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JOHN ROZENTALS finds eight great things to love about South Australia’s iconic Barossa Valley, including, of course, a couple of historic wine experiences.

September 24, 2018 Headline News, Travel Feature No Comments Email Email

1) Break some bread at the Apex Bakery in Tanunda and taste bread and scrolls like they used to taste. The bakery was founded in 1924 by Albert Hoffman and purchased in the 1930s by Keith Fechner, who had started working there as a 12-year-old. I was lucky enough to be shown around by one of the bakers, Corey Fechner, Keith’s direct fourth-generation descendent. Corey still uses the same wood-fired oven from 1924 and the story is that the flame has never been extinguished. Apex Bakery: 1A Elizabeth St, Tanunda 5352; phone (08) 8563 2483; visit

2) If you’re there on a weekend, do some shopping in the Barossa Farmers Market. It’s probably the best place to appreciate the strength of the valley’s foodie culture and is held each Saturday morning in Vintners Sheds on the outskirts of Angaston. It’s a lively, friendly place where winemakers, bakers, cheesemongers, smallgoods manufacturers, butchers, olive growers, breeders of game birds, orchardists, gardeners and purveyors of various condiments trade cheek by jowl and compete with each other in spruiking the invaluable role of the Barossa as one of Australia’s premium food bowls. Barossa Farmers Market: Cnr Nuriootpa and Stockwell Rds, Angaston 5353; phone 0402 026 882; visit

Bread how it used to taste … a display in Tanunda’s Apex Bakery,

3) Drive to the top of Menglers Hill. The panoramic lookout on one of the high points of the Barossa Ranges really puts the valley into perspective and is essential, I think, to properly appreciating it. The valley, with its vines and rich farmland spreads in front of you, and the surrounding sculpture park is a bonus, even if Lonely Planet describes its contents as ‘naff’. Visit

To be respected … old bush vines at Yalumba’s Steeple Vineyard.

4) Have lunch at Maggie Beer’s Farm Eatery. Australia’s favourite foodie and cook — she rejects the term ‘chef’ because of her lack of formal training — has certainly maximised leverage of her substantial talents and knowledge. Everything seems to be gorgeously packaged and branded with her name. Visitors could easily spend a couple of hours browsing the shop and spending a small fortune. Chef Tim Bourke prepares food that is everything you would expect — rustic, full-flavoured and hearty. And there are also regular cooking classes. The Farm Eatery, 50 Pheasant Farm Rd (via Samuel Rd), Nuriootpa 5355; phone (08) 8562 1902; visit

Corey Fechner … with the wood-fired oven whose flame has supposedly never been extinguished.

5) Take a stroll through one of the original towns — Tanunda, Angaston or Lyndoch — and marvel at the history that has made the Barossa so unique and appealing. The old churches, houses and shops have been beautifully maintained and the towns present a charming picture. Visit

All class … Maggie Beer’s shop in the Barossa.

6) Be grateful that Seppeltsfield, dating from 1878, when Benno Seppelt, eldest son of Silesian-born founder Joseph, laid down a barrel of his best to commemorate the opening of the family’s new cellar, has survived its corporate years and is back in devoted private hands. The new owners have done a marvellous job in revitalising the place, and thankfully the lineage of ports from 1878 — believed to be the world’s longest — remains intact. The Seppelt family also established impressive avenues of palm trees to maintain employment during the Great Depression and built a substantial mausoleum. My guide for the day, Yalumba’s delightful Jane Ferrari, is only half joking when she suggests a reason for the mausoleum’s hill-top location — they wanted their descendants to really struggle with the caskets. Seppeltsfield: 730 Seppeltsfield Rd, Seppeltsfield 5355; phone (08) 8568 6200; visit

Putting the Barossa into perspective … the vista from Menglers Hill.

7) Tour historic Yalumba, where they’re never been such problem as the operation has been in family hands — most recently under the Hill-Smith moniker — since Samuel Smith planted his first vineyard in 1849. You can pick the moment when first-time visitors will gasp. It comes just as they round the corner from the car park and confront the clock tower and old cellars. Everyone should do at least the two-hour ‘Yalumba Unlocked’ tour ($75 per head) and enjoy a tour of the grounds and cellars, including the cooperage and fabulous Wine Room — and, of course, a hosted tasting of some great wines. And, if possible, have lunch in Tank 11 or 12, the old concrete-lined wine-storage units, now converted into memorable dining spaces. Yalumba: 40 Eden Valley Rd, Angaston 5353; phone (08) 8561 3200; visit

Seppeltsfield … back in devoted private hands.

8) Above all, appreciate the Barossa’s gnarled old bushvines, especially of shiraz and grenache. They’re essential to maintaining the valley’s reputation for rich, long-living reds. Visit


The clock tower at Yalumba … worth gasping over.

Lunch in Yalumba’s Tank 11 … a truly memorable dining space.

A scrummy taste of the Barossa … the start to lunch in Yalumba’s Tank 11.

Written by John Rozentals

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