Marked for success: Barossa Valley

More than just a meeting of brands or a museum of old cultural practices, the Trust Mark aims to curate the very best of the Barossa, recognising the formidable achievements of the region.

In 2011, the Character Preservation Act 2022 put in legislation the vitality and uniqueness of the Barossa Valley (and her southern fellow, McLaren Vale). The inaugural Barossa Trust Mark has similar aims, highlighting the particular tastes and history of the valley’s food, wine and experiences. Quality, integrity, origin, community and environment are the underpinning values of the Trust Mark. The mark is the combined effort of the Barossa Grape & Wine Association (BGWA), Tourism Barossa and Barossa Food, and eligible applicants must have been a member of one of these associations for at least three years. The Barossa Trust Mark places side-by-side some of the valley’s firmest communities, longest-lived families and most recent innovators. Importantly, the licensees have fostered close, neighbourly bonds with each other. Hutton Vale Farm sells their lamb every Saturday at the Barossa Farmer’s Market. Cellar doors recommend other wineries to their guests. Linke’s Mettwurst is a treat featured on multiple menus. There are 14 wineries celebrated by the Trust Mark, making it clear that wine is still at the heart of the Barossa. To make selection a more streamlined process, wineries must have produced at least seven vintages. “Our advisory group said that over seven years, you could build up a very consistent body of work,” explains James March, CEO of BGWA. “While allowing for some variation, at that stage you’re unlikely to release a wine that you don’t believe is going to reach a certain standard.” While March represents the wine element of the mark – and, indeed, grew up on a small Barossa winery before working vintages in Europe and returning home – he is proud that the initiative will promote the Barossa’s broader achievements. “It’s not all about wine,” he says. “Wine’s an integral part, but there’s also more. There’s the whole experience.” One omission is Maggie Beer. March explains that Beer had been one of the Trust Mark’s founding ‘pathfinders’ for her verjuice. Although the verjuice wasn’t under investigation, Beer chose to step back from the Mark in the wake of the ACCC inquiry into some of her product labels. “I think that was in keeping with Maggie’s spirit,” says March. “Her concern is always for the Barossa and she didn’t want anything to take away from what the Trust Mark was all about.” The inaugural licensees will officially receive the Trust Mark at a launch in the city JamFactory. JamFactory have fashioned individual class trophies for the very first Trust Mark recipients to proudly display. More than just a meeting of brands or a museum of old cultural practices, the Trust Mark aims to curate the very best of the Barossa, recognising the formidable achievements of the region.

Inaugural Barossa Trust Mark licensees

Apex Bakery: 1924 Dough Ferment Loaf

Doubt that a loaf of bread could possibly be good enough to represent a region? Head to Tanunda and try the 1924. Named for the year Apex Bakery was established, the bread – an English recipe with a German twist – is cooked in a wood-fired Scotch Oven and is light, flavourful and crisply crusted.

Barossa Experience Tours

Warm and welcoming hosts Werner and Christine Gattermayr are the husband and wife behind this touring company. They’ve lived in the region for many years (Christine is fifth generation Barossan), and between them know every producer, vine and building in the Barossa – and have a story for each.

Barossa Farmers Market

After eleven years, the market has become a feature of the community and local industry, with each of the 50 stalls – flowers, preserves, meat and more – looked after by its producer, so any questions about provenance can be answered by the person who knows best.

Barossa Taste Sensations

With a region as vast and varied as the Barossa, it’s understandable that so many tour companies are thriving. Barossa Taste Sensations is for larger groups, offering a luxury van service through the valley. The structure of Jonathan Milne’s tours are most remarkable: the journey is set out like a long degustation, with each winery visit punctuated by a course of the meal.

Barossa Unique Tours

Tony Scharke’s tours are spectacular romps through the countryside either on the back of a motortrike or in a jeep. Scharke, a local, has worked many vintages and knows a phenomenal amount about wine and the Barossa. On the trike, you experience the region with all your senses – feeling the sun and smelling the vines – making an exhilarating change from standard bus tours.

Barossa Valley Ballooning

Just like the Barossa vines, ballooning is at the mercy of the weather gods. But when the skies are clear and the wind is calm, there’s absolutely nothing better than heading into the dawn and taking off over the hills. If the weather is inclement in the Barossa, there is sometimes the option of heading to Blanchetown and taking flight over the River Murray. The day before our flight, a perfect trip saw Cathy Wills (Tourism Barossa) head up above the clouds, and then witness the birth of two of Whistler Farm’s new lambs on the way back down. A breathtaking and graceful way to see the countryside.

Elderton Wines: Command Shiraz

The Command Shiraz is produced from a single block – the oldest block – on the Elderton Estate. After three years in oak and a year of maturation in the bottle, the Command Shiraz is released. The current vintage, 2010, marks the 25th year of Command Shiraz.

Gibson Wines: Australia Old Vine Collection Barossa Shiraz

Years ago, viticulturist Rob Gibson was on his way to Western Australia when he found himself captured in the lure of the Barossa. The Australia Old Vine Collection takes some of the oldest vines in the Barossa to produce a stellar Shiraz celebrating the particular regional notes of Gibson’s adopted home.

Glen Eldon Wines: Dry Bore Shiraz

One of the newer varieties to receive the Trust Mark, the first Dry Bore Shiraz vintage was produced in 1998. As with many vineyards in the region, Glen Eldon has had difficulty with water flow to the vines, so introduced a bore to aid the process. When this dried up, the vineyard was left to its own devices to flourish into the wonderful fruit selected for the premium Shiraz. 

Henschke: Hill of Grace

At best estimate, the Grandfathers vines across from Gnadenberg (‘Hill of Grace’) Lutheran Church were planted in 1860. Standing by these ancient vines, with the distinct taste of the venerated Hill of Grace shiraz on the tongue, evokes a tangible sense of history and place. Six generations of Henschke and Stanitzki lines lead to the current team at the helm: Stephen Carl Henscke, his viticulturist wife Prue, and their son, Johann. Prue has been making small but monumentally effective changes to the running of the vineyard, making the vines more environmentally sound and secure for years to come.

Hutton Vale Farm: Hutton Vale Farm Lamb

John and Jan Angas are cornerstones of the Barossa community, and their ethically reared lamb is an excellent example of the quality produce coming out of the region. From breeding to slaughter, lambs and their mothers are raised in an absolutely stress-free environment. The cuts of lamb are chosen specifically to ensure minimum wastage. Hutton Vale Farm also produces small quantities of preserves, and hosts lunches and dinners for small groups and larger parties. The vegetables used on site are grown on the farm, and the family has plans to introduce a small orchard too.

Linke’s Central Meat Store: Mettwurst

Locals admire Graham Linke’s legendary work ethic, an awe-inspiring feat of perseverance forged over 60 years in the family business, curing smallgoods using a traditional wood-fired smokehouse on premises at the Central Meat Store in Nuriootpa. Linke’s famed Mettwurst is a favourite, perfected over decades in practice.

Jacob’s Creek

Jacob’s Creek is synonymous with the Barossa Valley, but one of the valley’s best-kept secrets is Steingarten. The vineyard is elevated high in the valley along a public road – and is the perfect place to witness a brilliant sunset with fresh, spritzy Riesling in hand. The Jacob’s Creek Steingarten Riesling deserves its mark, not only for the particular style of the vineyard – with the vines closely grown on a steep hillface, shielded from the harshest midday heat – but for the delightfully zesty and crisp flavour. Jacob’s Creek also received the Trust Mark for their Centenary Hill Shiraz and Visitor Centre.

Peter Lehmann Wines: Margaret Semillon

Margaret Lehmann has lived in the Barossa for nearly 45 years, working alongside her late husband, the Peter of Peter Lehmann Wines. Margaret is well-respected in the region and was selected as a local representative on the judging panel for the Barossa Trust Mark. This prize-winning Semillon has as much of a presence in the region as its namesake, and represents the very best of the Barossa’s lesser-known white wine production.

Pindarie Cellar Door

Gillian Standen-Thomas from Barossa Food can tell you exactly where to sit (underneath the fig tree) and what to order (one of the pies), as Pindarie Cellar Door has fast become an icon in the region for rustic dining with a view. The cellar door, lovingly hand-restored by owner Tony Brooks, looks out over the Pindarie estate: ripening vines, lush hills and brilliant canola as far as the eye can see.

Rockford Wines: Basket Press Shiraz

Robert O’Callaghan, one of the most well-known viticulturists to emerge from the region, introduced the first vintage of Basket Press Shiraz in 1984, and the production of this wine with chocolate and berry notes has continued ever since. Fruit for the Basket Press Shiraz is sourced from all around the valley, giving a whole-picture flavour of the Barossa.

Schild Estate: Moorooroo Limited Release Shiraz

While there may be some banter at the dinner table about Schild Estate’s “south Barossa” home in Roland’s Flat, the Moorooroo shiraz speaks for itself and for the region. As the Hill of Grace represents the land on Gnadenberg’s doorstep, the four remaining ancient vines at Moorooroo, planted 167 years ago by the famed Jacob family, can be found throughout the region and claim part responsibility for the population of shiraz in the Valley.

Seppeltsfield

Seppeltsfield receives three Trust Marks for their fortified wine, Centenary Tour experience and Vineyard Cottage accommodation. The Para 100 Year Old Vintage Tawny is a unique offering around the globe, with no other winery housing such a collection of consecutive centenary vintages. The 100-year-old fortified wine is testament to the Barossa Valley’s eye for longevity and heritage, which is also celebrated in the Centenary Tour. Guided by Sam, we were invited to view much of the winery’s history, its current operations, and even into the future with the establishment of Fino restaurant underway.

St Hallet: Old Block Shiraz

In the 1980s, there was pressure for Barossans to rip out old vines, particularly Shiraz. Some vineyards – Elderton, Schild and St Hallet among them – resisted, and instead produced the beautiful varieties that remain with us today. Robert O’Callaghan is responsible for the bold Old Block Shiraz, originally produced from a single vineyard in 1980.

Whistler Farm

Although the accommodation is self-contained, Chris and Jayne Pfeiffer are such wonderful hosts you’ll find yourself with a little family for the weekend. The Pfeiffers are a very warm couple, who demonstrate time and time again that they will go out of their way to do all they can for their guests. Whistler Farm produces almonds, olives, olive oil, wine and more, making a complete Barossa experience in one homey place. There’s also a cheeky path from Whistler Farm’s back door right to Maggie Beer’s Farm Shop. As a guest of the Barossa Trust Mark, the author was able to visit or try produce from the inaugural licensees. barossa.com/trust-mark  

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