Wednesday, May 28, 2014

The Barossa: Monday, Tuesday & Wednesday, May 26, 27 & 28, 2014

The Barossa valley has just small villages and our team is located in different villages.  Cal & I are staying in Angaston.  This town and the surroundings were in the original farm owned by the Angas family, thus the name Angaston.  

Mangler's Hill

View from Mangler's Hill

Sculpture at Mangler's Hill
Monday morning - By now all we need to eat at breakfast is toast and coffee or tea.  Our hostess makes her own bread so that is a special treat with her homemade jams.  At 10:00 the whole group met at Mengler’s Hill, which is an overlook at the top of a hill and the location of a sculpture gardens.   The weather had changed! We have been so lucky up until today.  Some days were chilly, but the sun was shining, but today it is cloudy and cooler. It definitely has the feel of an autumn day.  We were disappointed that the view from the overlook was not clear, but we did get a feel for the valley floor and all the vineyards.
Our next stop was at the Yalumba winery where there is a cooperage (barrel maker).  Very few wineries have their barrels made ‘on site’, but this family owned winery likes the quality control of making the barrels themselves. This was a great stop as we learned about the process of making barrels - watching a demonstration, plus we went to the Cellar Door to taste their wines.   

Yalumba Winery

Cooper at Yalumba Winery

Completed Barrels
By now it is lunch time. We went to the Country Kitchen, a restaurant associated with the vineyard.  I had an absolutely divine Thai chicken salad.  The dressing was simply wonderful.  The meal portions are large, so we are either splitting a meal or each getting an appetizer for a meal.
The Aussie’s do not ‘eat and run’ like we do!  After lunch we sipped coffee and tea. By 2:00 we were on a sheep farm.  This farmer has 4000 head of sheep on 1700 acres. He explained to us his theory of ranching, and showed us how his sheep dog works with him when bringing in the sheep.  His dog was amazing! He explained what he does with his sheep from breeding, to tagging, to sheering, etc. and also how the wool is graded before it is baled for the wool market.

Sheep on the Farm

Our Sheep Herding Host
After the farm, and thank goodness it did not rain while on the farm, we returned to our hosts to relax and prepare for the evening.  The evening was a special Rotary event, held at a very nice restaurant. Representatives from 6 different Rotary Clubs in the area were in attendance.  Our team was the feature of the evening, so we gave the presentation on Iowa.  Afterwards we were told this event was the best thing that has happened for years for Rotary Friendship Exchange in this area.     
Tuesday -  The morning was free to spend on our own.  Our hosts were busy, so a dear friend of our host, and also a new Rotarian, spent the morning with us.  She wanted to take us on a bush hike in a conservation area to hopefully see numerous species of wildlife in their natural habitat.  We saw lots of roos close up and some farther away, we saw birds, and lots of different species of plant.  It was a wonderful bush hike – a little longer than expected as we missed a path for a return trip, so this adventure included climbing fences!  We missed coffee time, but we had the delicious cheese cake for lunch.  It was a very lovely morning. 

The Trail through the bush

Marble Stone in the Park - What do I appear to be?

Black Boy Plant
Our Hosts for the Day - Watching us walk by!
An Adjoining Sheep Paddock
The afternoon found us at the Two Hands Winery, for wine tasting, plus they gave us a detailed explanation on the wine making processing. Two Hands Winery is very new in comparison to lots of the wineries, and it is small in comparison, but they have already won many awards .  The wine maker is the son of one of our hosts. They bring grapes from 5 other regions of Australia into their winery. Each soil, each growing temperature, and the amount of rain, all bring a different taste to the finished wine.   

Cellar Door - Wine Tasting & Sales Building

Another Wine Tasting

Vats where the wine is first fermented

Aging Barrels

A Knurly Vine

This Barossa valley area is all about wine. There are 85-90 Cellar Doors in the valley (Cellar Doors are locations that sell wine).  It has the perfect soil, rain and temperature for growing great grapes for wonderful wine. If you don’t make the wine, you can grow grapes for a winery, and if you want to have a seasonal association with a winery, you can help pick grapes, however most grapes are picked by machine.  Some people who have perfected their pruning skills will help prune during the winter months.  Grape vines take at least 3 years to bear fruit, mature at 30 years, and can produce for 100 years.  The more knurly a grape stalk looks, the older it is. 

There are other wine growing regions in Australia who send grape juice into the Barosso for wine.  As you drive down the road you see double tankers transporting either grape juice to be made into wine or finished wine being sent to the bottlers.  
Before we returned to our hosts, we stopped at Maggie Beer's Farmshop.  Maggie Beers is renown in Australia for her cooking show on TV.  She had her own brands of sauces, dips, and many other food products, plus a whole line of cookbooks.  We were able to see her TV Studio, but missed the daily demo.     
Tuesday evening found us at a Pub for a farewell dinner with our hosts and another Rotarian couple.  Tomorrow morning we say goodbye to our hosts and we are on our way to Adelaide to catch a flight to Sydney. 
colorful leaves on the vines

mechanically pruned vines

Beautiful Countryside

Country German Lutheran Church

Maggie Beer Farm Shop 

Television Studio for Cooking Show

Wednesday – 28th – We say goodbye to new friends, some we may never see again, and who knows when we will see others around the Rotary Wheel. We know several of them will be in Sydney for the International Convention.  We hope some of them may come to Iowa someday, so we can return the hospitality they have shown us.  Cal & I were pleased to be placed with our host who had a ‘Dutch Connection’. We had a great time.
Our flight to Sydney was on time. At this point our Rotary Friendship Exchange is over.  We are now on our own however we do plan to do an activity together on Friday – which I will report on later. After landing in Sydney it was followed by a taxis ride to our hotel.  We are in B & B type accommodations in the suburb of Drummoyne.    

Tomorrow we will register at the Rotary International Convention before doing things around the city.   

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