Day 1, March 26: Chocolate and Syrah (a.k.a. Shiraz). Morning - free. Afternoon - what better way to kick-off the trip than with a tour of one of Australia’s premier chocolate makers? We’ll learn about the process from the roasting of the cocao beans to the high-end packaging. And, yes, we’ll taste! Next, we’ll head just outside Adelaide to the McLaren Vale wine district where we’ll start with one of the top producers. Now in the reigns of the fourth generation, this winery is one of the most high-profile family wineries in Australia. Evening - a private welcome dinner gala will be held at another of Australia’s most successful high-quality-family-owned wineries. A traditional meal on the “barbie” will be accompanied by its stunning Shiraz (Syrah to us) that have won countless international gold medals.
Day 2, March 27: World Class Wines and Dining. Morning - we begin the day by a visit to Adelaide’s famous central market. Begun in 1869, it today boasts a vibrant rainbow of luscious vegetables and fruits, an array of just-plucked-from-the-sea fish and a plethora of gourmet food shops offering the best tastes of Adelaide.
Afternoon - next, there will be a private lunch at the McLaren Vale winery whose winemaker has been named the Australian Winemaker of the Year. Moreover, his wines have been in the Wine Spectator’s “Top Ten”, and Robert Parker has scored several of them 99 points. Next, we’ll wrap up our time in the McLaren Vale with a visit to another iconic producer. Situated on one of the prettiest spots in the area, this winery produces a portfolio of killer Shiraz-based wines.
Evening - a special treat awaits us with an after-hours private tour of the international benchmark Penfold’s winery. Then, dinner at Penfold’s best-in-class restaurant located in the hills above Adelaide. The posh venue offers a panoramic grape-vine-framed view of the city as well as a superlative dining experience.
Day 3, March 28: Cook with a TV Chef and Dine with a Winemaker. Morning - pack your bags as we’re heading to the stunning Barossa Valley, reminiscent of Napa with its undulating vine-draped hills. Our first stop will be at one of the valley’s premier wineries whose winemaker has a love affair with Rhone varietals.
Afternoon - in addition to its landscape, the Barossa also shares a robust “foodie” culture with Napa. A cooking demo will be held in the kitchen where Australia’s beloved TV show “The Cook & the Chef” is filmed. We’ll learn how to cook with vertjus, a grape product used as an ingredient in French and Middle Eastern sauces or to deglaze preparations. Next, we’re off to another of Barossa’s mover-and-shaker wine producers where we’ll watch the harvest action in fields of 120 year old vines. Evening - a private dinner will be held at one of Australia’s most respected and innovative wineries. Its outstanding lineup has garnered too-many-to-count international awards.
Day 4, March 29: A Barrel of Fun and Winemaker Lunch. Morning - we start off the day observing the painstaking process of barrel-making. Then, an outdoor lunch on a private lake owned by Australia’s oldest family-held winery. Revered for its phenomenal wines, this wine dynasty is also acclaimed for its cutting-edge ecological advances and its nursery which supplies vines to some of the country’s most prominent winemakers.
Afternoon - a special tasting in the home of a small producer…but not just any small producer. This winemaking husband and wife team own some of the most prized real estate in the Barossa, and their wines have received near perfect scores from Robert Parker and the Wine Spectator. Evening - free time to explore our charming wine country town which boasts several of the Barossa’s culinary meccas.
Day 5, March 30: Taste Port from Your Birth Year. Morning - free time. Afternoon - there aren’t too many opportunities in life to taste Port made the year of your birth, but you’ll have this unique experience today. This winery’s Port has received a 100 point score from Parker, as well as thundering applause from experts around the globe. Then, our final winery of the Barossa will be a highly acclaimed small producer where mother manages the vineyards, dad oversees marketing and son is the winemaker. This family affair produces exquisitely crafted wines. Robert Parker remarks: ”This is the kind of wine only a handful of South Australian vineyards can consistently achieve. There is virtually nothing like it produced anywhere else in the world”. Evening - we’ll wrap up our day at a place that has been voted “The Best Pizza in Australia.” We’ll sample a variety of superb salads and famous gourmet pies…oh, yes, and some great local Shiraz.
Day 6, March 31: A Gourmet Retreat. Morning - bid your goodbye to the Barossa as today we fly to Melbourne to learn about its three fantastic wine regions. Afternoon - lunch will be held at an iconic lakeside hideaway. Long regarded as one of Australia’s best, this drop-dead gorgeous destination features a seasonal produce driven menu that pays homage to the efforts of the local boutique suppliers. Virtually everything, from house baked breads to an extensive charcuterie range, is made on the premises. Evening - free time to explore and unwind. Replete with charming Victorian architecture, the town offers several interesting dining possibilities including an upscale wine-bar, an edgy Asian-fusion restaurant as well as retail wine shop with an award-winning bistro.
Day 7, April 1: Que Syrah, Syrah! (or, Que Shiraz, Shiraz!). Morning - free. Afternoon - lunch will be held at one of the founding wineries in the area. Shiraz is king here; it is vinified as a single varietal, blended with other reds and even appears as a sparkling wine (which was one of the best Australian bubblies we’ve tasted). Then, we’ll head to one of the area’s icons. A former food scientist who came to winemaking in an early "mid-life crisis," the owner has been turning out jaw-dropping wines. His twenty-something daughter is also making wines that have received stratospheric scores from wine critics. We’ll finish the day with a visit to newcomer who produces an exceptional portfolio of Shiraz. Evening - dinner will be at the restaurant voted by locals two years running as the number one dining choice in town.
Day 8, April 2: Local Goat Cheese and Wild Duck. Morning - "Best of the best" in Australian Agriculture. This is how the Royal Agricultural Society described the goat cheese that won their prestigious 2010 President's Medal. We’ll tour the farm and taste. Afternoon - lunch will be held at a special country-store-cum-wine-shop featuring the region’s highest quality wines and foods. Next, a private tasting at a winery that crafts premium quality wines. Evening - dinner in the home of an oh-so-very-talented winemaking father and son team. Wildly popular, their wines such as “Duck Muck” have run away with raving reviews by wine critics.
Day 9, April 3: Boutique Olive Oil and Wine. Morning - today, we move on to a nearby wine region, the glorious Yarra Valley. We’ll kick off the new district with an olive oil tasting of three different oils made by a family of Italian heritage. Afternoon - in addition to sublime olive oils, this family also makes magnifico wines. We’ll have lunch with the owner of the company and taste their excellent lineup. Then, we’ll check into accommodations located on the banks of the Yarra River. The remainder of the afternoon is free to enjoy this delightful setting located in an actual nature reserve. Evening - dinner on our estate’s terrace overlooking the Yarra River.
Day 10, April 4: Life on a Private Nature Reserve. Morning - our upscale bungalows are located in a private reserve filled with kangaroos, wallabies and platterpuses. Today, we’ll tour the property with a local expert in the flora and fauna. Afternoon - private tasting at one of the real charmers of the area. Established in 1863, this historic property remains in the family and continues to produce superb wines. The cult-like wines are primarily sold to the winery’s mailing list or to fine dining venues in Melbourne or Sydney, thus, there is no tasting room. Evening - BBQ dinner on our estate.
Day 11, April 5: Cooking at a Captivating Winery. Morning - today we’re in for a very special pleasure at one of the most successful family companies in Australia. We’ll start with a lesson from the chef in the winery’s state-of-the-art kitchen, then move on to a private wine tasting. Finally, we’ll lunch in the breath-taking dining room on the items made earlier in the cooking class. Afternoon - next, perhaps we’ve saved the best of the Yarra Valley wines until the last. You may be so enchanted by these wines of great complexity, depth and texture that you decide to bring home a few in your suitcase. We did! Evening- free.
Day 12, April 6: Exquisite Cool Climate Wines. Morning- our final toasts will be in the neighboring Mornington Peninsula wine district where cool climate varietals such as pinot noir, chardonnay, pinot gris and sauvignon blanc thrive. A private tasting will be held at one of their hallmark producers who has received accolades from the international wine press. Afternoon- our grand farewell lunch will be held at another benchmark winery that produces stratospherically fab wines with which to toast our goodbyes to “the down-under.” The tour will end late-afternoon in Melbourne. There are evening flights returning to the USA, as well as flights to Sydney for those who wish to spend time there. For those who wish to overnight in Melbourne, Wine-Knows can easily make arrangements for you.
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