The Adelaide Hills has long been praised both locally and internationally for its exceptional cool-climate wines. While the region has dozens of exciting old-school and new-wave wineries worth visiting, the past five years have seen a boom in new culinary experiences – many of which can be had right amongst the picturesque hills and vineyards.

See the burgeoning pocket of Summertown and Uraidla, home to a peerless natural-wine haven and a repurposed 131-year-old church turned restaurant for pizza worship only. Visit the German-inspired town of Hahndorf, where you can get a taste of Spain or pick sweet, natural berries. Or enjoy a truly unique dining experience in a stone hut in Mylor – if you can nab a booking.

Here are our favourite spots to eat, drink, play and stay in the area. All are less than an hour’s drive from Adelaide’s CBD – making this a perfect daytrip or laid-back weekender.

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WHERE TO EAT IN THE ADELAIDE HILLS

Villetta Porcini
The latest project by Masterchef alum Andre Ursini – the man behind the iconic (but now-closed) Andre’s Cucina & Polenta Bar, contemporary European bistro Orso and adjoining deli Willmott’s Gastronomia – is truly transporting.

Nuzzled deep within a valley on Ursini’s 20-acre property in Mylor, this tiny stone hut looks like something you’d happen across in the Italian countryside. It’s home to one of the most intimate and sought-after dining experiences in the state – you have to register months in advance for your chance to secure a booking.

That’s thanks to its ad hoc, largely veg-heavy dishes that are made from produce grown on the property. “There is no formula for this experience,” Ursini told Broadsheet. “It’s a whole educational culinary experience that taps into our passions.”

instagram.com/vporcini

Comida
This Adelaide mainstay in Hahndorf, a small town known for its German influence (mostly in the form of pubs) 30 minutes east of the CBD, puts the spotlight on Spain.

Comida started out as a Central Market stall before evolving into this bright and airy restaurant with a lush kitchen garden.

Go for the Spanish-style breakfasts, which include a very impressive tortilla (omelette); buckwheat pancakes with mandarin and coconut pannacotta; and smashed eggs with crispy potatoes and pork belly. There’s a sizeable tapas menu including cheesy croquettes, plus Comida’s signature paella and other substantial proteins.

Just behind the restaurant is a deck that looks over the entire garden. If the sun’s out, grab a rug and a bottle of wine and pull up some grass.

comidahahndorf.com.au

Stirling Cellars & Patisserie
Venture just off Stirling’s buzzing main street and you’ll find this one-stop shop for baked goods and booze. From the patisserie’s almost-always-stacked cabinet, grab flaky pies and sausage rolls, freshly almond croissants and tarts, and ready-made sangas and salads. Plus, Five Senses coffee is on pour.

Over in the well-stocked bottle-o, stock up on boutique wines, craft beers and small-batch spirits from the region’s top producers (including BK Wines, Mismatch and Adelaide Hills Distillery) and their European counterparts.

stirlinghotel.com.au

WHERE TO DRINK IN THE ADELAIDE HILLS

The Lane Vineyard, Panorama Experience
South Australia isn’t lacking in topnotch wine-tasting experiences, but this is something special. In the middle of The Lane’s rambling vineyards is a small building with 360-degree views of the surrounding Adelaide Hills – and you can make a reservation for a special tasting experience here with your mates.

The intimate two-hour tasting, which includes a gourmet picnic prepared by the winery’s head chef, could feature wines made from the oldest vines on the property or drops from the small-batch Provenance range (including a brilliant pinot meunier).

www.thelane.com.au

Ochre Nation
Applewood Distillery and dynamic local wine labels Unico Zelo and Harvest share a collective home in the little town of Gumeracha (perhaps best known for its towering 18-metre-high rocking horse). In 2017, Brendan and Laura Carter converted a former 1920s cold store – previously used as storage space – into Ochre Nation, a snug cellar door and bar with exposed brick and timber furnishings.

Opt for a flight of easy-drinking Unico Zelo wines or Applewood spirits (the limoncello and mandarin liqueur are worth adding to your liquor cabinet), or just knock back a punchy cocktail or two.

applewooddistillery.com.au

Shaw and Smith
This Balhannah winery is known for its refined, exclusively Adelaide Hills wines, including sauv blanc, chardonnay, pinot noir and shiraz – varietals that suit the region’s cool climate. All grapes are hand-picked, and the wines are fermented, aged and bottled on-site.

Inside its sprawling tasting room with a view, try five classic drops (with cheese) for $25. If you want to delve a little deeper, go behind the scenes on a winery and vineyard tour.

shawandsmith.com

WHERE TO STAY IN THE ADELAIDE HILLS

Cabn
At these pint-sized off-the-grid cabins, the only people you’re likely to come across are the ones you bring with you.

The 2.5 by six-metre hideaways are situated just one hour north of the city, but secluded among hundreds of acres of natural scrubland. For a more elevated off-grid experience, there’s CABN X; each of these cabins has an outdoor bath and private sauna. You won’t receive the exact location until just before your stay.

It’s equipped with all the creature comforts: a queen-sized bed, shower, gas heating, two-burner kitchen stove, mini fridge, flushing toilet, and plenty of board games.

cabn.life

Sequoia Lodge
The most recent addition to boutique designer hotel Mount Lofty House is Sequoia Lodge – 14 panoramic, open-plan luxury suites with 180-degree views of the Piccadilly Valley.

Here you can take in the scenery from a range of enticing vantage points: the comfort of your king bed, while warming up in front of the stone-clad fireplace, or while soaking in the freestanding bathtub.

Guests also have access to a private lounge with a heated plunge pool and yet another stunning view. And to top off the experience, we recommend booking in at the estate’s on-site fine diner, Hardy’s Verandah Restaurant.

sequoialodge.com.au

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Mount Lofty Botanic Garden
Thousands of cool-climate plants, sprawling gullies and a tranquil lake are the draw at Mount Lofty Botanic Garden. Set on 97 hectares overlooking the Piccadilly Valley, it’s a great destination for a picnic, a leisurely stroll or fully-fledged hike.

Arguably the best time of year to visit is autumn, when the leaves turn all shades of crimson, gold and russet. In spring the garden pops with magnolias, rhododendrons and camellias, and in winter it’s often blanketed in mist and fog.

Over summer, seek refuge from the sun in the dense Fern Gully – one of the richest fern collections in the country.

botanicgardens.sa.gov.au

Beerenberg Farm Shop and Strawberry Picking
Based in Hahndorf, Beerenberg makes a range of first-rate sauces, jams, condiments and dressings. And you can shop (and sample) them all – as well as some products you won’t find anywhere else – at its homey farm shop right next to where the produce grows.

And if you’re of the opinion that fruit tastes better when you pick it fresh yourself, there’s a strawberry patch open to the public – usually from November to April – when the fruit is in season. Pick to your heart’s content, then pay by the kilo.

beerenberg.com.au

This article was originally published on 2 September 2020. It has been updated to reflect new information and remove out-of-date details.