The Unico Guide to the Adelaide Hills
We love the Adelaide Hills. Outrageously scenic and an incredible and ever-growing microcosm of a food and wine community. We've had the Sauvignon Blanc Avalance - the Sauvalanche - we've built a reputation off of fine Pinot Noir and Chardonnay, and most recently we've had the Natural Wine explosion out of the Basket Range and surrounds. It's been a wild ride in the Hills over the last 10 years and it's a joy to call it home.
More than anything we love spending our weekends wandering around and experiencing what our hills community is putting out into the world. Whether it be incredible coffee, the fine array of produce or the incredible food - the Adelaide Hills has got it covered. So we thought we'd put together the ultimate weekend itinerary of what we love in the Hills. SA Folks - here's your next long weekend plan (or just chuck a sicky!) The rest of you guys around Aus - we can't wait to see you guys soon, keep this in the back of your mind for your next local holiday!
Closest to our winery so of course, we're shouting it out - and it's the home of Mighty Mighty Coffee roastery, the roastery we use for our sister distillery Applewood's Carter's Original Coffee Liqueur! Honestly, the coffee itself might be some of the finest in Adelaide - plus the Good Pantry Kitchen pumps out some wholesome breakfasts to boot! Love having it a brisk little walk away!
Speaking of Wholesome: Coffee in a post office. Yup. Super cute. It's an Australia Post Office, but with really good service. Come for the coffee but stay for the rippingly good cakes/brownies and assorted baked goods, delivered fresh by a few legendary locals - vegan options too!
Stirling Cellars is probably one of the only bottleshops you could end up spending all day in. With awesome coffee and plenty of snacks, you'll while away your morning there - and then get lost between rows and rows of incredible wine, from local legends to incredible imports! Even coffee is better with wine!
Mount Crawford Forest
We love a good hike and stroll through a forest, and we reckon Mount Crawford does the absolute best job of that in the Adelaide Hills. A plethora of awesome trails and lookouts - and spitting distance from the Whispering Wall - it's the ultimate way to break up a day of eating and wine-ing.
Mt. Lofty to Bridgewater
If you're from Adelaide - you'll know the Lofty walk. It's a bit of a running joke to how 'basic' it is - but this Lofty walk is a bit more of a trek. It's about 4-6 hours round trip but definitely worth it - especially as it stops by the Bridgewater mill so you can have a mid-hike Brewski!
Mount Lofty Gardens.
Okay - this one is relaxing. Grab a picnic blanket, plenty of snacks, maybe a cheeky schnifter of wine and a good book and while away your afternoon in the most beautiful garden in the hills. Plenty of incredible flora and a good place for a super leisurely stroll. Great Sunday morning activity.
This is one of those places that you can go for lunch or dinner - they're open all day - but if we're being honest, there's not much better than sitting outside on a good day and smashing some of the best food in the Adelaide Hills - nay, Adelaide as a whole - and enjoying some incredible natural wine. It's what to expect when you've got Aaron Fenwick (Chateaux Comme Ci Comme Ca), Anton Von Klopper (Lucy Margaux) and Jasper Buttons (Commune of Buttons) taking care of you, and Tom Campbell absolutely crushing it in the kitchen. We could gush all day about the awesome produce they serve up from their "patch" but all we can say is - GO!
Who doesn't love pub grub? Nobody - that's who, and that's exactly what the Scenic Hotel nails. Is there much to write about the food? Not really, it's what you expect just done really, really well. But it's the location that's to die for - at the top of Norton Summit looking down the hill over the city of Adelaide, it's stunning - this place at sunset is nothing short of magic. Park yourself on the balcony, grab a pint of Coopers or something special off the wine list and be at peace. The Kangaroo Schnitzel is legendary - even more so when it's Parmy'd.
Bless Josh Kleeman for opening up Hugel. Spitting distance from our winery, it's the place for Friday knockoffs, but it's also the ultimate lazy weekend afternoon. Rolling through for a plate of charcuterie or one of their epic Rubens, with a G + T or a bottle from Josh's superbly curated wine list, inside the old Lobethal bank refitted to perfection. If the weather is good, nowhere better than sitting streetside.
We love Candice and Frewin, the lovely duo behind CRFT, who do a damned good job at showcasing the brilliance of two varieties that are becoming synonymous with the Adelaide Hills: Pinot Noir and Grüner Veltliner. Pinot has a strong history with the Hills but one that is becoming more and more associated with it is Grüner, initially planted by the legends at Hahndorf Hill but now becoming widely grown throughout and the emergence of the unofficial GGG - the Grüner Growers Group. CRFT is fervently passionate about organics too, and their Carey Gully cellar door is based off their home Arranmore Vineyard now certified organic, so you can sit on their wonderful balcony, run through their brilliant wines and gaze upon the glorious vineyard that is just teeming with life. Stunning.
Stephen George is a legend. After his stint as a winemaker at the iconic, cult-followed and beloved Wendouree, he began planting vines in the Adelaide Hills in the 1980s, and after trialling and trialling, he's locked in the ground his Reisling and his now-iconic Pinot Noir - after cultivation 27 different clones of it no less! Ignoring other Hills icon Brian Croser's claim that Pinot could only produce high quality still wine in colder, wetter conditions, George is largely responsible for Pinot's success in the hills, with his estate expressions being referred to by the all-mighty James Halliday as "The State's Only Grand Cru Pinot Noir". We concur - they're essential.
Well if we're going to celebrate Stephen George, we should chat Brian Croser, who is largely responsible for the success of Chardonnay and Sparkling Wine in the Adelaide Hills! Planting the first vines of Chardonnay at the esteemed Tiers vineyard in 1979 with Petaluma, which grew to be the legacy brand we all know, then selling it off in the early 2000s, but managing to buy back the Tiers Vineyard where he now resides pumping out remarkable wines out of his brand Tappanappa. As out friend Xavier Bisout says "the Tiers Vineyard is the best Chardonnay vineyard in Australia". A huge claim, but a fair one. Book in a spot and see what it's all about - alongside his other incredible vineyards in Wrattonbully and on the Fleurieu too...
Other Wineries You Should Check Out!
Ngeringa (By Appointment)
Commune of Buttons/Lucy Margaux/Chateau Comme Ci Comme Ca
(Next to the Summertown Aristologist!)
La Prova (first weekend of every month)
Whisson Lake (by appointment)
Bahn Mi Pizza. Okonomiyaki Pizza. Only these could come from the house of Ochota Barrels. The pies that fly out the gorgeous salmon pink wood-fired oven in Uraidla are a great mixture of hyper fun and outrageously delicious - much like the wines on pour! The Ochota's glorious wines of freshness and frivolity are pretty much all available by the glass in their tongue in cheek example of a "cellar door". A great relaxed dinner option after a full day of wine tasting - with wine tasting on the side.
Another great pub, despite being a bit more upscale in fare than your average - this is the Adelaide Hills Bistro. Everything is finely tuned here, whether it be Cassoulet or Wagyu Beef Brisket - even the Bangers & Mash are superior to many others you could hope to try! Alongside that, the cellar is packed to the brim with epic stuff, with some local legends and well-chosen imports. Pablo Theodoros runs the wine side of things and the venue is all the better for it. Burgundy with Bangers & Mash in the Front Bar? Don't mind if I do.
Top Shelf Japanese food in the Adelaide Hills? No one asked, we all wanted, and Yuki in the Hills delivered above and beyond. Incredible ramen, some of the best sashimi in Adelaide, they've got it all covered. Not much to say here - superb stuff. Smash some Asahi's and dig in.