Born in Yorkshire, raised in Shropshire, travelled the world. Lived in Adelaide and currently in UK. Love travel, ancient history, horses, cello playing, the unusual and obscure, and pottering in my own back yard. Visit my website www.wadders.co.uk
Being a Pom, the first experience I had of vineyards was in Europe; I have strong memories of walking along vine-lined country lanes in the Loire Valley in France and being dragged into small cellars by parents who subsequently loaded up an already camping gear-packed car with bottles of wine.
Now that I'm older, I can appreciate their motives!
The Barossa Valley is positively bursting with wineries and gourmet delights. The early settlers took advantage of the fertile soils and Mediterranean climate and, over the years, the Barossa has developed a distinctive cuisine to complement its wines.
Driving into the Barossa evoked my childhood memories. Bright sunshine, acres of vines and just about every road has a winery each with its own distinctive character and ambiance. At first glance, the wineries appear to be too far apart to walk between, and trails seem lacking, but there are a number of walking trails which take in wineries as well as showcasing the wildlife and stunning countryside. There is more to the Barossa than food and wine.
It is important you stay on the designated walking paths wherever you go in the Barossa as South Australia is Phylloxera free. This aphid-like insect, which attacks vine roots, continues to create havoc in Victoria since it arrived in 1877. It wiped out millions of acres of grapevines across Europe in the mid-1800s.
The Tourist Office in Tanunda has a good map of the area and you can pick up a map of The Para Road Walking Trail. Walking between the four wineries has a distinct advantage over driving, although your bag could be noticeably heavier by the end of the walk. Fortunately, most wineries offer a delivery service or better still, if you're staying in Tanunda, call back the next day to pick up any purchases.
We decided to walk from the centre of Tanunda up Murray Street to the start of the trail. It's about a 20 minute walk from the centre of town, plus you can stop off at Illaparra Fortified Store and Cellar Door. I have a weakness for port so couldn't resist stopping at 'the original home of fortified winemaking'. Although it was still morning, we sampled some of the port and were sorely tempted by the hand-made fortified Barossa chocolates, fortified jams and jellies and rich fortified fruit cake. And this was just the start of the walk.
Dragging ourselves away, we continued along Murray Street to Lambert Estate Wines, the start of the Para Road Walking Trail. Stanley Lambert's wine has 'tantalised the palates of diners in some in some of the world's best restaurants' according to the website and we weren't disappointed.
After tastings at the Lambert Estate, turn right out and retrace your steps along Murray Street. Then turn right onto Para Road. A short walk along Para Road brings you to the impressive entrance of Richmond Grove. As I walked down the long vine-lined drive I felt transported back to Europe and as if emphasising the European connection, we were met with a stunning building resembling a medieval French Chateau, complete with turret and shuttered windows. Welcome to Richmond Grove.
The smell of maturing wine is tantalising as we entered the cellar door and Richmond Grove's national and internationally recognised wine can be enjoyed either inside or on the tranquil shaded veranda.
The short walk between Richmond Grove and Peter Lehmann wines is very picturesque. We walked over the Para River via a small wooden bridge and an antique-looking wooden cart reminded us of the first settlers. The tall gum trees provide a cooling shade and the rustic looking Peter Lehmann's winery cheekily beckoned between them.
At Peter Lehmann's, the party next to us were obviously far more knowledgeable about wines than us. I couldn't help but overhear 'nice bouquet', 'a little too floral', 'a bit on the dry side'. Feeling the need to gem up on my 'wine-tasting lingo' I asked our assistant for a few pointers. She happily obliged with more descriptions - full blooded and fruity little numbers are also good to drop into the conversation.
If you're feeling a little peckish, Peter Lehmann's winery also offers a regional produce platter, "A Taste from the Weighbridge". The platter features mouth-watering locally-produced smoked meats (lachshinken, garlic mettwurst), relishes, pickles, olives, wood-oven breads, mature cheeses and locally grown almonds; ideal for nibbling, whilst gently sipping wine and admiring the serene sprawling grounds.
The phylloxera warning signs are in abundance as we leave Peter Lehmann's and walk beside vineyards to Langmeil winery. The massive wine vats on our right gave off a gentle hum, reminding us they were still hard at work producing our recent tastings. Meanwhile, kookaburras chattered in amongst the twitter of other birds in the gums above us.
The Langmeil Shiraz is perhaps the most famous as its grown from some of the oldest vines in Australia. In 1843 a blacksmith named Christian Auricht planted rows of Shiraz vines and this vineyard is the source of Langmeil Winery's single vineyard Shiraz. This rare wine commemorates the pioneering spirit of the first settlers and their willingness to endure so much hardship for the right to keep their faith (he was Lutheran); it has been named The Freedom and has 1843 on the label.
The old stone out-buildings at Langmeil are particularly interesting, housing old smithy tools and wooden carts.
Sadly our time was limited and we left this cosy winery, turned right onto Langmeil Road, and a 15 minute walk brought us back into the centre of Tanunda.