25,203 kms, 36 degrees C
After the long dusty Nullabor Plain the lush Clare Valley was very welcome. The Clare is one of the top wine regions in Australia, but often is overlooked in comparison with its higher profile cousins like the Barossa and Coonawarra. This is a shame as the wines are terrific and well priced.
The wine industry has major problems in Australia. Growing the grapes and making the wines are the easy bit – the problem is that there are just too many vines in the ground. Stuart cannot believe he is typing these words! There was a call in the Financial Review (yes, we are reading some hi brow stuff on tour) at the weekend to pull up 20% of vines across the country. Leasingham have closed. There are over 40 wineries for sale in Maclaren Vale and Adelaide Hills. Such bad news for wineries is good news for consumers, like us, as the prices drop.
At Clare we tried to visit a few big names then some smaller brands that we have not heard of. We tried Sevenhills, Jim Barry, Tim Adams, Neagles Rock, and Mintaro. The latter is a sub region, just off the main drag in Clare – beautiful country, architecture and wine, of course.
Having bought too much wine, again, we headed South to the outer suburbs of Adelaide to stay with Stuart’s cousin Linda and Frank at the “zoo” in Lewiston. It is amazing what you can pack (or alpac?) onto a 3 acre block – goats, dogs, birds, sheep and Nicky’s favourite, alpacas. They can be used to ward off foxes – they can be pretty fierce and spit, as demonstrated by Matilda on the video! Nicky loves the fact that they poo in the same spot, making life easy for cleaning up and fertiliser collection. And they look a bit like ET when they have been cropped.
We had a great pub meal with in Two Wells – amazing service in that place!!
Barrie and Judy Newman are good friends of ours from BNI days – the Newmans were the franchisees for Adelaide. We took advantage of their hospitality which was great for many reasons, not least being in an air conditioned house when the mercury was hitting the high 30s.
After lunch at Woodstock in Maclaren Vale, Barrie and Judy took us to meet Val and Trevor Griffin at their vineyard in Kuitpo. The Griffins are doing it tough like the rest of the industry but they must survive as their wines are just wonderful. We were dismayed to here that Trevor had made the hard call to let Chardonnay grapes rot on the vines last year as it was not economically viable to make more wine. And the Chardy we tried was a ripper.