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The Barossa Valley is a renowned wine-producing region located in South Australia, approximately 60 kilometers (37 miles) northeast of the city of Adelaide. It is one of Australia’s oldest and most famous wine regions, known for its premium vineyards and rich winemaking heritage.

The Barossa Valley is home to several well-known and esteemed wineries, including both large-scale operations and boutique producers. Some of the notable brands and wineries in the Barossa Valley include:

  1. Penfolds: Penfolds is one of Australia’s most iconic and internationally recognized wine producers. They are renowned for their premium wines, particularly their Grange, which is considered one of Australia’s most prestigious and collectible wines.
  2. Jacob’s Creek: Jacob’s Creek is a well-established winery known for producing a wide range of high-quality wines. They offer a diverse selection, including Shiraz, Cabernet Sauvignon, Chardonnay, and Riesling.
  3. Yalumba: Yalumba is one of Australia’s oldest family-owned wineries, with a history dating back to 1849. They are renowned for their wide range of wines, including their signature Viognier, Shiraz, and Cabernet Sauvignon.
  4. Henschke: Henschke is a family-owned winery with a long-standing reputation for crafting exceptional wines. They are particularly known for their Hill of Grace Shiraz, a highly sought-after and revered wine.
  5. Seppeltsfield: Seppeltsfield is a historic winery that dates back to 1851. They are famous for their fortified wines, especially their Tawny Port, which includes a unique collection of fortified vintages spanning more than 100 years.
  6. Torbreck: Torbreck is recognized for its premium Rhône-style wines, with a focus on Shiraz and Grenache varietals. They are highly regarded for their flagship wine, “The Laird,” which is a sought-after collector’s item.
  7. Rockford: Rockford is a boutique winery known for its traditional winemaking methods and handcrafted wines. They specialize in producing rich and elegant red wines, including Shiraz and Cabernet Sauvignon.
  8. Langmeil: Langmeil is a family-owned winery with a history dating back to 1842. They are known for their Old Vine Shiraz, sourced from some of the region’s oldest surviving vineyards.

These are just a few of the notable brands and wineries in the Barossa Valley. The region is home to many other exceptional producers, each offering their unique expressions of the Barossa’s terroir and winemaking expertise. Dylan happens to own a little vineyard there, thought to be well over 120 years old. The wines he makes is under the label Vinya Vella, which means “old vine” in Catalan, but more on this later.

So the Barossa trip was organised as part of the Viticultural conference held in Adelaide – the largest in Australia if I’m not mistaken. So all the viticulturists from all across Australia was there, and Nigel Blieschke of Torbreck took charge of getting everyone together and showing off his region. Nigel, your passion for your region really impressed me. You made me think about the producers over here in the Swartland in South Africa. You are truly a great ambassador for the Barossa.

Our first meeting was in Altona, The Torbreck Hillside Vineyard.

One of the viticultural aspects that stood out for me (besides the fact that the vines get huge) was the number of vineyards pruned to Guyot. Dylan explained that this was due to the Germans settling in Australia instead of say the French, Portuguese and Spanish like in South Africa. That brought with them a different approach to working the vines. We see very few vineyards pruned to Guyot in South Africa. One of the main issues with Guyot in South Africa is that climate change has warmed our winters and we get very poor budburst on these systems (especially Chardonnay and Syrah), unless they are planted down below in the valleys or close to rivers and streams where the general temperatures is much colder.

I guess the big vines in these vineyards can be attributed to the big vine theories. The rows are VERY wide and the vines planted equally wide. I always thought that the vineyards in the traditional wheat growing areas of Philadelphia and the Swartland had wide rows to accommodate the big tractors, but this was on another level for me!

I cant really remember a lot about viticulture for this day. I spent my energy in trying to remember people’s names, as I am very bad at this! The one guy that stood out (besides Nigel), was Matty Trent. His dry sense of humour just brought so much fun to this cold and rainy day.

So then we went to Torbreck to taste some wines.

From here we went to Seppeltsfield

Seppeltsfield is a historic winery nestled in the Barossa Valley of South Australia. Established in 1851, it is renowned for its rich winemaking heritage and exceptional fortified wines, particularly its Tawny Port. The winery’s notable features include a collection of Tawny Ports spanning over a century!

This was also a very interesting visit. Seppeltsfield is very much a tourist attraction. It made me think of Fairview in Paarl in some sense. The Port tour was very cool. The strange thing to me was that these ports were made from Grenache and Shiraz – something I am definitely not used to. Yet again the idea comes to mind that the Portuguese never really established here, probably why the traditional port varieties never took off.

After tasting some really old port off we went to visit some vineyards. Again – more grape trees than grape vines! Beautiful Grenache bushvines.

One thing I do remember thinking that day, and actually the previous day too, was that I just wanted to sucker (green shoot pruning) these vines during the season! I couldn’t understand why the vines are either not suckered or suckered poorly. Later I found out what the price of labour was… that would put me off too. But still, if the Aussies can find a way to sucker these vineyards properly, letting more sunlight in, better aeration and bunches hanging more loosely, a lot of the “greener” tannins, especially in the Grenache noirs, will disappear. Even here in the Swartland and Paarl we need to do this despite our abundant solar radiation and high temperatures. Ask mr Duncan Savage about this – he taught me that!

We had 2 more stops. But that will have to wait for my next post..

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