I’ll be honest with you, Adelaide is not the most eventful of capital cities. But it more than makes up for this in sheer volume (and quality) of wine. As you may notice from this delightful map (source), the Adelaide area of South Australia has the country’s highest concentration of notable wine regions.
Last year, my mum, a ruthless wine snob, and I, a ruthless alcoholic (jk), spent a week in Adelaide experiencing all the wine that we could get our paws on and even more recently, I visited Adelaide with friends and pumped some more money into the local grape economy. I’ve assembled a list of 5 different ways you can pour wine down your gullet and enjoy this tremendous wine region around Adelaide.
1. Barossa Valley via private tour
One of the world’s best Shiraz producing regions, the Barossa Valley is where you should go to if you only have time for one day in wine country. Well, unless you’re into whites, and then I might actually suggest Adelaide Hills or Clare Valley, but I had one too many goon sacs of Fruity Lexia in my early uni days and can’t drink white anymore, so I don’t know these areas personally. If you pay attention to labels, the Barossa exports heaps of wine, so you may recognise some of the wineries (my mum was fan-girling all day).
I read about a hundred reviews and came to rest on Scott Ninnis, former star basketballer, who now leads wine tours. It was news to me that Australia even had famous basketball players, but we were impressed to find that he definitely knows what he’s doing, and even got us discounts on wine at several wineries! This is a great way to experience the Barossa (we also did a few other group tours here, and they just weren’t as nice as this private one). You’ll be picked up at your hotel in Adelaide and driven to 5 different cellar doors (i.e. tasting rooms), which Scott chooses based on the types of wines you prefer. I had the best lunch of my life at a winery (I acknowledge that alcohol could have been a factor), based on Scott’s recommendation, and we drank wine with reckless abandon because someone else was driving.
2. McLaren Vale via group tour
Actually, McLaren Vale has more wineries than the Barossa Valley, but it is #2 in terms of Shiraz in Australia and therefore gets a lot less hype. Still, #2 to the Barossa is no small accomplishment! I explored McLaren Vale with my mother on a small group tour, and I can recommend this just as thoroughly as the Barossa if you have time for another day of tasting. Another option would be a tour of the Coonawarra wine region, but it’s farther from Adelaide and there are fewer companies that do this.
Without a doubt, one of the coolest ways to drink wine, ever. The NWC has over a hundred bottles of wine hooked up on a sort of tap system. You charge up a little card with money and then use it to dispense wine into your glass. I know I’m not describing it well, but luckily I took photos. It’s a fucking wine vending machine, people. Why is this not everywhere. Plus, they have super yummy cheese and meat platters to go with your vino (sold!).
4. Grab a bite in Hahndorf
Explore this cute little Bavarian-style town and indulge in a wine & cheese tasting at Hahndorf Hill Winery. There are a ton of nice restaurants (mostly German food) in town, as well. But how can you beat this view?!
5. Drink Sparkling Shiraz
Ok, so it’s not so much a way to enjoy wine as it is an actual wine, but it’s so strange and delicious that it simply must be included on this list and your trip to Adelaide. All the wineries that serve it describe it as, and I can’t make this stuff up, a “breakfast wine”. It’s actually the most amazing thing ever and I would drink it at breakfast just to enjoy it more frequently.
Make sure to check out my other City Guides for more must-sees when travelling around Australia!