The drive to Barossa Valley from Cleland takes about 1 ½ hours, and is really a tour in and of itself through many lesser known wine areas. We passed countless numbers of vineyards that stretched across the hills as far as you could see. The remaining land was dotted with peach and apple orchards, olive groves, and open pastures where sheep, cows, donkeys, and alpacas grazed.
It’s interesting driving through the Australian countryside and seeing Koala Crossing and Warning: Echidnas Next 1km signs mixed in with the usual Duck Crossing signs.
These birds are called gallahs, and are renowned throughout Australia for their general stupidity. However, they are gathering around the vineyard, so they can't be that dumb.
After our first afternoon of wine tasting, we left the Bethany Vineyard (how could we not go there!?) to be treated to this sunset. Good thing we left when we did, because it was gone two minutes later.
We started our next day at Yalumba, which was conveniently just down the street from our Bed and Breakfast (more on that later). Yalumba touts itself as the oldest single-family owned winery in Australia, having been around since the mid-1800's. It is giant and gorgeous.
In the tasting room, they had a stuffed bear to serve drinks. Not quite sure where they got him from since they don't have bears in Australia, but it was waaaay too good of a picture oppurtunity to miss. Thank you Sir Bear, I will try this cabernet.
While we were at Yalumba there was another group there, who were apparently big spenders, because the bartender brought out the super-fancy stuff they don't normaly let people taste. This meant we got to taste it too- Bonus! Since it was the really good stuff, they decanted it first to let the wine aerate and open up (how sophisticated do we sound right now?), and they had this awesome spinny decanter! Here's an action shot. It's actually spinning . . . like a top.
Next we went to Maggie Beers which is a specialty food shop that makes jams, sauces, pates, and all things delicious. They also sponsor a small wine brand called Pheasant Farms, which is named for the phesants they keep on premises. The white ones are raised to go in the pate, but they also have some more exotic, colorful ones from around the world on display. Sucks to be the white birds.
Our last winery of the day was Seppletsfield, which specializes in fortified wines such as ports, muscats, and tokays. They've also been around since the late 1800's. During the Great Depression, to keep their workers employed and occupied, they planted date palms all around the vineyards, roadways, and buildings. It's beautiful, and is now the symbol of the winery. Apparently, Adelaide is warm enough for the date palms to grow and thrive, but not warm enough to produce fruit.
This winery was massive. These were just the display barrels they had out for show. Greg is going to need a pretty big straw to make a dent in one of those.
For the true wine afficionado with lots of disposable income (i.e. not us) you can buy some of the 100 year old port. Each year, they set aside a single barrel of port to be bottled and sold in a hundred years. The 1912 is getting ready to go on sale for the bargain price of $2000 for 350 ml. Before you scoff though, it comes with an individualized bottle and special wooden case. Oh, to be rich.
Fast forward ten days later back at our house after all the delivery trucks had come and gone. Good thing we have a big dining room table. Our next guests will be the really lucky ones.