraz and coast to hills, with dazzling scenery forming a backdrop to your whole journey.

In South Australia you’ll find fine wines, delicious food and dazzling scenery all rolled into one unforgettable trip 

We all know that where you find good wine, you can also indulge in great food, whether that is creamy local cheeses or pick-your-own strawberries, decadent chocolates or mouthwatering meats. 

Add a few craft breweries and artisan distilleries – alongside perhaps the odd bespoke sunset picnic into the mix – and you begin to understand why this famous South Australia driving route is called the Epicurean Way, a path worth travelling, and savouring, on your next holiday.

The first sip: Adelaide

Start your journey in sun-splashed Adelaide, the state’s cosmopolitan capital, wedged between the pristine coast and the vineyard dotted hills. Explore its rich culture and lush parklands, discover a vibrant arts scene – from festivals to trendy music venues and galleries – and handsome Victorian architecture.

You’ll eat well in Adelaide, with a whole host of ambitious chefs such as Jock Zonfrillo, celebrating indigenous ingredients with tasting menus at Restaurant Orana, or Adam Liston with his Japanese-inspired menu at Shobosho. 

Then there is Adelaide Central Market, the colourful food market that dates back to 1869 and where you can meet knowledgeable traders and even the producers themselves as well as enjoying fresh local produce at the many cafes and eateries. 

Adelaide is a cosmopolitan capital wedged between the pristine coast and the vineyard dotted hills

Don’t miss a visit to Penfolds Magill Estate, the iconic winery that produces one of Australia’s most expensive vintages, Penfolds Grange Bin 95. It offers wonderful tours and cellar door tastings, while its Magill Estate Restaurant is a delectable foodie experience with seasonal produce crafted into delicate dishes by Chef Scott Huggins and served up alongside beautiful vineyard views. 

It may be counted among the world’s great wine capitals, but Adelaide is also home to craft beer producers Big Shed Brewing Concern and Pirate Life Brewing, where you can book a tour and enjoy a tasting.

Where to stay: Treat yourself to Art Deco delight Mayfair Hotel, a sleek modern hotel that has transformed a heritage building and become one of the top places to stay in the city. Think great location, plush furnishings and friendly service.  

A foodie delight: McLaren Vale

It takes just 40 minutes to drive from Adelaide to McLaren Vale, set between the Mount Lofty Ranges and the Fleurieu coast and is famed for its rich shiraz grapes as well as premium grenache and cabernet. Follow the five-mile Shiraz Trail on foot or by bike and stop off at famous Hardys Tintara, which dates its first vintage back to 1857, and Wirra Wirra, founded by cricketer Robert Strangways Wigley back in 1894.

Make sure you call in at Willunga Farmers Market, selling everything from local cheese and honey to chocolate and organic fruit and vegetables (on Saturdays throughout the year). Then visit Lloyd Brothers estate to try rich olive oil. Between the two, you have all the ingredients for a picnic. As you drive, keep an eye out for d’Arenberg winery with its distinctive Rubik’s Cube-style building, home to an inventive restaurant offering wonderful, experimental tasting menus that you can enjoy surrounded by modern art. 

The coastline here is spectacular too, with sweeping sandy beaches, soaring sand dunes and rolling hills dipping right down to greet the sea. You’ll enjoy great surfing, fishing and even scuba diving as well as being able to head out whale watching from July to October to spot humpbacks and southern right whales if you go further south near Victor Harbor. 

Where to stay: Fancy your own vineyard hideaway? The guesthouses at The Vineyard Retreat are beautifully appointed and offer sweeping views of the South Australian countryside, with the odd kangaroo hopping by in the mornings. 

The d’Arenberg winery is home to an inventive restaurant offering wonderful, experimental tasting menus that you can enjoy surrounded by modern art 

On the city’s doorstep: Adelaide Hills

An hour’s drive north from the Fleurieu brings you to the Adelaide Hills, home to vineyards and venison farms, delectable cheeses from Woodside Cheese Wrights and neighbouring Melba’s Chocolate and Confectionary Factory.

The town of Hahndorf is Australia’s oldest German settlement and a charming old-world enclave that feels like stepping back in time. If you have a sweet tooth, head to Hahndorf Hill Winery, which combines two local products in one tasting, pairing delicious chocolates with its boutique wines, while Applewood Distillery produces small batch, hand-crafted gins. Buzz Honey is another family business in the area, as is Harris Smokehouse, now in its fourth generation and welcoming visitors to discover how it smokes seafood from salmon to mackerel and yellowtail kingfish. 

Bird in Hand is one of the most vibrant vineyards in the area – and relishes its reputation as a stylistic trendsetter. This rolling, family-owned winery knows how to raise a glass of its own produce and celebrate life, hosting several art, fashion and music events on its ground over the year. Check out The Gallery area during your visit, where you pair fine wines with fabulous food grown locally and cooked into a masterpiece on-site – with a sprinkling of additions from their own kitchen garden.   

Bird in Hand is one of the most vibrant vineyards in the area – and relishes its reputation as a stylistic trendsetter

Where to stay: Adelaide Hills is full of character and that’s reflected in its amazing selection of designer boutique hotels and rustic farm stays. Make sure you book a few nights at Mount Lofty House, an amazingly romantic, Gatsby-esque hotel with panoramic views over the gasp-worthy Piccadilly Valley.  

Shiraz country: Barossa 

Less than an hour away from the Hills, the Barossa is one of the world’s most famous winegrowing regions, a relatively small area packed with more than 150 wineries, a mouth-watering array of dining experiences.

You’ll find the big names here, Wolf Blass and Jacob’s Creek (at the latter, make sure you sign up for the food and wine masterclass), while Seppeltsfield winery gives you the chance to try a fortified wine from your birth year and Elderton Wines pairs its vintages with rich local cheeses.

Take an early morning hot air balloon ride over the vineyards, try the exquisite restaurant at the upscale St Hugo winery and don’t miss the Butcher, Baker, Winemaker Trail – you will be armed with a bike, a map and a picnic hamper so you can peddle between the likes of Apex Bakery, the Barossa Valley Cheese Company, Schultz Butchers and a whole variety of vineyards to build your own picnic.

One must-visit winery is Yalumba, which dates back to 1849. The first vines were planted under moonlight – and it’s lost none of the original magic. Set among impeccable grounds, the main clocktower building is the ideal place to while away the afternoon in The Wine Shop, where you can unlock the secrets of this centuries-old institution while drinking and dining under the tutelage of a Yalumba ambassador. 

Where to stay: Celebrity cook Maggie Beer (and Great Australian Bake-Off host) is a bit of a star in these parts. Stay at her beautifully restored farmhouse set in an orchard and you can pop to her famous shop nearby to buy the finest local ingredients and cook up a feast in the amazing kitchen. 

Head out on a charming bike ride through the sun-soaked Clare Valley, where you can cycle along the renowned Riesling Trail  

Rieslings to be cheerful: Clare Valley

A short half-hour drive from Barossa’s big-name vineyards and you’re in the Clare Valley, where you’ll find boutique, family-run wineries as well as the rich red cliffs of Red Banks Conservation Park, where you can spot everything from wombats and kangaroos to dazzling birdlife and reptiles.

This wine region is set right on the edge of the Outback and is famed for its Riesling wines, although shiraz has been doing particularly well here in recent years.

One of the best ways to explore is to hike or rent a bike and follow the 22-mile Riesling Trail along an old railway line, sampling different vintages at cellar doors – try Annie’s Lane and charming Shut the Gate.

Sevenhill Cellars was a Jesuit settlement set up in 1851 and the first winery in the region and today is the only remaining Jesuit winery in Australia. Here you can enjoy a guided tour, tastings or simply pick up some local cheeses and estate wine for a picnic in the grounds.

If you’re looking for a little break from so much wine, don’t miss the ales, stouts and IPAs at Clare Valley Brewing Co or the ciders available at The Burra Scrumpy Cumpany.

Then from Clare Valley, you’ll be back in Adelaide in less than two hours, ready to try the eateries you missed the first time around, the wine bars and distilleries, microbreweries and markets. The perfect full stop to an epicurean adventure. 

Where to stay: If you fancy waking up and simply strolling to the wineries of the Riesling Trail, consider the delightful cottages at A Break in the Vines at St Helens. They offer the quintessential rural escape, set in lush gardens and with gazebo barbecue areas too.

* Parts of Australia have been seriously impacted by bush fires and our thoughts are with all those affected. The winery areas surrounding Adelaide are largely unaffected and open for business – the locals are waiting to welcome you. 

To make a donation to the bush fire appeal please visit our South Australia page here.

Wine and design: Choose your favourite curated wine label and be in with a chance to win a VIP trip… 

You could be in with the chance of winning a spectacular VIP trip 

To celebrate the wine-making mecca of South Australia, MailOnline teamed up with the region’s Tourism Commission to select three leading artists to each collaborate with a famous winery – Bird in Hand, Yalumba and d’Arenberg – and design a showstopping limited edition label for one of their trademark bottles. 

Vote for your favourite design and you’ll be in with a chance to win an exclusive trip to South Australia -courtesy of Emirates and DialAFlight.

We will be giving the winner the following prize:

– Return flights from UK to Adelaide with award-winning Emirates

– 2 nights 4 star accommodation in Adelaide on a B&B basis

– Car hire for five days

– 2 nights 4 star accommodation in the Barossa on a B&B basis

– Yalumba Unlocked Tour in the Barossa

– 1 night 4 star accommodation in the Adelaide Hills on a B&B basis

– Lunch with matched wines at Bird in Hand winery in the Adelaide Hills

– 1 night 5 star accommodation in McLaren Vale on a B&B basis

– Interactive Blending Bench experience at d’Arenberg winery in McLaren Vale

– Final night back in Adelaide in 4 star accommodation on a B&B basis

Simply click here and enter your details and you could be in with a chance to visiting some of Australia’s most famous wine regions, discovering its jaw-dropping scenery and exploring the vineyard capital of Adelaide.

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