With great local brews and wines to warm the cockles of our hearts and fine regional foods to match, South Australia’s many fine cellar doors are a rich hunting ground.
Not only will we find our long-established regional favourites there, but we might also find the next iconic South Australian product too, because these folks always have an eye out for emerging producers in their neighbourhood.
Feel the fire power
Prancing Pony Brewery
Just a little ways out of town there will be a warm fire to greet us at Prancing Pony Brewery in Mt Barker. I guarantee it – and not just because they’ve got some amazingly serious overhead heaters in the brewshed – these guys also use a direct fire to brew their craft beers. They’ve got a bit of a thing about locally sourced ingredients for their menu of rustic dishes with full on flavour, and they love to celebrate the great produce of the Adelaide Hills in their comfy spot in the warm.
Let’s get introduced to the famous (or possibly infamous) Pony Burger. We’re talking organic beef, veal and pork in the burger patty, nestled in a panini roll with caramelised onion from Beerenberg and tomato chutney, plus a slew of salads in and alongside.
And with that nip in the air, we’re thinking it’s also a good time to pay our respects to the Hills’ German influences. Currywurst, anyone? This great German favourite marries (Pony’s next door neighbours Skara Smallgoods’) Berliner style sausage with a tomato curry ketchup and a fresh bread roll. It’s quintessential beer food. Or how about a buttered bretzel with that brew? These buttery soft German style pretzels will have us singing beer songs before we know it.
Regional tasting plates are a staple on the brewshed menu, showcasing the likes of B.-d Farm Paris Creek, Bretzel Bakehouse, Skara Smallgoods, cheeses from Udder Delights and condiments from Spring Gully and Beerenberg.
You’ll never walk (or eat) alone
In the Clare Valley, it won’t be hoof beats we can hear, it’s more likely to be football boots, beating a path to this great cellar door in Leasingham. Claymore Wines is home to some very seriously dedicated Liverpool FC-following, wine-loving types, who are also great fans of the local Clare Valley produce. So, along with a dose of chat about the offside rule, this is the spot to pick up a collection of the best Clare Valley produce.
Evilo Estate olives and olive oils, as well as their sauces, vinegars and dukkah sit alongside Pangkarra’s famous flour, pasta, lavosh and grissini on the laden shelves. Brysky’s honey keeps company with Patly Hill Farm’s preserved lemons, capsicum sauce and pickled grapes. Claymore Wines are very proud to now also have beautiful handmade Sugar Rush Chocolate Truffles available too, so if we still don’t get the offside rule, a couple (ok, a box) of these might help to console us.
No need to BYO at this BBQ
Feel like a riverside barbecue? Great idea! At Caudo Vineyard near Waikerie in the Riverland, there’s a coal-fired barbecue ready to go.
We don’t even have to take our own goodies to cook. Caudo’s selection of prime meats come are straight from Waikerie Meat and Poultry in town, and there are delicious Riverland-grown salad ingredients, courtesy of Riverland Fresh, ready-picked to serve alongside.
Or we can let the cellar door team do the hard yards and rustle us up a tasting platter of scrumptiousness courtesy of a bunch of their local mates, including Waikerie Bakery bread, Waikerie Meat and Poultry smallgoods, and selections from Illalangi’s growing range of local and native produce, including their Saltbush Dukka, olive oils, caramelised balsamic, and relishes made with the likes of native apples and herbs.
Kalamata olives are grown right here on the Caudo vineyard, and in the right season, the vineyard’s limes, oranges and kiwifruit also make an appearance on the menu (those oranges go down a treat in a Caudo sangria… and we all need our Vitamin C at this time of year, right?).
Succulent southern style
If we feel like heading south for some winter sunshine on the Fleurieu Peninsula, nourishment is on hand at Bremerton Wines cellar door. Bremerton’s Ploughman’s and Mediterranean platters, loaded with treats such as Matchett Productions’ dukkah (the secret ingredient is candied citrus zest), and Finnis Estate olives and olive oil, are perfect for a sunny lunch on the lawn.
If the weather is against us, winter is also the right time for some homemade Vineyard Vegetable Soup, or a luscious beef and red wine pie (Bremerton’s Old Adam Shiraz to be exact) made with Richard Gunner’s best bacon and beef, served up with a rosemary-laced stack of potatoes grown by the gang at Pethick Orchards and some of Saucy Sue’s tangy tomato sauce. Enjoyed next to the cosy wood fire in their renovated 1866 stone barn, this is proper comfort food.
Alexandrina Cheese and Saucy Sue’s quince paste round out a delectable cheese platter, while dips and pate sourced from The Goods are a great option for a lighter tasting of local gourmet flavours on a menu that proudly proclaims ‘regionally inspired honest food’. That the inspiration stretches to deliver equal respect to children’s and gluten free options is even better.
Hopping in for an island treat
Never let anyone tell you Kangaroo Island is closed in winter. Sure, some of the seasonal attractions might be having a spot of downtime, but there are lots of great foodies still working hard – and lots of winter holiday bargains to be had too. Winter is a prime time to drift through untouched wilderness and walk uncrowded beaches (in between meals, of course).
Dudley Wines is perched on a cliff top, which is gorgeous, but mighty distracting when we’re trying to make our minds up about what we want on our ‘create your own’ regional platter. Hmmm, Island Pure cheeses, Esposito olives, Ashbri Fig Salami, Penny’s Tomato Chutney or her Quince Jelly? And that’s before we even get to the house-made dips, pate, and dukkah. Decisions, decisions.
The Bucket o’ South Australian King Prawns here has a loyal following, as does the KI King George Whiting Pizza, served with seafood sauce and capers. Every pizza has a KI twist – the Satay Chicken Pizza uses KI honey in the marinade, and the Meat Lovers’ version features beef grown by the winery’s very own Howard family. You can’t get much more local than that.
Cellar doors are so much more than wine tasting these days, they are a cornucopia of great local produce too. This is where you will find the best of the small local food products, chosen for flavour by people who know a heck of a lot about how flavour works. Listen, taste, and learn is the way to go, wherever you may be.