date of day out: Saturday 5 May 2012
A group of friends recently organised a day out wine tasting in the Adelaide Hills. We had a reasonably modest agenda for the day – lunch and three, maybe four, wineries.
For me, the day proper began at lunch time. Our original food plan was scuppered so, at the last minute and with no warning, twelve of us descended on the Charleston Hotel in a tiny town (population 120, apparently) called … Charleston.
Luckily for us, the dining room was empty because by the time we’d sorted out our table, only a handful of other diners could have squeezed in. We obviously massively swamped the poor kitchen (the rumour at the table was that there was one person working there) so yes, our food did take a while to come out and no, it didn’t all come out at once. But we quickly figured out what was happening so people had the good sense to start eating. From where I was sitting I heard only one complaint about the food which concerned a very disappointing looking bar meal of spaghetti bolognese. The disappointment was compounded because the individual concerned had considered ordering the awesome looking lamb burger.
I was pleased to note that, for $13, I could order a ‘half size’ schnitzel (topping/sauce extra). I don’t think I’ve had a pub meal where the schnitzel has not been ridiculously huge and I’ve often commented that the children’s sizes have looked sufficient. All the schnitzels (even the half sized ones!) were generously proportioned and thick. This meant they were juicy – no dried out cardboard here. The salad was definitely above par (although, as usual, drowned in dressing) – it was Greek style complete with feta. And I very much enjoyed my glass of Kersbrook Hill Shiraz too!
The accommodating nature of the businesses around Lobethal was further demonstrated when we turned up at Golding Wines. The cellar door man didn’t bat an eye at our large group – he herded us towards a large table, lined up the entire range and led us through it. If you want a welcoming cellar door, I can think of few places that do this better than Golding*.
Next up we headed to Bird in Hand, where our large group most definitely caused a problem. “Have you booked?” … er, well, no. “Hmm, that will be $10 a head” … er, well, no. The cellar door was full of a bus load of tourists and obviously we represented hard work. While I realise that large groups arriving unannounced can cause problems there must be a more delicate way of dealing with the situation. As locals, it means that we’re unlikely to take guests (either overseas or interstate) to Bird in Hand in future …
We wrapped up the day with Barristers Block, where we were treated to some further Adelaide Hills hospitality. The tasting here was a lot less formal than at Goldings with everyone trying whatever they were interested in. Which worked well because by the end of the day the two cellar dogs were garnering a lot more attention than the wines from some people!
I’ve been all inspired to work my way through the wineries of the Adelaide Hills – I just can’t work out which end to start! But hopefully there’ll be some more cellar door tales soon.
* I have been there several times before and I’m a fan of their Last Hurrah sparkling and Handcart Shiraz.