First published on 30 Jan 2012. Updated on 1 Feb 2013.
South Australia’s oldest wine region is a mere spit from downtown Adelaide, but can often be overlooked in lieu of ‘fancier’ wine growing areas. But for those in the know, the Adelaide Hills offers some of the most diverse scenery, exciting wines and interesting cellar doors in the state.
While most visitors list towards the oompah bands and lederhosen of Hahndorf, the real action is in the quieter parts of the Hills, which do well with sauvignon blanc, pinot noir and chardonnay. Here are the top five wineries to visit:
James Erskine is more than just an award winning sommelier-turned-winemaker. Deep thinker, boundary pusher, grape encourager – Erskine makes wines that bend rules, but that's why they're all the more delicious to drink. Older barrels and wine paraphernalia are scattered throughout his sandstone winery, which straddles a quiet bend in the road, overlooking a verdant orchard. This is a great place to tap into some of Australia’s most interesting wine making. Appointments only. Basket Range 5138. 0408 075 138. www.jauma.com.
It's hard to go past this impressive cellar door and restaurant when visiting the Adelaide Hills. Perched on a rise above the Lane’s home-base vineyard, the sleek glass-framed restaurant is a superb place for libations and fine foodstuffs, with equal access to the extensive range of Adelaide Hills wines. While away an afternoon on the outside deck, take a stroll through the vines or organise a quick whip through the winery if you’re feeling adventurous. Ravenswood Ln, Hahndorf 5245. 08 8388 1250. www.thelane.com.au.
Biodynamic principles guide the winemaking at Ngeringa. It’s all about soil and vineyard health before a grape even comes close to being squashed. Small production and some relatively hands-off winemaking mean that the wines get a better chance to reflect their special vineyard sites – that elusive concept of terroir. The cellar door is ideally positioned on Mount Barker with great views over the vineyard and bushland, but a trip inside the comfortable facility means you get a better chance to work your way through Ngeringa’s fine range of wines. 119 Williams Rd, Mount Barker Summit 5251. 08 8398 2867. www.ngeringa.com.
Shaw + Smith
This is a pretty flash looking joint. Step into the svelte designer interiors of the tasting rooms and organise a flight of wines to work through. For just $14 you can try the range of Shaw + Smith in a semi-formal tasting scenario accompanied by a cheese plate. Buy some booze and you get your $14 back. It's win-win. Chardonnay, shiraz and sauvignon blanc are heroes here, but pinot noir may just be the dark horse. It’s an incredible opportunity to try some of the most exacting wines made in Australia live and direct from the winery’s headquarters. 136 Jones Rd, Balhannah 5242. 08 8398 0500. www.shawandsmith.com.
Lucy Margaux Wines
Anton von Klopper. What can one say? He's a unique, quixotic winemaker with abounding love for his decrepit Land Rover, family, sustainability, authentic wines and his menagerie of a farm in the Adelaide Hills. You’ll have to make an appointment to check out the wines and you’ll likely taste them with a couple of geese, ducks and dogs running about. But charm is high and the wines are made with a philosophy that rejects most of modern winemaking’s trappings of tricks and additions. What you see is what you get. They're wild, expressive wines of great character that don’t always work, but when they do are magnificent and charismatic. Call well ahead. Basket Range 5138. 0412 588 298. www.lucymargauxvineyards.com.au.