CHRISTMAS IN WILLIAMSTOWN!
Yep....it's that time of the year again!
With the vines returning to their traditional Summer green - and the the weather delightfully mild - the Barossa Valley's vignerons are preparing their best bottles to celebrate this year's Christmas in a few days time.
...and the celebrations have already begun - particularly in Williamstown, the delightful south-eastern gateway to Australia's premier wine and food district. Take a few minutes to check out what makes Williamstown special....
Over a Century ago, before automated bottling lines had even been dreamed of, hard-working Barossans sat in Benno Seppelt's newly built winery and carefully packed his fine fortifieds and brandies into wooden crates for shipment elsewhere in the Colony - and the world. In the Bottling Hall, an industry was born.
Over the decades, that Prussian work ethic and the drive of Benno Seppelt has seen Seppeltsfield grow to be a major player in Australia's wine industry. Over the years, mechanisation provided new means of getting product to market, and the men and boys of the Bottling Hall are sadly no longer. The Bottling Hall survived in a new guise, becoming the company's famous Cellar Door in the magnificent bluestone complex which also houses the iconic Barrel Room where patrons today can buy 100-year old fortifieds, or sample precious drops of the rich tawny which captured the sun of their birth year.
Now the Bottling Hall/Cellar Door is to enter its third age, thanks to a sensitive and thoughtful $3m makeover by Seppeltsfield's present owner, Warren Randall. The space has been gutted and carefully restored and modernised under heritage supervision - keeping and enhancing the old, but adding new features and facilities which will restore the 'Crown of the Barossa' to Seppeltsfield Winery.
For long-time visitors and old hands, perhaps the only identifying feature retained in the makeover of the old Seppelts Cellar Door is the Door itself! (see our picture above). They would also remember the cavernous expanse of the room - one of the largest cellar door experiences in the Valley.
From late November, that space is to be re-born as Seppelts Cellar Door AND fine Restaurant FINO - a restaurant whose famous name is synonymous with exceptional dining. FINO will bring progressive regional dining based on local Barossa produce and an exciting wine list - a highlight being a dedicated Fino Sherry barrel (now known in Australia as ‘Apera’), in which by-the-glass (fresh off-flor) liquid gold will be drawn upon daily.
Outside, the once austere space in front of the Cellar Door is being transformed into a spectacular landscaped terraced garden featuring (what else?) the sandstones and bluestones which sets Seppeltsfield apart from any other winery in Australia. And did we mention the 6 mature Canary Island palms, transplanted there to visually tie in the new development with the palms which are so synonymous with Seppeltsfield.
Diners will be able to eat 'al fresco' or indulge inside in any of the Cellar Door tasting ‘Pods’ and, for VIPs, an exclusive mezzanine lounge. An extravagant fire place, custom French oak timber flooring and slate wall features (recommissioned from Seppeltsfield’s 1888 Gravity Flow Winery) complete this stunning restoration.
In early October, we were afforded an exclusive 'builder's tour' of the development - and amongst the designer rubble, it's possible to envisage just what Seppeltsfield is trying to achieve. Seppeltsfield's old hands from the last Century would be smiling - and Benno Seppelt would be extremely proud. It's going to be a bottler!
(click on each image below for larger photos....and remember to get our audio Talking Tours on the History and Provenance of the Valley - and our Wine Appreciation for Cellar Door visitors - both of which feature Seppeltsfield) You can also read this story on our Facebook page by clicking here.
It’s true to say that you’ll never find a bad wine in the Barossa Valley - but some wines will appeal more than others.
The taste buds of the Barossa’s legion of fine wine-makers carry forward the region’s rich heritage each vintage and collectively make the Barossa Valley Australia’s premier wine region.
But now new technology is enabling wine connoisseurs no matter what their experience to place themselves in the wine-makers’ red shoes to blend their very own wines - albeit with the willing help of some of the finest taste buds in the Barossa - at Jacob’s Creek.....
If you'd like to take part in this unique experience, you'd better get your skates on - the Blend unit will be moving on in October. Why not get to Jacob's Creek on the October long weekend - but get your audio tour of the history and provenance of the Barossa - and our audio on the Cellar Door experience (which also features Bernard Hickin) to enhance your Barossa Valley experience. Get to the Barossa via Williamstown (the prettiest way to get to the Barossa) - and get your tours at the Baker St Bakery in the main street of Williamstown!
GET READY, AUSTRALIA!
The Nation’s premier wine and food tourist region, South Australia’s stunning Barossa Valley, is emerging from its long winter sleep and beginning its stunning transformation from bare browns to lush green as countless vines awaken and welcome the warm spring sun.
‘Bud burst’ is now happening across the Valley - some areas faster than others - as vineyard after vineyard shrug off the cold of a mild winter and charge toward a new and exciting vintage.
This is the time to plan your first visit - or return visit - to the wine region which stands head and shoulders over the rest. Follow the footsteps of the German winemakers and take in the vistas which envigorated them all those years ago and whose labours made the Barossa simply the best.
Get to the Barossa and savour the sun of years past - now encapsulated in delightful vintages stretching back over decades. Sit on the terraces with the ghosts of Australia's finest winemakers and complement their fine wines with Barossa fine foods as you contemplate vintages to come.
To stimulate your mental taste buds and to add depth to your Barossa visit, get our audio Talking Tours on the history and provenance of the Barossa, and our disc exploring sublime cellar door experiences as you take in this Barossa Spring!
The Barossa Valley, Australia's premier wine and food region (as we all know!), hosted its Gourmet Weekend this August - the unofficial start to the tourist season as the Barossa begins to awaken from its winter hibernation.
If you missed this year's Gourmet Weekend with friends and family - well, pity you! You missed visiting wineries with warm fires, music, good food and great company! This year we visited the iconic wineries, Jacob's Creek, Chateau Tanunda, and Pindarie Wines where we joined with the cognoscenti to enjoy this exquisite event which attracts visitors from around Australia and the world.
But you don't need to wait for next year's Gourmet Weekend to experience SA's best tourist region.... As they say in the Valley, each weekend is a moment to Be Consumed in this wonderful part of Australia, where every weekend is a gourmet weekend!
And to enjoy your visit even more, get our audio CD discs on the History and Provenance of the Barossa Valley, and Wine Appreciation for Cellar Door Visitors!
In the meantime, check out our video on the Barossa Valley Gourmet Weekend 2014, below....
..And while you contemplate your Barossa Gourmet Weekend visit, here's something to look at.
This pic is of the Barossa in full winter bloom, taken in the dying days of July. All the vines have had a great drink (better than last year) and are dozing in the late winter sun before bursting forth with a new vintage. This is a great time to visit the Barossa - and learn its stories from our discs.
Less tourists means more time in your favourite cellar doors - and more time around the warming fires!
Come on - plan your visit now!
To 'prep' yourself for your amazing Gourmet weekend, get our one-hour CD audio tours ahead of time! Learn about the History and Provenance of the Barossa Valley on our first disc, then learn about Etiquette for Cellar Door Visitors on our second disc (so you don't make an idiot of yourself when visiting the myriad cellar doors in the Valley!) Play our discs as you leave Adelaide and be 'full bottle' about the Barossa (to excuse a pun!) when you arrive for your Gourmet Weekend experience! Click here to go to our store for details!
...NOT A WET DOG IN SIGHT!
Keeping an eye on the kids!
It's lambing time in the Eden Valley - and here at the Eden Valley Lookout, the kids are running in their scores, happy and contented. And who wouldn't be with a view like that!
As Australians, we all revere ANZAC Day (as well we should), but remembering those South Australians who fought in the Boer War (perhaps the ‘dress rehearsal’ for the Great War to come 14 years later?) has sadly faded in our memories.
One of the loneliest (and perhaps most poignant) memorials in South Australia to our fallen heroes of that conflict stands defiantly alongside the Williamstown Memorial Hall, Williamstown being the south-eastern gateway to the Barossa.
It records the loss of one PRIVATE WILLIAM EDWIN SMITH, who lost his life at Arundel, South Africa, on February 21, 1902.
So what do we know about William Smith? Not much, sadly. He was not a ‘permanent’ resident of Williamstown before he left for war, as the memorial notes that he was “...once a resident of Williamstown...”
This is confirmed in a report in The Advertiser of 2 March 1900, when his death was reported. ”Quite a gloom was cast over this neighbourhood on Monday last when the news was received of the death of Private W. E. Smith, who was a member of the first contingent, and was killed at Arundel in South Africa. Private Smith lived here for several years, and was highly respected by all who knew him. He was a strong, well built young man, a good bicycle rider, and horseman, and just the sort of man to uphold the honour of Australia in the country where he met his death....”
William Smith must have made his mark on the town and the region - to the extent that his bravery was commemorated in “... Italian marble, and, with the base, stands 10 feet high, .... the work of Mr. G. E. Morgan, of the Victoria Square, W. Monumental Works, and in execution and design is a real work of art.” (Petersburg Times, SA, 10 August 1900). The Memorial was erected at a cost of £38 - a small fortune in its day.
As a mark of respect with which the Williamstown community held him, they turned out in large numbers for the unveiling of the Memorial on Monday 30 July, 1900. The Advertiser reported 3 days later...”The ceremony of unveiling took place at 4 o'clock. Showers of rain fell during the day and made the ground wet and muddy, but it kept fine overhead during the ceremony. The monument, which was covered with the Union Jack, was unveiled by Mrs. J. Warren in the presence of a large concourse of people. While the flag was being drawn up the school children, under the leadership of Mr. Miller, the head teacher, sang the National Anthem, after which Mr. R. Ross, chairman of the District Council of Mount Crawford, gave an appropriate address.”
The Boer War was fought over British aspirations to gain control over South African mineral wealth, and we South Australians sent our best young men to fight for the ‘motherland’. Private Smith was one of 127 South Australians who formed the very first contingent to travel to South Africa.
Around 16,000 Australians volunteered to fight against the Dutch-Afrikaner (or Boers) from 1899 to 1902: It remains Australia's third-worst conflict in terms of casualties. In the end, the war was reported to be a ‘guerrilla action’ fought in ways similar to that of the Vietnam war. A total of 606 Australians died in the two-and-a-half years in South Africa, more than the number of casualties in Vietnam over 10 years.
Private Smith died at Arundel in South Africa, where British General Clements drew his forces back, after severe fighting at Naauwpoort in the last three weeks of February 1900. During the movement, which commenced at midnight, 13/14 February, the South Australians formed the rearguard, a position of honour and great responsibility, seeing that General Clements' men had been without rest or sleep for nearly forty-eight hours. Notwithstanding these great exertions, Captain Lascelles, of the South Australians, on arriving in the neighbourhood of Arundel, went back with a mixed body of volunteers, mostly Australians, to endeavour to bring in or assist some infantry who had been left behind. It was in this action we assume, Private Smith on his mount took that fatal bullet which took his life in a far-off land, defending British interests. Competent judges have said that the withdrawal of the force to Arundel was one of the best-managed operations undertaken during the campaign.
And so, when you cyclists next visit Williamstown, forego your latté and take a moment to visit William Smith’s memorial - a permanent reminder of a good Williamstown citizen, ‘a good bicycle rider’... a warrior and a hero.
The Barossa is bursting with autumn colour as Mother Nature throws her pre-winter rug over the vines and towns of the Valley after the hard work of Vintage 2014. Now, this magnificent 'Indian Summer' we're enjoying looks like extending through the coming weekend. So why not plan a visit to the Barossa this weekend - and to make the most of it, get our audio CDs to refresh your brain as your eyes take in the luscious colours of the Barossa in full autumn spendour!
There's something about the wursts of the Barossa Valley to fire up the mouth (...and the other end!) when you're looking for something to liven up your Ploughman's Lunch or picnic baskets as you enjoy South Australia's lingering 'Indian Summer'.
Team them up with a bottle of Barossa red, and you're in heaven!
Here's an idea for next weekend! Pack a lunch of dry biscuits and French sticks and get up to the Barossa. Call in at Jacobs Creek or Langmeil Wines and buy a bottle of Barossa shiraz, then grab a paté at Maggie Beers (not far off the Seppeltsfield Road), then on to Linke's Butchers In Nuriootpa to pick a stick of the best Wursts you'll find in Australia. Make your way to Menglers Hill, spread the blanket - and take in the vista of the Barossa in its late autumn light which inspired the early German settlers. Get our History and Provenance audio CD and take in the stories (including those of Linke's Butchery and Langmeil Wines) which make the Barossa Australia's premier tourist region. Great wine and food - and great memories which you'll remember forever. Bliss!
Barossa Talking Tours featured in the Gawler Bunyip newspaper this week - a good yarn, and photo with 'Nipper' Fechner of Tanunda's iconic Apex Bakery, who features on our History and Provenance audio CD disc, talking about the delights which come out of his 100 year old wood-fired 'Scotch' oven. To read the story, go to the on-line version by clicking on this link - http://www.bunyippress.com.au/audio-tours-for-barossa/ Enjoy!
And Langmeil is now stocking our Barossa talking Tour discs - the Barossa History and Provenance disc, and our Wine Appreciation for Cellar Door Visitors disc. Langmeil Winery is a 'must visit' if you're touring the Valley - and beyond the superb wines, you can now buy our discs there too!
As work proceeds, the cellar door has been moved a few metres east of the old cellar door - and offers a new experience, established as it is in the old Seppeltsfield Stables. With this 'Indian Summer' we are experiencing mid-May, with temperatures in the low 20's and fine sunny days, this is a perfect time to visit the Barossa - and to visit the new Seppeltsfield Cellar Door. Apart from location, nothing else as changed, with Seppeltsfield's fine 100 year old Tawnies still available. To learn more about Seppeltsfield and its history, complement your visit by getting our Talking Tour History and Provenance audio CD tour - and if you're into Seppeltsfield's wine offerings (including its lip-smacking tawnies!) hear from Seppeltsfield's 2012 Winemaker of the Year, Fiona Donald, on our Wine Appreciation for Cellar Door Visitors audio CD. Buy them on-line - or if you're coming up through Williamstown, get our discs at Winestains, or the Baker St Bakery (see posts below). Seppeltsfield will be stocking them too in the near future as they work through the logistics of their new cellar door.
Barossa Talking Tours provides an entertaining and informative look at the Barossa Valley as an audio tour - perfect for car or caravan!