Aus13 - Call this a Chateau?
We happened to be passing through the Barossa Valley, North of Adelaide, only to find ourselves in Tanunda at the start of the biennial wine festival.
Our first stop in the Barossa was in Williamstown where we had a coffee at the bakery and spotted a couple of gleaming Harley Davidson bikes parked in town.
I was a bit taken aback at the number of scarecrows dotted around the village and wondered if it was like our November the 5th, being so close to Anzac Day. A couple of them were in their local creek.
But no, when we arrived in Tanunda at the heart of the winegrowing area, we were issued with a Scarecrow trail sheet and this would potentially lead us to at least 150 scallywags!
I actually think there were many more as not all of them were included on the trail. All I can really do is show you a few that caught my eye. Loved them. As to why, you will need to look at http://tiny.cc/BVFScarecrow2019
What is certainly true is that following the trail drew you into this beautiful valley and communities and maybe you would be tempted to buy a few bottles of wine or jars of chutney?
In Tanunda, we were issued with wine trails, enticed to Chateaux with events and lured into tiny Lutheran settlements which dated back to 1842, when scores of Lutherans fled to Australia to escape religious persecution in Prussia. The Barossa Valley has many Lutheran institutions and communities to this day and a clutch of active small Lutheran churches.
One of those communities we visited was Bethany, the first village established in the Barossa Valley in 1842.
The village comprises circa 30 buildings, with a tiny Church (1883), and community buildings at its heart, in farming countryside.
On our visit, we happened upon a 19th Century reenactment of old farming practices and the whole village was dressed in Lutheran peasant costumes.
These people were demonstrating old crafts, serving Lutheran lunches, and selling locally bottled jams and chutneys and Peking ducks!
They had a historical trail which concluded at the Schrapel Family winery, located adjacent to the Quarry which supplied stone for many of the original houses and the church, and the Chateau Tanunda Winery, more of that later!
I was particularly taken by their laundry!
And their historic farming equipment.
Their impressive scarecrows merit a mention in their own right!
In the Church and community rooms, many old photographs were on display of life in the community over the years. This was utterly charming and a fantastic community effort.
We opted to visit Chateau Tanunda, which was the Big Cheese of the wine producers in Tanunda.
There we found a winery and small hotel sporting a fine croquet lawn, and a busy wine tasting event show casing their limited edition wines.
The newly renovated Swiss/German style chateau, was owned by the Geber family (Swiss origin), of the Tetley tea fortune. The flags flying in the yard were Swiss and Australian.
However good the wine, it had a sort of snooty and Jonny come lately feel. They had pictures of Barack Obama drinking their wine. The sommelier was a bit stressed and humourless!
To be fair to the Gebers, they purchased a decaying chateau, restoring its fortunes to its former glory, and provided work for many local growers and developed award winning vintages, credit to Neville Rowe their senior Vintner.
We walked away with a couple of fairly good bottles which we will gift before we leave.
Having seen chateaux in France, the building, although of its time, does not compare to the elegance of even the half a dozen chateau within striking distance of our home in France.
Hentley Farm Vintners was more fun. An amazing collection of old farm buildings in a remote location, accommodating really cosy wine tastings in small snugs.
The wine here included more affordable options and we had a look around and walked out with a couple of bottles for personal consumption!
Seppeltsfield Drive down roads with massive mature palm trees lining the route.
No visit to the Barossa Valley is apparently complete without a visit to Maggie Beers farm-shop and restaurant.
This popular TV cook had managed to commercialise her name. The shop, adjacent to her restaurant, sells a small quantity of overpriced Maggie Beer chutneys, ciders, wines, wooden spoons and cookbooks bearing her brand!
The lunch was fully booked but we had a very nice cheese board, a pear cider and good coffee overlooking an artificial lake.
Like Chateau Tanunda, the commercial reach had overpowered the product, rendering them both a little sterile!
Day two of our Barossa visit coincided with Anzac Day which is the Australian equivalent of our Armistice Day, when people gather to remember those who participated in wars, many of whom never returned.
Each town or small community had their own events and those who had been involved or their relatives turned out sporting their medals for Anzac parades, Church services and veterans lunches.
We were in Tanunda and went to Tanunda service.