Barossa tourism slam dunk

South Australian basketball legend Scott Ninnis loves the Barossa and has started his own business to let others share his passion.

A three-time National Basketball League championship player, Ninnis has started Premium Wine Tours.

Following his stellar 13-year playing career and a brief foray into coaching, as an assistant in Townsville and two years as head coach in Adelaide, Ninnis decided to start his own business.

There is no set program for Premium Wine Tours, visitors can plan their own tour in a luxury vehicle driven by Ninnis.

“We’re not bound by having to visit certain places,” Ninnis said.

“The beauty of this format is that we can visit a lot of the smaller cellar doors that often get overlooked by bigger groups, the small family-owned wineries have so much to offer.

“A lot of the bookings we get are from people who have tried wines from the Barossa and want to visit specific wineries and discover more of what they love; many overseas visitors already have a list of the cellar doors they want to visit.”

Ninnis’ love affair with the region isn’t something new.

“I’ve been coming to the Barossa for 20-25 years as a wine lover.

“As a lover of reds it’s not surprising that Shiraz is my weapon of choice but lately Grenache, in particular, some of the old vine ones have really been doing it for me. I’d have to credit a couple of former 36ers teammates with introducing me to wine. It was the influence of Robert Rose and Mike McKay that got me started and it’s something that stuck with me ever since.

“I’ve promoted SA wine when I was playing in Melbourne (Magic 1991, 92) and Newcastle (96) although my biggest disappointment was during my time as an assistant in Townsville. I thought that the climate wouldn’t be conducive to red wine so I left my entire collection at home only to find there’s a huge red wine culture up there.”

Premium Wine Tours also takes guests to McLaren Vale, the Clare Valley and Adelaide Hills but the Barossa is by far the busiest destination.

“At the moment it’s three to four days a week,” Ninnis said. 

“Hopefully we can get it to seven days a week as we’re getting a lot more international enquiries.

“We can cater for larger groups if required but with the car we find it a more personal experience.

“There’s always something new to discover when I visit, a new restaurant or a winery that’s been suggested by someone.

“The food is another reason to celebrate the Barossa and a lot of the wineries do a great job by offering platters to accompany tastings.  The beauty of the Barossa is you don’t need to talk it up, our wines speak for themselves.” 

ON PREMIUM TOUR: From left, Suzanne Mele from Penfolds, with guests Demi Heiser, Patrica Migeul and Cassie Heiser and Premium Wine Tours’ host Scott Ninnis.

ON PREMIUM TOUR: From left, Suzanne Mele from Penfolds, with guests Demi Heiser, Patrica Migeul and Cassie Heiser and Premium Wine Tours’ host Scott Ninnis.