Tag Archives: wine

How the Germans do it… (a Photo Essay)

21 May

It’s been another miserable weekend on London (one would imagine you’d get a decent amount of sunshine towards the end on May) which has made us think of the sunny South Australia we experienced just a couple of months ago.  So when choosing the topic of our next blog post we thought we’d look into the influence the good old Continent had on Australian culture, architecture and cuisine over the past century or so. And as a picture is worth a thousand words we’ve gone for a photo essay.

Enjoy!

Adelaide Hills are located some 25km south-east from Adelaide city.

Be sure to stop by at Mt.Lofty lookout (711m above the sea level) to admire the views of the hills, Adelaide city and the ocean in the distance. Check out the stunning views of Adelaide and the ocean we got from the lookout.

The Bridgewater Mill, nestled in the heart of Adelaide Hills, is home to a beautiful Petaluma restaurant. I wish we had time to stop by and enjoy a meal overlooking the giant mill and waterwheel (which is still functional) the cellar door is named after.

The Adelaide Hills were amongst the first areas of South Australia to be settled by European settlers. A number of towns in the Hills were started as German settlements; Hahndorf being the prime example.

Being in Hahndorf is just like being dropped into a town in Bavaria, where the main street is lined with German bakeries, butchers and bars…

…where you certainly have to taste a traditional Apple Strudel while embracing the laid-back pace of life.

And don’t miss the unique Beerenberg Strawberry Farm…

… where you can pick the freshest strawberries straight from the field. ‘Pick your own’ has been running here continously (in season) since 1975.

So what do you think? Do the Germans do it good in South Australia?

Discovering the heart of Australia’s wine capital

25 Feb

So, continuing on the wine theme (yesterday we learned all about the wine production process at the University of Adelaide’s Waite campus, read about it here), today we have decided to put our freshly gained wine knowledge to practice so we’ve joined the Barossa Valley ‘Groovy Grape Getaways’ tour. We woke to our hottest day so far- it’s reached 42 degrees today! So what better way to spend the day than driving through the hills, past vineyard after vineyard and stopping off every now and then for a welcome glass of wine.

The ‘GGG’ tour attracted a very interesting bunch of people; a group of six Adelaide girls who have not been to the Barossa before (can you believe it? If I lived here I’d go every weekend!), a small group of visitors from Korea, a Canadian adventurer and a Swiss girl who is wrapping up her Great Ocean Road trip in Adelaide). We got on the bus and were taken through the itinerary by our lovely guide for the day, Jason. First stop: World’s biggest Rocking Horse.

The Rocking Horse is part of the Gumeracha Toy Factory and apparently is a unique structure in the world. It is built entirely of steel anchored in over 80 tonnes of concrete set in rock. At its highest point (the head) it is 18.3 metres.

Next we visited the mysterious Whispering Wall, which is quite special, but won’t whisper to you (if that’s what you were expecting :)). The Wall is the first reservoir built in South Australia, 140 metres wide, completed in 1902. Due to its arched shape the noise travels really well and provides fantastic acoustics; you can hear the person at the other end as if they were standing right next to you!

And now it was time to get down to the business; we had four wineries to get to in the Barossa Valley, which is renowned as the heartland of Australia’s wine-making capital. The region has a rich heritage of grape growing and winemaking dating back to 1842. Today, there are over 150 wineries and 80 cellar doors in the Barossa.

First on is the famous Jacob’s Creek, which it turns out is actually a real creek! The story of the winery started in 1836 by William Jacob (the assistant surveyor of Colonel William Light who ‘designed’ Adelaide) who was sent to the Barossa to survey the area. He loved it so much he actually built a home here (can’t blame him really :)).

During our visit the vineyards were beautifully bathed in the morning sunshine, and they even provided deck chairs to relax in the view. We tasted five lovely wines, from a sparkling Sauvignon Blanc to Shiraz Rose to their Reserve Shiraz and a beautifully peachy Moscato. Going through the different varieties we learnt a lot about wine flavours and tasting. A helpful tip: if your wine smells of vinegar or eggs you should ask for another bottle in the restaurant!

Kies Barossa Valley was our next stop. This is a family-owned winery (we hear this quite rare these days) that doesn’t distribute to supermarkets nor does it export. If you fancy their wine you have to come to the cellar door. And it would be worth it; their ‘Bastardo Port’ is like Christmas in a glass…

At Richmond Grove winery we had a traditional Aussie BBQ for lunch, although unfortunately nobody ‘threw another shrimp on the barbie’, but this was more than compensated for with delicious steak and sausages.

Our final winery was Seppeltsfields, one of the oldest in the region. Here we finally tasted the much heralded sparkling Shiraz – a South Australian specialty. It was delicious… apparently it’s even better with bacon and eggs in the morning! The winery is particularly noteworthy for its fortified wines and we started the afternoon with a few glasses of port. Most remarkable of all, every year since 1878  Seppeltsfields has barrelled port to be opened 100 years later. It is the only winery in the world that does this. Last year the winery opened the vintage during which the Titanic was built, 1911. This year they opened the bottles from the year in which it sank, 1912. Now if that’s not impressive I don’t know what is.

Our day concluded with a trip to the Adelaide Fringe parade, to mark the official start of the festival. The event attracted thousands of locals and the streets were packed with people eager to get a glimpse. We saw circus performers, zombies, camels and buses to name but a few of the participants. Afterwards a few of the locals took us out for a beer at a pop-up fringe venue and bar in a car park (Tuxedo Cat) – really cool idea, with crates to sit on and boxes to use as tables. As we sipped on our Little Creature pale ale and Pipsqueak cider, we learnt some new aussie phrases such as ‘fair dinkum’, a great alternative for fair enough. We go to bed once again feeling overwhelmed at the kindness and welcoming nature of the people who call Adelaide home.

Tomorrow is surfing so stay tuned!!

Day 4 in Adelaide: Learning how it’s done

24 Feb

Day four in Adelaide ended up being a real education in wine and beer production – something which Adelaide seems to do very well!

Our visit to the final of the big three South Australian universities, The University of Adelaide (read about Uni South Australia and Flinders Uni here) , took us up to the Waite Campus which offers a course in Wine Making (renowned as No.1 in Australia) and Wine Marketing (I know, we couldn’t believe it either). From studying the optimum soil conditions for grape growth, to marketing the finished product, this course has everything you could ever want to know about wine. The students do two vintages a year, also producing their own wine (choosing the style, grape variety, time of picking etc).

We were able to visit the on-campus vineyards, wine production facilities and the research lab, and all our questions were answered by Dr Kerry Wilkinson of the School of Agriculture, Food & Wine who gave us a fascinating tour. It seemed to be the ideal location to study wine, seeing as South Australia is the wine capital of Australia, producing almost a half of its wine and responsible for some 60% of Australian wine exports.

We also visited the City Campus (the second out of the four The University of Adelaide has around Adelaide), which was a beautiful mixture of old and new; buildings which had been around for some 135 years and are maintained in their original condition (even down to the same carpet pattern!), and contemporary constructions which had clearly been built with students in mind. We marvelled at ‘The Hub’, a space designed by students for students, which incorporated features such as a napping area, a skype room, small informal study spaces and kitchen facilities to prepare your own food. We found ourselves extremely jealous that these facilities had not yet extended over to the UK…

After a quick iced coffee and a bite to eat from one of the many food outlets in The Hub, we jumped headed over to Cooper’s brewery (we were keen to learn about this iconic brew).

Frank our guide supplied us all with totally fashionable Cooper’s fluorescent vests, so there was little chance of us sneaking off and helping ourselves to the beer. We were told Coopers is recognised as the largest home-brew producer in the world. The history of the brewery started in 1852 when the Coopers family moved to South Australia. Because their beers are made with only the best Australian ingredients (malt, hops, yeast etc) without the use of any additives or preservatives, it was originally intended for medicinal purposes.

After this brief history lesson we made our way through the swelteringly hot brewery (which can apparently get to 55°C in the summer!) and were informed of every stage of the production. We definitely felt we had earned our beer tasting session (which thankfully took place in a suitably air conditioned room). What we found very interesting (and unusual) is that Coopers beers are marked with a ‘best after’ date (as opposed to the generally known ‘best before’), this is due to the second fermentation process which happens after the beer has been bottled (which is why their Ales always have some sediment on the bottom of the bottle).

In true Aussie style, Frank even offered to give us a lift home – yet another example of the friendly attitude you find again and again in Adelaide.

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