Adelaide delivers vintage holiday experience
South Australia's wine regions have plenty to offer visitors, all within easy reach.
Visting Lobethal, in the heart of South Australia’s Adelaide Hills wine region, is like taking a step back in time.
Late last year the lovely town about 50 minutes east of Adelaide was one of many communities fighting for survival in the devasting summer bushfires. Today, like the rest of Adelaide Hills, Lobethal shines brightly.
Relive the past at B&B 1965. Guests have sole occupancy of this small house, which is well-stocked with provisions.
The owners have decked it out to match the year the building was established (1965), with a kitchen, furniture, retro lamps, knick-knacks and LP records from the era.
It’s a lot of fun but it’s also very comfortable with a modern bathroom, aircon in the lounge and keyless door locks.
You can walk to cafes (Emma and Ivy is excellent), a good wine bar (Hugel, next door, open Friday to Sunday), the Lobethal Bierhaus (craft beer and food, Friday to Sunday) and a couple of pubs. And you can “carb up” at the brilliant Lobethal Bakery.
Also nearby is Fabrik, an arts and crafts exhibition centre operating in the restored former Onkaparinga Woollen Mill.
Further afield, you have the rest of the Hills at your beck and call.
If you want, 1965’s owners offer customised tours in their striking 1965 Valiant Safari, “Carol”, or you can use your own hire car.
There are many lovely villages to explore, including Woodside, Stirling, Oakbank, Lenswood, the famous (and heavily visited) Hahndorf, Gumeracha, Birdwood (home of the National Motor Museum) and Charleston. I recommend a meal at the Charleston pub, which has good food and local wine at very reasonable prices.
There are the Applewood and Ambleside gin distilleries and, of course, more than 50 cool-climate wineries.
You could easily spend a few days tasting wine at many good wineries.
One we particularly liked was Lobethal Road Wines. It’s a small, family-owned winery near Mt Torrens, with quality wines at reasonable cellar door prices.
A guided tasting in the courtyard on a lovely, sunny day is a great experience (Thursday to Monday, book ahead). You might even meet resident wine dog Bertie.
One of the great things about South Australia is that there is much to see within an hour of Adelaide.
South of the capital is renowned wine region McLaren Vale, with some 80 cellar doors. McLaren Vale is best known for its shiraz and grenache but you can experience an incredible range of quality wine here.
There’s much diversity, from the Icon Wine Tasting in the 150-year-old chapel at Chapel Hill Winery, which offers a great cellar door experience; to Hugh Hamilton Wines, which is beautifully located, has a fun approach and decent wines to match, including uncommon varieties like saperavi.
The region’s liquid attractions include a handful of craft breweries and distilleries. Settlers is a good one if you’d like to try a wide range of spirits.
There’s no shortage of places to eat in McLaren Vale.
We had an outstanding dinner at the Salopian Inn, which features an innovative menu, good wine list and polished service.
For a break from the wineries, visit one of the beach locations within 20 minutes of McLaren Vale. Port Willunga, in particular, is a nice spot.
McLaren Vale accommodation ranges from caravan parks to B&Bs. Wine & Roses B&B is a ripper. Large, well-furnished rooms with fireplaces, kitchenettes, verandas and spa baths are de rigueur. The tariff includes substantial provisions and a bottle of wine.
Bookend your visit to the wine regions with a stay in Adelaide. This compact CBD has an active arts and culture scene, good cafes and restaurants, funky bars, historic areas, lots of parks and the nearby Adelaide Oval precinct.
On the arts side of things, the Jam Factory in Morphett Street is a must. Aside from having a good shop offering furniture, glass art and ceramics, there is a brilliant viewing area where you can watch the glass blowing artists at work.
Learn more about the wine industry at the National Wine Centre, near the botanic gardens, and visit its innovative tasting room, said to be Australia’s largest.
For a small capital city, Adelaide has a lot to offer.