Friday, October 6, 2017


Anyone familiar with wines from Australia is familiar with Barossa wines. If you aren’t familiar with Barossa as a name, anyone who has seen Australian wines has seen both Penfold’s and Jacob’s Creek which are based in this area. With our one day in Adelaide we decided to take a tour of the region with one of the guide services. Initially we had looked at a hop on/hop off tour because it seemed so cheap, but eventually arranged with a real guide to take a real tour so we would hopefully get more information on the valley and not have to waste time deciding what to do or where to eat.

Our guide arrived right on time outside our hotel and we began our drive to the valley. Our guide talked about things we were seeing along the way and explained the geography of the area with its different terroirs and wine regions. One interesting sight was the large salt pan from which they get industrial salts. Several years ago, a developer was enticed to purchase that land for a housing development, but evidently he found the economy or location too daunting because it has now reverted back to salt pans. Our guide told us that another developer has explained how he would have dealt with the salt buildup. He would cover it with plastic and assume that by the time the plastic failed and the salt began to cause problems he would be dead. No problem.
He also told us about a flier who had completed a powered flight before the Wright Brothers inaugural flight at Kitty Hawk. It was longer and earlier, but not recorded and shared until later. Having a publicist matters, I guess.

Downtown Tanunda

An unpretentious entry to Basedow's

After about an hour we arrived in the small Barossa town of Tanunda, an aboriginal word meaning watering hole. After picking up three women on a girls week as company, we headed off to our first winery, Basedow’s. Our server spent over an hour pouring wines, teaching us about tasting, and describing the history of this winery and the valley. Basedow’s was one of the first wineries in the area and very successful until World War I when an economic downturn coincided with the uninsured loss of a shipment off the coast of England. The combination was too much for the family and they had to sell. Years later, grandsons wanted back in the industry and started a new winery, The Three Bs. They became quite successful and when they were offered the opportunity to purchase their name back, they jumped at the chance. Then last year, their original winery became available for lease, so they also took advantage of that coming full circle. Today they are one of the best wineries in the area. They make most of their money on fortified wines (port) and selling to China. While we were being served, our server had to take two breaks to fill jugs with the fortified wines. She said there are days when that is all she does. She also told us that Mr. Basedow was on his way to China on a marketing trip.

These doors were cut into what used to be wine vats

No longer a wine vat, now a meeting room

Our second winery, Chateau Tanunda, was equally interesting historically and a magnificent building to boot. Another early winery in the area, it also fell on hard times and was sold to Foster’s who gutted the beautiful chateau, sold off the pieces, and left the building to decay. Just about the time the city decided to bulldoze it away, the man who became rich by inventing Tetlow’s circular tea bag rode by on his bicycle and decided to buy it. Today it is an excellent small winery and the building is used for weddings and meetings as well as making wine. It even has its own cricket pitch which has been used for some international matches. Our server here showed us a new way to aerate wine using a decanter we happen to own given to Linda by her team as a birthday present after a wine auction. It is blown in such a way that it is easy to roll around on the counter, a fun activity while entertaining guests or even while cooking as long as you don’t roll it onto the floor.

Our lunch platters

Following our tasting at Chateau Tanunda, we moved on to Z winery for lunch. Z is more of a restaurant on the main street of town and we had a platter of meats and cheeses while the barkeep poured our tastings. By now the focus was more on food so our tasting was less rigorous. I think they were good wines, but can’t be sure it wasn’t just the timing.

Bethany Winery in a quarry

Our last stop was at Bethany where our guide promised us some bigger reds. The winery was interesting as it had been built on the quarry that had supplied the stone for much of the town including Chateau Tanunda. It is a beautiful setting, but we found the wines to be just good, not really very exciting although that could be because we had already consumed quite a bit and out taste buds weren’t as discerning as they had been earlier.

First home in the area

The original Presbyterian Church
We found this tour to Barossa well worth the investment and were much pleased that we had not chosen the hop on/hop off tour. Our guide had grown up in the area and was passionate about the wines.

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