What better way to begin your Barossa exploration than the place where our European heritage all began? Just beyond the last houses of Tanunda awaits the bounties of Bethany, where time is turned back to the very foundations of the first 28 Prussian families who arrived and settled the area in 1842.
A superb selection of boutique, family-owned wineries along this discovery trail not only offer delectable tastings but draw you into the pages of its intriguing history book.
Your first stop is Turkey Flat Vineyards, oozing charm beneath the grand gums and enticing you to step in to what was an old butcher shop, now an enchanting cellar door. Stories abound here on the alluvial flats and banks of Tanunda Creek. Don’t forget to ask your hosts about the legend of the bush turkeys! They’ll be happy to share.
Moving easily along Bethany Road towards the Barossa ranges, The Historical Walk of Bethany will enable your senses to soak up the pioneer homes, some of which now offer bed and breakfast accommodation, such as Bethany Reserve Cottage. Learn about the slaughterhouses, smoke house, chaff, carpentry, masonry and Hufendorf farming practices of the settlers. These early farmers were experts at mixed farming – from crops, orchards and vines to chickens and livestock, as a means of survival in the toughest of times. Observe the German architecture - pug walls, thatched roofs and beautiful bluestone are notable features throughout this lovely hamlet.
The Bethany Lutheran church and school was a pillar of settler society and to this day, the church continues to stand proudly at the heart of the small community. From the church, cross the road to pay your respects at the place of rest for many of our forebears.
The Bethany Pioneer Cemetery attests to the harshness of life for these settler families, especially the youngest members. Many headstones remain in the German language, encouraging your interpretation of their lives.
From here, head through the ford and take a breath of fresh air in the open spaces of Bethany Reserve, surrounded by towering eucalypts, this is a chance to immerse yourself in the natural beauty of the Barossa foothills. A BYO lunch would be perfect with picnic facilities, toilets, barbeques, shelter areas and plenty of space for the kids to roam free and explore.
When you’re refreshed, make your way up the hill just a little further to the stunning views from Bethany Wines. The cellar door is built into a quarry from which the settlers sought stone to build the Bethany Lutheran Church, school and the grand Chateau Tanunda. Let the Schrapel family spoil you with cheese platters, Blue Quarry and First Village tastings and much more.
Finish your easy day under the winery’s umbrellas watching the beautiful light change across the valley floor as the sun draws down.
Continue your journey and head down the hill to Seabrook Wines. You’ll be greeted by Hamish in one of the original settler cottages. He’ll be delighted to share his family’s 100 year history of wine merchants, from Melbourne to the Barossa. Seabrook House invites you to make yourself at home in the cellar door or outside on the sunset bar which offers the up-close serenity of valley floor vineyards. Escape the crowds here – and don’t be afraid to ask Hamish about his ‘other’ visitors.
Next, wind your way up the hill that tests the very best of national and international cyclists in a ‘king of the mountain’ style, to arrive at Mengler Hill lookout and sculpture park. The magic of Mengler Hill is a sight to behold, giving a whole new appreciation of the Barossa’s depth and beauty. Absorb the kaleidoscope of colours, patterns, church spires and historical homes that encapsulate the region. Below the lookout, weave your way around 16 sculptures made by artists from all over the world. Discover the sculpture that encourages rest, the tribute to our magnificent eagles and what are the mysteries that lie through the keyhole?
Head back down the hill and let Harvest Kitchen welcome you to its table. Settle in for a couple of hours at the base of the ranges and enjoy their hearty offerings of local produce. Mediterranean inspired sharing dishes have cemented Harvest Kitchen’s reputation for honest, generous and flavoursome food. Ask about their ‘Feed Me Like a Barossan’ menu – a wonderful way to celebrate good company and cuisine. There’s room for children to enjoy the lawns while you dine on the deck.
Right beside you is Calabria Wines, where the family’s Italian heritage shines through. Choose a curated Tasting Flight, Wine & Chocolate Experience or the Calabria Signature portfolio for something extra special. Originating with founders Francesco and Elisabetta in 1945, Calabria Wines has matured from a homemade drop for family and friends, to a well-known wine producer.
Head on up the road a little for your appointment-only visit to Cirillo Estate Wines, home of the world’s oldest producing Grenache parcel, planted in 1848. Father and son duo Vincent and Marco Cirillo are the only ones to have pruned these Grenache vines over the past 40 years, using early basket-pruning styles on beautiful Vine Vale sandy terroir. Enjoy your intimate, private tasting of their gorgeous wines, coming from some the Valley’s most cared for vines. There are so many more intimate appointment-only cellar doors just waiting to be uncovered, you’ll have to come back for another visit just to see them all.
Back down Magnolia Road, Christian and Amy Canute will open their doors to Rusden Wines where you can taste the results of hand tendered vineyards grown on white sand over red clay at Vine Vale. In 1979 it began as a ‘hobby farm’ and a place for the Canute children to run around. Its old wood fired oven is a talking point.
Conclude your trail in a place with heart at Hart of the Barossa. Home to the oldest certified organic vineyard in the Barossa Valley, this delightful place is built on the motto of “brave and faithful”. The Tasting Shed is utterly charming and hosts the much sought after “Home of the Long Lunch” where pre-booked guests can indulge in five delicious courses.
Treasures abound along the Bethany & Vine Vale Trail, from the humble turkey to top-of-the-mountain views. They’re ready to inspire and delight you. So, let’s get started.