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Published: January 14th 2010
Day 258 - Eden Valley (including a trip out to Norton Summit in the Adelaide Hills)
There’s something different about this morning when we wake up, something that definitely tells us we’re not in the UK … oh yes, that’s right, it’s already 33 degrees at 8am! Today is going to be fiercely hot and everyone has been telling us to just stay put for the day and not bother going out anywhere. However we have plans and none of them involve sitting around!
Siggy was an early arrival to the showground this morning, his cleaning duties were calling him here and of course the collection of our camp fees for the next couple of days. We chatted about where we’d been and what we’d seen, offered him some eggs but he’s got his own chooks so doesn’t need any. I suddenly remembered what I needed to show him, the photo of the spider in the toilet. He confirmed it was indeed a red back and shot off quick smart to remove said spider from his U bend abode.
We went out to Henschke and took the long way round to Angaston passed the horse stud and magnificent
countryside until we reached the Barossa farmers market. What a great time we had here just wandering through the various stalls all offering gorgeous produce to taste. We joked with Alan, yet another ex pat who is working the specialist meat stall and then spent ages with the lovely Glen from Turners Bees. She spent so much time with us chatting about our trip and about the various troubles South Australia experiences with its water supply. The Murray River is enormous and is South Australia’s largest source but since it was dammed in New South Wales the locals have really noticed a huge difference with banks drying up and wildlife struggling for water. The area around us here is very dry looking at the moment, with the exception of the vineyards of course and it’s interesting to note that most of them use recycled water for keeping the vineyards green. She gives us a full tasting session with the selection of honey they have on offer, obviously all of it is divine and we’re then struggling which to choose. It’s not possible for us to just walk away without purchasing honey! We thank Glen and Len for their time and
head outside to stock up on fresh fruit. It’s so cheap buying fruit and veggies from a farmers market, you get enormous rock melons for $2 and massive bags of apples for $2 so we’re saving half the price of buying it from the supermarket.
The thought of wine had already entered our heads and it was only 9.30! We went to check out the Wolf Blass visitors centre but they don’t open their doors until 10.30am so we were out of luck. Nevermind, a quick drive across to Penfolds was perfectly timed as they were just opening up. Penfolds and Wolf Blass are both owned by Fosters these days but retain their separate wineries, vineyards and visitors centres. Penfolds however are the only label in the Barossa to offer the ‘Make your own Blend’ tour where for $65 you get to create your own wine and take it home in a bottle.
We’re not tasting today or blending today, it’s going to be too hot and anyway one of us has to drive so the other should really remain sober in support (what a bugger!). We are on the look out for some ‘less expensive’ (not cheap,
that doesn’t exist) wine for Grant & Anna but we nearly fall over backwards at the prices listed on the cellar door flyers. Crikey, I recon they’d be less expensive to purchase from a bottle shop! $1575 for ONE BOTTLE of limited release, 2004 Cabernet Shiraz, admittedly it is a 1.5 litre bottle though - of course that makes all the difference!
We drove on to Kaisler Wines where we find a beautiful cellar door, very spacious and decorative and there are already a couple of tasters at the bar. We wondered how much wine people can general taste before they’re over the limit to drive and how many accidents there have been around the place involving drink drivers. It’s not a question we ask, our motto is simple - don’t taste wine when driving! The couple do offer us guidance with finding ‘less expensive’ wines though, apparently the secret is to find out who the distributor is and then go buy direct. Something to consider perhaps!
From there we drove minutes down the road and stopped at Chataeu Dorrien where we have to navigate our way past ‘Frank’ who’s getting on a bit and likes a chat!
He captures us and shows us the pots of desert peas that he’s been growing then launches into various stories about yester-year. It’s all quite interesting but then the chat takes a bit of a dark turn and we make our excuses and run! I feel this is a turning point in my relationship with Mr Howells as he didn’t pull his usual trick of sliding off and leaving me stuck listening to the old bugger!
The building inside was pretty fascinating and although this winery is no longer used (it would have taken too much money to have everything brought up to date) there are murals covering the wine vats depicting different scenes across the ages and it’s just a thoroughly interesting place to visit. We look longingly over the boxes and boxes of boutique wine on offer here. Chateau Dorrien are currently the only makers of a sweet red wine (in this area anyway) and they are very proud of their achievement. The chap behind the bar (who is the brother of the owner so he’s entitled to be biased) is very proud of the wine they produce and invites us back anytime we like for a
free tasting session but we’re running out of days and suspect we’ll leave never having tasted a drop. Darn
We figured there was still enough time for a quick visit to Maggie Beers Farm Shop along the Seppeltsfield Road. Maggie is the queen of quince paste (sorry Aunty Daph, obviously yours is divine too!) and we’re delighted to find more than just the quince on offer for tasting. We find her famous Verjuice along with the full range of pastes from Spiced Pear to Cabernet plus the delicious pates and olive oil. A taste sensation to savour! We spent quite a long time going trying out the various different products then had a quick coffee followed by a few more dips into the pate trays then we rushed off to Gawler to pick up Jacquie and Kat.
Finding the house was a bit of a challenge but we got there in the end and will return later to explore, it looks totally fascinating. For now though the girls bundled into the car and we set off in the direction of Norton Summit. Kat has known Jacquie for many years and is on her way home to Wagga Wagga
(near as anyway!) from Denmark in Western Australia. She’s popped in to spend a few days with Jacquie thus she joined our little road trip for today.
The last leg of the journey was just spectacular as we wind our way up through the Adelaide hills looking back down the valley far, far below. We spy a police car nestled into one of the corners on the hill, we thought he was waiting for hoons to speed by but we find out later that he’s probably on watch & call for arsonists due to the extreme heat and windy nature of today.
We reach our destination of the Sinclair's Gully winery in its idyllic and extremely picturesque location. We’ve come to lend a hand with the disgorging of the wineries sparkling wine but we’re hopeful of a tasting session too! There’s a private party going on outside when we arrive, a small group celebrating a 40th birthday so we slip by trying not to intrude and head towards the bar.
Sinclair’s Gully is a very special place, it’s the first winery in the Adelaide Hills to receive advanced eco certification. The candlebark forest accounts for 20 acres
of the winery’s land and the trees are listed as endangered in South Australia and have the highest priority for conservation in the Mt Lofty Ranges. The family have built the winery up from scratch and moved here with no firms plans of a future business, just a love for the area. The fact that the soil was perfect for a vineyard was just an added bonus.
Sean is a very welcoming host although he does look a little tired which is, he tells us, as a result of a party last night that went on til 3am! Combine that with the heat of the day and the poor chap is probably desperate for a lie down but with the party outside and us here for some disgorging, it’s not what he’s going to get.
He invites us to taste the list of wines made from the grapes grown in the vineyards out the back. They’re really rather nice so myself and Jacquie tuck in, Kat’s opted out and Darryl is driving so it’s left to the two of us. At some point we were invited to assist with the eating of the buffet from the group outside
as they have over-catered somewhat. No prizes for guessing who was the first to ‘taste test’ that! Mr Howells came back with a big grin on his face, they only thing he couldn’t find was a plate! At some point one of the chaps from the party came inside to order more wine and I couldn’t help but comment on his English accent which I thought might be from Derbyshire or Nottingham maybe. “Burton on Trent” came his response! He used to work for Allied years ago and his wife worked for Bass Brewers on the helpdesk. One conversation led to another and it turned out that his wife Bev and I have a friend in common, Sharon Young who is now Sharon Wright. I remembered Sharon used to work for the helpdesk so offered her name as a possible connection and struck gold! How funny is that. Bev and husband Steve live out here now in Adelaide and Bev hasn’t been in touch with Sharon for years but hopefully we can fix that now we’ve swapped email address. Great to meet you both Bev & Steve and thanks so much for inviting us to assist with the buffet!!
We missed the start of the disgorging session but Jacquie and Kat were on hand to help. It’s the final steps in the process of making sparkling wine and involves the removal of the lees (yeast) from the bottle by tipping the bottle upside down, dropping the cap once everything is settled and then quickly turning the bottle back up. Then he adds 25ml of brandy to top up the bottle and re-corks. Voila! Sean of course makes it look really easy and when Kat has a go we find out it requires a bit more bodily strength than she can initially muster but she gets there on a second attempt! By this time it was literally baking hot outside and Sean was sweltering so we let him off taking us all through the process and left it at that. We had a fabulous time here and really loved the surroundings. It was a shame it was too hot for a wander through the grounds, maybe next time!
After a few more rounds on the buffet we hit the road back towards Gawler to drop off the girls. The house that Jacquie is sitting at the moment is just
The rows of murals
Each one took 130 minutes to complete in acrylic paint. The subjects are all originals and absolutely stunning.
magnificent. Chooks, dogs, sheep, cats, a cellar, a tree of greatness and most importantly a pool to stick our feet in to! All the animals are roasting hot, well not literally obviously but not far from it. The dogs flop onto the cool kitchen floor inside the house and one of them even ventures into the pond for a dip in the water - she’s never done that before and as she’s usually too scared but obviously today needs must. We’re very envious of the house here, it’s a great place and has so much room. There’s even a bike in the lounge - clearly a couple we would get on well with! .
We ate our egg sandwiches and tucked into Jacquie’s cup cakes then made our way back to the showground after hugs of goodbye all round. This will be the last time we see Jacquie on this trip but hopefully in the future if she comes to the UK or when we come back for the next tour our paths will cross again.
Tonight was spent catching up with friends and family via Skype. We enjoyed a terrific chat with Bernie & Tez, so good
to hear from you guys and we’re pleased everything is going well in Norway and we also managed a message chat with my Dad whilst Mum was walking through the snow up to the post office. Dad’s recovery is going really well now and despite the cold weather he’s already thinking about venturing out for a walk. Great news.
With all that done there was just enough time for dinner and bed! Such a lot to fit in each day but we’re loving exploring the area and catching up with friends.
Same again tomorrow? Pretty much!!
Dar and Sar
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