We are often asked what makes the Barossa such a special place to visit for wine. It may be a great ‘blend’ of factors such as the idyllic Mediterranean climate, fertile soils, the planting of the right vines for the area and our innovative winemakers. But I believe there is another important ingredient helping to make this region so richly unique and acclaimed worldwide.
I am no doubt biased, as I am here today because of the faith and foresight of my forefathers…and for me the true ‘taste’ of the Barossa is not just the sipping of a sumptuously bold and bountiful shiraz. It is indulging in the rich history of the region that adds a fuller “flavour” to the experience.
To truly appreciate all the Barossa has to offer I believe you should combine a love of the grape and experience the natural beauty of the Valley, all the while taking in the atmosphere of it traditions, and the history of its people.
A great inspiration to me was my father, who could not imagine a better place to be than on the land. His day began before dawn, bringing in the herd of dairy cows to milk, followed by whatever seasonal vineyard labour was in need of doing, then once again at dusk it was back to tend the dairy. He was happy with his lot, genuinely loved his life and never could understand why anyone would want to travel away from the Barossa. I am sure his vision of Heaven would have been a place of native flowering gums, wonderful orchards and gardens; of course vineyards to produce a ‘nice drop’ of wine…and perhaps a herd of Jersey cows!
I remember preschool days going with my father to the wineries, where handpicked loads of grapes stacked on high sided trucks would be delivered for processing. In those days, unloading meant manually forking off the grapes into the crusher! This would have been very hard, hot and tiring work. I can still recall the refreshing and deliciously fragrant raspberry drinks I was given while waiting for Dad….and most of all the wonderful smell and coolness of the old winery buildings in contrast to the often cloudless searing heat of the day outside. Even at this early age, I had my own small bucket and ‘snips’ to ‘help’ with the vintage harvest! Grapepicking for the casual labourer has always had a reputation for being hard work, but I felt honoured to be part of that happy and social environment. Vintage remains a hectic, busy time in the Valley and still creates an air of anticipation and excitement. While fraught with all the stresses an annual harvest brings, the success of every new vintage may hinge on the kindness of the seasons and the result of one years labour!
To this day, the traditional Vintage Festival and Parade and yearly musical events like the Kaffee Abend (‘Coffee Evening’ hosted by the acclaimed Tanunda Liedertafel male choir) and Melodienacht (‘Melody Night’ hosted by renowned Tanunda Town Band, oldest brass band in the Southern Hemisphere) still celebrate the importance of camaraderie through a common love of music and fun that has continued down through the generations. These are times to unwind, get together to renew old friendships and make new…with no doubt, a good bottle of ‘red’ always on hand to be shared!
So, when you visit with us in the Barossa, try to make time to get to know what we are really about.
- Relax and take in some of the truly lovely views from Valley floor to Ranges where every season has its own rich tapestry of colour and life to indulge your senses.
- Be adventurous and try to find and experience some of the lesser known and more ‘off the beaten track’ venues and cellar doors… you could be pleasantly surprised!
- Meet and speak with some of the long-time locals, they may even invite you to join their table at the Melodienacht!
- Enjoy and taste the wonderful bounty of homegrown foods available, and wines, that each bring their own history to the palate with different regional influences, apparent even within the Barossa.
- Ross’sTip: Ross recommends tasting the Grapes of Ross Black Rose Shiraz from the southern Barossa, Lyndoch Valley floor. Here older vines in soil of deep, sandy loam combine with a slightly cooler micro-climate, to bring a soft elegance to this fine classic Barossa Shiraz.
- Revisit and revel in the history seen in the older churches and buildings erected by the many families whose faith and courage brought them to this haven of safety so many generations ago. They saw potential in the land where they made their homes, built their churches, planted their vineyards and laboured hard. This heritage still continues today although a newer, more modern Barossa has emerged where grape harvesting machines now rattle and shake through the night, taking over much of the hand picking once done under the heat of the summer sun. But, the passion and love of the land still remains inherent among many families, who like my father, could not imagine living any other life.
I believe that we are to this day, truly blessed with the fruits of our forefathers labour!
So here’s to generations of enduring vignerons and winemakers, whose passion continues to bring pleasure to our glass…