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The New Wine Wizards of Oz

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A horse grazes in front of Krondorf vineyards at sunset in the Barossa Valley (Photograph by Clay McLachlan/IPN/Aurora Photos)

Like a fine wine, South Australia’s Barossa Valley is aged perfection.

An hour north of Adelaide, wineries here are housed in sandstone cottages built circa 1860, and multigenerational families still use Old World techniques and fruit from century-old vines planted in the shadow of ancient gum trees.

Visitors follow rows of gnarled grapevines to find more than 150 wineries and 80 tasting rooms—called cellar doors—from some of the country’s most vaunted Shiraz names. But lately, the younger generation has set a new course that’s equal parts heritage and renewal.

“We’re about more than traditional Shiraz,” says Kirsty Radford, part of a family of fifth-generation winemakers. “We’re trying different fermentation and growing methods and producing varietals not usually done here.”

Tap into the revitalization at the Artisans of Barossa, a bluestone-meets-glass-and-steel co-op where seven experimental winemakers pour such small-batch surprises as Grenache and Roussanne.

Away from the vine, 28-year-old native chef Lachlan Colwill celebrates the region’s bounty with dishes like foraged mushrooms sprinkled with tarragon at Hentley Farm Restaurant.

And the Kingsford Homestead, a seven-suite hotel in a meticulously restored 1856 homestead, draws bush baths under a canopy of gum trees and serves dinner in a stone-walled wine cellar.

Tip: Try the Barossa’s other top product, fortified wine.

This piece, written by Elizabeth Woodson, appeared in the February/March 2014 issue of National Geographic Traveler magazine.

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