Think of Australian wine, and one region probably pops to mind: the Barossa. With its picturesque landscapes of lush vineyards and sun-baked stone farmhouses, this corner of free-settled South Australia isn’t the country’s oldest wine region but – thanks to a worldwide thirst for Aussie Shiraz – it’s definitely the most famous.
Home to respected names like Yalumba and Torbreck, Barossa has developed over the past 180 years from pastureland and bush to oenophile wonderland, with now more than 150 glossy wineries and 80 cellar doors welcoming visitors for tastings.
Built in 1856, Kingsford has been there to witness almost all of this vinous transformation. Originally a private home, today the property sets the gold standard for boutique regional accommodation, fusing history with sublime vintages – providing a real taste of Australia’s favourite wine region.
Heritage & innovation
When Lincolnshire man Stephen King left Britain in the mid-1800s to settle in South Australia, he couldn’t have known what Barossa was to become. The wealthy pastoralist and entrepreneur built his grand two-storey Georgian-inspired home on his sprawling land outside the settlement of Gawler – drafting in sandstone from Edinburgh for the exterior, a grand Gothic cedar staircase and cellars for storing local produce. For decades set among relatively sleepy landscapes, Kingsford was a watering point for coach parties passing through the region; you could almost consider it the original cellar door.
Fast-forward 167 years and Kingsford is now one of Barossa’s most appealing boutique hotels. Acquired by the locally rooted Ahrens family over a decade ago, it benefitted from a multi-million dollar rethink in 2020. Australian stonemasons crafted a sympathetic expansion, so among the original property’s Georgian elegance there are fresh draws: dedicated wine vaults, multiple bars, expanded accommodation. In the original homestead building, timeless suites in warm neutral hues largely come with chandeliers, Louis XVI-inspired chairs and floral prints. In the new wing, contemporary View Suites with minimalist furnishings feature floor-to-ceiling glass opening up to the Barossa landscape. It’s a judicious – and luxurious – blend of old and new that doesn’t compromise the property’s soul.
Discovering Barossa wine
Of course, for any Decanter reader, it will be the vinous programme that makes Kingsford especially appealing. You need only take a look at the newly built wine tunnel – home to a museum collection of Penfolds Grange and a complete line up of Henschke Hill of Grace – to know that it takes Barossa wine seriously.
Much of the liquid joy centres around meals in the main Orleana restaurant, where by-the-glass pours of local treasures meet native yabbies (a freshwater crayfish), Coffin Bay oysters and wagyu beef with a Langmeil Valley Floor Shiraz reduction. Though you can also enjoy tastings in a number of private dining spaces – including the original 1856 slate-floor cellar – or sip on something casually by the pool.
Once you’ve exhausted the vinous options on site, the rest of Barossa is at your disposal for discovery; and you’re really spoilt for choice in terms of proximity and quality. Rockford Wines, with its exceptional Basket Press Shiraz – made from vines aged between 60 and 140-plus years – is just a 20-minute drive away. Only 15 minutes away, historic Seppeltsfield (established just five years before Kingsford was built) has a centennial cellar where you can taste a 100-year-old tawny straight from the barrel. Even the lauded Penfolds is nearby, where in its grand environs you can try making your own wine blend or sample a precious sip of Grange.
Wine imbues every part of the Barossa Valley but make time for the region’s other pleasures and you’ll find the visit even more satisfying. Farmers’ markets bursting with fresh produce; fabulous restaurants like fermentAsian; hot air balloon rides. At Kingsford itself, join an ATV tour across the property’s historic 91ha or hike trails where kangaroos, kookaburras and parrots are spotted. Or just kick back in a ‘bush bath’ – an alfresco soak in a deep claw-footed tub, soundtracked by nature and accompanied by a cheese plate. Now, what would Mr King have thought of that?
For further information see Kingsford The Barossa