South Australia – Langhorne Creek – roads less travelled
By Winsor Dobbin
It is often overlooked in favour of near neighbours McLaren Vale and the Adelaide Hills, but Langhorne Creek has much to offer the epicurious traveller, particularly one who delights in visiting small, family-run cellar doors.
While the region is Australia’s biggest producer of premium red wine grapes, many of them are used as blending material by the multinationals. The boutique cellar doors are a delight, however, and Langhorne Creek, which has a winemaking history that dates back to 1850, has a uniquely Australian vibe with its rolling fields and towering gum trees.
This is traditionally a region best known for its powerful cabernet sauvignon and shiraz. The star names include Bleasdale, Bremerton, Brothers In Arms/Formby Adams, Lake Breeze, Ben Potts Wines, Casa Freschi, Ben Glaetzer’s Heartland Wines, Cleggett, Gipsie Jack, Kimbolton, Step Road, Zonte's Footstep and biodynamic producer Temple Breuer.
Stop 1 – Wine tasting at Bleasdale
Bleasdale is Australia’s second-oldest family winery (after Yalumba) and is this year celebrating its 160th year of unbroken winemaking. The Potts family has been growing grapes on the banks of the Bremer River since 1850 – and the rustic cellar door and winery reflect this history. The winery has been classified by the National Trust. Today the fifth and sixth generations of the family are involved and visitors can see an old red gum press and cellar that date back to 1892. Visitors are welcome to sip and slurp at their own pace.
You must taste: All the red wines here are of high quality with the Second Innings Malbec outstanding along with the Generations Shiraz, the Frank Potts and several fortified wines.
Open: Daily 10am-5pm
Wellington Road, Langhorne Creek
Phone (08) 8537 3001
Stop 2 – Newman’s Horseradish factory and Rusticana cellar door
Visit the Horseradish Farm of Newman's original red label horseradish and the next-door Rusticana winery, both owned by the Meakins family. Taste horseradish mustard, dip, beetroot, crushed garlic, chilli-garlic and crushed ginger, which are all on sale, while the family’s wines are grown on the edge of the Bremer River – and named in tribute to the botanical name for horseradish (Amoracia Rusticana). Wine tastings and cheese platters are available – and there are few more pleasant places to sit on a sunny day than the upstairs deck.
You must taste: The Rusticana Durif has a cult following.
Open: Daily 10am-5pm
Lake Plains Road, Langhorne Creek
Phone (08) 8537 3086
Stop 3 – Tasting at Cleggett cellar door
Fancy a glass of malian, or maybe some shalistan? This is the only place in Australia where you can try Australia’s two rarest grape varieties. Malian (bronze grapes discovered in 1977) and shalistin (golden white grapes discovered in 1991) are both genetic mutations of cabernet sauvignon. The new Cleggett cellar door also offers vineyard tours between February and May.
Open: Daily 10am-6pm
Fleurieu Way, Langhorne Creek
Phone (08) 8537 3133
Stop 4 – Lunch at Bremerton
The Bremerton winery cellar door, a restored 1866 stone barn set among the vines, sells a wide range of local produce, including chutneys and cheeses. It also offers regional platters served with wood-fired bread at lunch, as well as some excellent pizzas, picnic packs and soups and pies in winter – perfect for enjoying with one of the Willson sisters’ outstanding wines.
You must taste: The zingy verdelho and the excellent Tamblyn red blend, along with some of the cellar door-only releases and the Best of Vintage (B.O.V.), a shiraz cabernet blend.
Open: Daily 10am-5pm
Strathalbyn Road, Langhorne Creek
Phone (08) 8537 3093
Stop 5 – Wine tasting at The Winehouse
To get a taste of several of the region’s best wines at the same venue, visit the Winehouse to sample offerings from Gipsie Jack, Ben Potts, John’s Blend (made by industry veteran John Glaetzer, winner of four Jimmy Watson trophies), Heartland and Kimbolton. Cheese and Wine flights featuring four wines and four cheeses from Udder Delights in the Adelaide Hills are a popular feature.
You must taste: The Ben Potts Lenny’s Block Cabernet Sauvignon and the Heartland Directors’ Cut and Dolcetto Lagrein blend.
Open: Daily 10am-5pm
Wellington Rd, Langhorne Creek
Phone (08) 8537 3441
Stop 6 – A beer at the Bridge Hotel
You’ll find most of the Langhorne Creek grape growers and winemakers enjoying an after-work beer at this rough and ready but welcoming country pub. The red gum main bar has plenty of rustic charm – and there’s also some tasty pub grub and an open fire during the winter months.
1 Main Road, Langhorne Creek
Phone (08) 8537 3010
Stop 7 – Dinner at The Victoria Hotel
A beautifully restored country pub in an historic 1865 bluestone building, the Victoria Hotel in Strathalbyn – the nearest town to Langhorne Creek – offers upmarket bistro food it describes as “nouvelle cuisine meets hearty country”. That means dishes like basil-crusted chicken with two-cheese polenta and char-grilled Black Angus striploin steak.
16 Albyn Terrace, Strathalbyn
Phone (08) 8536 2202
Stop 8 – Overnight at the Strath Motel
Langhorne Creek is short of accommodation. Bremer Cottage offers self-contained accommodation with an open fire, two-person spa and deck with vineyard views but most visitors choose to base themselves in the pretty town of Strathalbyn – a 15-minute drive away. The attractive and modern Strath Motel has several styles of rooms with flat-screen TVs, in-room fridges, broadband connections, tea and coffee-making facilities and microwave ovens.
4 North Parade, Strathalbyn
Phone (08) 8536 3311
- A visit to the wonderfully rustic Lake Breeze cellar door
- Sneaking a peek at the gnarly old vines in the Adams family’s Metala vineyard
- Walking through the delightful Soldiers Memorial Park in Strathalbyn
- Trying some alternative varieties at the cosy Zonte’s Footstep cellar door
- Strolling High Street in Strathalbyn and browsing the antique stores
- A trip to the delightful Alexandrina Cheese farm at Mount Jagged
- Langhorne Creek (SA)
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