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23 October 2009 - Marriage Lines
                                                (Clare Valley)

G'day. We left Adelaide on an overcast and cool morning, the Nissan packed with the five of us and all our luggage, past the Adelaide Oval cricket ground with its statue to Don Bradman and into the suburbs on the Main North Road and thence into the countryside. Dark and stormy skies contrasted with bursts of sunshine as we left the flat farmland north of Adelaide and found ourselves rising to higher and hillier ground as fields of vines came into view. The creeks and rivers were full of water, with pools at the side of the road - a sight Adrian said was so rare in recent years that he floored the Nissan through each one like a youngster splashing through puddles.

The Clare Valley wineries, north of Adelaide, grow less than three per cent of Australia's wines but have gained a world-wide reputation especially for Rieslings. The Jesuits first established Sevenhill Cellars around 1850 planting vines to make sacramental wines. Soon they were supplying the locals and now there are over 40 other wineries in the valley.

We spent the next couple of days sampling the delights of various wineries in the valley, from the original Sevenhill Cellars (Manager: Brother John) to Taylor's large Chateau Clare Estate and the many smaller 'boutique' wineries like Tim Gramp, Crabtree, Jeanneret, Jim Barry or Paulett Wines. At Jeanneret I particularly liked the names given to their wines - 'Big Fine Girl', 'Oakey Dokey', 'Stumbling Block', 'Hummer', 'Denis', 'Doozie', 'Grace & Favour', 'Dilly Dally', 'Curly Red', 'Rank & File', 'Fancy Pants' and 'Hawny Tawny' Port. I asked the owner where the names came from, and he answered " They usually come about 2 o'clock in the morning'.

We were based in Watervale, in a restored 1870s stone cottage with all the original features, including a huge enamel bath and cast-iron fireplaces - it could have come straight out of an 'English Country Cottages' brochure. Glancing through the visitors’ book my attention was caught by a recent entry "Wonderful place, delightful surroundings, good food, fine wines and great sex! What more could a girl ask for?" (I made that up - except the last bit). Now you don't find that kind of recommendation in 'English Country Cottages'.

Phil the Pom


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