Adelaide's epic food & wine road trip
In the travel world, South Australia has an enviable reputation for extraordinary food and wine experiences. Why? Because the sunny climate is perfect for growing premium grapes and ingredients, and because so many cultural groups have contributed their food and wine knowledge to the culinary heritage of the region - Italian, Greek, Vietnamese, African, Chinese, Middle Eastern and German, just to mention a few. When you're holidaying in Adelaide and the wine regions close to the city, every day is a party for the senses.
The Enchanted Fig Tree is a unique outdoor dining experience that focuses on Kangaroo Island delicacies and paired wines, served amidst the branches of a massive fig tree.
Adelaide wine tours and boutique cellar doors
Adelaide is almost surrounded by grape-growing regions and they all come with cellar doors that exist only to celebrate and share the glory of South Australian wines. Whether you guide yourself or join one of the many Adelaide food and wine tours available, you can sip your way through a flight of tastings or enjoy a couple of glasses in the garden, with an antipasto platter for company.
Adelaide Hills is just 20 minutes' drive from the Adelaide CBD, snug within the valleys of the Mount Lofty Ranges. A sublime wine tasting experience here is Shaw + Smith, where the cellar door area flows out to a sweeping lawn. Another gem within the area's 50+ cellar doors is Bird in Hand, which hosts winery concerts every summer.
About 40 minutes' drive south of Adelaide is McLaren Vale, a fantastic wine area to tour by bike. As you pedal along the Shiraz Trail, signs will alert you to approaching cellar doors and restaurants. The scenery is glorious and most of the trail is off-road. A location that's often visited by McLaren Vale wine tours is the d'Arenberg Cube, where you can enjoy huge views of the McLaren Vale area, taste a selection of d'Arenberg wines and experience the Alternate Realities Museum. Another primo cellar door can be found at K1 by Geoff Hardy, which has a blissful verandah with lake views.
The Barossa Valley, a one-hour drive north-east of Adelaide, is possibly Australia's most famous wine region. There are more than 80 cellar doors here, as well as a multitude of artisan food producers. If you want to take a different approach to exploring the Barossa Valley vineyards, Seppetsfield offer a tour around their historic buildings and Jacob's Creek have cooking classes. There are also Barossa Valley wine tours that involve exploring the cellar doors in a vintage car or on the back of a motor-trike.
Two hours north from the city is Clare Valley, home of 30+ cellar doors. Some are in stone cottages, others operate out of state-of-the-art contemporary buildings and many of them are within biking range of each other. A favourite for Clare Valley wine tours is Knappstein Enterprise Winery & Brewery, which lives in a National Trust heritage building. If you like wine with a sense of humour, be sure to call into Mad Bastard Wines of Finery.
In South Australia you can discover the joys of destination dining; unique eating experiences that will really impress your foodie friends back home. Some of them are five-star fancy; others are super-relaxed and at one with nature.
Kangaroo Island, famed for its wildlife encounters and wilderness beaches, has some divine culinary encounters that definitely fall into the 'destination dining' category. The Enchanted Fig Tree focuses on island delicacies and paired wines, served amidst the branches of a massive fig tree. Or find your way to the Beach Taverna, just metres from the ocean. Seafood is the star at this casual-but-cultured coastal hacienda.
In the Barossa Valley, Hentley Farm lets you explore the region's culinary history in a beautifully restored 1840 homestead. Every day there are two set menu options (four courses or seven); these are kept secret until guests are shown to their tables.
The Seasonal Garden Café in Hahndorf offers a more down-to-earth eating experience, with vegetarian and vegan dishes made with local fruit and vegetables. This café is also loved for its freshly baked bread, cakes and pastries.
McLaren Vale's premier destination dining venue is the d'Arenberg Cube Restaurant. Here you can ooh and ahh your way through an 11-course degustation menu, with wine pairing if you want it, in surroundings where the amazing views are equal only to the art. This place is one-of-a-kind in the global wine world.
For something completely out of the ordinary, drive north to the ancient Flinders Ranges and make yourself comfortable at the Prairie Hotel. This pub is famous for its Feral Feast, a much-talked-about menu that includes roo mettwurst, emu liver pate and camel sausages.
Another out-of-the way edible adventure is the Oyster Farm Tour at Coffin Bay, right at the tip of the Eyre Peninsula. The ocean here produces oysters that foodies rave about and this tour is as immersive as it gets. You'll pluck your lunch straight out of the sea and chase each oyster down with a sip of South Australian white wine.
In Adelaide city there are several innovative and classic eating destinations that get the big thumbs up from Australia's Masterchef Judges. George Calombaris loves Japanese at Shobosho and Australian food at Orana; Gary Mehigan raves about Bistro Blackwood and Africola; and Matt Preston is keen on Jamface, a café created by ex-MasterChef contestant and food celebrity Poh.
Farmers markets and more
Finding your own food for a bit of self-catering can be just as much fun as sitting down to a mouthwatering menu, so hunt down a couple of South Australia's best farmers' markets. And don't forget Adelaide Central Market in the heart of the city; open Tuesday to Saturday, it's a marvellous mashup of all things delectable.
- Adelaide Showground Farmers' Market: This Sunday morning market is the largest of its kind in South Australia. It covers the whole spectrum of market foods, so bring a big basket.
- Adelaide Hills Farmers' Market: The town of Mount Barker hosts this market every Saturday morning. There are around 25 stalls selling everything from cakes and coffee to olives and ocean trout.
- Barossa Farmers' Market: Rise early to reach the Vintners Sheds in Angaston at 7.30am on a Saturday. This is a great market for finished food products, like pastries, fudge, charcuterie, preserves, cheeses and breads.
- Mount Pleasant Farmers' Market: A Saturday morning celebration of artisan foods and local produce held at the Mount Pleasant Showground.
- Willunga Farmers' Market: Weave through trestle tables groaning with fresh produce in the charming township of Willunga. This market happens every Saturday morning starting at 8.