I’ve been back in Australia for a few years now. I’ve lived in NSW, visited my Queensland living parents multiple times and now reside in Victoria. I’ve even holidayed in Tasmania. However one place that I had never been (until this January) and for anyone who knows about my love of wine will be shocked to learn, is South Australia. Not only was I not disappointed by South Australia’s stunning views and of course vineyards but thanks to the Venue Managing German husband I discovered that what makes a holiday truly memorable is based on not what you know but who you know.
This holiday was a real family affair. Two cars (in car number one myself, the husband, 5 and 3 year old sons and in car number two my niece who is my age – I’ve got a complicated family – and her 4 year old daughter) in a nine hour convoy leaving from Melbourne at 5:00am. Breakfast was in Horsham, an hour from the South Australian border which is where the amusing tales from the trip began. The niece ordered eggs, scrambled eggs (in my opinion the simplest way of cooking breakfast eggs) but according to this particular café apparently not: there was a $4 surcharge for scrambled eggs. This became something of an ‘in joke’ for the rest of the trip and an interesting topic for debate. Before crossing the South Australian border we were able to tick off sighting both the Big Koala and the Land Rover On A Pole at Keith (yes it is a real thing and Keith is a real place – apparently “Keith kicks the ass of Bordertown”).
Hahndorf (the 1839 Lutheran founded ‘German’ town) was our first South Australian destination which not only indulged the German husband but proved to be fun for everyone. After a refreshing Stein at the Hahndorf Inn, conveniently located right in front of our motel on Main Street we had a wine or two at Wolfies which turned out to not just be a wine bar a newly opened museum showcasing all that the German born Wolfgang Blass has achieved since establishing Wolf Blass Wines in the Barossa Valley in 1966. Having a massive garden complete with outdoor games kept the children entertained while we enjoyed some of Wolf Blass’ wines on sale that he has had friends produce on his behalf now that he has sold his empire. By 5:00pm all the bused-in-from-Adelaide-cruiseship tourists had gone and we were able to enjoy a quiet wine outside the German Arms where the children amused themselves on a giant throne-like chair. Dinner was at The Haus where true to German form the meat platter designed for 2 people sharing was too big for 3 of us to finish. The following morning we bought Bockwurst (a German version of a fat, skinless cocktail frankfurter), Mettwurst (a cured, strongly flavoured German sausage made from raw minced pork and garlic) and spiced Gouda (my new favourite cheese) and headed off to the Adelaide Hills.
This is where the benefits of not what you know but who you know started to be played out. Last year I wrote about attending the Shaw + Smith launch lunch and anyone who has read that article will know about my love of everything that this Adelaide Hills vineyard produces. Before leaving Melbourne we conveniently discovered that the Shaw + Smith cellar door is only a 6 minute drive from Hahndorf so the German husband contacted his rep who arranged for us to have a tasting at the vineyard. I have seen photographs of the rolling hills and vineyard but none have done the immaculately presented Balhannah site justice compared to seeing the real thing. The six of us were warmly greeted, by name, at the entrance door and ushered into a private tasting room facing the vines and lush green grass. The wine flight tasting notes very sensibly informed us that one entire flight was the equivalent of 2 standard drinks and therefore gave us a convenient excuse to take our time savouring Shaw + Smith, The Other Wine Co. and even a drop of the sort after Tolpuddle Pinot Noir (I told you it’s not what you know) along with some perfectly matched local cheeses. The star treatment didn’t end there though as Dan Coward, the Trade Sales Manager took us on a personal tour of the production rooms, which really are the cleanest and tidiest in the business. The almost obsessively orderly condition of the wine vats and perfectly clean concrete floor (which is repainted every year) is apparently a reflection of founder Martin Shaw’s mind. With a bottle of my new favourite Riesling and a McLaren Vale The Other Wine Co. Grenache in hand we took Dan’s advice to lunch in the garden bar of the Stanley Bridge Hotel (complete with ‘resident’ koala sleeping in a tree above the car park) before winding our way out of the Adelaide Hills and into the Air BnB at Henley Beach in Adelaide itself.
To be continued…