John Rozentals finds eight great things to love about Barossa Valley

1. Break some old-world-recipe fresh bread at the Apex Bakery in Tanunda

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

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

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

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

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 www.apexbakery.com.au 

2. Wander through the Barossa Farmers Market

Barossa Farmers Market is 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 www.barossafarmersmarket.com 

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

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

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’.

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

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

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 www.maggiebeer.com.au 

Angaston … a charming historic Barossa town.

Angaston … a charming historic Barossa town.

5. Take a stroll through one of the original Barossa towns…

...namely 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.

Seppeltsfield … back in devoted private hands.

Seppeltsfield … back in devoted private hands.

6. Tour the historic mausoleum Seppeltsfield

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 www.seppeltsfield.com.au 

The clock tower at Yalumba … worth gasping over.

The clock tower at Yalumba … worth gasping over.

7. Sample some wine and food from an iconic Barossa name: Yalumba 

There’s never been much of a 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.

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

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

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.

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

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

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 www.yalumba.com 

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

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

8. Take in the remarkable rolling fields of grapes

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.

John Rozentals was a guest of Yalumba