Wine making is serious business in Australia. Each state offers its own specialty, and claims dominance over its competitors. Even the Northern Territory has a hand in the wine game, producing unique mango wines in the Top End. But the state that reigns supreme on the international stage is South Australia’s Wine Country.
South Australia’s outstanding wine regions produce more wine grapes than any other region in the country. The quality and quantity sets the likes of the Barossa, McLaren Vale, the Clare Valley and Adelaide Hills apart from the rest. But there’s more than just wine on offer, especially for families.
The Adelaide Hills region is a pleasant 30-minute drive from Adelaide. Part of the Mount Lofty Ranges, you’ll find a patchwork of manicured valleys, vineyards and orchards among quaint villages with cozy cafes and roadside stalls selling fresh local produce.
The exceptional produce from the area is a hallmark of the traditional land management practices of the traditional owners. The Adelaide Hills were upkept by the Peramangk people, whose reach extends as far the Fleurieu Peninsula and into the Barossa Valley. They used slow burning fire to clear old grasses and promote fresh plant growth.
The historic town of Hanhdorf is especially popular with families, the main street filled with sweet shops, ice creameries and toy shops the kids will adore.
Read more in our guide What to do in the Adelaide Hills with kids.
McLaren Vale is a scenic 40-minute drive from Adelaide. It makes for a spectacular road trip, with unspoilt views of the coastline and into the hinterland, dotted with boutique wineries. The region’s Mediterranean climate allows for a bounty of high-quality food and wine. McLaren Vale has a strong focus on sustainability with loads of paddock-to-plate eateries to feast at and low-impact wineries to wash it all down.
The first grapes were planted in the McLaren Vale region is 1838. Prior to that, the spectacular coastal stretch was thriving under the traditional ownership of the Kaurna people. Today, more than 80 cellar doors reside in the McLaren Vale area.
Best known for its Shiraz, McLaren Vale has dozens of Australia’s best family-friendly wineries to check out. Kids will be kept busy with play equipment, mazes and giant yard games, while parents can enjoy a splash of the regions finest.
Perhaps the most well-known wine region in Australia, the beautiful Barossa Valley has earned its stellar reputation over the years. More and more cellar doors are introducing new offerings for kids to make wine tasting a more family-friendly affair. It makes sense since wine-making is often a family business.
All throughout the Barossa, families will find parks, playgrounds, historic attractions and a bounty of natural attractions. Pack some comfy shoes for your visit, you’ll be dying to hit and trails and wander through the lush hinterland.
Be sure to make a stop at Pheasant Farm. This is where national treasure, Maggie Beer, has set up shop, welcoming families from all over the world to taste her delicious treats. The boutique wines and ciders are also worth a try. Otherwise, you can fill up on goodies from the Barossa Farmers Market every Saturday in Angaston.
In northern South Australia, the Clare Valley is a patchwork of vineyards, sprawling paddocks and produce farms. The region is also famed for its historic townships, well-preserved colonial buildings and museums.
One of the best ways to explore the Clare Valley is on the Riesling and Rattler Trail, an easy cycle path that winds 35 kilometres through the countryside.
Keen hikers can check out the trails through Red Banks and Spring Gully Conservation Parks. Tell the kids to keep an eye out for local wildlife. Western grey kangaroos can often be spotted early in the morning and towards sunset. You can spot brushtail possums burrowing in the hollows of eucalyptus trees. And you may not see them, but look out for holes dug by echidnas and wombats.
The region also has a fascinating copper mining heritage in the town of Burra. It’s actually one of the world’s best-preserved colonial mining towns so be sure to stop by.
Fertile farming lands and some of the richest heritage areas in Australia mean there is plenty for families to explore in the region.
Take the kids to explore the streets of Hanhdorf, a real-life fairytale village packed with sweet shops, ice creameries, toy shops, candle makers and a puppet shop. There’s even a fairy garden and store just off the main street.
Let your little gardeners loose at Beerenberg Family Farm just outside Hanhdorf. Grab a bucket and fill it with delicious, juicy, red strawberries from October to April.
The kids can also enjoy close wildlife encounters at Hahndorf Farm Barn in the Adelaide Hills. Part children’s farmyard-part wildlife park, the Farm Barn is the perfect place for kids to have a cuddle with everything from kangaroos to camels.
The Big Rocking Horse and Toy Factory in Gumeracha is not to be missed. About half an hour from Hahndorf, the kids will love climbing the six-storey high rocking horse and exploring the toy factory and wildlife bush park.
The South Australia wine regions’ four distinct seasons offer something different to see, do and taste no matter when you visit.
Summer, from December to February, can be very hot in South Australia and, although the hilly wine regions are always a few degrees cooler, you’ll still need to pack the sunscreen and hats. It’s also cherry and strawberry picking season.
Winter, from June to August usually has clear days but can be a bit cool requiring an extra layer.
Spring, from September to November, offers ideal weather for outdoor activities and adventuring. It’s the time of year you’ll see fruit trees blossom in hues of pinks, whites and reds, and pretty canola fields flowering in a sea of yellow as far as the horizon.
The weather in Autumn, from March to May, is similar, though the bright blooms give way to magnificent autumn colours as the trees prepare to shed their leaves for winter.
Where do we start? Renowned for its food and wine, these South Australia wine regions will spoil your family choice.
Hahndorf is well known for its baked treats. A German pie from Otto’s has to be on your must-eat list. Save some room for the pretzels, strudel and black forest cake at The German Cake Shop.
To get your fill of fresh fruit, head to one of the farm gates to pick berries, apples, oranges and more. Hit the Adelaide Hills Kids’ Food Trail to see how bees make honey, and taste some of the goods. Don’t forget to make a stop at Udder Delights in Hahndorf to taste some creamy cheese and head to Red Cacao in Stirling to get your chocolate fix.
For those interested in learning the tricks of the trade, you might want to sign up for a cooking class. Adelaide Hills Sticky Rice Cooking School is a family-owned and run outfit where, at the end of the day, you get to eat whatever you cook.
January - Santos Tour Down Under
This historic 145-kolimetre ride starts from Port Adelaide and weaves its way through the picturesque countryside to the Southern Barossa via Williamstown and finishing in Lyndoch.
January – Adelaide Hills Crush Festival
Enjoy food, wine, music, art markets and more at this one day festival.
April - Barossa Vintage Festival
Dating back to 1947, this is the largest and longest-running wine event in Australia with plenty to do for all ages.
April - The McLaren Vale Vintage & Classic
This is a great family celebration of vintage and classic motoring.
April - Oakbank Easter Racing Carnival
A family-oriented event, the Easter Racing Carnival has plenty of activities and entertainment designed especially for kids, including rides and an animal petting zoo.
September - Barossa Gourmet Weekend
Enjoy three days of the best food wines of the Barossa at this family event.
July – Willunga Almond Blossom Festival
Enjoy an exciting mix of food, fun and entertainment aimed at all ages.
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