The quaint townships of the breathtaking Adelaide Hills are brimming with cultural discoveries, award-winning wineries (many specialising in cool-climate varieties) and artisan eateries. If you’re a gin lover, you’ll also want to visit some of the region’s most popular distilleries.
but first, brunch
FRED Eatery is the perfect combination of sweet and savoury. The local favourite that specialises in flavour driven comfort food, serving up breakfast, lunch, coffee and cakes, recently took the top spot in The Advertiser’s Adelaide Hill’s Top Café survey with chef Matt Preston. You can even bring your pup along for a doggy biscuit and lactose-free turmeric latte. There’s also an inviting courtyard, mezzanine library and private dining space with affiliated retail outlet, FRED Living, just next door!
22 Mount Barker Road, Aldgate
08 8339 1899
The Ambleside experience begins before you even enter the state-of-the-art distillery – in the botanical garden that the family-owned venue was literally built around. Juniper berries, native citrus and an array of herbs that are grown in the distillery garden and used to flavour Ambleside’s traditional, vapour infused range of craft spirits.
Capturing the essence of the local produce is part of the founding family’s ethos, and just one of the reasons their uniquely authentic gins are so popular. Complementing the flavours, which are blended together in their Australian-made copper still, and completing the experience is a journey through the character-filled Tasting Room.
A nine-metre-long reclaimed brick wall and polished concrete floors greet you at the entrance while a large timber deck extends your gaze toward the ensuing view of Hahndorf’s iconic rolling hills.
Tasting Flights that include three signature gins are a good place to start, while the more adventurous might want to embark on a Gin Blending Masterclass where you will use a mix of botanicals straight from the garden, as well as local and international producers, to create your own unique blend.
1 Ambleside Road, Hahndorf
The second-generation family-owned vineyard is a mere 25 minutes from Adelaide, yet the charismatic stone cellar door and restaurant in the heart of Nairne will have you feeling like you’re a million miles away.
The winery’s a la carte restaurant, Clover & Stone, boasts a delicious menu crafted by executive chef Chang Koog Lee (aka Cookie). The cuisine is a fusion of fresh, local South Australian produce and Korean flavours. Wild caught Barramundi with orange quinoa salad, braised daikon and jorim sauce, or traditional house-made gamja-jeon Korean potato fritters with miso bechamel, roasted pepitas, macadamia and vinegar glaze are just a few of the dishes you’ll find.
Food aside, there are two other good reasons to add this one to your Hills’ list. Howard Vineyard actually has two vineyards, each used to produce different types of wine. Howard Vineyard in Mount Barker is a warmer vineyard in a cool climate; the grapes harvested here are used to make Shiraz, Cabernet Franc, Cabernet Sauvignon, Rose and Sauvignon Blanc. Schoenthal (meaning beautiful valley) Vineyard in Lobethal is known for its natural acidity and cool climate, producing some of the Adelaide Hill’s finest Chardonnay, Pinot Noir, Pinot Gris and Sauvignon Blanc.
The winemaking at Howard Vineyard has a meticulous process. Head winemaker Tom believes that picking the grapes at optimal ripeness is the key to achieving vibrant flavours and natural acidity. And so, the winemakers go above and beyond to harvest the grapes at their peak, from handpicking and hand pruning to shoot and bunch trimming and low yields.
There are also wine tastings at the cellar door or you can experience the Amos Tasting, which explores the premium Amos range with a virtual walkthrough of the Howard Vineyard story. Be sure to keep an eye out for Felix, the winery pooch.
53 Bald Hills Road, Nairne
08 8188 0203