In response to the increasing success of wine tourism, two of South Australia’s oldest wineries have joined Ultimate Winery Experiences Australia (UWEA), a collection of award-winning wineries offering “beyond the cellar door” experiences.
The recent additions of Wirra Wirra in McLaren Vale and St Hugo in the Barossa, bring the total to seven SA-based wineries, and 19 nationally in the UWEA collection, which was launched in 2013 to raise the profile of Australia as one of the world’s leading wine tourism destinations and promote it to key international markets such as China, North America, UK and Europe as well as Australia and New Zealand.
“We are seeing more and more people coming to Australia or travelling interstate to not only taste great wines but also immerse themselves in an experience that will take them beyond the cellar door and into a blending class or an exclusive session with the winemaker, a cooking class with matching wines or a scenic flight experience for example,” said Sally Cope, Executive Officer, UWEA.
SA now has the largest collection of UWEA members and has developed a wine trail which stretches across the three major wine regions – Adelaide Hills, the Barossa and McLaren Vale, offering incredible experiences to visitors to the state.
Wirra Wirra, one of South Australia’s oldest wineries, is now much more of a tourism destination than a cellar door. Established in the late 1800s by South Australian cricketer and self-confessed larrikin, Robert Strangeways Wigley, the winery has been built on the spirit of adventure. A recent $850,000 investment into upgrading its facilities to include a provedore style café, meeting rooms and the development of eight behind-the-scenes tours led the winery to taking on membership in UWEA.
Visitors can now go beyond a traditional tasting to immerse themselves in one of the new experiences which range from an opportunity to learn the characteristics of Cabernet, Grenache and Shiraz through a masterclass in Trott’s cellar for $50 through to the Signature Day Tour which includes a tour of this historic ironstone winery, Church Block blending session, flagship wine tasting, lunch of spectacular regional produce and ringing the Angelus bell – priced at $280 per person.
“The tours not only tell the Wirra Wirra story but also give visitors a deeper understanding of the region as they learn about the geology, vineyards, climate and winemaking. In turn I think they then get more out of the wines they taste as they have a deeper appreciation for their back-story” said Managing Director, Andrew Kay.
In the world-renowned Barossa Valley, this story of wine tourism is repeated with the recent opening of the newly built Home of St Hugo honouring the legacy of Hugo Gramp who successfully built Gramp & Sons into an industry pillar. The new multi-million dollar development comprises a private tasting room, cosy wine lounge and fine dining restaurant located within the ruins of William Jacob’s ironstone winery, built over 150 years ago.
To showcase the new home, a number of exclusive experiences have been created including the Chef’s Table, a personally guided tour of the historic site and wine tasting followed by an eight course menu priced at $300 per head. The chef’s table seats just six people and is an extension of the kitchen where guests can watch the Chefs work and also interact with them discussing ingredients, techniques and food and wine philosophies.
For those looking to step up this up a little, there are a range of bespoke luxury experiences. The Legacy experience includes a private heli flight over the Barossa Valley to the home of St Hugo, a subregional wine journey inspired by Hugo Gramp’s legacy. The experience includes a tasting of some of the oldest vintages and special blends, a private tour of the estate and an eight course lunch created to perfectly match the St Hugo wines – priced at $5000 per person.
But for travellers wanting real bragging rights, the winery offers an in-depth overnight Prestige experience from $15,000 per person or they can achieve Sainthood for $150,000, the ultimate in a wine tasting luxury experience which includes a two-night stay in the Barossa, private luxury transfers and personalised sessions with the Head Chef, Mark McNamara. The Sainthood experience goes even further enabling guests the opportunity to name a row of vines and a blending session with Chief Winemaker, Dan Swincer. Over three years their personal blend will be kept safe in St Hugo’s private vault and will be delivered to them by a personal wine ambassador at a time of their choosing at an event for up to eight people.