Day 182: 28 November – Exploring Barossa on two wheels

Author: Mrs A

Location: Tanunda, Barossa Valley

Distance cycled: 25km

We left the car behind today and jumped on the bikes for an explore. We had the ‘Barossa by Bike’ touring map I had picked up at the caravan park office and I had plotted a potential route to ride. We rode past the first few cellar doors, making a random selection for our first taste and heading into Hewitson. I was particularly attracted by the 97 points they had just been awarded by James Halliday (wine critic) for their Mother Vine Monopole. We were the only people tasting at this newly opened cellar door with fabulous views stretching over the vineyard.

They had some nice wine, with their Old Garden Mourvèdre a stand out, and of course the Monopole. We won’t be heading back for those bottles though, as at $88 and $150 a bottle respectively they are slightly out of our caravanning budget range! We asked the wine specialist for her recommendations locally and she circled a few on my map. Onwards we rode.

Whistler Wines was next on the schedule. We wound our way down the driveway and found a couple of fence posts to lean our bikes. Despite being on a ‘wine tasting rail trail’ it seems that bike parking is not a priority for any of the vineyards. In fact everyone seems shocked that we rode at all!

Whistler wines was not to our taste at all. They seem to specialise in ‘Next Gen’ wines, more fruity and approachable (dare I say alcoholic grape juice?) than the ‘traditional’ wines, all at a $25 price bracket, and often containing a ‘mystery blend’ of grapes and aimed at 20-somethings who want a drink-now wine that will not offend. There was one GSM they had open which was more to our taste, but at $45, again, beyond what we are willing to pay for something we want to drink immediately.

From Whistler we diverted to visit Torbreck, one of our favourites. We were keen to taste some wines not previously tasted. Again there was no bike parking, so we found a couple of trees to lean our stallions on and entered the cellar door.What a disappointing experience. Initially, we were ignored, before the gentleman behind the counter came over and asked us what we’d like to taste. We selected something we’d not previously tasted, he poured us a sample and walked away. The tasting notes were minimalistic – simply the grape and whether it had been in a barrel or not. We tasted and tried to regain eye contact hoping he might return and instil some of the magic – the stories behind the wine, where the grape was originally grown, how it came to this vineyard, the flavours and aromas you might encounter, the colour, any prizes or reviews the wine had, where it is sold – all help bring a tasting to life. There was none of that here. A second cellar door person emerged and we called her over to see whether she would tell us more. She asked with irritation ‘What are your questions?’. If I hadn’t wanted to try more, we would have left there and then. Mr A almost did.

Torbreck broke our hearts. We’ll not be hunting out their wines again in a hurry.Our enthusiasm for wine tasting waned after that third experience, and so we decided to continue our circuit and head back into Tanundra for some lunch, riding through some spectacular scenery and seeing no other cyclists. We settled at a lovely little café for some great food.

By the time we finished lunch it was almost 3pm so we rode back to the caravan park for a relax. By now it was about 30 degrees C and we were in need of refreshment. We decided to try out the park’s water park – what a laugh! We were immediately 8 years old as we screamed and slid down the water slides and tunnels – and definitely were nicely refreshed at the end of it.The remainder of the afternoon was spent simply relaxing, reading our books and sipping on a Bohemian Pilsner – a gift from Ali from Lobethal Bierhaus. Thank you Ali – they’re just the ticket and a reminder of wine (and beer) tasting with better service!

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