Boutique micro brewery equipment

Private Beer & Cider Tour

Beer Brewery Tours Craft beer tasting

Craft Beer Tasting Flight – sample and compare styles

Private Beer & Cider Tour

Harvest Beer

With the wine harvest for V17 all but finalised, it’s a perfect time to share a piece on harvest beer. Enjoy a private beer and cider tour that showcases hops, with the hop harvest season at a close and fresh harvest ales now packaged.

If you are passionate about Boutique Brews, now is a great time to get on board a small group private beer & cider tour and embrace some of the amazing fresh craft beers on offer around Adelaide.

Hop Harvest

As autumn approaches every ear many winemakers eagerly await the arrival of this years fruit to craft into the new vintage. At the same time brewers are rubbing their hands together for the opportunity to brew with fresh hops.

Hop harvest is a time where, before hops are dried and packaged ready for use all year round, that they can be picked fresh and sold to brewers all over the country. This is for use in fresh or ‘wet’ hopped beers, also known as harvest beers.

Hops grow on bines which typically grow up to 3m tall on trellises and are harvested around the same time many wineries are picking grapes. The plant is a perennial and is trained up a string on these trellises, much like grapes. The harvest is typically over in all of 6 weeks, with differing varieties ready at differing times. Much like the vineyard and winery at vintage, hop harvest has its operational challenges.

Variety = flavour

There are well over 300 varieties of hops commercially available around the world and thousands are discovered as a product of breeding programs designed to find the next best new hop for brewers to exploit. Crosses of varieties are being generated every year in the search for new, interesting and unique cultivars with their own flavours and aromas. In Australia, roughly 20 varieties of hops are grown and sold commercially and each variety (much like grapes) offers specific and differing characteristics. Hops contain alpha-acids for bittering beers as well as essential oils which give beers some of their flavour and aroma. The hot brew is poured over the hop heads or the plant flowers, to give the beer its bitterness and reduce the otherwise sweet brew.

Most Australian hops express tropical fruit aromas and flavours such as lychee, passionfruit, pineapple and melon.

Exclusive boutique brewery beer tasting

Craft beer tasting on Tour

Brewing Wet Beers

Hops are normally picked, dried and then pelletized before they are packaged and stored carefully for sale and then used by brewers. Once a year however, some brewers  either travel to hop farms to collect freshly picked hops or have them sent overnight to use in their brewhouse.

It is this time of the year, by using these ‘wet’ fresh hops straight from the plant that they can produce a beer that is extremely special and unique. Wet hops lend a freshness to harvest beers, a grassy note or slightly woody character to the beer.

Harvest beers (typically ales) aim to feature the hop of choice as much as possible without too much malt or yeast character getting in the way. These beers are usually light pale ales of moderate ABV and will usually feature just a single hop variety, in an effort to showcase what each particular hop variety has to offer.

Growing Hops

Although Australian hop harvest volumes are small in the global scheme of things, producers have the ability to cater to the diverse demands from smaller producers, seen as a bonus for the craft brewing scene.

But the window of opportunity is naturally very small, with brewers planning to brew a harvest beer having to hop on the wagon quickly, as the hop farms in both Alpine Victoria and Tasmania wind up their harvest season and prepare for the growing season over winter and summer.

Harvest Beer on Tap

For the Craft Beer consumer, this means that this time of the year select boutique bars and brewpubs will be tapping harvest ales from all over the country, with almost every hop variety available.

One of our Shiraz & Co Tours Beer and Cider Tours is a great way to experience the best that the South Australian craft beer and cider scene has to offer. There are a host of award winning producers within easy reach of Adelaide, some even offer interpretive tours of the brew house or cider production process.

Tastings are available, making these tours a great and engaging way for visitors to try new beer and cider styles that are not normally available at the major liquor outlets or hotels.

Our tours take in the beautiful local scenery as we make our way through the picturesque near city locations, and lunch is specially matched to the beer experience at one of our wonderful local participating venues.

If you want to join in on a small group private tour and avoid the crowds, simply complete one of the Booking Enquiry forms on the website, send us an email at or if its urgent and you want to get going soon, give us a call on 0411752062.

We look forward to having you join us and are always here to answer any questions you might have.


Cellar Door Wine Tasting

5 Cellar Door Wine Tasting Tips to get you started

When taking small groups of fun Foodies out on a full day Tour Cellar Door Wine Tasting and exploring our beautiful Adelaide gourmet food and fine wine regions, the question is sometimes asked of me;

“Hey Armin- what’s the proper way to taste wine, I’m new to this sort of thing?”.

Well, my take on that question is this:

A lot’s been written about cellar door wine tasting etiquette in wine mags and on websites, but the fact remains; you are TASTING wine, and hopefully more than 1, which you might not have tried before. Like any other food or drink you would have experienced for the first time as you’ve grown up, it should be an exciting moment of discovery, not self-conscious awkwardness.

I believe there are no hard and fast rules, the do’s and dont’s vary, but here are my:

Shiraz & Co Tour Top 5 Cellar Door Wine Tasting Tips


“The Shiraz&Co 5 S’s”

cellar door wine tastingStep 1 – See

Start by holding the glassware by the stem. A good habit to adopt so that you avoid affecting the temperature of the small sample and getting the glass greasy. I’m the No. 1 culprit of the “that must be your glass, look at all the greasy prints”.

Then hold it up and find some back light to illuminate the wine… (won’t see much for the greasy prints??).

Note the colour, intensity and how translucent the wine is. There are lots of factors which affect the visual appearance; variety, filtration, age and many more. But try to focus on just these 3 visual criteria, i.e. bright herbaceous green vs slightly cloudy pale straw etc. to begin with.

Step 2 – Swirl

Hold the glass and gently swirl the wine a little. Keep the glass flat on the bench when you first start to reduce the risk of ‘woops I’m sorry’, if you are like me or especially after the first few cellar doors.

Swirling helps release aromas as it gets the wine moving, passing more air over it. Some of the volatile components are released softening the wine a bit and it allows you to determine the viscosity of the wine more easily.

Viscous wine will cling to the glass. Watch the rate it moves down the inside of the glass as it returns to the bottom. The ‘legs’ or ‘tears’ people mention relate to the drops and streaks or runs that more viscous wines leave. This relates to alcohol and sugar content. It’s a known fact – too much alcohol can lead to streaks and that can end in tears.

Step 3 – Smell

This is where it becomes subjective, as aroma profiles are described in so many different terms. These vary from prominent to subtle, some more easily identifiable than others. The technical talk is primary, secondary and tertiary aromas, but this is more information than you may need to describe a wine you enjoy.

Like with food, we have favourite smells and particular aromas we relate to differently, some with fondness, others not so much. It’s handy to use the tasting lists to note down dominant aromas, as a reminder and guide for later. After tasting several wines, it is sometimes hard to remember and it is a great tool for food matching, where choosing complementary aromas may be important.

There are lots of chemical compounds involved, many with tell-tale aromas, some deemed advantageous and some not. Unless you are a wine maker, judge, collector or such, if you rate the smell as ‘pleasant’ or ‘not’, this will suffice I think.

Step 4 – Sip

Tasting is subjective again, due to individual preferences. Some flavours are more obvious than others, and the likeness references used are extensive, depending on your own repertoire.

Typical comments at this stage are in terms of describing sweetness, acidity and tannin characteristics. These are worthy of noting too, as they align with preferences and the information will often come in useful later. Comparisons can be made, conclusions drawn, and favourites can (and will) be chosen.

There is the issue of ‘slup vs sip’. That’s getting that extra bit of air to help with the taste sensations. This is again personal preference. Often parental advice about good manners when we were children makes this more uncomfortable than it should be. Try it I say, it’s more fun than you think. But avoid simultaneous laughing!!!

Step 5 – Spit

Spit is great when you consider total alcohol consumption, as it’s often underestimated on a full day touring and cellar door wine tasting. Also, the increasing alcohol level slowly deprives us of our finer sensory capacity, as the tastings start to add up.

Swallow is often the obvious and only option however, especially when the wine ticks all the right boxes, or as many of my guests call it “simply delicious” or “I could sit down here with my friends and drink a whole bottle(s) of this over the rest of the afternoon”

I hope the message you took away was this – drinking wine with good friends is fun and wine tasting should be too, and leave the serious side to the serious people…seriously.

PS: A Few Other Tips

Reserve Judgement

There is the belief that it is un-courteous to voice your opinion in an overly exuberant way (try that after stopping at 5 wineries) before everyone in the group has had their fair time to taste, contemplate and form their own opinion.

This has probably got something to do with behavioural psychology; the odd one out, go with the group, follow the leader and all that other complicated stuff. So taste, think and then share your thoughts freely. There are always the tasting notes or a helpful head’s up from the cellar door staff, advice about what you can (or is that should?) expect, which will help.

The Water

Most good cellar doors provide water to allow you to quench your thirst, rinse your mouth between wines or at least when you change from white to red or fortified, and to rinse your glass in some situations. It is also the polite way to stay with the group and sober, before you get drunk, as drunk is typically frowned upon by cellar door staff.

The Crackers

Feeling peckish?? As far as alcohol goes, tasting on an empty stomach is not ideal, but note that the crackers alone will not be enough. Try for a proper meal well before you start cellar door wine tasting. They are sometimes available and meant as a palate cleanser, as bland crackers help to get rid of lingering flavours where water fails.

I hope this lot helps. I would love to hear your feedback and hope to see you on tour with us one day soon.

To book a tour call me on 0411752062 or email me at



The Shiraz&Co Team

Wine Tasting – St Hallett Wines

St Hallett – Rowland Flat

It is hard to pass up St Hallett when setting out to enjoy some wine tasting. Established in 1944, St Hallett is a long time member of the Barossa’s “family” of vineyards.  St Hallett Winery has become well known for its Old Block Shiraz. St Hallett is another of those great iconic wineries to visit wine tasting while on a Shiraz & Co Tours day trip to the Barossa Valley.


Wine Tasting Barossa Valley Shiraz

Barossa Valley Shiraz


The winery provides tastings of some of the region’s typically bold and flavourful Shiraz. St Hallett is nestled at the foot of the Barossa Valley Ranges in the Rowland Flat sub-region. The winery sits at an elevation of approximately 290m, between Lyndoch and Tanunda.

Winemakers Stuart Blackwell and Toby Barlow have built the brands reputation around integrity by staying true to the Barossa’s heritage. The winemaking focus is on individual treatment to maintain the rich, intense yet diverse character of the fruit. St Hallet wines were showcased to an audience of wine enthusiasts at a recent wine tasting event at the Henley Wine Club.

Henley Wine Club

This week I attended the November 2016 meeting of the Henley Wine Club.  As a matter of course, the Henley Wine Club is a good show. This month’s meeting was special with a relaxed, informative and rewarding wine tasting of St Hallett wines.

The Henley Wine Club is hosted by Cliff and Linda Rothenburg ( Club meetings are held on a monthly basis in the clubrooms of the Henley Beach Bowling Club.  The format is a tasting of wines from a different winery or wineries each month, a chat with the hosts and winery representatives and some gourmet nibbles.

All Hail St Hallett Wines

St Hallett was represented by Stuart Blackwell, the personable and prestigious St Hallett senior winemaker of long-standing.  Stuart presented a great range of wines with an interesting and diverse array of varieties, from easy-to-drink whites to the inkiest of reds.

Stuart presented the wines from the valuable perspective of the winemaker. We heard not just about their technical development but also the history of the company, the St Hallett’s ‘story’.  St Hallett scrubs up well as a wine company with great history, company philosophy, innovative wine-making and probably related to these characteristics, great wines.  Every one of the presented wines were winners.

History of Endurance

Two years ago St Hallett turned 70 years old. Read more about St Hallett’s history here.  there are many wineries and growers struggling from the effects When the Australian wine industry is in an extended downturn . St Hallett winery also has had its own struggles; described as at times ‘being on its knees’.  But the company is doing well at this time.  I suspect the latter has something to do with finding, attracting and retaining significant talent in its workforce.

Varietal Diversity

Reflecting on the wine selection at the wine tasting, it is amazing what St Hallett have done with varieties outside the classics.  Together with the Barossa/Eden Valleys’ standard bearers of Shiraz and Riesling, Touriga Nacionale, Mataro and Grenache (in Pinot-style) was on offer.



Wine Tasting Barossa Valley Wine Region

Barossa Valley Wine Region


At the easy-to-drink end of the spectrum was Poacher’s Semillon/Sauvignon Blanc (with a touch of Riesling). This was humorously described as 60% Semillon, 40% Sauvignon Blanc and 12-14% Riesling.  I don’t know about your maths, but that’s definitely over-delivering!  At the inky end of the spectrum was Stuart’s signature creation Blackwell Shiraz, perhaps better called “Black-ink-well”.

Building Relationships

St Hallett procure fruit from interesting and/or talented providers.  John Dawkins, reformed federal politician of the 70’s to 90’s supplies fruit for the Dawkins Single Block Shiraz. Anthony Scholz, a grower from the famous Ebenezer district supplies the Sholz Single Block Shiraz.  Anthony is to be admired for his dedication to growing good fruit and for his outstanding approach to the way he sells his product.  His marketing focus is on forging strong relationships with winemakers.  He is ahead of his time in the way he markets his fruit and accolades should go to St Hallet for being among the first to respond positively by respecting the provider and his approach.

Great Wine Stories

There’s some interesting stories behind some of the wines also.  The ‘poacher’ behind Poacher’s Sem/Sauv Blanc is in fact Stuart Blackwell, who out of retribution, poached some fruit one season (way back in the wilder, old days) from a non-paying client for contract-crushing.  I hasten to add that Stuart came clean with the victim and then developed a great long-standing relationship with the offending, and then offended vineyard.  The story behind the Gamekeepers labels (tasted were Shiraz/Grenache/Touriga and Cabernet Sauvignon) was also related on the night. Unfortunately I missed this because I was expecting to hear that the Gamekeeper was named after the guy who dealt with the Poacher.

There are a thousand more stories at St Hallet to be heard over a great glass of their wine at a wine tasting.  A visit to the winery at St Hallett Road, Tanunda in the Barossa Valley is well recommended, especially on one of Sharon and Armin’s great Shiraz & Co gourmet food and fine wine tours. 

To learn more from St Hallet wines visit their website here.

For more information or to experience St Hallett Wines on a fun day tour itinerary call Armin on 0411752062 or email him at

By Lawrie Stanford,

25 November 2016

Mc Laren Vale Wineries

Mc Laren Vale Wineries

Mc Laren Vale Wineries – 5 Top Winery Tour Options

When planning an Adelaide winery tour to one of our well renowned regions, it can be overwhelming with so many wineries to choose from. To level the field we have reviewed some of our top tour options for Mc Laren Vale Wineries.

Some winery tour operators opt for set itineraries, stopping at their favourite spots, convenient for some but not so for others.  At Shiraz & Co Tours we prefer to offer guests the freedom to have their food and wine passions and preferences considered, discussing options and negotiating the pace and type of venues visited.

Points of Interest

A diversity and uniqueness of venues which provides such a smorgasbord, each and every one focusing on individual strengths. These are influenced by factors such as size, heritage, quality, location, character, range, environment, diversity and others.

Visitors could take the easy option– short listing Halliday rated 5* facilities. Doing so may risk excluding some other gems with intimate and unique producers easily overlooked. Our recommendation would be to prepare an itinerary which has a balance of venues, so that all items on the wish list are covered.

Here is just a small sample of winery destinations in the Mc Laren Vale Wine Region that highlight the diversity on offer for a winery tour. But just enough to tempt you to come and explore them all.

1. Mc Laren Vale Wineries – Samuel’s Gorge Wines

Mc Laren Vale Wineries - Samuel's Gorge Wines

Samuel’s Gorge Cellar Door

Great Location

Mc Laren Vale is a stunning region, geographically and climatically blessed. Wedged between hills and sea on a diversity of soils, it has something to offer every palate and passion.
A unique venue with breath-taking location overlooking the picturesque Onkaparinga River National Park in the Vale’s “Sea-view” sub-region is Samuel’s Gorge Winery.

The Samuel’s Gorge cellar door is housed in a rustic farm shed built in 1853 and the facility is as authentic and hands-on as you would expect. It perfectly complements the dramatic landscape surrounding the winery.
The wines are hand crafted focusing on the old world, just like the surroundings they have a traditional, rustic and earthy quality.

Hands on Philosophy

The winery is in the courtyard, using open slate fermenters, oak barrels and basket press. You could easily mistake it for an official heritage museum of wine-making, a clear focus on traditional methods is evident.

The wine brand’s image, a mosaic reflecting its unique Gorge location, perfectly sums up the philosophy of the team behind the business and highlights its unique sense of place.

For more information on this great destination click here.

2. Mc Laren Vale Wineries – Oliver’s Taranga Vineyards

Great Service

Quality of service is one of those intangibles that contributes greatly towards the overall rating of the cellar door customer experience. Although there seems to be a generic model that serves most venues well, there are some which make a more enduring impression.

Cellar doors range from mass tourism affairs with almost supermarket like efficiency and processes to small, personal encounters where the focus is more on sharing a passion of a craft.

At Oliver’s Taranga the long family heritage shines through at the cellar door. The nature of the cellar door leaves you feeling like you have been invited to share in a glass of wine with friends and family. The small tasting rooms and nooks, the bar where you can sit and sip to you hearts content, all make for a very personal and intimate experience.

 Regional Knowledge

No excessive sales pitch given here, the wines are left to sell themselves, and this they do. Instead the banter typically revolves around flavour, aroma, personalities, preferences, perceptions and maybe the weather. Those that are interested to broaden their wine or regional knowledge are catered for, the staff are rich in local knowledge and love their wine too.

It is rewarding to hear tour guests recount their day exploring the region, reflecting on the personal encounters as much as on the special bottle or 2 of wine that they have collected during the day.
No wonder that Oliver’s Taranga was awarded 2012 Cellar Door of the Year by McLaren Vale Grape, Wine, & Tourism.

Follow this link to learn about the winery and their wines.

3. Mc Laren Vale Wineries – Bekkers Wines

Precision Approach

Wineries range from small rustic affairs in sheds and back yards to mass production facilities of concrete and stainless steel spread over acres. The experiences are as varied as the labels and brands they produce.
Cellar doors are likewise varied, yet some strive to offer an experience which is more individual and exclusive than others.

Bekkers Wine’s Tasting Room offers a such a unique and personal experience. The private cellar door sits in a dominant location overlooking the Vale, an architectural statement of modern design, small, intimate and maybe even with a sense of indulgence.

Refined Wines

The philosophy which underpins the wine-making is reflected in the cellar door; cohesiveness, finesse, texture and precision are clear. These values are echoed in the ambience, service and wines of course.

The fact that their small volume production fine textured and refined wines are only available at select restaurants, merchants or by allocation reflects the exclusive nature of this cellar door and the product.

The knowledge that viticulturist and winemaker couple Toby and Emanuelle Bekker regard both their talents and the McLaren Vale region equally capable of producing world class wines, equal to those held so much in high regard from the old world, is reassuring.

Read about the Bekkers’ story and their philosophy by visiting their website.

4. Mc Laren Vale Wineries– D’Arenberg Wines

Great Range

There are several larger producers in the region, but for sheer numbers and prominence, DÁrenberg’s range and portfolio has arguably got all the bases covered.

If you are into quantity, then their cellar door provides some of the most comprehensive selection around. 60 wines made from 25 varieties over 11 different ranges; best to book an extended stay if you plan to taste your way through these.

The stable includes Icons, Artisans, High Altitude Hillbillies from the Adelaide, the Originals from the good old days (well known staples), The Outsiders, The Socialites, Nobles, Ancients, Supers, Stump Jumps and Limited Releases.
Although most are available at local liquor stores, restaurants and wine merchants, seeing them in their natural habitat is a unique experience. The cellar door is being upgraded so the experience will soon be taken to a whole new level. Like the philosophy applied to their wines, the project reflects the same level of enthusiasm, a challenge and ode to the complexity of the wine making process.

Awards and Accolades

Over 70 awards and accolades since 1990 have recognised what was already a long traditional family history and fine track record in wine making. Since 1912 the winery has been a pioneer, and the development of the innovative and stunning $13m 5 storey “Cube” cellar door, bar, restaurant etc. will continue this tradition.

For more on this great destination follow this link. 

5. Mc Laren Vale Wineries – Kay Brothers Wines

Mc Laren Wineries - Kay Brothers Wines

Kays Brothers Winery

Great Tradition

With a humble beginning in 1890, the Amery vineyard and undertaking that became the Kay Brothers brand has stuck to its knitting. Committed to Tradition, they have passed on deeply held beliefs from one generation to the next. This is epitomised by the history recorded by the owners of Kay Brothers Wines.

Kay Brothers have resisted the impulse to cater to the whims of changing fashion and focused on producing exquisite dry red and fortified wines. They have maintained a vision to defend the values of their founders to produce wines of classic quality in a sustainable way for 3 generations.

Focus on Sustainability

The winery has also had an enduring focus on sustainability throughout its long history. Not only by way of water and energy efficiency, but also lending continued support to the local community and the wine and grape industry.

Recent support for the arts by hosting chamber music events is continuing to foster this connection.

Kay Brothers Wines present amazing value and provide extended cellar potential, as they have always done. The wines are characterful and uncomplicated, a pleasure to drink now or put aside for a decade or more. It is reassuring to see such a continued dedication to tradition in such a competitive industry.

Read more about Kay Brothers Wines here.

Maybe these great venues appeal and you wish to build them into a full day food and wine experience. Please contact Armin on 0411752062 or complete the Booking Form.

We can’t wait to share them with you on your own personalised day in “the Vales”.

Beer Brewery Tours Craft beer tasting

Beer Brewery Tour Facts – IPA Beer Brewing

What’s got everyone hopping on to a Beer Brewery Tour?

IPA’s rise to fame

If you walk into any good bar or bottle shop you will find there is a particular beer style that is easing out competition. We find this not only across our parched and sun-burnt country, but around the world. Who is this quiet achiever? The IPA, or India Pale Ale.

The IPA is high-jacking the taste buds and hearts of the emerging craft beer audience and is hastily becoming a staple of many craft brewers’ core range.

So what has made IPA so popular and the industry go hopping mad?

Boutique micro brewery equipment - Beer Brewery Tours

Micro-brewery installation tour, Adelaide Hills

The IPA story

We love re-discovering heritage products, typically the older the better. It makes us feel like new-age pioneers, adventurers and even trend-setters.

Maybe because of the IPA’s ‘Once upon a Time’ beginning that started unexpectedly in early 1800’s England, it is now so popular.

British beers brewed for the thirsty English working in new colonies in India were struggling to survive the 6 month trip in a leaky boat from England.

Trial and error showed that hops provided antibacterial properties and preserved the beer for the long journey. These heavily-hopped pale ales became a hit back in England and the improved shelf life IPA was here to stay. But that is only the beginning.

Transformation takes centre stage

Clearly the flavour imparted by the extra hops played a part, however that was not the full reason. The IPA brew then was much different to most of the IPA’s we get to experience now, yet it’s popularity and style grew and developed.

Historically IPA’s were simply modest-strength hopped pale ales. It was the Americans who adopted the style and transformed the beer into a whole new beast. The American IPA effort was to take this hopped pale ale and focus on delivering the ultimate knock out flavour punch,  adding more fistfuls of hops.

Flavour, flavour, flavour

By the 1990’s breweries on the US West Coast had adopted this style and turned it into something of their own, showcasing local hop varieties like never before. Their IPA’s typically bright and lively, showcasing beautiful pine, resin and citrus fruit aromas from American hops.

Since then the IPA style has exploded in popularity with countries and their regions from all over the world creating their own interpretation of the style, typically using local hops and malts.

The best of both worlds

We have embraced this evolution of the IPA and are now doing what Australian’s do so well, interpreting and personalising the craft and exploring new possibilities.

It is today’s beer enthusiast that benefits from all this tradition, evolution and interpretation.  Now when you walk into a bottle shop, hundreds of examples of IPA can be found.  Herbal and balanced English IPA’s, big and citrus American IPA’s, tropical fruity Australian IPA’s, floral and malty New Zealand IPA’s and those high-alcohol Belgian IPA’s.

Celebration of hops

Exclusive boutique brewery beer tasting - Beer Brewery Tour

Craft beer tasting on Tour

The IPA today is a wonderful example of what a variety of hops can contribute to the taste and personality of a beer.

Some believe IPA’s are becoming the subject of an internal ‘arms race’ within the brewing industry.  Breweries are striving to produce increasingly higher hopped, bigger and hence more flavourful ales than their counterparts. The American IPA has even seen the birth of the Double IPA or IIPA, a massive IPA with at least 7% alcohol and incredible bitterness levels.

So why join a Beer Brewery Tour?

Almost every craft brewery now features an IPA in their range, which is a testament to how much the style is loved by both brewers and beer drinkers.

The future looks bright for the IPA as more and more breweries try to push the limits of how hop loaded and bitter their beers can be. As more and more hop varieties are discovered and bred the brews will continue to evolve. South Australia has embraced this style too and provides a showcase of samples to try.

Beer Brewery Tours

A great way to experience an IPA crafted by artisan brewers is to join one of our tailored Shiraz & Co Beer & Cider Tours. Our tours visit a diverse range of micro and boutique breweries specialising in small batch production, each with their own signature style.

To book a Beer Brewery Tour call 0411752062, email or visit the website at

5 Reasons we LOVE Wineries in Winter

5 Reasons we love Wineries in Winter

Winter Cellar Door - Warm & Welcoming

Winter Cellar Door – Warm & Welcoming

Winter is a time for winemakers and cellar hands when attention to detail is paramount.

It is when the frantic scenes of vintage have been left behind, replaced with contemplation and measured steps. It is when the young wines start to open up and share their true characters.

Here are 5 reasons we love wineries in winter:

1. Try new Wine releases

Ageing and settling wines are scrutinised and analysed and the complex chemical changes are monitored. This is to ensure that a premium product is produced. It is a great time for pre-release barrel tasting and a chance to explore the developing vintage.  You may get the inside gossip on which wines could well be a sellout before they are all sold out.

2. Warm by the Cellar Door Fireplace

Many Cellar Doors provide a warm and welcoming ambience . This makes for cosy spot to shelter from the fog and mist. You can sit by the old pot belly stove and enjoy hearty and rustic home style cooked meals. It is a great environment to taste rustic winter red wines and admire the landscape.

It is also a great time to sample fortified wines which is always a great way to finish the cellar door experience and great way to put some colour into your cheeks.

3. Marvel at the behind the scenes Winery Activity

In winter, barrels are topped up to ensure the wine retains its integrity and excess oxygen is excluded after the “Angels take their share”. Angels are said to be the ones that take a small amount from each wooden barrel, when in fact this is what evaporates from the slightly porous barrels.

Adjustments are also made. Tasting is done by the winemakers to identify potential partners for blends. Wines which are stored are racked, wine is drawn off and moved between vessels where unwanted sediments are left behind.

4. Explore the vineyard

During winter months when vines go dormant much still goes on in the vineyard worth discovering and exploring.

Winter is a crucial time when man and earth combine to determine the future of the season and vintage to follow and when pruning begins. This is when younger canes harden and mature and in many boutique winery vineyards hard men and women brave the elements to hand craft the adolescent wood, training it to become worthy.

Excess canes are cut away, remaining canes are trimmed and some trained onto their trellis. This pruning ensures the vine retains its ideal shape and that good fruiting wood is preserved to ensure the following years’ crop is a quality one.

5. Marvel at the Vineyard’s ‘cycle of life’

Winter is also a time when vineyard staff replace soil nutrients and soil is conditioned after the preceding vigorous growing season with minerals and trace elements being applied. This is done when vines are dormant in preparation for the following spring when they once again blossom into life.

Ceremonial events such as ‘burning of the canes’ which traditionally helped to keep pruners warm, ensure destruction of diseased wood and an efficient way to clear cut canes is celebrated. This is now done as a gesture to mark the season.

A great time to tour SA’s Wine Regions

Our tailored bespoke small group tours take in all of the diverse winter scenery of the wine regions surrounding Adelaide. Each tour focuses on exposing all that is unique and beautiful at this more tranquil time of year, from the warm comfort of our luxury tour vehicles.

For enquiries and bookings contact us at email; fill in our booking form or simply call me 0411 752 062.

Lost in a Forest Wine Bar – Hidden Secret Destination

Everyone loves a Hidden Secret!  Lost in a Forest Wine Bar

Why are people getting so excited about Lost in a Forest Wine Bar, a boutique Adelaide Hills food and wine destination newcomer?

We’d like to think it’s probably due to the holistic approach being taken to the food and wine. The venue is serving up minimal intervention Hills premium wines matched with minimal intervention premium rustic food.

Dining Room-Anglican Church

Dining Room-Lost in a Forest

Former musician turned wine maker Taras Ochota from Ochota Barrels and partners have remodelled the old stone Anglican Church in Uraidla. It has been turned it into a cosy wine bar and lounge with wood fired oven.  Consequently Lost in a Forest has become a great go-to gourmet food and wine tour lunch destination on a weekend.

Named, like Ochota’s wines after song lyrics, Lost in a Forest Wine Bar echoes a line of The Cures’ song “A Forest”. It has a trending ambience which tempts people to respond to its call to come and explore “into the forests trees and dark”.

Uraidla securely on the Food Trail

Lost in a Forest Wine Bar is helping to bring Uraidla, a smaller Hills settlement out from under the shadow of Hahndorf, the region’s main tourist draw card.  The ”off the beaten track location” helps to reinforce “Lost in a Forest” nature of the venue, but since Uraidla is very small it’s not that easy to miss in the main street.

Luxury in its simplicity

Gourmet Pizzas hot from the Wood Oven

Gourmet Pizzas hot from the Wood Oven

A huge wood fired oven has replaced the altar with chefs turning out organic pizzas with locavore ingredients on wooden boards.  Thai inspired toppings complement traditional Italian with interesting combinations like Sprouts and Speck to tempt the adventurous. These are all prepared under the filtered light of the old church’s lead light windows.

Facebook marketing depicts slow cooked pork and even wallaby in preparation for what feels like almost ritualistic weekend feasts. A unique mezzanine where the choir once sang has been turned into a group dining area overlooking the main dining room where previously the church congregation sat.

A holistic philosophy based on spontaneity

The small bar serves Ochota Barrels wines as well as showcasing other small production Basket Range talents and selected old world wines. Taras’s wine making philosophy, influenced by his international and local experience aims for minimal intervention in farming and wine making. Represented winemakers help to underpin this ethos, small batches of love and passion.

His personal wine-making ambition to “produce something delicious and gorgeous for all to enjoy with none of the nasties” is clearly evident and a common thread that weaves its way through this whole new attraction.

And who doesn’t love a bit of mystery and exclusivity.

Why come on a Shiraz & Co Adventure?

Specialising in small group boutique food and wine tours, we offer to take visitors through the picturesque Adelaide Hills and quietly lead them to this hidden secret. A bread crumb trail is purely optional, as once found we suspect you will not want to leave.

Ngeringa Wines

Ngeringa Wines: Boutique & Biodynamic

Ngeringa Wines – Bio-dynamic Wine Destination

Owners Erinn and Janet Klein of Ngeringa Wines have developed a bio-dynamic oasis that resonates with nature. You sense harmony as soon as you enter the property, past picturesque paddocks and farm land at the base of the Mount Barker Summit.

Ngeringa Wines. A unique food & wine destination

Ngeringa Wines. A unique food & wine destination

The property was established in 2001 as part of the family’s Jurlique herb farm. The 20+ year old biodynamically certified soil guarantees a healthy environment with no residual artificial sprays, chemicals or toxins. By protecting this natural ecosystem and biodiversity the Klein’s have created a holistic and calming cellar door experience showcasing their stunning bio-dynamically grown and produced wine.

Their efforts in sustainable agriculture were acknowledged with the 2013 PIRSA Premium Food and Wine from our Clean Environment Wine Award.

What makes the Bio-dynamic difference?

Ngeringa Wines’ point of difference is its NASAA Certified Biodynamic nature. Biodynamics works within the cycles of nature, respects the natural health of the soil and interconnection of plants, animals and phases of the moon. As Erinn says “Traditional bio-dynamic practices allow the soil, site, season and variety to express themselves in the wines”.  Biodynamics requires hands-on care in contrast to the mechanised approach more typical of vineyard operations. Biodynamics also has a minimal intervention approach in the winery.

Erinn strives for wines which are “of a traditional style with elegance and structure favouring hand harvest and small batch winemaking, only wild fermentation and the use of minimal new (French) oak”. His objective is to produce wine with vitality and integrity which authentically reflects the region.

What makes this Winery Experience so Unique?

We love taking people on tours to Ngeringa Wines – but not only because of the great food and wine; but the feeling of being in a Tuscan vineyard with family and friends. You just want to linger for ever. Here is an operation which honestly respects maintaining the balance of nature.  A small herd of Scottish Highland cattle complement the Vines. Sheep and fowl roam the vineyard and an orchard, veggie and herb garden provide clean produce for the hearty wood oven pizzas and gourmet fare.

This is as close as to “paddock to plate” as you can get.

Read more in their website.

Ngeringa Arts Cultural Centre

We can arrange to take you to the new Ngeringa Arts Cultural Centre in the tour we create for you. The arts centre perched on top of Mount Barker summit is on the way to Ngeringa Estate Winery. Erinn’s philanthropist mother Ulrike championed the stunning 200 seat venue to support chamber music in South Australia. As Ulrike Klein describes: nature teaches us what life actually is and music is very similar. It possesses a similar life-force and is never static.

Paracombe Premium Perry

Secret Wine & Food Destinations near Adelaide : Paracombe Premium Perry

Paracombe Premium Perry

Damian McArdle and family at Paracombe, Adelaide Hills were originally primary producers and now have diversified into micro-brewers specialising in handmade pear and apple ciders as Paracombe Premium Perry.

This small family business have also expanded into tourism, offering visitors a personalised insight into their cider making operation. Paracombe Premium Perry is also a wedding venue, where people can relax and enjoy the beautiful orchard atmosphere during the wedding ceremony.

Paracombe Premium Perry

Damian McArdle amongst the Lemon Bergamot Pears

What is ‘Perry’ ?

Perry is an alcoholic drink made from fermented pears in much the same way that cider is made from apples. Perry is occasionally but somewhat contentiously referred to as ‘pear cider’.

This pleasant drink originated in England centuries ago, and is now available in the Adelaide Hills.

How the McArdle family became Perry Producers

Damian sought opportunities to showcase the Lemon Bergamot pears, originally planted by his grandfather, and also motivated by a desire to show people that fresh is best. His passion and entrepreneurial spirit lead to the creation of Paracombe Premium Perry.

This is a uplifting story of success of a small producer and determination to remain viable in our current competitive environment, often dominated by large organisations focussed only on making profit rather than quality and unique products.

Why we visit Paracombe Premium Perry

Shiraz and Co include Paracombe Premium Perry in our tours when  clients indicate they are looking for unique tastes, and something a little outside the mainstream winery tour.  This fits well with the Paracombe Premium Perry experience with a unique product produced by a committed family in their Adelaide Hills property.

Hosting small group farm tours, we take visitors through the Perry production process; from tree to bottle. This involves an orchard walk, an explanation of the market situation, the Perry brewing process, bottling and labelling which is all done in-house and very hands on.

The aroma of fresh pears is amazing as you enter the production facility, aromatherapy at its best, the smell of pears turns the cider tasting experience into a whole new sensual experience. Of course sampling the Perry and ciders is an important part of the tour!

Contact us to reserve a tour through the delightful Paracombe Premium Perry and taste their beautiful range of Perry and ciders or visit their website for more information

“Slurpability” – the ultimate test and measure of a wine’s pleasure factor

Although it all starts with a good ‘swirl’ and then a ‘sniff’, it’s that ‘slurp’ that encourages wine to give up its hidden secrets. We all have parts of our personality which need a bit of coaxing to be revealed, wine is no different.

It’s that rush of air that brings out the best in the fruit and helps the sensory system pick up on the layers in the wine. The extra air helps wine to release some of its more volatile personality and allows you to get better acquainted with its softer side.

Don’t be afraid of a bit of dribble, and the all favorite ‘gulp’ is still allowed, it’s all part of the fun and the more you practice the better it gets. And don’t worry, we always have some handy wipes in our comfort pack ready to help out if things get particularly messy.