Sunday Special – Barossa Valley, Australia


Okay, who am I kidding? Wine is on my mind and on this a blog. I have inadvertently started  a wine series, LOL. Today we’re off to the Barossa Valley of Australia, located in South Australia, northeast of Adelaide. A friend of mine said he was heading this way so I thought I’d post about it. And as mentioned previously, my girlfriends and I are on the hunt for a wine vacation.

The Barossa Valley has a rather interesting wine history.  One of the oldest wine producing regions in Australia it dates back to the 1840s with mainly German settlers (and some Brits). When the Barossa Valley was settled it was realized that it was an excellent spot for grape growing. It was through trial and error of wine-making that port-style fortified wines became popular. Later into the mid 1900s when Australia’s wine production shifted towards non-fortified wines the area’s wines lost favour and were used mainly in blends. It seems that the the now popular Shiraz varietals were then considered sub-par. To add to the declining shift, various scenarios and circumstances further threatened the wine industry in the area.  During the 1980s, in an effort to bring about change, a number of winemakers (including Peter Lehmann) opened smaller wineries through the region. That is when the Barossa Valley wines (especially Shiraz) really took off.  Today the Barossa Valley is synonymous with quality wine. 

Reaching the Barossa Valley can be a day trip from Adelaide or you can spend several days in the area. Winery tastings and tours are a must. You can also appease your palate with an abundance of food options. Burn all that off with shopping, walking or cycling. It sounds like this area is a must for wine aficionados. 

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Grape growing in the Barossa Valley (Jacob’s Creek Winery) – Photo credit: Amanda SlaterJacob’s Creek. Vines. Barossa Valley SACC BY-SA 2.0

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Charles Melton Winery. One of many in the Barossa Valley, Australia – Photo credit: Jeff MarquisCharles Melton WinesCC BY 2.0

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Grapes in abundance in the Barossa Valley, Australia – Photo credit: Amanda SlaterWine grapes in Barossa Valley. SACC BY-SA 2.0

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Sunday Special – Mosel Wine Region, Germany


I’ve still got wine on my mind so today we’re going to head to a wine region of Germany that is known for its high quality Riesling varietal of wines: Mosel. This region is located in the west of Germany near the borders of Luxembourg and France, in the valley of the Mosel (Moselle) River and its tributaries of the Suur and Ruwer rivers. The steepness of the hills in this valley make mechanical grape collection near impossible so it must all be done by hand. Although the the hand-picking is seven times slower than with a machine its gentle effect on the grapes is passed through to the wine. This results in Rieslings that are world renown. Wineries are plentiful with the hardest part being how to decide on which ones to go to.

Not only is the Mosel Valley home to numerous wineries it is a beautiful region with some Roman history (it is believed it was the ancient Romans who first introduced wine-making to the area). Make your way through hiking trails that provide lookouts with incredible views and then head to storybook towns and villages lined with cobblestone streets. Relax your way through this region that takes life at much slower pace so you can unwind and relish the experience. A few of my girlfriends and I are tossing about the idea of doing a girl’s wine trip at some point. Perhaps Mosel will be on that list of choices.

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The State Wine Growing Domain in Trier, Germany – Photo is Public Domain

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Cochem, Germany in the Mosel Valley – Photo credit: Kai PilgerCochem and ReichsburgCC BY-SA 4.0

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Mosel Valley, Germany – Photo credit: Michal OsmendaVineyards in Beilstein, MoselCC BY-SA 2.0

Sunday Special – Mendoza, Argentina


I’m going to get straight to the point – for this Sunday Special post, Mendoza = wine.

Wine, that delicious libation that is revered by millions. Now I am mainly a beer drinker and love me a decent craft beer to savour most anywhere, however, that does not mean I don’t enjoy wine. In fact, I drank wine more frequently than beer years ago. But as time went on wine decided to not like me. It chose to cause a great deal of congestion and discomfort in my sinuses. And not just a little. If I had more than 2 glasses of the sweet elixir I turned into a snotty-nosed mess for at least a 24-hour period and no amount of decongestants or antihistamines could help. It’s some sort of allergy I guess. So I turned to beer and found my drink (after tea). Now I have found some wine that I react to far less, if at all. Perhaps my allergy/mystery is changing (as some allergies do) or some wines do not contain the item(s) that command my sinuses to over react.  I don’t know but I am glad I have been able to enjoy wine now and again. Some of these “forgiving” wines are from Argentina, so let’s take at look at Mendoza!

The Argentinian province of Mendoza is located in the west-central part of the country along the Chilean border in the shadow of the Andes Mountains, near Mount Aconcagua. It is the most important wine region in the country (yay!) producing nearly two-thirds of all the wine produced in Argentina. Some of the varietals that are produced in the region include chardonnay, malbec, torrontés, tempranillo, syrah, and several more. The province’s capital city of the same name is filled with tasting rooms, (wine) tour operators, and restaurants that pair well with whichever wine you sip. 

Now to be fair, the region does offer much more than just wine and wineries. It is a great spot to enjoy the outdoors by way of hiking and trekking, cycling, ice climbing, skiing and snowboarding, and golfing. Adventure seekers can partake in kite surfing, hand-gliding, ziplining, paragliding, kayaking, rock climbing and rappelling, and more. Of course there are spas, hot springs, shopping, and museums. So any way you look at it, Mendoza seems to offer quite a bit and all with a glass of wine if you like. 

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Diamandes Winery, Mendoza – Photo credit: BormidayanzonDiamandes WineryCC BY-SA 4.0

 

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Bodega Salentein Winery, Mendoza – Photo credit: ArgentinaWineTourism…, ALTURA Argentina Wine Tourism – Bodega Salentein – panoramioCC BY-SA 3.0

Sunday Special – South African Wineries


Last week I highlighted Brooklyn as a good friend was visiting there. Well the second leg of her journey is to South Africa (Cape Town area) so I find it fitting that we focus there today. She has gone to a few wineries so today is South African wine day! I need not tell you that these days wines are found in abundance from regions around the globe far and wide. Gone are the days of only expensive aged wine. These days it’s selection in every price range. South Africa’s wine making history dates back to the 1680s when Jan van Riebeeck was set with the task of setting up vineyards by the Dutch East India Company. They wanted to ward off scurvy in their sailors and wine and grapes were the way to do so as the climate was suitable.

Despite it’s long history, today South African wines are considered “new world wines” with increasing quality over the past ten years. Chenin Blanc is possibly the most popular varietal coming out of this country and pinotage being considered its signature grape. Most of the country’s vineyard are in the Western Cape.

I could list any number of wineries and tours around the Cape Town area that are very popular, however, personal choice of everyone prompts me to leave this and let you do your own search. I will, however, talk a bit about two of the wineries that T has already visited. I’ve been following her postings on Facebook and our WhatsApp conversations so I will just steal her locales (Thanks T!!).

Established in 1997, Paul Cluver Wines is family run. The estate itself has been in the Cluver family since 1896. It is located in Elgin, outside of Cape Town. Along with producing a variety of wines there is cycling paths and the Paul Cluver Forest Amphitheater on the grounds where picnics and artist venues can be booked. The winery also houses a highly rated restaurant called Fresh at Paul Cluver, where T dined (it looked fabulous!)

T travelled twenty minutes from Cape Town to De Grendel Winery. Located on Tygerberg Hill this winery claims exquisite views of Table Mountain and adjacent lands. A farm that has been in the Graaff family for centuries, it is now recognized for its wines. It is also a member of the Wine and Agricultural Ethical Trade Association (WIAETA).

 

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Franshhoek Wine Region, South Africa. Photo Credit: Wikimedia Commons – Taken and owned by Sara Atkins

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South African vineyards. Photo credit: Wikimedia Commons – Photo taken and owned by warrenski

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Vineyards in Stellenbosch region, South Africa. Photo Credit: Wikimedia Commons – Photo taken and owned by Scrignari