SALIFE heads to the Barossa Valley for a weekend dedicated to the historic family-owned winery Yalumba and two nights at the newly renovated Louise, all part of a new series of luxury Barossa food and wine events that are attracting oenophiles from around the country
The Louise launches luxury wine weekends
A palette of mauve and red sunset hues dance across Barossa hills blanketed in the rolling corduroy of vineyards, painting a welcoming picture for guests arriving at The Louise on a chilly Friday night.
Peacocks (from the nearby Tscharke Wines) peck over the lawns, the outdoor fire pit is lit, and friendly staff check guests into their luxurious suites where gas fireplaces are already on.
SALIFE has been invited to luxury lodge The Louise – freshly renovated last year to the tune of $3 million – to sample one of a new series of luxury Wine Weekends.
This particular weekend in June pays homage to Yalumba – Australia’s oldest family winery. There is wine-paired fine dining, a special tour of the historic Yalumba and a luxurious two-night stay at the newly renovated Louise.
Founded by Jim and Helen Carreker about 18 years ago, The Louise was acquired by Baillie Lodges in 2021, joining the Southern Ocean Lodge (set to open later this year), Silky Oaks Lodge in the Daintree and Longitude 131 in the Northern Territory.
The new-look Louise features a long walkway flanked by rows of 15 private suites, separated by tall stone-walls. Suites are positioned so that each has a second private courtyard facing the bucolic surrounds.
The luxurious ensuites even have courtyard showers, perhaps for when it’s not so cold outside.
The revamped Louise is contemporary but maintains a country ambiance. The vibe is relaxed, not pretentious.
The walkway leads to The Louise’s entrance and into a new sitting room, a spectacular wine room (a glass prism that holds 800 bottles) and then the dining room of the Appellation Restaurant that basks in a sweeping vineyard panorama through large picture windows.
The evening begins with sunset drinks and canapes including an incredible tempura mushroom – a Louise staple – happily enjoyed inside the warmth of The Louise.
Executive Chef Joel Grudnoff leads the culinary team at Appellation, drawing from a small kitchen garden and, of course, local producers.
For this weekend, Joel is joined by Mark Godbeer – the executive chef of The Louise’s sister resort Silky Oaks Lodge – who has flown all the way from the Daintree.
Seated together at one long table, the guests are mostly couples – late career and retired professionals – that include some devout Yalumba followers. They’ve come from Canberra, Sydney and even Calgary for this experience.
Yalumba’s revered chief winemaker Louisa Rose joins guests for this evening’s dinner and what better way to enjoy wine than having dinner with the winemaker?
For each course, Mark emerges from the kitchen to briefly describe the mind-boggling method and inspiration behind each dish, while Louisa describes the backstory to each of the paired wines.
The evening culminates with a special pour of Yalumba’s newly released The Caley 2018, which sells for $365 a bottle.
Unknown to each other at first but sharing an interest in wine and the Barossa Valley, the couples are by the end of the night chatting and laughing like old friends and will continue to bond over food and wine throughout the weekend.
The next morning – after waking to vineyard views – the day begins with breakfast in Appellation, enjoying views of the arctic wind ruffling gum trees in the distance.
Then it’s off for a visit to the Barossa Valley Farmers’ Markets and an exclusive tour of Yalumba – a winery that started with the planting of vines in 1849 by founder Samuel Smith.
The Yalumba tour begins with the nursery: a vine production facility that clones, grows and supplies young vines to grape growers around Australia. The nursery is Australia’s most reliable source of grafted grapevines.
The tour then visits Yalumba’s one-of-a-kind cooperage and sandstone clock tower followed by a lunch catered by Mark and The Louise team, inside Yalumba’s subterranean concrete wine tanks.
A highlight is koji kingfish tataki with ponzu, chilli and passionfruit.
Then, a tour of the Yalumba Signature Cellar reveals wines dating back to as far as the 1880s.
After a sample of Yalumba’s 30-year-old tawny by the fire, it’s back to The Louise for an evening of shared-course dining inspired by Mark’s recipes from Silky Oaks Lodge but adapted to suit a cooler climate.
With everyone having got to know each other better, the second night is livelier than the first and conversation ranges from reflecting on the day’s activities to the imminent re-opening of Southern Ocean Lodge.
There has been a lot of food this weekend. But after turning in for a second night, there is room for one final breakfast, excellent coffee and one more view to the vines and hills.
It is time to debrief before saying goodbye to new friends. For some, it has been an enjoyable escape from their busy professional lives.
There is a common agreement that life’s luxuries are about spending money on experiences, rather than things. There’s also joy in a trip where everything is organised for you – no need to decide where, when or how to get anywhere.
Most guests are flying home interstate and it seems a shame that only one couple is from Adelaide. But with the Barossa home to more than 150 wineries, there should be no shortage of Wine Weekends – plenty more chances to experience our spectacular backyard while enjoying a little luxury.
SALIFE was a guest of Baillie Lodges.
including free delivery to your door.