Nov 27, 2016

Getting our Grüner on at Hahndorf Hill Winery

Just like your first real kiss or that first love, the first time I tasted Grüner Veltliner I was never to be the same again. I had been kissed and my heart (palate) was hooked. It was the debut White Mischief Grüner Veltliner (a fruit-driven, less dry style) from Hahndorf Hill Winery in Hahndorf South Australia in the beautiful Adelaide Hills. I was immediately smitten with this beautiful wine. In the years since that first sip I look forward with anticipation to heading back to Hahndorf Hill Winery every year to taste the new vintage and see what else is on offer as well as enjoy a wonderful ChocoVino experience.

The most important grape variety in Austria, Grüner Veltliner achieved worldwide awareness and popularity at the end of the last century. It is a fertile variety and therefore requires a deft touch in the vineyard with things like yield regulation. It grows especially well in deep loamy soils, does not like dryness and is sensitive during flowering. Grüner Veltliner delivers all quality levels - from light, acidity-toned wines to the highly ripe Prädikat wines. The site and the yield are crucial to the quality. Spicy, peppery versions are preferred and so are versions yielding stone fruit notes. Grüner Veltliner is capable of producing very fine, full-bodied wines well capable of ageing. Until I was introduced to this wonderful wine by Larry at Hahndorf Hill Winery and in an instant I was hooked.

Having been unable to source healthy Grüner plant material in Australia, HHW (Hahndorf Hill Winery) in 2006 was able to import three different clones directly from Austria, which all passed successfully through the quarantine system. Then in 2009 they imported a further three clones again from Austria, making a total of six clones of Grüner that were planted in their vineyard.

In 2010 they released their debut vintage, which they affectionately named GRU. This was the first production of Grüner Veltliner in South Australia (and the second within Australia, the first being Lark Hill, a year earlier, in the Canberra wine region).

In addition, the HHW GRU Grüner Veltliner 2015 was selected to represent Australia at the prestigious Six Nations Wine Challenge 2016, where it was (not surprisingly) awarded a Double Gold Medal.

At Hahndorf Hill Winery they now produce four different styles of Grüner Veltliner - a classic style, GRU Grüner Veltliner; a more fruit-driven style, White Mischief Grüner Veltliner; their reserve style, GRU2 Grüner Veltliner and soon (maybe already) will be releasing a late harvest style called Green Angel.

Winemakers like to tell you that their wines go with everything but in the case of HHW Grüner Veltliner, Austria’s (Adelaide Hills soon) best known white wine, it’s true. Short of Sunday roasts and large juicy steaks you can match it with practically anything. At first glimpse, that umlauted ü in Grüner may give off a tongue-twisting impression. But the name is actually simple to pronounce, it's "Grew-ner Velt-leen-er". Really, if Pinot Grigio and Cabernet Sauvignon easily fly off the tongue, then certainly Grüner Veltliner will. Or just join us and call it Grüner.

This wine has a lovely fresh aromatic citrus quality on the nose that carries to the palate with a mouth filling citrus and stone fruit combination. With the almost perfect amount of acid that makes your mouth water and beg you to drink some more. Before you know it the bottle is empty. What a lovely wine that at *** earns an 8+ on the scale.

As I mentioned early in the piece, I look forward every year to tasting the latest from Hahndorf Hill Winery and the Grüner is a major reason. Ok, and the great staff that also provide a wonderful tasting as well as the ever amazing Chocovino experience that are really icing on the cake.

Happy Wine Adventures,


Nov 19, 2016

Every Participant Gets a Medal ?

A pet peeve of ours is the 'the every participant gets a medal brigade'. A product of the self-esteem movement, parents and coaches today feel obligated to heap praise on children, no matter if they deserve it or not. No matter if they hit a home run or made the error that lost the game for their team. That is, if they even keep score at all. The mentality has created an atmosphere where everyone gets a trophy, but awarding medals and trophies just for participation sets the bar very low, according to experts. Trophies make kids feel like finishing in last place may be good enough.

So where are we going with this? Have you noticed how many medals and awards some wines have? Have you also noticed that generally when you see these at a grocery store they are a cheaper brand in the $12-$20 range. Which then begs the question, how do all these mediocre wines get all these medals and awards?

So lets start by saying that it may not be the wineries fault. They may be victims or contributors to a faulty system. Victims or participants of the every entrant needs an accolade society. Submit your wine, pay your fee and at worst you will get a Bronze Medal.

Wait, what? How can this be you ask. We are surprised that a significant number of people think that all Golds are the same. Not so! The gold medal that the new to the game from some obscure non AVA small family winery just received (may be real, but not likely) is not the same as one received at a competition that judges blind and against a set standard where the points are tallied by someone else and there are no guarantees. Massive wine competitions like the San Francisco International Wine Competition or the Royal Melbourne Wine Awards generate a lot of awards and probably sell a lot of wine for those that receive these awards.

So where do we begin. In the US for every country wine town there is generally a wine show or two each year that holds an awards segment. Submit your entry and be judged by a collection of folks that range from drinkers to somms. The problem with most of these competitions is that there is not a standard they are judged against but just against others of similar variety for that event. Some didn't even do the tasting blind although we have not come across this in a while. So what this means is that the one that those tasting liked the best is a Best in show and a Gold or as is becoming more popular a Double Gold.

Now we are proponents of 'if you enjoy a wine, then drink it' but we also are well aware that because you like it does not make it Medal worthy or high points score worthy.

One thing about wine medals is that, unlike the Olympics, there are almost always more than three in any category and often gold medals are awarded to all wines that are scored a certain mark (say, more than 93 out of 100), silvers are given to all scoring more than 88, and bronzes to all over 85. So as you see in theory then, all wines in a category could be awarded gold. Alternatively, no medals at all could be awarded. So a gold doesn’t mean that a wine was best in its class because it might have been the lowest of three golds.

And there are often many classes, based on style, grape variety and price. A gold medal winner in the under $10 red category might not be nearly as good as a gold in the over $20 Shiraz group.

We remember seeing a cartoon showing a man tasting wine in a store, making a face and saying, “This wine tastes terrible!” The pourer says, “Wine Spectator gave it 92 Points,” and the customer replies, “I’ll take a case!”

In the US, most wine competitions are like the Special Olympics: wineries get medals for showing up. And the more medals a competition gives, the more successful it is. So where does this leave us?

 If a bottle has a medal sticker on it in the supermarket, it gets a response. In a wall of wine, anything with some bling gets a response. Some say this is not a bad thing as that bling may encourage people to branch out and try different grapes and regions, wine that would otherwise be ignored. Trouble is, as punters, we'd expect any award to be offering more than a "you won't want to spit this out" kind of reassurance.

In California the state fair competition was important in helping the California wine industry grow before Prohibition (it started in 1854) and rebuild after Prohibition. At a time when very few took California wine seriously, it was a way for small wineries to get a PR boost. Maybe that’s how the whole culture of winery interests first competitions started.

So in the end who is the true customer of a wine competition? Is it the winery that enters, or the consumer who sees the gold medal?

The reality is probably somewhere between the two. All we know is we wish there was a bit more of a norm so that those making wine actually knew where their wine stood in the big picture which would allow them the opportunity to try harder to make better wine.

It would also allow the consumer to not worry so much about the possibility they may be pouring their latest purchase down the drain.

Happy Wine Adventures,


Nov 18, 2016

A winemakers journey.

Way back in the Santa Cruz Mountains is an old estate that few ever get to see that has been producing wonderful Pinot Noir for over ten years. Established in 1881 by California pioneer Pierre Cornwall this grape growing property was once owned by the famous director, Alfred Hitchcock. Today Heart O' The Mountain is owned by the Robert Brassfield family and produces a limited amount of hand-crafted, Estate grown Pinot Noir made by winemaker Brandon Armitage.

Brandon Armitage started his career 19 years ago in New Zealand. where he studied Viticulture in Central Otago and started getting his hands dirty working on helping to establish new vineyards and working in existing ones. While completing his technical degree in Viticulture he was volunteering all of his free time to winemaking. Working for Carrick Wines in New Zealand a love for Pinot Noir was born. After years of traveling back and forth from northern hemisphere, Colorado/Oregon/California, to southern hemisphere New Zealand making wine, he was able to develop the skills needed to grow and nurture grapes into the best Pinot Noir the Santa Cruz Mountains has to offer!

Brandon Armitage is the winemaker and President of Armitage Wines and is now taking over the general management of the Bassfields Heart O the Mountain operation for whom he has been making wine for for a number of years! The Brassfields have built a reputation based on family, exceptional quality and a passion for making stellar wines from one of the most magical places within the Santa Cruz Mountain AVA, known as the old Alfred Hitchcock estate, Mt. Roberta and Heart O' The Mountain.

Heart O' The Mountain Vineyard was planted with specific clones, orientation and rootstock best suited for the terroir and micro climate of the estate. Five clones have been planted, 777, 828, 667, Pommard and most recently 115, offering different characteristics to be showcase the property and some to be crafted into the best Pinot from the area.
The Brassfields hard work and care evolved into a wine that was only available to people they connected with and who became club members. As members grew so did production and different styles of Pinot from the same vineyard thus creating the single clone series. While blending the clones together fills in the spaces, balancing tannin, sugars and acids providing a balanced wine experience, being able to try the different components of the single clones provides a better understanding of what goes into blending. Showing off single clone wines is part of what separates the estate from other wineries in the area.

Bob giving us some history in the English rose garden
As the winemaker-owner of Armitage Wines and taking over the responsibility of HOTM, Brandon has put a lot of thought into how he is going to balance the two labels and maintaining the exclusivity of the brand Heart O' The Mountain.  All Heart O' The Mountain Vineyard single clone wines will have the original Heart O' The Mountain label.
These wines were once only available to club members but now can be tasted at the Aptos California tasting room. As of the 2014 vintage, Heart O' The Mountain Vineyard wines that are a blend of the different clones will have the Armitage label on them.  
Brandon says the focus is still the Allocation Club and they want members (their family) to have exclusive access to certain aspects of the business such as club events and HOTM winery visits.  
Both labels can be purchased through the website at  Club members can access or create an account on the website, purchase wine, and have the wine shipped to them or pick it up at the Postal Annex in Scotts Valley or at the Tasting Room in Aptos. 

Armitage Wines and Heart O' The Mountain has opened the wine club up to new members as the vineyard has produced more grapes in recent years and they plan on making all of it into wine!  They also believe the best marketing is word of mouth and have created a Referral Program where they have a few different wines that they keep in their Library, so if a member refers someone to the club, they gift them  a bottle of wine from the library. Nice touch!

At the recent unveiling of the 2014 vintage at the Estate we asked Brandon what were some of the current changes people will see and what directions he may take the labels in the future. He said not much is going to change but is looking to grow production a bit but staying the course with the current process. He is looking forward to getting into the vineyards and putting his hand on the vines to up the quality even more.

When we asked Brandon what one thing he had learned in his time in New Zealand that he uses to this day he straight out stated that the one thing he believes is that paying attention makes a difference. You must pay attention to the details Brandon says, that way you never have to recover only monitor and guide the wine to its be its best.  

Bob Brassfield gave us a wonderful tour of the estate and gave us the history as well. While Hitchcock did not live there he used the place for entertaining guests. We can only imagine what a thrill it must have been for those guests as the place is spectacular. We also had a long chat with Bob about the circumstances that brought about his association with Brandon and how it has come that Brandon has come to be taking over the operation. Bob is excited to see what is to come and has the utmost confidence in Brandon's wine making and vineyard management skills. 

With that all being said what about the 2014 releases? We tasted through the 2014 HOTM 667, HOTM Pommard Clone, HOTM 828, HOTM 777, Armitage Santa Cruz Mountains Pinot Noir, Armitage Chalone 'Dry Hole Vineyard' Pinot Noir as well as the Armitage Mt Roberta Reserve Pinot Noir. All quality wines. These are relatively young wines and are not yet set to be released for a month or so, but all tasted very good.

These are very impressive wines from a small vineyard in the Santa Cruz Mountains and Brandon is really one to watch, or as we prefer to do, continue to taste and drink his wines (strictly so we can continue to inform). With wine this good it wont be long before there will be a waiting list to get an allocation of his wine. 

Join the club now while you can so you don't miss out!

Happy Wine Adventures,


Oct 16, 2016

2013 Pinot Nior's from Armitage Wine

Not that long ago we came across this wine maker that just knocked our socks off. A self proclaimed maker of Pinot Noir. After a taste of the range we were hooked. The wines we tasted were;

2013 Carmel Valley Pinot Noir. This is hefty for a Pinot. It has tannin's that will need a little time to figure out who they really are. This wine changes in the glass over time quite a bit. Time should prove this to be an interesting and enjoyable different style Pinot Nior. *** 7.

2013 Santa Cruz mountains Pinot Noir. 
Soft feminine and delicate A sexy young girl who enjoys leading you astray. Oh baby. Hey honey can I keep her? 100% new oak. Would not have guessed. Just delightful *** 7+.

2013 Armitage Chalone
2013 Dry Hole Vineyard Chalone Piñot Noir.
A full sumptuous, voluptuous wine that has it all going on. A Marilyn of wine. Great balance and a crackin finish that just checks all the boxes. This wine is feminine but is a bit like that sultry woman that can make grown men blush. A siren that one cannot resist. Please sir can I have some more. No new oak. *** 8.

2013 Santa Cruz Mountains Mt Roberta Reserve Piñot Noir.
2013 Armitage SCM ReserveThis is a beautiful svelte wine that has beautiful aromatics and a balanced and round mid palate. The finish is like a great suspense novel from a master that holds you on the edge of your seat for an extended period of time. A technical descriptor for this wine would be 'Yum'.  This is the same as the Santa Cruz Mountains Pinot but selected barrels that Brandon feels are the best of the best. The best of the best is a little more rounded and fuller. This seductive wine is a lover with a feel for substance and connection that will make your night one to remember. ** 8+.
Head on over to Aptos California and have a taste of some pretty darn good Pinot Noir. We are soon to taste the pre-release of the 2014's and we cant wait.
Happy Wine Adventures,


Oct 9, 2016

Scones, helicopters and 100 year old port, Barossa

What is one to do when your mum is turning 90 and needs for nothing? Start a kind of, what have you not done list, that might be of interest and or fun to do list...

A big day was planned and although most things were not a surprise, it was still a surprise as I don't think she believed me when I told her of the itinerary. Mum lives in Paradise. No really, she literally lives in Paradise. Its a suburb of Adelaide South Australia. Given the location it seemed easy to create a special day. A day of firsts in the Barossa Valley.

We took off early enough to get a full day of activities in, even with the rain. The first stop was a lovely coffee shop in Lyndoch. The Lord Lyndoch was a lovely sojourn for Cappuccinos, tea and scones with jam and cream. Oh how I miss the decadent thick cream of Australia.

After some yum in our tummies it was back onto the road. It was not long driving through the beautiful southern Barossa that the rain stopped and we came to our next stop, Barossa Helicopters. In her 90 years mum has never been in a helicopter. We did our preflight and headed of to see a bunch of Barossa Icons from the air. What a trooper. Mum just hops on in and gets buckled up. Moments later we are going airborne.

As we gently cruised across the vineyards of the beautiful Barossa we started trying to spot the winery. Not as easy as one would think. One place that was relatively easy to spot was Seppeltsfield, where we had plans for later in the afternoon. We also spotted, Gods Hill,  Whistler, Two Hands, Hentley Farm, Chateau Tanunda and also flew over the whispering wall. A lovely flight with spectacular views and a recommended stop when in the Barossa. Thumbs up from Mum!
Rain didn't slow us down.
VIP tasting area.
Next up was the stop that I was most looking forward to. The main event. The icing on the cake. A stop at Seppeltsfield . First up was a beautiful lunch at Fino. All four of us ordered something different and we each were delighted by our choices. The food, the service and the accompanying wines were fantastic. Next up for Mums (and mine) big day was a tour to learn of the Seppelt family history and their profound influence on the Australian wine industry.

Nigel talking to sister in law
about her birth year port.
We toured the 1851 Seppelt homestead, Elm Walk, 1877 Distillery and 1860s Blending Cellars. Some wonderful stuff that Mum just ate up. Then it was time for our private tour host Nigel to take us to the luxurious VIP mezzanine lounge and taste the current releases of port. First up a Grand Tawny 10 years average age. Then a Para Rare Tawny at 18 years average followed by a 21 year Old Para Tawny. The final taste in the VIP lounge was an amazing 1986 Para Liqueur Tawny. The pinnacle of the day was then wandering around in the barrel room of the world’s longest and only unbroken collection (lineage) of single vintage tawny since 1878. Here we were told of the history of the contents and it was amazing. During our wandering we also got to taste all our birth year ports.

Mum enjoying a 1926 port.
We started with a 1976, yum. Then a 1963 that was divine. Next up a 1958 and then for the birthday girl a 1923. Seppeltsfield’s Centennial Cellar is the remarkable vision of Oscar Benno Pedro Seppelt, who in 1878, began the legacy of maturing single vintage Tawny for 100 years before release. The VIP tour was finished up with a taste of a 100 year old port. What a special and amazing tasting it was and what a great day. Mum was stoked and the rest of us were as well.
An amazing adventure and all just a short drive from Paradise...

Happy Wine Adventures,

Our tour guide Nigel showing some other guests a good time.

Oct 2, 2016

Aeration by AERVANA... Is it for everyone?

We were recently sent a very nice power aerator. Now we have never really used aeration much. Generally only if we feel that the wine needs it to help drink-ability. Our normal approach is if we can swirl it into drink-ability we do it. So looking at this fancy and very nicely packaged aeration device we were wondering if it would revolutionize our drinking pleasure or just end up sitting on the shelf and keeping company with a couple of others.

The AERVANA is a well packaged and a quality device. Well made and works exactly as advertised. Tip; read instructions and follow. This way you will avoid the wine being sprayed all over the counter and splashed all over the surrounding counter items and walls. This is no fault of the AERVANA device but a simple user error. The actuation button is on the top, which after having used it a couple times makes perfect sense. But the first time while putting it into and onto the bottle pushed the button and, well, as referred to above, wine everywhere.

So how do we determine if this is a must have device for our wine drinking friends. We decided to gather a few bottles of young big reds to put it to the test. With 20 Riedel Bordeaux wine glasses, two bottles of big reds and five eager drinkers one glass of each wine straight from the bottle and one glass each of wine poured through the AERVANA. Now it became immediately apparent that we needed a little wait time to let the air bubbles disperse otherwise identifying the AERVANA wine would be child's play as it pours it frothy red wine. Within a minute or two there are no tell tale bubbles.

The company says:
Aervana is out to enhance the wine experience of wine lovers everywhere. Aervana offers a new and sophisticated way to aerate your wine with the ease of pushing a button. It’s also the first aerator designed to leave sediment in the bottom of the bottle and not in your glass.
What varietals does Aervana work best with?
Aglianico | Bordeaux blend | Cabernet Sauvignon | Mourvèdre | Nebbiolo | Nero D’Avola | Petit Verdot | Petite Sirah | Syrah (depending on the region) | Tannat | Tempranillo | Touriga Nacional

So our results? The votes counted, and four out of the five drinkers preferred the AERVANA poured wine (both wines Bordeaux). Wow we thought, that is a big recommendation.

Did it revolutionize our drinking pleasure? Is this a must have? Can we now live without it? Yes and no. We know, that is not an answer. WE continued to use it on many other wines and found it a bit mixed on improved initial drinking pleasure. On reflection, the wines that seemed better were all on the company varietals list. Perhaps not a coincidence.

So the take away is this. Nicely leaves the sediment in the bottle not the glass. Very cool and easy dispensing and cleans up super easy. With heavy and younger wines of the recommended varietals we experienced the AERVANA does make the wine more approachable for the average drinker in a nice classy and convenient dispensing package.

Happy Wine Adventures,


PS: Still using it...

Sep 25, 2016

Vertical_ Passion and Pinot on the Oregon Wine Trail, a review

Sideways was an over the top, pretty funny lost weekend buddy road trip story, and one that had a significant impact on the wine industry (for better or worse). Rex Pickett’s sequel ‘Vertical' continues a similar type of story but aims higher than it’s predecessor and will have you reflecting on ones own human condition, and in most all ways succeeds, other than it probably will not change the wine industry (a good thing).

Vertical starts of a little like Sideways meets the Hangover. The story goes through basically three stages with a ray of sunshine at the end. A hell of a good time with drunken debauchery and the start of a long road trip which then goes through a period where it spirals into falling apart to a lone dark stretch fighting openly with personal and physical demons to the final destination. The final ray is the reconciliation of mother and son. Touching enough to bring a tear with an emotional rawness that will make some bleed.
Confessing that the book sideways has not been read here but the movie has been seen and often discussed.
Rex Picket uses the first person lens of his alter ego, Miles Raymond and is quite the wordsmith. Another confession... Had to use the word dictionary in the back or the book a few times.

The premise is that Miles wrote a book about the boys weekend in sideways called Shameless and shortly after a movie by the same name makes him a huge celebrity with all the fame and wealth that goes with it. His sidekick Jack has had the reverse fortune and is divorced with a child and on the skids. Both have a serious drinking problem and not in a good way. Miles concocts an idea on how to fulfill his mothers wishes to leave the nursing home and go live with her sister in Wisconsin via the International Pinot Noir Celebration in the Willamette Valley and everyone's favorite two wino's hit the road again. This time its in a handicap van with Miles' disabled elderly mother, her pot smoking nurse, and his moms poorly behaved dog Snapper in tow. Sounds like a bloody good time ay? Well, at times it is, but at other times, well, it is soul searchingly sad.

So off they drive. Passing through Santa Ynez they stop at their old haunts including the now bustling Hitching Post where Miles is treated like a rock star. At every stop the wine and food is comped as vintners thank him for their booming Pinot sales in the wake of ‘Shameless' and even with his invalid mother in tow, Miles and Jack find plenty of star crossed women along the way to satisfy their lust including a couple of Spanish women on a ‘Shameless Tour’ of the Santa Ynes area. Once they discover Miles’ identity they both are more than willing participants in a weekend fling up in Paso Robles. This is the fun part of the journey. It soon turns tense and dysfunctional (OK, more dysfunctional). This is where the story takes on a dark quality that at times is uncomfortable to read.

The last part of the book follows the buggered relationship between Phyllis and Miles as they travel to Wisconsin. This gives ‘Vertical’ a conclusion that may split readers on the satisfaction of how the story comes to it’s end.
For those who are curious there is clearly plenty of room for a third book to be written.

Oh and on the question of whether this book should be made into a movie... Yes! 

Happy Wine Adventures,


Note to reader : The book I am reviewing here is Vertical- Passion and Pinot on the Oregon Wine Trail--not to be confused with an earlier limited edition run known simply as "Vertical

Sep 11, 2016

Pinot Paradise 2016

A few Saturdays ago, ok quite a few, I attended a Pinot Noir technical session on Santa Cruz Mountains AVA put on by the Santa Cruz Mountains Winegrowers Association.

Putting you on the pathway to Pinot Paradise. Who doesn't love a good Pinot Noir? Well it seems now days Pinot Noir is easy to find and often quite inexpensive but good ones are not as easy to find as one would think so checking out this Pinot centric region was going to be fun.

Pinot Noir Technical Session at Hotel Paradox
Saturday, May 21
John Bargetto acknowledging Ken Burnap 
Learn and discover! This session was from 8:30am to 11:30am and featured an engaging program around geology and soils, regional history and all with a winemaker panel to kick-off regional exploration. During this event as we tasted and talked about an array of Pinot Noirs from the oldest mountain American Viticulture Area (AVA) in the United States. The ticket price was also reasonable $45.

Held at the lovely Hotel Paradox in Santa Cruz, California in a well sized and comfortable meeting room. The morning started out with the first session being done by area icon and Pinotfile Ken Burnap founder of the Santa Cruz Mountain Vineyard. Ken told the story of how the Santa Cruz Mountains AVA was designed. Ken was a big player in how the AVA came about. He explained how he and David Bennion (co founder of Ridge Vineyards) spent years studying the region and the way the fog would behave creating a defined and predictable pattern.

Next up was the engaging John Bargetto of Bargetto Winery.
Bargetto Winery is the oldest continuously operating winery in the Santa Cruz Mountains and is currently run by the third generation of this family winery. Bargetto Winery, an American story. 

John talked about the Regan Vineyard (pronounced 'Ree gan') that has nearly 40 acres planted to twelve different varietals and clones. A special vineyard that is one of the largest and most diverse in the Santa Cruz Mountains. 
As part of the session we had the opportunity to taste a Pinot Noir from Bargetto and also a Pinot Noir from the Regan vineyards made by MJA Vineyards. This was a very eyeopening tasting as the grapes came from the same vineyard but the wine could have been from different parts of the world. Both lovely tasting wines but bearing no resemblance to each other. One very much an elegant Pinot, the other more robust with heavier mouth feel.

Next up was three tastings from different wineries using the Muns Vineyard. We tasted wines from Muns, Left Bend and Thomas Fogarty Winery's. The Muns Vineyard sits atop the Santga Cruz Mountains facing the Monterey Bay at an elevation of 2600'.

The next tasting of the session was of the Lester Family Vineyards. This gentle sloping vineyards is located in Corralitos where a strong maritime influence provides for long cool maturation time. The wineries we tasted using the Lester Family Vineyards were, Big Basin, Martin Ranch and Sante Arcangeli Family wines.

The final group of wines have grapes sourced from the Coast Grade Vineyards. The Coast Grade Vineyard is located in Bonny Doon and was planted in 2008. Residing at an elevation of 1,238 to 1,350 feet on a southwest facing slope that is also heavily influenced by the Monterey Bay. The wineries we tasted were Beauregard Vineyards, Big Basin Vineyards and Partage Wine Company.

This casual yet informative (and very affordable unlike some other Pinot events) session on the Santa Cruz Mountan AVA and Pinot Noir was a wonderful overview of the region, the grape and the lovely wine that is produced by multiple wineries. The similarities and the differences were interesting and delicious from this interesting region which certainly has its share of good Pinot Noir.

Happy tasting Adventures,


Aug 21, 2016

Artisans of the Barossa

Up in the Barossa Valley? Tasting wine but starting to get hungry? Oh what to do? Do what we do...

Head on over to Artisans of the Barossa. With a fantastic setup that features, Hobbs of Barossa RangesJohn Duval Wines, MassenaSchwarz Wine CoSons of Eden and Spinifex.

Artisans of Barossa was originally formed in February 2006 by this group of six producers with different winemaking styles making fine small batch wines. In a region renowned for its long lunch this is a great place to experience and adopt the philosophy. With a menu that has stuff for the foodie type and some good wholesome food for those of us that want something to eat everyone will be happy.

They are open everyday and late on Fridays for that end of the week get together.

We usually head on over and enjoy a taste and a feed with a spectacular view and friendly knowledgeable staff. The wines are well worth the visit and the wonderful food is a fantastic bonus. The fact that it is a beautiful place with a spectacular view of the valley is truly icing on the cake.

They offer Premium tastings in the Artisans Lounge every Friday, Saturday and Sunday. These tastings can be organised during the week by appointment by contacting the Tasting Room on 08 8563 3935 or via

To make a booking or for further information:
(08) 8563-3935
Bookings essential for groups of 8 or more.
11.00am to 6.00pm daily, including Public Holidays.
Closed Christmas Day and Good Friday
cnr Light Pass & Magnolia Rds Tanunda SA 5353
So if you are in the Barossa Valley, head on over to Artisans of the Barossa and check it out. The good people at Artisans of the Barossa will take you through a great tasting and introduce you to the wonderful tradition of the long lunch.

Happy Wine Adventures,