Tuesday, 25 March 2014

Biking the Barossa

We had a long weekend a few of weeks ago here in Melbourne and as usual I was determined to make the most of it by ticking off another destination on our Australia ‘travel wishlist’ so we decided to head to the Barossa Valley in South Australia to indulge in some wine tasting and cheese eating.

Biking-Barossa-Valley-Jacobs-Creek

Organising flights was easy, the harder part is always accommodation. As with most things in my life, I can be a bit fussy when it comes to choosing somewhere to stay. It’s not that I need it to be grand or fancy, quite the opposite in fact, what I crave is somewhere with some character.  Usually this results in me spending hours and hours pouring over the internet trying to find as many reviews or genuine recommendations as I can in the hope that I will stumble upon a hidden gem. I’m happy to say that for our visit to Barossa, I did just that.

We were very close to booking a generic hotel which looked fine but a niggle told me to keep searching and I’m glad I did as I came across Lucy’s House, a little B&B cottage on the Heritage Wines estate. It seemed to be just what I was looking for and despite a few pre-arrival nerves due to my complete disbelief that we weren't asked for any deposit or CC details to hold the booking (blame the un-trusting Brit in me), I’m happy to say that it didn't disappoint.

On arrival we were greeted by one of, in my opinion, the estate’s biggest assets; Poppy the black lab. I am a dog-lover, I miss my dog in the UK a lot and so to arrive to that kind of welcome (i.e. enthusiasm beyond belief because even though I don’t know you, you might give me food or play with me), well it kind of seals the deal for me.

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Poppy the black Labrador
Lucy’s House was the original cottage on the estate and has been renovated to create a self-contained, one bedroom haven. Simple but full of charm, the cottage comes fully equipped with all cooking utensils as well as DELICIOUS home grown treats to enjoy for breakfast (I have never seen eggs that yellow!) and a surprisingly spacious and modern ensuite bathroom. With chickens and geese wandering around the grounds, an abundant veggie patch and acres of rolling hills winding away in front of you, all I could think about was the dream of moving to the countryside to live a self-sustainable life in the fresh air. I’d need to learn how to garden, grow and generally be useful first but you know what I mean.

Lucy's House on Heritage Wine Estate
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We had already decided that instead of one us having to sacrifice the tasting, or being part of an organised tour, we were going to attempt to see the wineries by bike.

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Ambitious? As it turns out, perhaps.

We did survive and I’m glad we did it (Tim might disagree) but cycling from one glass of shiraz to the next in 35 degree heat was at times…challenging. Hilarious, but challenging. Especially given the unexpected amount of hills we came across. You have been warned.

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Lunch at Charles Melton winery
We made it to four wineries including a long lunch at Charles Melton; a beautiful boutique winery offering some of the best shiraz EVER (Nine Popes FYI) ending at Jacobs Creek where we were too full/drunk/exhausted to do anything except collapse in some conveniently placed beanbag chairs and enjoy the view.

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Jacobs Creek Winery
Biking-Barossa-Valley-Jacobs-Creek
Jacobs Creek Winery
Once we’d made it back to the cottage we showered and revived ourselves before ending the day sat in the evening sun enjoying a glass or two of Heritage Wines Semillon and then headed out to a delicious dinner at local restaurant 1918, as recommended by Steve, our lovely host.

The next day we headed to Australian icon Maggie Beer’s Farm Shop for a few sneaky tasters in the morning (brandy salted caramel – OMG) and then drove an hour or so over to Clare Valley, another wine region. I wish we’d done a bit of research into this area as we came across the most gorgeous winery for lunch but it was fully booked, so if you do head there make sure you pre-book at Skillogalee Winery.

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Maggie Beer's Farm Shop
So after two days spent sampling god knows how many wines, eating gluttonous amounts of food and buying multiple bottles of wine to be shipped back to Melbourne, we drove back to Adelaide for a quick flight home and a fast reality check - back to work time.

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