South Australia’s regions are full of hidden gems, and without a local guide they often stay that way. So next time you’re looking to explore the wonders of the state, it’s worth getting some expert help. Whether you’re planning to visit for a day or a weekend, here’s how to make the most of your next trip.

Words Alexis Buxton-Collins

Image courtesy of Pindarie Wines

Barossa Valley

With so many amazing wineries to choose from, deciding where to start can be the hardest part of planning a day in the Barossa Valley. So why not make life easy with Adelaide Sightseeing’s Barossa Food & Wine Experience? The small coach tour begins with a guided tasting of wine and local cheeses at Pindarie Wines, followed by coffee and cake on the beautiful verandah.

Then learn about the region’s German heritage from an expert guide and explore Maggie Beer’s Farm Shop (including a visit to her famous kitchen “studio”). Next stop is Lambert Estate, where the private tasting is accompanied by a lunch of modern share plates. Make sure to try their famous chocolate port before jumping back on the bus to visit Barossa Valley Chocolate Company and enjoying the housemade chocolates paired with wines. And if you need to stretch your legs, the day also includes a visit the sculpture park at Mengler’s Hill, with views over the picturesque valley floor before you’re dropped back in the Adelaide CBD or at Glenelg.

Image courtesy of d’Arenberg

McLaren Vale

With beautiful beaches, elegant dining options that make the most of abundant local produce and plenty of great wine, it’s no wonder the locals in McLaren Vale are a relaxed bunch. Danny and Innez Blackman certainly fit that profile, and as the owners of Adelaide’s Top Food & Wine Tours they’re passionate ambassadors for the region.

Their small group tours offer a relaxed and unhurried way to explore the region, with time to enjoy the atmosphere and interact with the other guests on the way. The McLaren Vale Winery Experience includes lunch and tastings at four wineries for a maximum of 10 guests. That number drops to five for the Cheese & Wine Trail with gourmet local produce platters at three wineries, and the Iconic McLaren Vale that includes a meal at D’arrys Verandah Restaurant. And because they have plenty of local contacts, you’ll be treated like a VIP by the friendly, knowledgeable cellar door staff who’ll guide you through each wine tasting experience.

Image courtesy of Dudley Wines

Kangaroo Island

If you prefer to go your own way, Sealink’s three-day Food and Wine Lover’s Self-Drive Package lets you set the pace while you explore scenic Kangaroo Island. The package includes a return ferry trip for two adults and a standard vehicle plus two night’s accommodation with breakfast at Sorrento’s Room in Penneshaw. There’ll be a bottle of False Cape wine waiting for you on arrival, then it’s up to you what comes next.

Wherever you decide to go, there are plenty of excuses to stop along the way, thanks to other inclusions such as a wine tasting and local produce platter at Bay Of Shoals Wines and $60 dinner voucher at Penny’s Restaurant in Penneshaw. Just make sure you still have room for the gourmet lunch at Dudley Wines’ spectacular clifftop cellar door that looks over Backstairs Passage and back towards the Fleurieu Peninsula.