I’m super proud and excited to be involved in a wine tasting that’s coming up!
Not the Usual Christmas Suspects is happening on Sunday 4 December at Faraja on King William Road. It will be featuring wines from small, South Australian producers (and rumour has it there will be cider too!).
These guys are all small – and by small, I mean … very small. Most don’t have cellar doors and you certainly won’t find them in the big-name wine retailers. A lot of the wine is produced in teensy-tiny quantities.
The tasting kicks off at 3pm and runs until 6pm – and tickets are just $15. Children are welcome and obviously there’s no charge for them (there is also the awesome Soutar Park nearby for pre/post tasting running around).
Faraja is putting on some nibbles, there’ll be plenty of wine to taste AND you’ll be able to place orders for the wines you love! If you’re looking to serve or give interesting wines this Christmas and New Year – this is definitely the tasting to attend!
Here in Adelaide we’re in recovery from the McLaren Vale Sea and Vines Festival and making sure we’re well recuperated and match-fit for the Adelaide Hills’ Winter Reds.
We’re totally spoilt for choice. Across the border in NSW the Hunter Valley is busy gearing up for its annual Hunter Valley Food and Wine Festival.
In the Hunter they do things in style. A food and wine festival over a weekend? They see that and raise us one. It’s been on for a whole two months! There have been 70 events across this time and over 150 wineries to check out. And you have just TWO WEEKS left to get yourself a piece of the action as things wrap up at the end of June.
I have quite a soft spot for the Hunter Valley. A loooong time ago, while still a poor uni student, I spent some time in Sydney, babysitting a friend’s apartment and then taking a few days to check out the Hunter Valley. My then boyfriend and I stayed at a hotel in Cessnock (it had cheap Coopers Sparkling!) and, as we had no car, we took a bus tour around the wineries. Even then I had, quite rightly, a ‘thing’ for Semillon.
And Semillon is the grape for which the Hunter is most famous. When young, it is lean and its acidity can be frightening. But with age, it mellows, and develops toasty, honeyed characters backed with bright acidity and great length. Hunter Semillon is not only distinctive and not only one of Australia’s great wines, it’s one of the world’s great wines.
The other grape variety which thrives in the Hunter is Shiraz. But South Australian readers will know we do a pretty decent version of that in the Barossa!
The Hunter Valley is an easy trip out of Sydney, so for anyone on that side of the country – you have plenty of time to plan a trip to make the most of this two month extravaganza. There is a huge range of cooking classes, degustation meals and other food and wine experiences on offer – and many of them are very keenly priced.
Events you can still head to include a Chocolate and Sea cooking class at Twine Restaurant will set you back $95 – cook confit trout, crispy skin salmon and chocolate fudge cake. OK – you have to cook your lunch but you also get to eat it and enjoy wine too.
You can also learn to cook paella and churros or enjoy an indulgent high tea. For the full event listing check out the Hunter’s regional website.
Now to the exciting part – which is the giveaway. Which is wine. And, since we’re talking Hunter Valley – it is, naturally, Semillon and Shiraz. The 2011 Littles Homestead Vineyard Reserve Shiraz & the 2016 (that’s right – the latest!) De Iuliis Single Vineyard Semillon.
Every January the Adelaide Hills hosts the Crush festival. It’s held across a weekend and there are a variety of ticketed and non ticketed events.
The Adelaide Hills is, geographically, a pretty big region and it’s best to get a handle on that and the distances involved before committing yourself to a manic schedule.
Now we have Master 5 in tow we’ve found that finding ONE family friendly venue and making that our only stop is definitely the way to go. Last year we really enjoyed Pony in the Vines at Tomich and we would have done that again had I note received an invitation to Longview.
Longview is at Macclesfield – closer to home for us but well out of the way of the area with the densest concentration of wineries.
Longview’s Crush USP is that it hosts the Piece Project. The Piece is Longview’s flagship Shiraz and the Piece Project pits four street artists against one another in a competition to create the wine’s label. Punters get to watch the artists in action and there was also a display of winning art works from previous years.
It was a perfect day for it – clear blue skies but not too hot. When we arrived (about an hour into things) the car park area was busy but not out of control.
One thing that was a bit disappointing was that, as we wandered up to the main area, we were stopped and asked if we had any drinks with us. With small child in tow OF COURSE we had his drink bottle with us and we were told to take that back to the car. While I absolutely appreciate that they don’t want people bringing their own wine, beer or even soft drinks (all of which were available to purchase), the water thing might have been a touch heavy handed!
There was plenty of shade to be had – a huge marquee was set with casual tables but it was pretty noisy with the DJ so we found ourselves a quieter spot under a big gum tree. The cellar door was operating, along with some outside bars, and there was no wait for drinks. We started with glasses of the Wagtail Brut before deciding it was time to check out the food.
The food was ‘low and slow’ BBQ style but what really impressed me was that the kitchen area was set up to deal with large numbers of people quickly. Even though there was a reasonable queue, I was in the line for a very short amount of time. I thought that the approach of offering smaller portions of food (for less money) was excellent.
At too many festivals, you find yourself parting with in excess of $10 for a not overly generous plate of food, only to find yourself a bit peckish at the next venue and going through the whole rigmarole again. At Longview, most of the dishes were around $4-5. We tried a hot dog and a pulled pork burger. There was also macaroni cheese and a larger (and more expensive) brisket option. The hot dog was just a hot dog but the pulled pork got the thumbs up.
Longview’s one of a handful of Adelaide Hills wineries making Grüner Veltliner so I tried that while Andy tried the Shiraz Cabernet. Of course, a day out a festival is not a time for serious wine tasting but these things always make me realise how I should try just a bit harder to become super familiar with the wines on my doorstep*.
After a couple of hours, and a boysenberry ice cream for Master 5, it was time for us to head home. We appear to have perfected our approach to Crush and we had another enjoyable day out. Children will love watching the street artists work and there is plenty of space to spread out and enjoy your food and wine.
You don’t have to wait til next January to enjoy a day out at Longview. The cellar door is open 11-5 daily and if you plan and book in advance, you can head down for Sunday tapas year round.