Sundays are usually pretty quiet around chez nous, generally reserved for domestic chores and pottering around the paddocks counting cows and checking fences. However, a recent late and somewhat merrier-than-usual Saturday night left us disinclined for domesticity the following day. Casting an eye around the ravaged kitchen and heaving a sigh I wandered back to bed with a cup of tea and Saturday’s papers and pondered ways to avoid – or at least defer – the clean up. It seemed to me that something gently restorative was in order. Perhaps something inspirational and refreshing, but not particularly energetic. As there was no sign of life from the resident progeny we could indulge our own preferences – and decided to do just that by visiting a few local spots that had been on our radar.
The Adelaide Hills is a deliciously picturesque cold-climate wine region, with the various cellar doors attracting plenty of tourist attention. There is nothing quite so indulgent as sitting at a cellar door, surrounded by vines and enjoying a glass or two of the winemakers product. Many wineries now offer light meals or regional platters and the larger wineries are always popular on the tourist trail, but many of the smaller ones are well worth taking the time to seek out – both for their wines and their unexpectedly beautiful surroundings.
Tucked off a side road adjacent to Kuitpo Forest is K1 by Geoff Hardy, the site of the first plantings of vines in the area. I had heard that their cellar door was particularly special – in fact it has been named as one of Australia’s Top 10 cellar doors. Entering the gates and driving down a green and shady avenue, the track opens out onto a beautifully landscaped lake surrounded by mature evergreen and deciduous trees which form a backdrop to the cellar door chalet. There is shaded seating on the deck, which is built out over the water, for sunny days or plenty of tables and chairs inside, behind the floor to ceiling windows, for the cooler weather. The wines, noted by wine writer James Halliday as some of Australia’s best, are available by the bottle or glass and the regional platter which we tucked into was a more than ample lunch for the two of us.
Nestled in the Onkaparinga Valley, at the foot of Mt Torrens is a new favourite of ours, Lobethal Road Wines. This charming mud-brick cellar door, with it’s delightful cottage garden, was built from locally made bricks by Lobethal Road’s vigneron Dave Neyle and nestles happily in the five hectare vineyard which is rated a 4.5 winery in the James Halliday Wine Companion. I love their gorgeous garden and had my very first sighting of the native blue-banded bee there, while enjoying a splendid seafood platter early in the summer. They offer a choice of an up-market ploughmans platter or a cheese platter as well as the seafood and, in the cooler weather, a table by the cosy fire is the perfect spot for a bowl of soup.
A little closer to home for us is Golding Wines on Western Branch Road at Lobethal. The 50 acre vineyard is planted with a variety of grapes including the Sauvignon Blanc, Chardonnay, Pinot Gris, Pinot Noir and Savagnin which go into their ground-breaking cold-climate wines and the cellar door is surrounded by some of the Adelaide Hill’s most stunning gardens. This is a popular spot for functions and weddings, but is equally comfortable for a cheese platter and a quiet glass or two after a drive in the hills. Sit outside under the magnificent golden elms on a sunny day, or nestle in around the fire inside in the winter – either way it is worth the visit.
Unable to put off the inevitable any longer, we made our way home to the kids and the kitchen and – as I suspected – the former had felt no inspiration at all to address the latter. But our indulgent outing had worked it’s magic on me and a burst of domestic industry soon saw order restored and a free-range chicken roasting in the oven.
If that’s what a visit to some of these beautiful Adelaide Hills wineries can do for me who lives up here, imagine the change it will make in your day!