A freelance writer who can't resist good food and exploring new places. Visit my blog at www.travelchook.com
Published April 5th 2013
The Black Sheep - every family has one
The black sheep, 'every family has one' - this is the rather intriguing slogan at Hugh Hamilton Winery in the beautiful McLaren Vale Region. Laden with all my favourite reds, McLaren Vale has long been on my list of places to visit.
Hugh Hamilton Winery in the McLaren Vale region
At the McLaren Vale Visitor Centre I ask a staff member which winery is most gorgeous with great views. Her response leads me to put Hugh Hamilton Winery at the top of my 'must visit' list.
As we pull into the lovely tree lined driveway of Hugh Hamilton Winery in the McLaren Vale wine region in Adelaide, it is impossible to miss the sign with the big black sheep on it. I notice the rows of vines are all labelled with the type of wine tied around a tree trunk at each end - a nice touch.
The vines at Hugh Hamilton Winery
Walking up the stairway to the entrance we are greeted by a full size statue of a black sheep before we get to the glass door entrance. But this is a winery, not a sheep station, and we smile, slightly puzzled but certainly curious.
Once inside, Hugh Hamilton Winery does not disappoint. The views looking out across the vineyards and McLaren Vale region through the round glass structure are breathtaking. A charming young lady by the name of Vanessa approaches us with a big smile and asks us if we'd like to try some wines. There is nothing I'd like more, except to find out the reason for the black sheep logo.
The fascinating Hugh Hamilton is the self confessed black sheep of the family. But instead of hiding this fact, Hugh Hamilton has rather cleverly made it the trademark of his original and spectacular winery. Doing things a little differently from the rest of the flock, Hugh Hamilton Winery has an array of unique wines with names like 'The Rascal Shiraz' and 'The Ratbag Merlot'.
The winery is so beautiful and the wine names so amusing, I wondered if perhaps too much time has been spent on creating ambience and entertainment. Vanessa smiles knowingly as she arranges our tastings. While she pours, my eyes keep returning to the view of the vineyards and I imagine what it would be like to work looking out over that view every day - yes please.
The tasting is a pleasure with the bubbly and knowledgeable Vanessa answering all our questions with genuine enthusiasm. Possibly the best surprise of all was some lovely wines. Too many wineries have mediocre drops, but not at Hugh Hamilton. We really enjoyed our tasting.
Hugh Hamilton Winery staff member Vanessa
It was a difficult decision when it came to the reds as there were a few very nice ones. But our favourite by a nose was the smooth Black Ops 2010 Shiraz-Saperavi which we couldn't resist carting back home from Adelaide to Queensland. Now I just wish we'd purchased more.
Luckily for those visiting from long distances, Hugh Hamilton has the Black Sheep Club where you can join the flock and get the wines delivered right to your door anywhere in Australia.
Even if you don't drink (like one of our party), there is no need to leave empty handed. If you can drag your eyes away from the view long enough, there are a variety of items from scarfs to black sheep T-Shirts, hats and French Cheese and Pate Knives for sale. Besides the French knives, we also left with a scrumptious Soya Sesame Dressing (called Storm) and a Balsamic Reduction (named Bad Sally) - fabulous stuff. Overall, it was a memorable visit.
The beautiful McLaren Vale region
Whatever you do, make sure you put Hugh Hamilton Winery in McLaren Vale on top of your list when you are contemplating visiting wineries in Adelaide.