An easy drive east that’s less than 30 minutes from the city of Adelaide is the beautiful wine region of Adelaide Hills. It’s located in the southern bank of the Mounty Lofty Ranges, and the ranges is home to some of the best Adelaide wineries including the regions of Adelaide Hills, Barossa Valley, and McLaren Vale.
Adelaide Hills is made up of several towns – Aldgate, Stirling, Oakbank, Birdwood, Crafers, Mount Barker and Hahndorf, with Mount Barker being the largest town in the region. It’s one of the cooler wine regions in South Australia, creating an ideal growing environment for wine grapes, thus making it home to some of the best of Adelaide wineries.
A trip to Adelaide hills without wines being at the top of your to-do list is more like going to a river and expecting not to see water. With some of the best Adelaide wineries, you definitely have to sample the beautiful wines of Adelaide Hills. And in between the tasting, you have to visit Hanhdorf, a quaint town known for its German-style architecture and artisanal food.
So without further ado, here’s your guide to Adelaide Hills wineries and Hanhdorf.
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Bird In Hand
You might mistake a visit to Bird in Hand to being in Tuscany, because of its Tuscan inspired architecture. The Bird in Hand winery is gorgeous, with beautiful outlook over its vineyard, and of course you can’t forget its delectable wines. It’s one of the newer wineries in the region, initially a dairy farm, it converted into a winery in 1997. In fact, the Bird in Hand winery was once upon a site of a gold mine in the 1800’s.
Here, you can do some wine sampling either in the cellar or outdoors – our pick is outdoors! Wine tasting costs $15 per person for a tasting of normal range wines, and $25 for tasting the wines that fall under the premium category. The tasting does come with fresh farm bread and olives to pair.
Whilst they didn’t start with sparkling, the Bird in Hand sparkling pinot noir is the most popular in the portfolio and is made with all pinot grapes. Their sauvignon blanc is bursting with tropical flavours including passion fruit, kiwi and lime, which makes it the perfect tipple on a warm summer day. Or you could treat yourself to one of my favorite picks, the pinot rosé which is perfectly paired with seafood, Asian and spicy foods.
Nepenthe is one of the first established Adelaide Hills wineries dating back to 1994 when the Tweddell family purchased the land and planted 24 hectares of vines. In 1996, Nepenthe received approval to become a commercial winery in the region, being the second in Adelaide Hills, after Petaluma.
Nepenthe has a beautiful scenery and world-class wines, which is free to taste at the cellar door. Their portfolio of wines included a variety of grapes including Pinot Noir, Chardonnay, and Sauvignon Blanc which have been proven varieties of the Adelaide Hills region. In addition to a great range of wines, the Nepenthe winery is a lovely place to spend the afternoon enjoying the nature of the Adelaide Hills.
Shaw + Smith
This is one is a personal favorite of mine – Shaw + Smith make a mean wine that just keeps getting better. It is the second most highly rated Adelaide Hills winery, with numerous awards in the bag including 6 golds for their Chardonnay. A total of 55 hectares across two vineyards in Balhannah and Lenswood make up Shaw and Smith. Because Adelaide Hills is positioned slightly higher in the region, it gets colder and wetter weather making it ideal for Sauvignon Blanc, Chardonnay, Pinot Noir, and Shiraz varieties.
It was first established back in 1989 by two cousins – Michael Hill Smith MW and Martin Shaw – which gave this winery its name Shaw + Smith. By 1999, Shaw + Smith purchased their winery in Balhannah, which is where they also built their tasting room. Today all their grapes continue to be hand-picked, and all production from fermentation to bottling happen on-site at Balhannah.
Shaw + Smith have also always payed close attention to sustainability ensuring environmentally sensitive practices, which has resulted in organic practices being used to produce their wine.
The most popular is their Sauvignon Blanc, however I beg to differ. My pick from Shaw and Smith is their M3 Chardonnay which is aged for 9-month in oak, giving this Chardonnay an elegant flavour. And my absolute favourite is their Shiraz. The Shiraz is a medium bodied and well-balanced shiraz with flavors of juicy berries that comes from 14 month in new oak barrels.
Wine tasting here starts at $14 for wines only, and $20 when paired with cheese. We went with the cheese pairing, which I have to admit paired very well with the wines. The cheese selection are all Adelaide Hills cheese including Woodside Cheese Wrights and Alexandrina Cheese.
A nice relaxing spot you can just spend some fancy hours in, Barrister Block makes for an unpretentious place to eat. One of the places in the Adelaide Hills that is surrounded by nature, a tranquil place to just ease away the rest of your day.
On a good weather day, Barrister Block is an excellent place to sit outside, enjoy the natural views over a relaxing lunch that won’t break the bank. I will admit, the wine here it not my favorite, however the pizzas are delightful and makes for a great lunch break admist all the wine tasting. We enjoyed the lamb pizza which had red onion, red capsicum, harissa mayo and coriander ($25).
Hanhdorf is a small-town part of the Adelaide Hills region, that is home to the oldest surviving German settlement in Australia. Its streets are lined with quaint buildings that have been influenced by traditional German architecture.
This charming town is home to artisanal shops, art galleries and studios, including an ultra delicious fudge shop! The fudge served here is unlike any other, and there’s over 40 flavours to choose from! The fudge can last several months at room temperature, making it an excellent gift to bring home to family and friends (or to keep all to yourself of course).
There’s also plenty of wonderful souvenirs to take home from Hanhdorf including homemade soaps and candles, and also special German inspired goodies. You’ll also find one of Adelaide’s oldest candy shops, Hanhdorf Sweets, where you’ll find some old school Australian favorites, plus a few newbies.
A break at one of Hanhdorf’s German bakeries is also a must – our pick is Otto’s Bakery, which is located at the end of the main street of Hanhdorf. You should also keep an eye out for some of the other fantastic gourmet products from Adelaide Hill such as Red Cacao chocolate, cheese from Udder Delights, Woodside Cheese Wrights, and Alexandrina Cheese.
And if you’ve had enough of wine tasting, there’s plenty of beer AND gin to sample, all made in this quaint town – Ambleside Distillers, Gulf Brewery, and Prancing Pony Brewery – microbreweries and distillery that calls Hanhdorf home.
You can also go fruit picking at the Beerenberg Farm – their strawberries are usually in season from November to April. Or simply pick up one of their famous classic jams, my fav is definitely their apricot and amaretto jam.