By Julietta Jameson
There’s been a quiet revolution in the Adelaide Hills, led by young producers, growers and artists in love with the region’s providence. They’ve forged a new food and wine scene that, though local and boutique, is getting plenty of global attention. Building on the bedrock of the Adelaide Hills’ rich and proud history of food and wine, these renegades are, in many ways, turning back the clock – they’re all about natural methods, handcrafting, organics, skin contact wines, honouring terroir and authenticity. And food and wine lovers are the lucky beneficiaries.
New wave wines
Basket Range, a small town in the Adelaide Hills, has become synonymous with the revolution’s vanguard. This is where these low-intervention winemakers are creating some of the most exciting vintages in Australia.
Gentle Folk’s small parcel syrah, chardonnay and pinot noir is highly sought locally, while BK Wines’ single vineyard drops are produced in enough volume to be exported. The Other Right’s “slow made” wines, by husband and wife Alex Schulkin and Galit Shachaf is minimal and free-spirited. Siblings Jasper and Sophie Button’s Commune of Buttons started as a project to save their family’s vineyard, and now is kicking goals in the organic and biodynamic scene. These are a few of the rising stars in this close-knit community of like-minded creatives sharing knowledge and passion for the new wave of wine.
Cellar door experiences
As the Adelaide Hills natural wine scene burgeoned, however, aficionados lamented the lack of cellar doors. Collaborations such as that between graphic designer Charlie Lawrence, Taras and Amber Ochota of another great Basket Range winery, Ochota Barrels, and chef Nick Filsell are changing that. The formidable group are behind Lost in a Forest, an establishment in the former St Stephens Anglican Church at Uraidla, where they serve the cult wines from some of these small regional producers, and dish up great wood-fired pizzas using herbs and vegetables from their own garden, housemade gelato and coffee from small-batch neighbourhood roaster, Moshico. Locals also love the Summertown Aristologist, and why wouldn’t they with the eclectic collaboration between Basket Range winemakers Anton van Klopper (Lucy Margaux) and Jasper Button (Commune of Buttons), and restaurateur Aaron Fenwick (Orana, Street, Blackwood) who have created a cellar door for natural wines and a simple, changing menu – by former Magill Estate chef Tom Edwards – in an establishment named and modelled after one of South Australia’s most legendary country diners.
One stop shop
Recognising their growing following, the community of growers creating the Adelaide Hills magic launched The Festival at Basket Range to mark the end of harvest and showcase artisan wines from more than ten winemakers including BK Wines, Lucy Margaux, Ochota Barrels, The Other Right, Jauma and Basket Range Wine. Local foodies such as chef Tim Bourke of pop-up dinner outfit South West Supper Club and sustainable Tansley Farm among others, this year created the food offerings. Held on the Basket Range Oval with entertainment from local musicians, it’s one to put in the diary.
Even the old is new again in the Adelaide Hills, with classics reinvented, such as the Uraidla Hotel, a heritage pub which has a new menu fuelled by local gardens and artisans. Owners Ed and Julie Peter, who have a mission to resurrect classic local hotels, have infused the interiors with rustic charm and created a perfect place to while away afternoons.
The Stanley Bridge Tavern in Verdun, also owned by the Peters, is another pub given new life with some successful Adelaide restaurateurs moving in to provide honest good food, as well as plenty of amiable local atmosphere.
At the other end of the culinary scale, Mount Lofty Ranges Vineyard goes from strength to strength, adding a 2017 Chef Hat to a number of other incredible accolades for its sustainable cellar door and restaurant.
The Lane Vineyard hosts a hugely popular Chef’s Table lunch with Executive Chef James Brinklow using South Australian produce to match the single vineyard wines. It’s immersive, unique and worth the several hours it devours.
Another stalwart, the Seasonal Garden Café, in tourist hub Hahndorf, has also reinvented itself, moving into a bigger, brighter, beautiful purpose-built space where dedicated gardener and organic food advocate Sylvia Hart supplies a devoted following with seasonal takes on classics such as toasties, cakes and breakfast dishes.
Sensory delights are not limited to wineries and restaurants; Red Cacao is a spectacular of-the-moment chocolatier, with Marcus Booth-Remmers bringing European finesse to a dazzling array of treats in his Stirling shop and café, while Woodside Cheese Wrights serve an innovative selection of cheeses (try goat cheese encrusted with native Australian green ants) and provides an outlet for local art through its gallery.
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