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Saturday 4 December 2021

Beyond wine tasting: Artisans launch in Barossa Valley


My last trip to the Barossa Valley was just before the new Artisans of the Barossa facility opened. Special correspondent Roderick Eime takes on wining and dining duties.

It was on this very spot, some 45 years ago, that my father gave me my first driving lesson.

Menge Road at Tanunda in the heart of the Barossa Valley ran parallel to what was once a busy railway line that ran all the way from Adelaide through the Barossa Valley to Truro, 20 kilometres to the north.

Twenty years ago, the ambitious, privately-run Barossa Wine Train carried wine lovers and picnickers aboard the famous Bluebird railcars from Gawler along the route long after the last scheduled passenger services ceased.

Today the level crossing that once marked this spot at the intersection with Murray Street is a massive roundabout with the 100-year-old railway lines rudely amputated before and after the road junction.

And just as one dream fades another one is realised with the grand opening of The Artisans of Barossa on the eastern perimeter of the new roundabout.

An epic collaboration of eight independent and prominent Barossa Valley winemakers, the Artisans concept has been in the making for more than fifteen years and grew from prior enterprises such as a collaboration with Harvest Kitchen and Vino Lokal.

The contemporary premises were built by local construction superstar, Stefan Ahrens through his family business, structural steel specialists, Ahrens Group.

Stefan is also the owner of the magnificent, recently renovated and extended Kingsford The Barossa boutique accommodation at Sheoak Log. The building grew from an old chook shed, retaining much of the rustic character, but otherwise completely rebuilt to the modern standards. A most unconventional approach, but the result is stunning and perfectly in keeping with the setting, just metres from expansive vineyards.

Local luminaries align for Artisans: (from left) David Basham MP, Daniel Hartwig (Chaffey Bros), Stephan Knoll MP, Howard Duncan COO

“We built our home as a place where we could share everything about the Barossa,” said MD Howard Duncan during an impassioned speech at the opening of Artisans, attended by GOTR, “and what brings us together is a shared commitment to protect and promote the art of small batch winemaking as well as lifting the sometimes bland experience of wine tasting to a fuller, more complete one of wine enjoyment.”

To this extent, The Artisans offers a graduated introduction to the vast array of wines bottled both under individual and house labels with such non-typical varieties as montepulciano, sagrantino, mataro and cinsault.

To emphasise their individual flair and artistry, six of the winemakers launched ‘Grenache Project 20’ where each dedicate a single row of the grape in their vineyards and are then left to their own devices. The result is six delightful wines that each maker is pleased to drink themselves.

“What we’re doing with the Grenache Project is bloody important,” says Peter Schell from Spinifex Wines, “It’s symbolic of the commitment of artisan winemakers and growers to exhibit the best of their craft from the region’s ancient soils and nurture new audiences for these brilliant heritage varieties.”

The exclusive Voyager Club can be approached in any of three levels: Discoveries, Adventures and Rarities, where guests can enjoy a guided tasting of between four to six wines based of their ‘bravery’. The Discoveries introductory tasting selection ranges in price from $28-$35, Adventures $39-$56, while Rarities opens the door to the premium $62 to $189 selection.

Club members will be offered up to four annual shipments with savings of up to 25%.

A premium eatery, Essen, is also part of the concept and offers exceptional locally sourced produce from the surrounding district. You can find the rotating menu here:

A visit to The Artisans is indeed a refreshing and unconventional approach to the sometimes staid experience of wine tasting, making this new venue a perfect one-stop location that showcases some of the best new and adventurous varieties in the venerable Barossa Valley.

Find them at the big new roundabout: 24 Vine Vale Road, Tanunda

Call them to book a session on (08) 8563 3935 or look them up online at

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