The Hills of Pleasure

20 minutes and you’re there

Tickle your palate and tempt your taste buds as you tour the wineries, visit craft breweries and sample the best local produce only a stone’s throw from Adelaide
words brad crouch


You know they keep the bar pretty high for quality in the Adelaide Hills when a brewer from the region wins the world’s best beer title and quips: “We’re stoked.” Prancing Pony head brewer Frank Samson’s laconic response reflects the thrill of being the true king of beers while also suggesting this is a region where the quality of the food, wine and, of course, beer, is naturally expected to be world standard. Prancing Pony’s India Red Ale won the title of Supreme Champion Beer at September’s International Beer Challenge in London, after first winning its category Gold as Best Ale. You can sample this superb drop at the brewery at Totness near Mount Barker, where visitors can watch Prancing Pony’s six beers being brewed, take a tour and relax with nibbles or a leisurely lunch. Just near the brewery Buzz Honey offers a “hive door” for tastings while Skara sells artisan smallgoods with the goal of being the best.

Whether worried about carbon footprints and “food miles”, or just thrilled with the taste, local produce is part of the Adelaide Hills identity. For instance Locavore at Stirling lives by the principles of “the 100 Mile Diet” — the restaurant sources everything from as close as possible. This includes produce such as smoked seafood from Harris Smokehouse, artisan cheeses from Udder Delights and Woodside Cheese Wrights, and freshly picked porcini mushrooms and chestnuts from Nirvana Organic Farm – all in the Hills. Another Woodside cheese specialist, Section28 Artisan Cheeses, just won the overall dairy prize at the 2016 delicious Produce Awards in Sydney for best cheese for its Monforte.

Chocolate lovers must stop at Stirling’s Red Cacao Chocolatier, which specialises in single origin chocolates, and Hahndorf Hill Winery, which with its spectacular views offer a ChocoVino experience where their boutique wines are matched to acclaimed chocolates. The outings have been included in CNN’s top 10 global adventures for chocoholics and ranks in the top 10 food and wine touring options of South Australia.

Many other excellent wineries are scattered through the Hills — The Lane Vineyard at Hahndorf has a dining room in the heart of its vines. Other wineries with cellar doors include Chain of Ponds, Bird in Hand, Shaw & Smith and Pike & Joyce. Striving for excellence is also matched with the friendliness of staff at Mt Lofty Ranges Vineyard, Nepenthe, Amadio, Ashton Hills, Black Bishop and Petaluma. There dozens of superb cellar doors waiting to be discovered.

With all this talk of fine local ingredients you might want to chance your arm at preparing a meal. Rilka’s Kitchen offers cooking classes as does the Sticky Rice Cooking School, which also has accommodation.

Get a taste of the Adelaide Hills

Visitors will be able to enjoy a fresh taste of the Adelaide Hills at the planned $4.5 million Premium Adelaide Hills Beverage Experience. The ambitious joint project between The Hills Cider Company, Mismatch Brewing Co, Adelaide Hills Distillery and Ashton Valley Fresh will have brewery and distillery facilities as well as a cellar door outlet showcasing all four brands, plus a shop stocking local products. The venue between Nairne and Woodside is scheduled to open next year, helped by a $950,000 Regional Development Fund grant.

Backers aim to make it a must-visit destination for travellers to taste fine craft beer, premium spirits, tasty cider and fresh juices, further cementing the region’s reputation for quality produce.Tobias Kline from The Hills Cider Company says the new facility will improve the export potential of all the companies.