You’ve heard of the Barossa Valley, I’m sure. What about McLaren Vale? Coonawarra? Well, there’s also Langhorne Creek. Under an hour’s drive from Adelaide, it’s one of South Australia’s lesser known wine regions. Having visited recently, it begs the question, why is Langhorne Creek such a secret?
Firstly, Langhorne Creek is easy to get to. Head straight up the freeway to Mount Barker. Take the Wellington Road turn off and follow it to Langhorne Creek Road T junction. Turn left to enter the township or turn right and begin your tastings.
Located on flood plains adjacent to Lake Alexandrina, the rich soil is warmed through the day and cooled by the lake’s evening breezes creating the intense flavours of cool climate grapes.
If you turned right at the T junction then Bremerton Wines is your first port of call. Established in 1988, the decision to commercially make wines wasn’t made at Bremerton until 1993. Sisters, Winemaker Rebecca and Marketing Manager Lucy Willson, run the show with the help of their families.
Rebecca won her first trophy at 25 with her 1997 Cabernet Sauvignon. Known for their high-quality individualistic wines, Bremerton is ranked in the top 5% of wineries in Australia and have had a James Halliday 5 star rating for 11 years.
You may meet the sisters at the Cellar Door between 10 am and 5 pm, but it’s more likely Josh or Eva will take you through the tastings. Tastings in most South Australian wineries are complimentary and that’s the case at Bremerton.
Wiggy Sparkling Chardonnay is a great place to start. Named for their mother, Mignonne “Wiggy” Willson, Wiggy has been made using the traditional bottle fermentation method. Clean citrus opens to finish dry with a richness through the middle palate.
Meander through the whites, including a masterful Bâttonage Chardonnay. The reds begin with another sparkling, the CHW (Craig Hamilton Willson, their Dad this time) Sparkling Shiraz. After another 7 excellent reds (I challenge you to find one you’re not keen on) and you’ll finish on fortifieds.
There are about 18 potential wines for tasting at Bremerton, that’s a lot, for most people. Fortunately, the Willsons are supporters of the region’s fine produce. Lunch is served upstairs in the Cellar Door Gallery where temporary exhibitions rotate, or outside in the shaded courtyard.
Take the white wine tasting journey, grab a bottle of your favourite and a charcuterie platter for a break, then return to the wine journey with reds. This is a highly recommended approach to the hospitality of Bremerton Wines.
For the historian who loves wine, a Langhorne Creek tour is not complete without a visit to Bleasdale. Frank Potts saw the potential of the flood plains in 1850 and planted the first vine at what is now the Bleasdale Winery. The Potts family have been following an innovative grape growing and wine-making tradition ever since.
Pour yourself a glass of their Flagship Frank Potts Cabernet Blend, pull up a comfy pew and find out more of the Bleasdale story here.
The Meakins family purchased Newmans Horseradish from the originator, Fred Newman, in 1947. Outgrowing their 7 acres in the Adelaide Hills, they migrated to Langhorne Creek.
Nabbing the property on Lake Plains Road from under the nose of winemaker John Glaetzer, the Meakins now had too much land for horseradish. In a twist of fate, John Glaetzer agreed to their wine making proposal so they planted the vines and Rusticana Wine was born.
The views from the cellar door across fields of horseradish, vines and gum trees are spectacular. All the Newmans products, horseradish, crushed chilli & garlic, ginger, mustard and dips, are available for purchase along with local honey, patés and olives.
Rusticana’s range is tight with an emphasis on reds. Their Cabernet Sauvignon, Shiraz and Zinfandel are noteworthy, but Rusticana’s Durif is the standout.
Durif is a cross between Syrah and Peloursin created in the 1880s by Dr Durif at the Montpellier University to resist downy mildew. The experiment was a success and although France has very few Durif plantings, the grape is popular in Australia. Drinkers of big reds enjoy Durif for its rich colour and concentration.
A Cellar Door with a difference, The Winehouse features 5 of Langhorne Creek’s boutique wine labels: Ben Pott’s Wines, Gypsie Jack, Kimbolton, Heartland and John Glaetzer’s John’s Blend.
Meechi’s Brewing Company craft beer has a home here and the lunch and snack menu shines with local produce. As much a function area as restaurant, bar and cellar door, regular events and celebrations are held at this picturesque venue.
If you’re after a cleanser before, between or after all the wine then stop off at The Bridge Hotel. Opened in 1850, this pub has been a meeting place for locals and a feed & watering hole for travellers since the gold rush.
Open fires through the winter and the outdoor beer garden in summer influence the seasonal pub menu and provide a great spot to take in more of Langhorne Creek’s hospitality.
An overnight stay may be required to reach all of Langhorne Creek’s cellar doors. There’s still Lake Breeze with stunning views across the vineyards, an opportunity for a lazy lunch or show up for the “Handpicked Festival”.
Vineyard Road offers tastings with a difference by pampering you with their range of luxury olive oil based skin care products and Angas Plains is a great afternoon stop to enjoy your tastings with afternoon tea.
With all of this, we’re still wondering why Langhorne Creek’s wine region is such a secret. Spending a couple of days in this delicious part of the world: it’s a thing we love….