Back in the VWBV….very wet Barossa Valley

4.44am, Sunday 16th October, Angaston, Barossa Valley, SA, Australia

Morning folks, sitting here bright as a button, still out of whack with the local time zone after only being 48 hours home on the deck here in the Barossa Valley. And who else has just landed here from Los Angeles? Our good mate and super advocate for Oz Wine in the USA – Adam Dromi, The Wine House LA. So seeing as it was such a top day to be out and about, we spent most of our Saturday doing great Grenache around the Barossa……including Soul Cafe’s ‘brekky burrito’ of local bacon, eggs,sausage, hash brown, cheese and BBQ sauce – an excellent start to a wine tasting vineyard tour – and the fabulous front window dining at Kampung Kitchen – “every day is a satay day”. We had an extended comparative tasting at Cellar Door that was informative and entertaining for everyone visiting Yalumba yesterday at lunch time – thanks again Adam for all that enthusiasm and support. ……..and enjoy  your week in McLaren Vale – well done on the invitation to be the guest International judge at their wine show.

The best way to learn about terroir in the Barossa……taste it on the spots! Here’s Adam amongst our 800 odd surviving Grenache bush vines planted back in the 1940s on the ‘Carriage Block’ in the Moppa……out to the north east of the Valley.

How’s this for my tasting bench set up for in vineyard wine assessment? And everything is just so lush from the amazing amount of rain over the last few weeks

So wet still that we’re supporting very large families of ducks in some of our vineyards……

Sorry Hurricane Matthew! No date for us!

8.40am, Thursday 6th October, South 8th Street, Downtown Minneapolis, Minnesota, USA

Morning folks, and very happy to be up here in Minneapolis – we took the 10am Southwest flight out of Fort Lauderdale yesterday for Chicago, and as of early today, the same airport has been closed due to the effects of the oncoming Hurricane Matthew.  So to all our friends from South eastern coastline of Florida – Stacole Wines, Wine Watch, Tims Wine Stores, Market 17, Cafe Maxx – you all know who you are……stay safe and let’s hope the storm stays offshore.

PS after fitting the shutters and battening down the hatches, it might be worth opening a bottle of something cold before the generators kick in……..and take care!

On Hurricane Matthew watch in Fort Lauderdale, Florida

8.29am, Tuesday 4th October, Dania Beach Boulevard, Fort Lauderdale, Florida, USA

Morning folks, and it’s a typical south Florida morning…..28 degrees C & 96% humidity……and stormy. The governor of Florida declared a state of emergency last night due to the track of the big storm in the Caribbean – Hurricane Matthew – shifting north west…..towards Miami and Fort Lauderdale. Yep…..that’s where we are now!

Fortunately travelling at 9 miles per hour, that puts Hurricane Matthew still 200 odd miles away tomorrow morning when I’m planning to be on a Southwest jet heading for Minneapolis. But spare a thought for Haiti right now where it’s just made land fall, and dropping 40 inches of rain – twice the annual rainfall that we get in the Barossa Valley, all dumped in 48 hours on those poor folks living in shacks.

So today we’re up and down the local coast visiting accounts, and finishing with a dinner at Wine Watch……lets hope for an uneventful next 48 hours

Cheers from the tropics! 

Definitely developing a taste for the local ‘cafe con leche’…..smooth, strong and frothy like a drinkable Aero bar!

Wet, steamy & size does matter in Tampa, Florida 

12.52pm, Monday 3rd October, Gate C 35, Tampa Airport, Florida

OK! Made it through a very rainy night in Tampa and about to hop across to Fort Lauderdale on the East Coast. So last night, after dropping off the Halloween treat bags to our man down here in the US tropical zone – Paul – I got caught in the sort of late afternoon torrential downpour that they talk about down here in South Florida.

It looked a bit threatening…

Then down it hammered…..and within minutes, I was hugging the inside lane as a river appeared from nowhere to fill the lower right hand line, and car sales yard lining the highway.

Good thing I had a Jeep rental car! Very relieved to get home to the hotel actually, and especially proud of my veteran Magellan GPS for not cutting out in the dense storm clouds and lightning.

Then this morning we caught up with our Stacole sales folk at Oxford Exchange for a power tasting brunch……8 wines and some magic soft breakfast tacos and a boatload of what’s happening at Yalumba and with the wines around the world….no mucking around when it comes to our bloke Paul, and the Stacole crew – Michael, Neil , Scott, Brent & John!!

Oh and about the “size does matter” thing…..down here it’s all about the crab…..and in this case, size definitely matters! See y’all when it’s Fort Lauderdale. Thanks for now Tampa

Steamy nights in Tampa, Florida – and that’s just the weather!!

12.13am, actually Saturday 1st October, 30th Avenue, Tampa, Florida, USA

Morning folks, we left a foggy and cold Seattle this morning, the flight about an hour late with the planes all backed up because of the weather……just made the connection in Kansas City, and have only now checked in to the hotel in Tampa. And folks, it’s very warm and steamy out there right now…..with 33 C and storms forecast for tomorrow. Sounds like a perfect day to spend in Ybor City, drinking Cubano style cafe con leche, and eating guava pastries at La Segunda bakery. And catching up a weeks worth of blog posts from our simply marvellous time in Washington State – on Bainbridge Island, in Seattle, and up the Olympic Peninsula.

But we’ve made it to Florida, in one piece, and the Yalumba roadshow rolls on!

Goodbye Seattle …..for now, and I think we’ll be back in the Spring!

Goodbye Calgary – from your next Stampede Queen!!

8.22am, Tuesday 20th September, Gate C58, Calgary Airport, Alberta, Canada

Morning folks, and it’s always nice to be leaving town with a good strong set of events done and dusted! Our dinner on Saturday night with the Pampa Brazilian Steakhouse went swimmingly….and re United us with one of our staunchest Yalumba ‘fortresses’ wrapped up in a person – Scott ex the manager of Judges Country House Hotel up in the Grim North (I love that part of the world!) of England. Chef / owner Joao Dachery did a top job of matching carnivorous courses to our wine set, and came out to explain the menu and the origins of the cooking style at Pampa – Brazilian for ‘prairie’.

And just when you think it’s all over……a dessert flourish with the floral berry lift and lemon zip of the Christobel’s Moscato 8.5% alcohol and a lovely ‘refresher’ to finish with. Pampa, and Susan from Pacific…..we love your work!

Our other events in town involved a staff training with the managers of the 15 Crowfoot Liquor stores across the Calgary area….at their headquarters store, they have a proper demonstration kitchen, so we did a proper history, geography, wine and wine and food pairing class. To thank the folks for coming in on their day off…..3 dozen Tim Hortons donuts for starters! Excellent session, and tremendous people to work with – thanks a million to Dale from Pacific for making it all happen.

Then back to downtown Calgary to catch up with local Journo Tom Firth ( at Buchanan’s Chop House. I knew we were in the right place straight away, because there up on the wall is a framed Wallabies jersey (that’s our national Australian rugby team for the folks who don’t follow that code of football) signed by none other than Phil Waugh – great flanker from an era way back when we were actually competitive against the might New Zealand All Blacks. 

To finish our two day visit, we did a consumer Masterclass last night with the good people out at Craft Cellars – look! – our favourite sign….

Thanks enormously to Darcy and the crew at Craft, to Ken from Pacific and his offsides Grant – what a quality event! And we had the 2008 Octavius to work with, as it appears there were some boxes stacked underneath something else that came to light…..and as soon as we pulled the corks…..chocolate, coffee, licorice and fruit! Yep, seriously good velvety Shiraz flying nicely last night at Craft Cellars.

So it’s off to Edmonton shortly, with one thing left on my bucket list to do in Calgary, and that’s to attend the world famous Calgary Stampede……and I really want to be a Stampede Queen! That’ll give me something to work towards!

Cheers and thank you Cowtown!

In Calgary …..the locals call it Cowtown….now….

12.35pm, Sunday 18th September, Centre Street, Calgary, Alberta, Canada

Howdy folks, just about to walk out the door and catch up with a long time staunch supporter of Yalumba wines who used to run a country house hotel in England, now with the Pampa restaurant here in Calgary – where we did our dinner last night. So just a quick dateline – safe and sound on the ground in a very sunny unseasonal Calgary – a bit disappointed that I didn’t check the concert listings. Why? Because if I’d taken the earlier plane across from Vancouver…..I would have been able to make the concert here Friday night….the absolutely fabulous in every sense of the word….Dolly Parton!! Never mind, I’ve turned up a little juke joint here in Calgary where a bluegrass band – The Men Of Constant Sorrow – are playing this afternoon, so that’s where we’ll be spending our Sunday off.

Welcome to Calgary, home of The Stampede, The Calgary Flames hockey men, and fantastic local Alberta beef brisket? This is the big mural that greets you at the Calgary Airport arrivals area – not hard to see why the locals call it Cowtown.

And as for the local brisket? Yep, it’s as good as they say – thank you to the Palomino Smokehouse and Social Club

See you tomorrow – when we have a big day in town with three top events scheduled.