Day 95 - Nuriootpa (Barossa Valley)
Trip Start Sep 02, 2007
243Trip End May 01, 2008
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We had some brekkie, showered and left the house at 10:15 to make our 10:30 kangaroo-feeding appointment, which was our first surprise!
As I said yesterday, Marie works for Jacob's Creek wines, who have an excellent visitor's centre in the town of Tanunda.
Not only does it have a great 'tasting bar', but it also has a good restaurant, and an 'Australian Animals' area, where we were headed.
We were a little bit late arriving, so we just missed the start of the feeding, but we were still in time to see about 10 kangaroos bouncing around or being fed, and about 5 emus strolling around the place very nonchalantly.
Kangaroos & Emus are particularly important to Aussies as they're the 2 animals featured on their country's coat of arms.
Katie was straight in there, asking the keeper if she could feed some of the 'roos, who initially seemed a little bit scared of the tall blond girl walking towards them, but were soon eating out of her hand. (wakka wakka wakka!)
It was so good to see 'roos bouncing around freely, I bet very few people ever get this close to them...
"What are you looking at mate?"
Marie tried (unsuccessfully) to feed some 'roos but somehow managed to feed an emu, so I tried to feed an emu and he was having none of it!
Thankfully a little 'roo saved my blushes, even if he did play a bit hard to get!
The keeper then kindly told us that the metal shed that we'd walked through to get into the enclosure was home to a large Huntsman spider!
We'd not seen it as we walked through, but he kindly poked a stick around to get him out for us. Now when I say "kindly".... We couldn't see all of him, but he was clearly bloody massive, so we didn't complain!
We also got to see some Emu eggs, which were a charcoal colour, and absolutely massive...
We really enjoyed being so close to two such special animals, and it was something they only really allow VIP guests to do (eg guests of the company, or big wine buyers like Tescos), so it was a real treat.
We left there at about 11:05, and headed straight to the main visitors centre for the tasting, and were the first people there. Alcoholics! ;)
Jacob's Creek is obviously a very big company, with a wide range of wines, plus the odd port, and we must have tried about 75% of their range during our tasting session!
This was just 1/3 of what was available for tasting:
We started on some 'bubbles', worked through their whites, then their roses, then their reds, and finally their GORGEOUS 'liqueur port'. Mmmmmmm....
We didn't have anything from their "traditional" range which we knew from the UK (BORING!), it was all "reserve" or "heritage", and generally it was very bloody nice indeed!
All in all we were there for 2 HOURS (!) and we had a fantastic time.
We bought a bottle of the amazing port to accompany us around New Zealand, and a knockout red to hopefully have with my little sister Bex & her fella when we get to Christchurch for Xmas.
Marie's friend Trish bought a few bottles too, but there was absolutely no pressure to buy anything whatsoever, and not just because we were friends of Marie.
It was honestly the most friendly and laid-back tasting we've had anywhere in the world, a really pleasurable experience.
However, we were mere amateurs compared to the wine tasting expert that was Trish; check out her masterful technique, especially the concentration!
We were all a bit tipsy (except poor Marie who was driving due to her cold), but we managed to stay still enough for one last photo.
After the tasting we went for lunch, and Marie took us to a lovely little pub where I had a really good schnitzel & another one of those delicious James Squire Amber Ales.
2 hours of morning drinking (don't mix your drinks kids!) added to a full lunch and more drinks meant that we were all struggling to stay awake as we got in the car! Thank God we had a chauffeur ;)
Just as we were leaving I saw another CLASSIC bit of Aussie abbreviation, check this out for parmesan lasagne and a beer.
If I was Italian I would have had a heart attack on the spot!
Next on the list was a personal tour of the Jacobs Creek vineyards from one of their assistant managers, also called Alistair. I knew I would like him with a name like that ;)
We had a few minutes to kill in Marie's office first, so being a bit drunk we soon had her desk animals and our own Barnaby bear going at it full-on in a WWF wrestling supermatch.
Alistair rescued us and took us out to look at some of the millions of vines in the Orlando estates.
He explained all about the different conditions, soil, grapes, methods of harvesting in each area, it was fascinating.
Alistair was a lovely bloke (naturally!), and he made a huge effort to take us around all of their different vineyards (Reisling, Shiraz, Greenache etc...); he also showed us the different pricepoints, from "traditional" up to "heritage".
Some of the vineyards were near the visitor's centre in the valley...
...and others were right up on the top of the local hills!
Alistair had a 4x4 estate, so it was great to be able to speed up the tracks to find the next area. They must have hundreds of acres of land down here.
The site at the top of the hill was fantastic, giving some excellent views across the valley.
When we got back down to the main road we turned off to visit the site of Jacob's Creek's very first vineyard, which looks a little something like this:
After that we got the chance to walk up Jacob's Creek itself (which was named after 2 local winemakers who were brothers), which felt like a real treat.
We even got to visit their luxury VIP-entertaining area, which was amazing, like something off MTV Cribs!
After that we got back in the car and Alistair drove us through many of the famous Jacob's Creek vineyards that most of you will have treated your palette to at one time or another.
It was an absolutely awesome tour, we loved every second of it.
We got back to Marie's office absolutely exhausted and half asleep, it had been a very interesting and pretty full day.
This is the view out Marie's office window by the way! Rather different to my old desk looking out over the M4 flyover!
Our day still wasn't over, we still had a visit to the local Port works, which was wicked.
The Barossa Valley is the only place I've ever been to where people buy Port in huge volume, like the French do in their wine caves!
Locals were rocking in with huge 10 LITRE plastic bottles, and getting them filled up with excellent port, it made me sick with jealousy!
I particularly liked their 10 yr old Tawny, and Katie liked the 10 yr old Mistella, which uses a Reisling grape and has a real spiciness about it. Yum.
We were so devastated that we didn't live around the corner, I think I could have quite happily filled the boot up with port ;)
Marie then drove us back to her place, where I've just finished burning our latest photos onto DVD, so can hopefully add them to the blog later.
Unfortunately one of the SD cards is playing silly buggers, so I might have to get a professional camera shop copy that one for me... (Which means that I can't upload the Melbourne photos at the moment)
Tonight we'll be working through a A$75 bottle of cabernet sauvignon with our pizza, and then Katie & I will need to get an early night as we have to be catching our connecting flight to Sydney tomorrow from Adelaide at 06:00! Ouch.
That means checking-in at 5am, after dropping off the hire car, and driving 1hr 20m from Marie's house. In other words, we'll be up at 2:30am to leave the house at 3am! Niiiiiiice...
We connect from Sydney to Christchurch, and then connect from Christchurch to Auckland.
It should be a hell of a day, I REALLY hope all the flights are on time or it could be a nightmare.
Marie & Daniel have been amazing hosts in our time here, it's been so good to see them again, especially after they made such a massive effort to get to our wedding in the UK in June.
It's also been a lot of fun to see Trish again, and to hear all about her adventures on the world's cruise ships. You can never have enough drinking buddies ;)
Ok, hope all is well where you are, and keep an eye out for those heritage Jacob's Creek wines like "One Tree Hill", they were pretty special.
Lots of love,
Al & Katie xx