Monthly Archives: January 2015

Vintage 2015 is about to happen….here

4.03pm, Tuesday 20th January, Eden Valley Road, The Barossa, South Australia

Afternoon folks, and it’s that Tour Down Under ‘push bikes are back in fashion’ time that we have in the Barossa this year. They started today’s ‘leg’ in the Tanunda Main Street, did two laps of the Barossa – going past our front gate twice to the delight of most of the female staff assembled down there – and finished down in Adelaide. Yes folks, all those shaved legs and skin tight Lycra outfits……and that was just the men!! We do look forward to having the cycling world in our world for the day. And they had a really nice day for it.

And folks, a ‘nice day’ is much the same for a grapevine as for a world class cyclist. You’re looking for warm – definitely not hot – days, preferably with a bit of a breeze, and cool nights. Both tend to thrive in those conditions. And that means that the grapes in the Barossa – both ‘upstairs’ in the Eden Valley and ‘downstairs’ on the Valley floor – are hurtling along and ripening up. Now because the Eden Valley has much cooler nights, the grapes tend to ripen a little later, and the easiest way to show this is with some photos I took three days ago.

The first photo is shiraz – from the Eden Valley – and it is just going through ‘veraison’ or colour change. On the same day, I took the second photo, which is Shiraz, but down on the Valley Floor, near Vine Vale. As you can see, it’s well past veraison and ripening well.

So keep an eye on the blog, as over the next couple of weeks we’ll be out and about with the winemakers having a look at what’s happening in the rows right across the Barossa. Also, I’ll be tagging along with our single vineyard specialist winemaker Peter Gambetta, when he’s off to Coonawarra on Thursday next week to see how things are developing in our Menzies and Cigar vineyards. Yay! Roadtrip! Spectacular sausage rolls and apple buns from the Naracoorte bakery!!

Any rate – have a look at the difference between these two shiraz vineyards – Eden Valley then The Barossa floor…..one thing’s for sure. If the weather stays much as it is, then we’ll be crushing in the second week of February.

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Oh I nearly forgot. The Kapunda Trotting Club opened its 4 twilight meeting calendar last Sunday, and we went along and had a high old time. Thanks a huge amount to the boys from the Angas Park Hotel (Nuriootpa) who we ran into, and gave us the hot tip about their trotter “Boundary Row”. They were deadset sure that the horse was going well, and had every chance of being a big winner. They had a local lad Michael Smith driving, so we just had to do the right thing and back it! Big plunge of $5 each way, and we were on! Well, Michael and Boundary Row did everything right and won the race, we collected, and felt like big time punters! Good times! So if you’re in the Barossa on Sunday February 1st and the weather is kind……get out to the Kapunda twilight trots……old school good time live entertainment. Thanks Boundary Row and everyone at the Kapunda Trots.

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Today’s sweet thing? Burnt Fig Jam

4.30pm, Tuesday 13th January, Eden Valley Road, Angaston, The Barossa, South Australia

Afternoon folks, from a very gratefully soggy Barossa after 4 consecutive days of rain. Everyone benefits around here from a nice long drink of rainwater, especially the vege gardens and the grapevines. Any rate, I thought I’d just drop a little bit of very local sweet stuff into the blog today, because we’re lucky enough to have Maggie Beer and her Farm Shop in the Barossa – a bottomless pit of fabulous flavours!! Now I heard a rumour that Maggie has a special birthday coming up this weekend….and there’s a local folks choir that Maggie sings with, and they’re doing the background doooo woppp music for the festivities. Good luck with all that gals!

But I’m going to join in and celebrate with my favourite Maggie Beer good stuff in a jar…….Yep……the absolutely unique and seriously sticky Burnt Fig Jam!! On anything…..toast, scones, bruschetta, currant buns from Apex Bakery, and that local fall apart crisp bread Barossa Bark. You should try some!

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Best currant bun in the world??

10.01am, Saturday 10th January, Tank 12 underneath Yalumba, Eden Valley Road, Angaston The Barossa, South Australia

Morning folks – it’s raining here in the Barossa today, and that’s always a good thing. I’m warm and dry here under the winery in Tank 12, an old stone fermentation vat that we’ve reclaimed and turned into a tasting room, and in about half an hour I’ll be taking a Cabernet Sauvignon, Shiraz, and Cabernet Sauvignon & Shiraz blend class for some mates of ours from The Old Lion hotel down there in North Adelaide.

So whilst I’m waiting, I’d like to share my morning tea with you – possibly the best currant bun in the world…..which up until about 4 hours ago……was still in the fabulous old wood fired oven at Apex Bakery in Tanunda. It’s worth the drive down the hill from Angaston for this particular bun, believe me!! The Fechner family has been turning out magnificent bread, pies, pasties, cakes, and biscuits from that oven for the last 85 years. One of the nice things about being a local around here is that I’ve been lucky enough to be out in the Bakehouse several times just before 6am when the oven starts to cool, and the buns and cakes go in. I reckon I put on a kilo just breathing that bakehouse air! But I do love their currant buns!!

Have a look for yourself….too bad the technical folk haven’t figured out how to do ‘scratch the screen and taste’ yet!! Any rate, wherever you are, track down a proper bakery bun today and have it for morning or afternoon tea……and don’t forget to load it with a liberal amount of butter….it always tastes better!!

Cheers from a soggy Barossa today….

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Happy Birthday Elvis – from Parkes, NSW, Australia

4.14pm, Thursday 8th January, Yalumba, Eden Valley Road, Angaston, The Barossa, South Australia

Afternoon folks, and it’s a very big day for fans of the King Of Rock’n’Roll …….if Elvis was still with us, he would have been 80 years old today. And if you’re an Elvis fan and you’re in Australia today….the one place you want to be is Parkes in northern New South Wales. For the last 23 years they’ve been celebrating Elvis’s birthday in fine style, with the party getting bigger and bigger and longer each year. The 2015 Parkes Elvis Festival kicked off yesterday with a big double barrel feature – the harness racing event under lights “Elvis at The Trots”, and the stargazing session at the most famous landmark in Parkes – “The Dish” or more technically…..the CSIRO Radio Telescope. “Elvis at The Dish: The Brightest Stars in Heaven” – just another reminder that not all the greatest stars are up there in the sky!!

I made the pilgrimage to the Parkes Elvis Festival back in 2013, the “Blue Hawaii” theme year – this time around it’s the sideshow and carnival atmosphere of “Roustabout” – and competed in another of the feature events, the Bush Poet’s Breakfast at the Parkes Bowling and Sports Club. Spoken verse Elvis style is alive and well, and I should have been there this morning…..having a crack at winning the Open section. I won the Novice section back in 2013 and the trophy sits pride of place at home….and I never cashed the $100 prizemoney cheque – that’s framed and up on the wall!! First ever poetry competition win…that’s gold!!

Tonight if we were in Parkes, it will be too hard to choose – do we go to the Miss Priscilla lookalike competition, collapse into our deck chairs in the park for the outdoor screening of “Roustabout”, go and check out the Elvis tribute artists at one of 3 pubs or 3 clubs in town, or put on our glad rags and get along to the “Opening Night Party : Elvis’s 80th Birthday Gala”. It’s just an endless cavalcade of hip swivelling options from Dawn to dusk…..and there’s 4 more days to go!!

So sometime during today, do a bit of a shimmy shimmy shake as you’re walking along, answer someone’s question with a lip curling “Aah huh”, eat a proper hamburger, have a peanut butter banana choc pancake, and spare a thought for The King, and Elvis fans everywhere……..especially the fabulous town of Parkes, NSW right now, and everyone in it!!

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‘Set Jetting’ – What’s that all about??

10.14am, Wednesday 7th January, Eden Valley Road, Angaston, The Barossa, South Australia

Morning folks, and today I’m going to introduce you to one of my favourite things – visiting the site of my favourite books / films / songs or TV shows – something I’m lucky enough to do whilst travelling around the world encouraging people to fall in love with Yalumba and its wines. Apparently this really neat pursuit of tracking down the locations from the stories you love is now called “Set Jetting” – where you travel specifically on a mission to see these spots first hand. So now it appears I’m part of a legitimate sub culture, as I’m definitely a Set Jetter……..and have been for the last 25 years!!

So from time to time, and wherever travelling along the track takes us, I’ll show you one of the Set Jetter spots that I’ve found. Today I’ve chosen an oldie but a goodie – a spot that I only recently visited, because I happened to be driving from Fisherman’s Retreat (our great restaurant / wedding lodge / 500 whiskys in the bar) mates in Ramsbottom, Lancashire, England – down to London…..and with a slight detour into the leafy green countryside near Stockport in Cheshire……I found it!

Yes folks, this is Lyme Hall, the big house in the middle of a 1300 acre estate on the edge of the Peak District up in my favourite ‘grim north’ part of England – complete with resident deer herds. You may – if you’re a Colin Firth fan and happen to have worn out your copy of the ‘Pride & Prejudice’ TV show, especially the wet shirt scenes! – recognise Lyme Hall more easily as “Pemberley”. Yes – that would be the family home of our hero Mr Darcy, played so jolly broodingly by our man Colin – and here it is, in all its first thing in the morning, not overrun by tourists yet glory. It’s enough to get you all wistful and romantic…….all we need is a bulging picnic basket, a couple of frolicking hunting dogs, Mr Darcy in those amazingly attractive dark green breeches and high boots…….aaaah yes……I for one would be there with my ears pinned back!!

Enjoy your daydreaming happy readers!

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Starting 2015 with the right spirit

Tuesday 6th January, 2.26pm, Eden Valley Road, Angaston, The Barossa, South Australia

Once upon a time……back in the olden days, when the Barossa Valley was young – from 1890 through 1915, we were called “the Vineyard of the Empire”. Why? Because we were part of the emerging powerhouse colony for the British Empire that was Australia, and our job was to make barrels and barrels of fortified wines – port, sherry, muscat, and Madeira – that went on boats across the waves to England on the other side of the world.

So…..every winery around the Barossa back in that day……had its own stillhouse. You made your spirit to fortify your wine styles, and fortunately for us here at Yalumba……our still still runs!! Another stroke of luck for us is that we’re good mates with the Coopers beer making family who have been brewing down in Adelaide for 90 years, so they help us out with some very smart malted barley, it’s seeded with yeast and fermented in our cellars, then we distill it through our copper pot still, and hide the whisky away in oak barrels to age gracefully for as long as we can let it.

Every now and then we bottle off a barrel of our Smith’s Angaston Whisky – usually a hogshead, which holds 60 odd gallons or 300 litres. We did this last month with a hogshead of whisky distilled back in 2000, which has seen time in French oak used to age white wine, as well as an old sherry cask. 560 bottles came out of that barrel, and I reckon it’s all about starting the New Year with the right spirit…….so you can guess where one of those 560 bottles is going …….Yep…….to a good home with me!!!

Happy New 2015 folks, and stay tuned, as I’ll be letting you know in the next week or so what we’re doing Yalumba event wise in the first half of the year across Canada, the USA, and Australia

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2015 – Hot Stuff!!

10.02am, The Clocktower, Eden Valley Road, Angaston, South Australia

Morning folks! After severe pressure from some very persuasive readers….the blog is back!! We’ve had a bit of a scorching start to the New Year, and with several days of high 30 and 40 degree C days plus nasty strong gusty winds – that’s unfortunately the recipe for one of Australia’s worst nightmares – bushfire. Right now there’s a massive fireground in the Adelaide Hills well to the south of us here in the Barossa, and with any luck our CFS ( volunteer firefighters) that’s being supported by extra manpower and water bombing planes from Victoria and New South Wales will be able to keep it contained as the temperatures and winds build again this week through Wednesday night. With a cooler weekend forecast and a bit of rain on the horizon, all our fingers are crossed.

Up on Menglers Hill the night before last, there was a spectacular sunset through the bushfire smoke haze, and it never fails to amaze us how Mother Nature pulls off such beautiful and brutal conditions in the same day

So happy New Year – we hope 2015 treats you really well – stay safe, and if you’re in our hemisphere……keep that sunblock slathered on thick!!

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