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,
Location: A one hour’s drive north of Adelaide in the
Barossa Valley of South Australia.
Fifteen suites with private terraces that overlook the surrounding vineyards.
The six Stonewell Suites feature fireplaces, outdoor showers, and gated
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’
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.