Yesterday, Mary and I escaped the good life shipboard for a wine country adventure in the beautiful, bucolic Barossa Valley, north of Adelaide. It’s been nearly 25 years since we first tasted wine here and at that time, many wineries and tasting rooms were rustic and simple, flashbacks to California wine country decades ago were basic and utilitarian. Tastings were free, pours generous and many times the server was the wine maker.
Barossa wine country has changed of course. The number of varietals has grown exponentially. Tasting rooms have evolved into stylish tasting, dining and shopping experiences. What’s thankfully still the same are the generous and gratis tasting menus. And while winemakers may not be pouring wine, they are likely nearby and happy to chat about their vintages.
Our CP Tour’s unlikely driver and guide, Alan, was about the same age as his customers. It didn’t take long before we realized we had a real gem for a leader. He was like a funny self-deprecating Yoda. Each of the five wineries were preceded by an insiders monologue on the destination, usually with a humorous bit of gossip attached.
Each, winery was unique in some way. Each had in interesting and sometimes compelling story. It’s a new breed of winemakers and owners from around the world who have staked their claim in the land down under. We’ll tell some of their stories in our next post.