I was up early the next morning for a wine tour of the famous Barossa Valley. Dallas, our tour guide, made the rounds picking 6 of us up at our accommodations and we were on our way. The Barossa Valley is located a mere 65 kms to the southwest of Adelaide. It is a compact valley and it produces approximately 20% of Australian wine. With hot, dry summers and cool, moderate winters – big red wines are the favorite. The Barossa Valley is 16 years OLDER than the Napa Valley – interesting!
We made our way through the Adelaide Hills where I saw my first wild Kangaroo! The Adelaide Hills area is on the outskirts of the Barossa Valley and is an up and coming region for vineyards and quality grapes. On the way, we stopped off at the Whispering Wall, which is a damn wall where the acoustics allowed one person to walk all the way to the other side and the sound traveled across the wall as if they were right next to you. It was quite impressive.
Winery Stop #1: Our first stop was Chateau Yaldara and the McGuigan Winery – quite a picturesque building. My favorites were a 2009 Moscato and a 20 year aged Tawny – nutty flavor and so good!
Winery Stop #2: Second up was Peter Lehman Winery where Shiraz is king. The Peter Lehman story is one of bravery and loyalty. As a grape grower, there was an excess amount of grapes in the late 1970s and the wine makers were not going to hold to their agreement of purchasing the grapes from the growers. Peter took it upon himself to buy the excess grapes and became a wine maker. Since then, he has been awarded and recognized as the International Winemaker of the year and Best Australian Producer. The Peter Lehman winery is now 85% owned by the Hess Corporation in the Napa Valley. I enjoyed all the wines and found the Sparkling Shiraz the most unique and interesting. Our group enjoyed a lovely lunch of local meats, cheeses, olives and bread.
Winery Stop #3: After lunch we were off to the family owned Langmeil which is home to the oldest known Shiraz vineyard in the world – this is possible because the old vines were transported here from Europe and the European vineyards have been wiped out by phloxera. They also produce a Sparkling Shiraz. My favorite was an old vine Shiraz.
Winery Stop #4: Murray Street Vineyards is one of the smaller wineries on our tour. The owner and chief winemaker, Andrew Steppelt is a 6th generation Barossa wine maker. At this point in the tour, I had stopped taking notes on the wine – they were all pretty good! The icing on the cake was the chocolate served with the final Shiraz – Wow, delish!
What do I think of the Barossa Valley? It was marvelous! Great wine, great tour and informative guide, great food – what more can you ask for? Better than Napa/Sonoma – no probably not, but I am bias.
After the tour, I wasn’t ready to call it a night. I had wanted to see an Aussie Rules Football game, but it wasn’t the season. So, I decided on football (aka soccer). I went to see the Adelaide United play the Melbourne Victory in a football match at the Adelaide Oval. I walked over to the stadium and along the way, similar to my football experience in Argentina, ended up behind the police escort of the visiting fans. These football fans are a rowdy bunch and they have foul-mouthed chants, no doubt about that! I bought a general seating ticket that had me sitting on an outer grass section. I thought to myself, “I can do better”. I made my way to the “nice seats” where you had to show your ticket to get in. I waited and at the opportune moment, I snuck past the ticket checker. HA – I was sitting at half field (is that a term – like half court?). Nice work! There is an advantage to being alone at these types of events. It was a fun game. Adelaide won, 2-1 and my favorite player is now Carlos Hernandez.
It was a long day of really nice vino, good food and fun sports!