Fairly simple day today as we took a wine tour with one of the local companies.
There are a whole range of companies offering wine tours in the region which can be distinguished fundamentally by the type of customer that they are catering for ranging from the ‘swill as much as you can in a single day’ tour with little care for what the wine actually is through to the full on gourmet experience for the knowledgeable wine connoisseur (at a gourmet price). We chose something somewhere in the middle which was a tour of smaller boutique wineries which are mainly family owned and their wines are not available in stores. At $88 per person it felt like pretty good value (although as my better half is largely tee-total is requires some fairly serious quaffing on my part).
We started at Happs Winery which probably had the most extensive range of wines available (around 37 from memory). This was a small family winery with an arts and Pottery business attached. Unlike the others on this tour we were allowed to choose as many to taste as we wanted although as it was only 10:30 in the morning I eased myself in gradually!
That was followed by Mongrel wines which could not have been a bigger contrast as we were asked to sample just five wines and the tasting took place in what looked like a tin shed. The winery had a nice casual feel to it but I was not hugely impressed with the wines.
We were by then already at lunch and we went to a local brewery for a buffet lunch and a sampling of the local beers. I had a strawberry blonde ale brewed with honey which was pretty smooth but still packed a 6.5% punch. I wasn’t so sure I liked it, so I had another just to check.
Third on the list was Swooping Magpie which is a Boutique Vineyard & Wine producer. Like most of the winery’s on the tour this one was only established in 2007. Some really nice and different wines and it was here that I made my first purchase of a Cabernet Franc 2011 (at $27). I had never heard of Carbernet Franc but apparently it is the origin of the Cabernet of “Cabernet Sauvignon” fame. A really dense wine that I will enjoy sipping on my verandah in New Zealand.
Following that we made a stop at a company which makes various products out of Olive Oil including various face creams and skin treatments as well as edible oils and sauces. Ok, but within the context of a wine tour not very interesting. Still it had a free public bathroom with was almost an essential after the largely liquid lunch.
Next winery was the Clairault which was the most modern looking of the day but also a little soulless. Nothing really special about the wines other than the slightly inflated prices and pretty meagre portions.
They always say save the best until (almost) last and that was certainly the case here. The Windance winery has little in the way of modern accoutrements and has been running for only 15 years from what seems like a relatively ramshackle bunch of sheds. Our wine tasting was outside and we were treated to around 12 different varieties, all of them really excellent. As a note of appreciation I bought a bottle of their 2009 single estate Shiraz for $30.
We finished the day with a short visit to a chocolate shop which was a bit of a waste of time as there is a very small amount of tasting involved and the chocolate itself was incredibly expensive and actually not made on the premises. Could have given that a miss and squeezed another winery in.
The nature of the area mean that there are lots of wines in a very small area so there is relatively little time spent in the van and also good as there is no pressure selling. The only disappointing thing is the cost of shipping back to Europe (c. $240 for a crate of 12 bottles) means its difficult to buy, especially when you have a flight to New Zealand coming up.