The custodian of Penfolds Grange shares his favourite restaurants and places to visit in the Barossa Valley.
On Jason Godfrey’s journey around South Australia he met with Peter Gago, Chief Winemaker at Penfolds. When Peter isn’t working in the winery or vineyard, the celebrated winemaker, author and the current custodian of Penfolds Grange, fulfils his other role as an ambassador and natural educator.
“During my time in South Australia I visited one of the most prominent and earliest winemakers in Australia, Penfolds. The Penfolds Magill Estate is the original vineyard established in 1844 and Peter Gago taught me that the history of Penfolds has very much dovetailed into the history of South Australia. The best part is that it’s not just a site or a monument or a relic of what used to be but it is still a working winery, reflecting the region’s journey from rural colonial settlement to the contemporary now,” says Jason Godfrey, Savour Australia.
“Penfolds was established in 1844 – to put it into context, the colony of Adelaide started in 1836,” says Peter Gago. “Our Block 42 vineyard in the Barossa is the world’s oldest continuously producing Cabernet vineyard, planted in the mid-1880s. There are older vineyards in Bordeaux and in Chile, but no one has older vines of Cabernet Sauvignon.”
“The Barossa is unique from other wine regions in Australia and around the world. From the early 1800s until now it has sustained an identity and culture that is inextricably entwined with its people, its soils and its traditions. The Barossa also has some of the oldest original remaining plantings in the world including Shiraz, Grenache, Mataro and Cabernet Sauvignon.”
“Food and wine matching isn’t a science, there are some things that definitely work and others that don’t. An Australian dish like King George whiting from Kangaroo Island goes magically with Eden Valley or Clare Valley Riesling. Moreton Bay bugs go with a beautiful South Australian Chardonnay and Coffin Bay oysters with a sparkling wine out of the Adelaide Hills. While a Mayura Station wagyu fillet goes wonderfully with a bottle of something red and lovely out of the Barossa.”
“My favourite place to dine in the Barossa Valley is Magill Estate Restaurant, which has been reincarnated and redecorated. The new sister-offering at Magill Estate Kitchen delights visitors across the day from breakfast until 5pm – an ever-changing grazing menu, baristas, wine by the glass all overlooking the vines, and only 15 minutes from the centre of Adelaide.
“As for Adelaide, I remain addicted to The Lion Hotel in North Adelaide with its ever-changing great bars and an eclectic restaurant with very unusual décor and an open kitchen. On Gouger Street, Concubine and Wah Hing always tempt me. While you can’t get more central than 2KW Bar & Restaurant perched eight floors above the corner of North Terrace and King William Street. The restaurants is a short distance from the newly developed Adelaide Oval with an array of menus to share and a serious wine and cocktail selection.”
“The Barossa is only an hour’s drive North of Adelaide and has everything from hot air ballooning over a patchwork of majestic vineyards, to cycling from winery to winery. I recommend visitors enjoy an eagle’s view from Mengler’s Hill or return to earth hiking alongside the North Para River. Farmer’s markets and galleries are also located in the area and are a great way to meet the locals.”
“While you’re here, seek out your favourite winery and find out where that wine you enjoy was actually made. When visiting Penfolds I’d recommend trying the Penfolds Cellar Reserve range of whites and reds. Made in small volumes and usually only available in leading restaurants and Duty Free, they offer a true point of difference to our other wines.
“The Penfolds’ Make Your Own Blend experience has been so popular it’s now been replicated by other wineries! However, the Penfolds experience was the first and remains the best (I say that completely without bias!). The varieties of Shiraz (Syrah), Mataro (Mourvédre) and Grenache (Garnacha) have been grown in the Barossa Valley for over one and a half centuries.”