So, continuing on the wine theme (last time we learned all about the wine production process at the University of Adelaide’s Waite campus, read about it here), today we have decided to put our freshly gained wine knowledge to practice so we’ve joined the Barossa Valley ‘Groovy Grape Getaways’ tour.
We woke to our hottest day so far- it’s reached 42 degrees today! So what better way to spend the day than driving through the hills, past vineyard after vineyard and stopping off every now and then for a welcome glass of wine.
The ‘GGG’ tour attracted a very interesting bunch of people; a group of six Adelaide girls who have not been to the Barossa before (can you believe it? If I lived here I’d go every weekend!), a small group of visitors from Korea, a Canadian adventurer and a Swiss girl who is wrapping up her Great Ocean Road trip in Adelaide). We got on the bus and were taken through the itinerary by our lovely guide for the day, Jason. First stop: World’s biggest Rocking Horse.
The Rocking Horse is part of the Gumeracha Toy Factory and apparently is a unique structure in the world. It is built entirely of steel anchored in over 80 tonnes of concrete set in rock. At its highest point (the head) it is 18.3 metres.
Next we visited the mysterious Whispering Wall, which is quite special, but won't whisper to you (if that's what you were expecting :)). The Wall is the first reservoir built in South Australia, 140 metres wide, completed in 1902.
Due to its arched shape the noise travels really well and provides fantastic acoustics; you can hear the person at the other end as if they were standing right next to you!
And now it was time to get down to the business; we had four wineries to get to in the Barossa Valley, which is renowned as the heartland of Australia’s wine-making capital. The region has a rich heritage of grape growing and winemaking dating back to 1842. Today, there are over 150 wineries and 80 cellar doors in the Barossa.
First on is the famous Jacob’s Creek, which it turns out is actually a real creek! The story of the winery started in 1836 by William Jacob (the assistant surveyor of Colonel William Light who ‘designed’ Adelaide) who was sent to the Barossa to survey the area. He loved it so much he actually built a home here (can’t blame him really :)).
During our visit the vineyards were beautifully bathed in the morning sunshine, and they even provided deck chairs to relax in the view. We tasted five lovely wines, from a sparkling Sauvignon Blanc to Shiraz Rose to their Reserve Shiraz and a beautifully peachy Moscato. Going through the different varieties we learnt a lot about wine flavours and tasting. A helpful tip: if your wine smells of vinegar or eggs you should ask for another bottle in the restaurant!
Kies Barossa Valley was our next stop. This is a family-owned winery (we hear this quite rare these days) that doesn’t distribute to supermarkets nor does it export. If you fancy their wine you have to come to the cellar door. And it would be worth it; their ‘Bastardo Port’ is like Christmas in a glass…
At Richmond Grove winery we had a traditional Aussie BBQ for lunch, although unfortunately nobody ‘threw another shrimp on the barbie’, but this was more than compensated for with delicious steak and sausages.
Our final winery was Seppeltsfields, one of the oldest in the region. Here we finally tasted the much heralded sparkling Shiraz – a South Australian specialty. It was delicious… apparently it’s even better with bacon and eggs in the morning! The winery is particularly noteworthy for its fortified wines and we started the afternoon with a few glasses of port. Most remarkable of all, every year since 1878 Seppeltsfields has barrelled port to be opened 100 years later. It is the only winery in the world that does this. Last year the winery opened the vintage during which the Titanic was built, 1911. This year they opened the bottles from the year in which it sank, 1912. Now if that’s not impressive I don’t know what is.
Our day concluded with a trip to the Adelaide Fringe parade, to mark the official start of the festival. The event attracted thousands of locals and the streets were packed with people eager to get a glimpse. We saw circus performers, zombies, camels and buses to name but a few of the participants. Afterwards a few of the locals took us out for a beer at a pop-up fringe venue and bar in a car park (Tuxedo Cat) – really cool idea, with crates to sit on and boxes to use as tables. As we sipped on our Little Creature pale ale and Pipsqueak cider, we learnt some new aussie phrases such as ‘fair dinkum’, a great alternative for fair enough. We go to bed once again feeling overwhelmed at the kindness and welcoming nature of the people who call Adelaide home.
Tomorrow is surfing so stay tuned!!