What does a very long drive, a giant jumping pillow and a chance encounter with an Irish man have in common? They were a catalyst. A catalyst for one of the most serendiptious days I can recollect.
I am a person who likes to plan. It’s what I do. My plan for our first full day in the Barossa Valley was to take a leisurely stroll around one of the little towns, visit Penfolds Winery (a taste of some Grange perhaps), have lunch at Maggie Beers and then finish the day with Seppeltsfield and Henschke.
Harry had been cooped up in the car for 5 hours the previous day driving back from the Flinders Ranges so I thought it was in every ones best interest if we started the day with letting Harry burn off some energy on the giant jumping pillow at the Tanunda Tourist Park. While Harry was jumping himself silly a few other kids ran over to join him. Their father came and stood beside me and we began chatting. He was from Ireland and was here for a wedding and thought he would make an extended holiday out of it… seeing as he loves wine. Excellent, a fellow wine lover! I told him about my plans for the day and he told me about a winery I had never even heard of, Murray Street Vineyards. The Irishman said it had been one of his favourite winery experiences here in the Barossa and well worth checking out. And this was where things began to deviate from my mental itinerary…
Harry was having a fantastic time on the jumping pillow with some other kids (read he would not get off). He hadn’t seen other children for 4 days so you can imagine his excitement. Eventually, we finally managed to drag him away and our Barossa adventure began.
“So whats your plan? Walk in town and then Penfolds?” Chris asks me as we buckle up our seatbelts. I tell him it’s too hot for a walk now (and Harry is complaining his legs are sore after jumping for nearly 2 hours) so we start with Murray Street Vineyards for a wine tasting. “What happened to going to Penfolds?” Chris asks. I tell him about my chat with the Irishman as I give him the directions to the winery.
Murray Street Vineyards
My first impression is that this is a very nice little set up. A man greets us warmly as we enter. He explains that they do sit down tastings here and you can order a cheese plate to accompany if you wish. We decline the cheese plate as we don’t want to ruin our appetites for Maggie Beers later on, and take a seat out on the deck. Harry runs over to check out the nearby swing set and a lady brings out water and crackers, 2 wine glasses and some drawing pencils and paper for Harry.
First up the whites. We try the 2011 Black Label Voignier, Marsanne and Semillion. They get the balance between the crispness and citrus flavours just right with the semillion, so I am instantly a fan. We move onto the reds and this is where this winery shows us what its made of. The reds here are fantastic. I am not usually into grenache but the 2010 Black Label Grenache changes my mind, it is delicious. The 2012 Black Label Mataro, Cabernet Sauvingon and Shiraz all go down a bit too easily and I am thinking if the basic range is this good I cant wait to get stuck into the MSV label.
The MSV labels do not disappoint. We try them all and they are all fantastic. And dare I say it, here goes.. I have may have found my favourite red wine ever. I know. Big call. But I have drunk a modest amount of wine in my life and the 2010 Benno Shiraz Mataro leaves me begging for more. The tasting notes say this wine is rich and robust, a brooding powerful blend. I say it is just amazing. But also pricey. At $75 a bottle, I savour a few mouthfuls of this wine in the tasting glass like it is liquid gold. When my budget allows it I will definitely allow myself the indulgence of buying a bottle or two of this.
Thank goodness there are some cheaper, yet still fantastic wines that I can purchase today. The 2009 Red Label Shiraz is bursting with fruit but with a lovely smooth finish and the 2009 Barossa, a blend of shiraz, grenache, mataro and cinsaut is a blend to make your taste buds dance with glee.
It is lunch time now and we are pretty famished. The lady conducting our tasting is very friendly. When she asks what we are doing for lunch, her face grimaces as we relate our plans for visiting Maggie Beers Farm shop, an institution in the Barossa. I had read online that they don’t do bookings except for bus tours and to just turn up. However, the tasting lady says being lunchtime and on a weekend, busloads of tourists will be there and that means long wait times.
I think she notices my face fall so she jumps into action mode. Apparently there is a winery nearby that does great lunches and is very kid friendly called Pindarie cellar door. I have not heard of this winery and am hesitant. She offers to call ahead and book us a table. I am torn. I really, really wanted to go to Maggie Beers but Harry is starving and there is no point taking a hungry 3 year old to a place where we will be waiting ages for food. Tantrums will abound for sure. So I decide to go with the flow. We weren’t supposed to come to Murray Street either but that turned out to be a most fabulous encounter with serendipity…
Pindarie Cellar Door
Wow. This place would have to have one of the most scenic aspects in the Barossa Valley, and boy do they make the most of it. Big sweeping views towards the Barossa Ranges and over their vineyard dominate the outdoor eating area. The cellar door and tasting area have big windows taking in the same views. This place had not been on my radar at all and I am thankful that we have made yet another detour from my plans for the day.
The property is located on the western ridge of the valley and from what I am told at the cellar door, it has been a labor of love getting it to its current state. The story of the owners Tony and Wendy appeal to the environmentalist in me. They took over the property in 1990 from Tony’s Grandfather, restored the run down farm and planted over 12,000 trees. They both have a strong interest in sustainability. I look up their website later and find this statement “We strongly believe all good wines begin in the vineyard. A good bottle of wine grows from the ground up”.
We enter the restored old stone barn that houses the cellar door and are welcomed straight away by a friendly lady. When we tell her we have just come from Murray Street Vineyards, she replies “Oh you are the family Murray Street made a reservation for. You can order now while you are doing a wine tasting if you like.” We are also directed to the massive toybox in the corner and the sandpit, play area and hay bales outside. Without much hesitation, we order the Shearers Platter for two and a Saltbush Lamb, Quince, Rosemary & Potato Pie and begin our wine tasting.
The La Femme and Petite La Femme are both made from savignin, with the later being a semi sweet style. They are refreshing but not what I am looking for today. We move onto the reds and I am pleased to see some tempranillo on the list. The 2013 Risk Taker Tempranillo has flavours of cherry and licorice and spice. The Bar Rosa has a very interesting blend of tempranillo, sangiovese and shiraz. I am sceptical as I have never had a blend like this before, but this wine turns out to be my favourite here today. The tempraniilo and sangiovese were picked and fermented separately and then spent 9 months in aged french oak. The shiraz was added after the maturation process. The result is a lovely medium bodied wine with aromas and flavours of cherry, berry and spice and soft tannins. We try the Schoffs Hills Cabernet Sauvignon, the Western Ridge Shiraz and the Black Hinge Reserve Tempranillo and Shiraz. I enjoy them all but the Bar Rosa has won me over today. Our lunch is ready so I order a glass to accompany it and we head outside.
The food here is a real paddock to plate experience with the produce all sourced from within the Barossa where possible. The menu describes the Saltbush Lamb, Quince, Rosemary & Potato Pie as “A deliciously flavoursome pie marring lamb with the sweetness of quince, the earthiness of rosemary, the saltiness of capers finished off with hearty potato’s” . Pretty much all I can say is “Yum!” The only downside of the pie is I have to share it and the accompanying Kurianda Shiraz Sauce with Harry and Chris!
The Shearers platter showcases the produce of the region beautifully with inclusions like Schulz’s Duck Terrine, lightly smoked soppressa, cacciatore & prosciutto, Barossa Washrind Cheese, Alexandrina Cheddar, Barossa spiced apple chutney, Gully Garden’s dried pears & peaches, and Bovalina Kalamata Olives. The platter is accompanied with Apex Bakery Wood fired bread, Kurianda Bush Dukkah and Bovalina Extra Virgin Olive Oil and both meals have a lovely citrus and mesculin salad.
It seems a crime to hurry ourselves here. We relax, enjoy our food and wine and the glorious views. Harry has a great time running around and climbing the hay bails and playing in the sandpit. I sit and sip my wine under the shade of the tree watching Chris and Harry playing soccer. It is well into the afternoon now and I should be in a hurry to get to one of the destinations I had planned today. But I am not.
According to the Oxford dictionary the meaning of serendipity is “The occurrence and development of events by chance in a happy or beneficial way”. If it wasn’t for Harry and that giant jumping pillow, and a conversation with the Irish man, I would never have visited Murray Street Vineyards and then Pindarie for lunch. We have not visited a single place that I had planned for today.. and yet a more enjoyable day would be hard to imagine. So serendipity I thank you. I do hope we meet again.
At a Glance
Murray Street Vineyards
Murray Street, Greenock, South Australia
Open 10am to 6pm daily
Pindarie Cellar Door
946 Rosedale Road, Gomersal SA
Open 7 days a week, 11am-4pm weekdays and 11am-5pm on Weekends.
*As I was getting ready to write this post about my first day in the Barossa I stumbled across the Monthly Wine Writing Challenge on twitter. The theme for this month was Serendipity and it just happened to describe my day perfectly, so I used it as my theme for this post and decided to enter it in #MWWC13 for a bit of fun.