Grape Escapes: Peppers the Louise

  • Photograph by Don Brice
    Photograph by Don Brice
  • Photograph by Don Brice
<< Back to Robb Report, October 2007

Since its first vintage in 1951, Penfolds

Grange has been the prototype Australian Shiraz, a robust, cellar-worthy red

that has spawned imitators in the Barossa Valley and beyond. As a guest at

Peppers the Louise, a 15-suite hotel located two miles from the Penfolds winery,

you, too, can attempt to clone South Australia’s standard-bearer. The hotel

arranges private tours of Penfolds’ cellars, where, dressed in a lab coat and

equipped with droppers and flasks, you can mix Shiraz, Grenache, and Mourvèdre

to make your own masterpiece. Penfolds then bottles your blend and whisks it off

to the Louise’s executive chef, Mark McNamara, whose culinary team creates a

course for the evening’s dinner that is designed to pair with your wine.

Taking in the full spectrum of the Barossa Valley is central to

a stay at the Louise, a vineyard retreat one hour north of Adelaide. An escorted

morning walk through a nearby conservation area might include a stop for

breakfast, perhaps in a meadow surrounded by native gum trees and kangaroos. A

trip with McNamara to a local farmer’s market will showcase the region’s

produce, which you help the chef select for his daily menu.

The Barossa’s farming and winemaking traditions date to the

1840s, when Silesian Lutherans sailed south from eastern Europe to escape

religious and economic restrictions. Within two decades, the settlers had

established a flourishing wine industry that revolved around a network of

growers, a system still in operation today. Changing tastes in the 1980s

prompted the Australian government to pay growers to rip out unprofitable red

vines and replace them with white varietals, but some winemakers—Penfolds among

them—remained resolute. Today, there are approximately 100 wineries and 500

growers in the Barossa, where Shiraz is once again the favored grape.

The vineyards surrounding Peppers the Louise are planted with

both Shiraz and Grenache and owned by the Barossa’s Heritage and Tscharke

wineries. Several of the region’s premium estates are open for tours, including,

in addition to Penfolds, Yalumba, Two Hands Wines, and Torbreck Vintners. Guests

also can visit the estate of acclaimed winemaker Peter Lehmann, who, in a nod to

his neighbors, produces a Peppers Marananga Cabernet Sauvignon.

Peppers the Louise Barossa Valley, +61.8.8562.2722,

www­.peppers.com.au/thelouise ($270–$460)

Location: A one hour’s drive north of Adelaide in the

Barossa Valley of South Australia.

Accommodations:

Fifteen suites with private terraces that overlook the surrounding vineyards.

The six Stonewell Suites feature fireplaces, outdoor showers, and gated

courtyards.

Dining: The

Appellation restaurant offers tasting menus and à la carte items that change

daily based on executive chef Mark McNamara’s findings in the local farmers’

markets.

Wine: The Barossa is renowned for its Shiraz, and Peter

Lehmann’s full-bodied, glowering black version is one of the region’s finest

examples. For something lighter and brighter, try the Viognier at nearby

Yalumba, Australia’s oldest family-owned winery. Two Hands Wines, which Robert

Parker called "the finest négociant operation south

of the equator," hosts private tastings and dinners in a restored 19th-century

bakehouse, where a glass floor affords a view of the estate’s cellar.

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