Australia has been blessed with many areas having the soil and conditions for growing excellent wine grapes. The Hunter Valley
in NSW and South Australia's Barossa Valley
are favourite places for Kate Ceberano to perform or for Catriona Rowntree to just unwind.
Kate has performed at Tyrrell's Winery's Jazz in the Vines concerts, which celebrated its 18th birthday last October. The event has many things going for it apart from fantastic music. There's food from five of the area's best restaurants, excellent wines and lots of people enjoying a day with friends.
She has also performed at A Day on the Green at Bimbadgen Estate. A large amphitheatre next to the bell tower is loved by performers and audiences. A Day on the Green is held at 15 wineries and outdoor venues across Australia during summer.
She looked forward to visiting the venues where she and other performers have pleased the crowds, this time from a totally different perspective: from a Slattery Helicopter. Their Robinson R44s are black, sleek and elegant and they create tours for couples, groups, honeymooners and really, anyone looking for something different. The helicopters fly over winding country roads and patchwork groves of olives and vines.
Established in 1858, Tyrrell's produces many award-winning wines, including the country's most awarded white wine, Vat 1 Semillon from vines first planted in 1923. On a tour of Tyrrell's you will see old oak vats and the historic red cellar, still in operation. Edward Tyrrell's home, an iron bark hut, is still there and Kate enjoyed a wander around with Chris Tyrrell, the fifth generation of his family to work the vines. They run cellar tours at 1.30pm every day and the cellar door is open every day except Sunday.
The estate's mature vines yield up to two tonnes of premium grapes per hectare. Wine is made in open plan facilities so visitors are able to see the process.
Esca Bimbadgen is the award-winning restaurant serving delicious Australian cuisine. Bimbadgen Bar Espresso has cafe-style light meals and plenty of choices of their wines.
Just an hour from Adelaide, the Barossa offers everything you'd expect from a wine region. English free-settlers and European peasant farmers began it in the 1850s and their cultural legacies are wonderfully obvious. There are grand homes with ornate gardens, passionate food producers and manicured vineyards. There are around 500 grape-growing families in the valley, some sixth generation growers.
Catriona chose to drive herself around the Barossa, and to make it easy, she rented a GPS Tour Genie to be her personal guide for the day as she went on the Butcher, Baker, Winemaker Trail. You will be given the choice of visiting well-known establishments as well as some out-of-the-way places.
The GPS has turn-by-turn driving instructions, interviews with Wolf Blass and Maggie Beer and tasting tips and some history of the area.
Lyndoch Bakery & Restaurant
This little gem is the place to savour the authentic and delicious taste of Germany. Bricks and stone were imported and the furniture is from Bavaria, so apart from great food, the ambience is wonderful. They sell breads, pies, sweets and there's plenty of oompapa music to get you in the mood.
Maggie Beer's Farm Shop
Maggie started out a decade ago with one product Pheasant Farm pâté. She now have more than 60 products and the range continues to grow. They offer foodie-friendly all-day eating, and of course you can purchase your favourite delectables to enjoy later.
There are many pâtés, cheeses, olives and wood-fired bread. If you are looking for inspiration, have your GPS take you there at around 2pm for a daily cooking demonstration.
This is as original as it gets. The family-owned and operated smokehouse specialises in German smallgoods using traditional methods. Before refrigeration, smoking and curing perishables was the way to keep them safe to eat.
Salami sticks and mettwurst come in various flavours plain, garlic through to pepperoni, port wine and Barossa brandy. Their sausages are pretty irresistible.
This well-known winery is an estate on a grand scale with wines dating back to 1878. If you fancy sipping a 100-year-old port, this is where to do it.
The little Seppeltsfield hamlet is a national treasure and a truly delightful place to visit. You may like to think about joining one of their Centenary Tours where you can rummage through barrels and maybe find a wine from the year of your birth.
The Hunter Valley, around two-hours from Sydney and the Barossa Valley around an hour from Adelaide.
Hertz has a great range of vehicles and rates. Log on to www.hertz.com.au for full details.
Tyrrell's Wines one-hour tours are $5. You will see an ironbark hut from 1858, the old winery and barrels and how wine is made. They run at 1.30pm every day. The cellar door is open from Monday to Saturday between 10am and 4pm.
Bimbadgen Estate is open between 9am to 4.30pm on weekdays and 10am to 5pm on weekends. Esca serves lunch every day from noon and dinner between Thursday and Saturday from 6pm.
Slattery Helicopter charters winery and luncheon packages are $295 per person. Transfers, sparkling wine on arrival, three-course lunch and helicopter pick-up are included. Scenic flights start at $70. Transfers are included. They operate every day.
GPS Tour Genie hire is $35 a day. They are available at visitor information centres in Adelaide, Tanunda and Gawler and leading hotels. It's also available as an iPhone app for $10. Go to the App Store, select "travel" and in "search" type in MetroTours.
Lyndoch Bakery & Restaurant is open every day.
Maggie Beer Farm Shop opens between 10.30am and 5pm every day. There are cooking demonstrations at 2pm.
Steiny's Smokehouse is open every day.
Seppeltsfield opens its cellar door every day between 10.30am and 5pm. General tastings cost $5, which is refundable on purchase. Centenary Tours are $79 per person with a minimum of two. Bookings must be made.
Prices correct at March 3, 2011.
For further information
1838 Broke Road
Pokolbin, NSW 2320
Ph: (02) 4993 7000
790 McDonalds Road
Pokolbin, NSW 2320
Ph: (02) 4998 7585
Slattery Helicopter Charter
230 Old Maitland Road
Hexham, NSW 2322
Ph: (02) 4028 0000
Jazz in the Vines will be on again on October 29, 2011. The full artist line-up will be announced in March. Pre artist-release tickets are on sale now at discounted prices. For more information, visit www.jazzinthevines.com.au.
A Day on the Green will have Lionel Richie and Guy Sebastian performing on March 26, 2011. For more information, visit www.adayonthegreen.com.au.
GPS Tour Genie
Ph: 1300 655 276
Lyndoch Bakery & Café
Barossa Valley Highway
Lyndoch, SA 5351
Ph: (08) 8524 4422
Maggie Beer Farm Shop
Pheasant Farm Road
Nuriootpa, SA 5355
Ph: (08) 8562 4477
Fax: (08) 8562 4757
9 Barossa Valley Way
Tanunda, SA 5352
Ph/fax: (08) 8563 3098
1 Seppetsfield Road
Seppetsfield, SA 5355
Ph: (08) 8568 6217
Fax: (08) 8562 8333
Download a copy of the Butcher, Baker, Winemaker Trail brochure and map from www.barossa.com or pick one up from the Barossa Visitor Information Centre.