Boutique Wine Tasting Room
Secret Stories and Hidden Gems from the Barossa Valley
Michael Hall Wines & Rieslingfreak
There are hidden gems in the Barossa Valley. Discover a boutique wine tasting room off the beaten path.
The Barossa Valley is home to a plethora of internationally-renowned wines, housing production of the world’s favourite reds, and naturally a boutique wine tasting room or two. But look past the big, bold Shiraz, and there’s a world of unique cellar door experiences waiting to be uncovered.
Michael Hall started making wine in 2007 with just two small parcels: Chardonnay from the Adelaide Hills and Syrah from Eden Valley. Ten years later, he opened his boutique wine tasting room to the public for the first time.
But for a small-batch boutique winemaker, the traditional cellar door experience wasn’t the right fit. Hall’s approach is just one in a growing trend of winemakers opting to slow down the tasting process.
The European inspiration
As an emerging winemaker, Hall spent half the year working on Australian vintage and half in Europe learning the French craft of Burgundy and Rhône Valley. “That has certainly affected how he approaches winemaking,” says Philip Lord, Business Development Manager at Michael Hall wines.
But Hall’s inspiration extends to more than just winemaking. His ethos, right down to the high-engagement tasting room experience, is modelled on a European way of consuming wine.
It’s a slowed-down version of the “high-speed bar-style approach” we’re all used to, says Lord. “Everybody is sat down. We sit down and talk to you about the wines in a relaxed, comfortable environment. You can enjoy the space and the taste of the wines at your leisure, but you have a guide to walk you through the course of wine.”
Telling the story of the boutique wine tasting room
For Lord, the tasting experience is immersive and informative, while connecting the wine enthusiast to a wealth of local knowledge. “I think it’s so important to feel more connected to where produce comes from. We love that people are interested to find out details about winemaking,” he says.
For a growing number of winemakers, this high-engagement approach is driven by a desire to make the tasting experience more inclusive. “It shouldn’t be mysterious,” says Lord. There is a sense of magic and theatre about wine, which I love, but it’s all explained in the vineyard and the winery. We get to tell our story, to connect people right to the heart of what we do.”
Operating a small team means that the boutique wine tasting room has limited opening hours to the general public. But for Lord, that trade-off means that guests can connect directly to the maker. The tasting room is open on Fridays and Saturdays, and by appointment only on all other days. “The rest of the week we actually spend winemaking,” says Lord.
Redgum, slate and wine barrels
In the centre is a huge bar fashioned from Mintaro slate and ex-wine barrel staves that carry the stain and scent of wine they previously held. Two monumental red-gum tables seat groups of guests. At the far end, is an elegant office space that houses the two winemakers—Michael Hall and John Hughes of Rieslingfreak.
Community and synergy
“The original philosophy was that [they were] two like-minded winemakers both at a similar stage of their business. John and Michael were both looking for an office space. When the barn came up for lease it was quite a big space. It was to be an office, but it grew to become a tasting room, too.” says Lord.
“They realised that they have similar philosophies with winemaking in terms of wines being made in the vineyard. We cherish and champion that style—relatively minimal intervention and wines that are natural.” The partnership between Hall and Hughes is synergistic. “Advantageously, we don’t make Riesling, and they don’t make reds,” he adds.
Tasting rooms like Michael Hall and Rieslingfreak are hidden gems, with many boutique wineries working by appointment only. These places are where you wont find any crowds or party buses, it’s all about refinenment, a structured and educated appreciation for the craft of winemaking.
To get the most out of the experience, it’s best to do a bit of research, check out product information and then contact Shiraz&Co to plan a tasting visit into a full day exploring the region. Rieslingfreak has a range of fine wines, and Michael Hall
While the Barossa Valley is home to both high-profile and lesser-known wineries, it’s all part of the region’s charm. “We have some really big neighbours, and some smaller boutique neighbours. That’s what the industry and the Barossa is about,” says Lord.
The bigger wineries might be buzzing, but there are secrets to be discovered off the beaten path. “You learn the story of each little plot, of each grower,” Lord says. “After all, wine is for the people, by the people.”
We Can Take You There
There are just so many unique secrets to explore in the Barossa Valley, a new adventure around every corner.
The perfect way to make sure you have the opportunity to soak up all the atmosphere is to jump on one of our Shiraz&Co’s curated private small group tours of the region. They have personal access to the venues that are off the mass tourism trail, and with their SlowTourism focus, help visitors connect with artisans that make the region unique.
Check out all the great personalised high engagement tours to the Barossa here, Shiraz&Co look forward to helping you craft a personal itinerary and can’t wait to show you their little patch of paradise.!!!