Big 2017 Adelaide Fringe night out!!

1.14pm, Saturday 25th February 2017, Adelaide

Howdy folks, it’s a new year and I’ve just tried out a whole new thing! Late last year the publican at The Kentish in leafy green Stanley Street, North Adelaide – Bud Goldsworthy – asked me if I’d be interested in being their ‘talent’ at the 2017 Adelaide Fringe….just to get up and tell a few of my funny stories about selling wine around the world. My first reaction was “no”……then thinking about the large volume of dental work on my immediate horizon, including crowns and an implant!…..I quickly reversed that to “yep, why not!!Im actually going to be on long service leave, so it will all fit in”. So fast forward to today, and we have the “world premiere – no red carpet” of my ‘Ferrari : Unlimited Kilometres’ behind us…..first SOLD OUT show of six in the ‘season’ (that’s showbiz for the number of sessions you do at one time).

Last Thursday night we had a fab full house in The Kentish Wine Shed – some from town (that’s Adelaide) , and then everyone else who travelled for the show – Moculta, Truro, Tanunda, Nuriootpa, Angaston, Light Pass, Greenock, Kapunda, Naracoorte, Mt Gambier and Coonawarra. Thanks an absolute million for swapping your hard earned folding money for a ticket to come along and hear me do stories, poems and a song about my time on the road! “A funny thing happened to me on the way to work……happened to be in London / San Francisco/ Dunedin / Dublin / Edinburgh at the time”.And in fact, because vintage is a bit late this year, we had Sue Hodder (yep that would be good mate chief winemaker for Wynns Coonawarra….. now I’m name dropping) babysittingthe merchandise stand – check out the excellent t shirts that Bud made up for the event!

My special guest on the night was Joe “Dry Creek Truckie (check it out on I tunes) ” Ahern, and he opened the second set with two of his original songs – there’s some real talent for you!

Good to see the stories like meeting Hugh Grant in London, and the poems like The Queen Of Room Fifteen get a good laugh, and now it’s all about this next massive week – three in a row –  Wednesday 1st,  Thursday 2nd and Friday 3rd of March, Saturday off…..then the big double header finish on Sunday 5th with a sold out 2 pm matinee and the evening show sitting on 97 tickets sold – 100 is SOLD OUT! Actually, right this minute there’s only 7 seats left across the Wed, Thurs and Sunday night shows!! Can you believe it? 7 seats off a sold out season! Not bad for an almost pension age Adelaide Fringe first timer. So… down and five to go! See ya at The Kentish!! 

PS on Wednesday and Thursday nights, Moculta’s own Christine Sherwood will be opening the second set….amongst other things, Chris has written music to one of my poems about travelling through New Mexico…….then Joe’s back to do the same on the Friday and Sunday.

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!