Wine Regions of
At the Petaluma Winery.
|Feeling happy about my Sparkling Shiraz
|In front of some old vines at Langmeil
December 21, 2006
The first of my two wine adventures in the state of South Australia would be in the infamous Barossa Valley – possibly the most
famous wine region in Australia. If people at home drink Australian Shiraz, it most likely comes from this area.
Our day started off at one of the larger wineries in the valley – Wolf Blass. I actually had never even heard of this winery before
coming out to Australia. It is very popular out here they way that Mondavi is very popular at home. They did have some
quality wines but, for the most part, people visit this winery because of the name. This winery is now owned by the Fosters
group. They have also gobbled up other wineries such as Rosemount, Lindeman’s and Penfolds. It also turns out that Beringer’s
is part of the family, too. As with most big wineries, there were just as many products (everything from golf balls to yo-yos) for
sale as there were wines.
Next we made our way to Maggie Beer’s Farm Shop. The legend of Maggie Beer got a bit lost on us non-Aussies. She is
apparently a famous chef who also has a cooking show on television. We tried many of her fruit pastes (almost like a jam but
more solid) and her pates (she had vegetarian options like mushroom or capsicum and non-veggie options that consisted of
duck, pheasant or salmon mixed with different spices and flavors). We wouldn’t just try food here; we would also taste some
wines. It turns out that Maggie’s husband and his brother started producing wine under ‘The Beer Bros.’ label (this confuses
many as they do not produce beer).
Our next venue was the Barossa Valley Estate. This was where we would have platters of meats, cheeses, olives, nuts, dried
fruits, roasted veggies and different breads for lunch. After we were done eating, we moved a few meters over to do some wine
tasting. I came to find out here that I am a fan of Grenache. But I was even more a fan of the sparkling red wine that they were
pouring. This was a blend of different red grapes which is a bit different from other sparkling reds in this region as they are
almost always made of Shiraz grapes.
It wasn’t long before we were at our next winery: Langmeil Estate. We were given a tour of their vineyards including their ‘old
vines’ that date back to 1843. They had some great wines and even greater service. I just love boutique wineries.
Our last winery of the day was Chateau Tanunda. While the building and the grounds are large and impressive, they actually
have a small wine production. I always enjoy hearing that millions of cases of a certain wine aren’t being pumped out annually –
it makes me feel like the wine is a bit more special. The girl who was doing the tasting made it very interactive by having us
guess what type of wine we had just tasted. I’m always up for a fun guessing game so I had a good time with this.
Each winery offered soooo many tastes. It was essential to toss out any wine that we didn’t like…otherwise it would have been a
very bad scene by the end of the day. Since I knew I was going to be doing more wine tasting tomorrow, I just wanted to make
sure that the thought of wine didn’t make me cringe when I wake up in the morning…
December 22, 2006
McLaren Vale and Adelaide Hills
I absolutely 100% adored my day today. Such a spectacular day of wine tasting, I must say.
After a rather short drive, we arrived at the outskirts of McLaren Vale and started our morning off at Blessed Cheese. And
blessed was the cheese here…
We started off our morning with lattes and a cheese platter of white cheddar, brie and blue cheese accompanied with crackers,
dried fruits, almonds, fruit paste and olives. Definitely not my typical breakfast but I was willing to make an exception
(truthfully, I would be more than willing to make this exception most days).
Enough of the cheeses though. It was time to taste some wine! We started off at the Fox Creek winery where we began with a
tour of the process that the grapes go through. At the very end we were in the warehouse with all of the cases of wine that were
ready to be distributed both domestically and internationally. One of the more popular wines was called ‘Shadow’s Run’ (named
after their dog). They noted how much more wine sold once they put a picture of the dog on the label. The thing about this that
I found funny was that almost every case ready to be exported was going to China. Am I the only person that found it totally
ironic that the Chinese would be big purchasers of a wine with a dog on the label??? I would put money on it that many of the
Chinese probably think the wine consists of some part of a dog. I am not kidding about this. I truly think that they believe this.
When we got to the tasting room, we all got to meet the infamous ‘Shadow’. More importantly, though, while I was there my
taste buds got to ‘meet’ a sparkling Shiraz/Cabernet Franc called ‘The Vixen’. Ohhhh…was it good! I had to have it. So I bought
it. I am now in possession of two sparkling red wines. I’m a lucky girl.
Next we went out to The Olive Grove which had more than just wines to taste; we also got to taste different flavored kalamata
olives, olive oils and different sauces. The wines weren’t especially memorable to me but I did earn a personal victory for trying
some of the olives. After all, I hate olives. But I don’t want to hate olives. I didn’t always hate olives. In fact, I used to love
olives. I loved olives so much that I ended up eating them until I hated them. The same exact thing happened to my sister. We
have our parents’ dinner parties to blame since that’s when we did the bulk of our ‘olive fingertips’ that we just couldn’t get
enough of. Ever since I realized that olives are such a delicacy, I have really, really wanted to like them. In order to learn to like
them, I would actually have to taste one…which I could never get myself to do. I think I was scared of them for some reason.
Scared of an olive. There’s a new one. But I really was scared of the flavor for some reason. But today I said to myself ‘Jen, you
can stay underwater for over fifty minutes. You can rappel down a cliff only attached to a rope. You can go whitewater rafting in
a Class 5 river. Heck, you have traveled around the world on your own for almost eight months. You can sure as hell get
yourself to swallow an olive.’ And so I did. And I have to say…it wasn’t that bad. I mean I am not saying I loved it. But I didn’t
hate it either. Progress was being made. Oh! I also failed to mention the five alpacas on the premises that called the grounds of
The Olive Grove ‘home’. I had never seen an alpaca before. They’re pretty darn cute.
Because the theme of the day along with wine seemed to be eating (not a bad combination, right?), our next stop was to the
Woodstock winery where we would do a tasting and then have our lunch. Because I seem to think that I have oh-so-much room
to travel with things like bottles of wine, I bought a bottle of a Shiraz/Cabernet Sauvignon that I really liked that they suggest
hanging onto for ten years or so for some amazing results. My hope is to get this bottle back to San Francisco. A challenge I look
To note: I am now bouncing from hostel to hostel with three bottles of wine.
Our lunch at Woodstock was incredible. Platters with cheeses, chutneys, pita bread, pates, marinated vegetables and sliced
meats. Because I’m still not eating meats (talk about a traumatizing Chinese market experience, huh?!), I skipped that part of
the platters. But they ended up making me a special plate with a large potato croquette, cheese and roasted veggies. How nice
was that??? And what good would a lunch be without a dessert, right? We all would continue our day o’ eating and drinking with
a delicious pavlova dessert. The title of this tour should be changed from the ‘Winery Ultimate’ to ‘How to Gain Five Pounds in
There was barely a moment to pause before we were on our way to the Hugo winery. Another wonderful boutique winery set
amidst beautiful grounds. If only we got there one hour earlier, we would have seen a kangaroo in the vineyards. How cool
would that have been? But we weren’t so lucky as there were no kangaroo sightings while we were there.
At this point we made our way from McLaren Vale out to the Adelaide Hills where we had two wineries remaining.
The second to last one was the Petaluma Winery. This was also the home to one of the top restaurants in the Adelaide area. The
outside looked like it was straight out of Tuscany. But when we went inside, it was completely modern (yet still beautiful).
There were a couple of wines that I really enjoyed; I just didn’t enjoy their prices enough to buy them (about $45).
Our last winery of the day would be to a one-man operation called Arranmore Vineyard. John, the owner and winemaker, was
wonderful to listen to. He’s been doing this for 14 years and the entire facility was housed in the size of what would be
equivalent to a one-bedroom apartment. I was a bit apprehensive about what the wine was going to taste like. Maybe it is
because the wine-making is based entirely on one man’s preference. I’m not really sure. I really, really wanted to like the wine
because he was such a nice guy. And let’s face it…this winery was his baby. When it came time for the tasting, I can’t say how
surprised I was. I had, by far, the best Sauvignon Blanc of the day at this winery. The other wine we tasted, the Black Pinot,
was just as good. We tasted another pinot noir out of the barrel that was excellent…and it still has another year to go. What a
way to finish an already superb day.
I used Prime Mini Tours for both of my wine tours and I can’t express how beyond-impressed I was by them. Everything from
the range of wineries (a couple larger but mostly they were boutique) to the food that was served was brilliant. These tours in
themselves made Adelaide worth visiting…