DM & MM's South Australia 2015 Diary

Day 2 - Barossa Valley: Seppeltsfield

Friday, 8 May, 2015

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17:27

We are sitting in the Barossa Valley Brewery, having a drink before dinner. The brewery bar and restaurant is in an old house and we are in a small room off the side, sitting in comfy armchair in front of a fireplace which is nice and warming. The weather today was cold and showery, and occasionally windy as well, so it's good to warm up a bit.

We began the day by walking from our cottage accommodation out to the main street of Tanunda in search of a cafe for breakfast. It was about 08:30, and the first two cafes we passed didn't open until 9, but we found a place called Keil's which was open. It looked good, and we ordered some home made granola with roasted strawberry yoghurt for M., while I had fried mushrooms on toast with ricotta and caramelised balsamic vinegar. The toast was thick slices of a Vienna loaf baked by a local bakery. It was all good and M. said the granola and yoghurt were good too.

Mushrooms on toast, at Keil's
Mushrooms on toast at Keil's.

We walked back to our cottage and packed before leaving the key in the key cabinet thingy outside, then hopped in the car for a day of exploring the area. We began however by driving up through Nuriootpa to find the Barossa Gateway Motel, where we planned to spend tonight. I tried calling earlier but nobody answered, so we stopped in to see if the had a room free, and secured one for just a bit more than half what we paid for a night in the cottage.

That done, our next stop was Maggie Beer's Farm Shop, which we arrived at just as it opened at 10:30. Despite this there were dozens of people there already, browsing the shop and tasting the products. There were tasting dishes of maybe thirty different products out, with lots of clean wooden sticks and plastic spoons for people to use. We tried jams, chutneys, sauces, preserved fruit in verjuice, some mustard pears, and olive oil and dukkah with bread cubes. They also had a salted caramel sauce and a chocolate vino cotto sauce. The variety was amazing and we could have potentially had a meal just by tasting everything a couple of times. There were plenty of cafe tables too for people to sit and eat the various snacks and cakes on sale. The building overlooked a picturesque lake which would have been nice to sit outside and look at while eating, but a heavy rain began falling while we were inside. We bought four jars of jam and a jar of the chocolate sauce for M.'s dad, then raced out to the car.

Monkey at Maggie Beer's
Monkey at Maggie Beer's Farm Shop.

From there we drove down Seppeltsfield Road to the village of Seppeltsfield, which is where the Seppeltsfield winery is. The village grew up around the winery, as we learnt on the guided tour of the winery which we went on. We arrived just a few minutes before the tour began, and signed up with two other couples. A fourth couple joined us on the tour a few minutes in, when our guide, a lady named Terene, had stopped at the first location to tell us some of the history of the family who began the winery. Joseph Seppelt had emigrated from Germany in 1849 and built himself a farmhouse for himself and his five children. That farmhouse is still the centre of the estate, and is used as an office by the owner and occasionally hired out for functions.

The tour doesn't normally go inside the farmhouse, but it began raining while we were standing outside, and Terene led us in to get out of the weather. It was interesting inside, with antique furniture and portraits of the Seppelt family. Terene told us more about the history of the family. The eldest son, Benno Seppelt, married a woman from the neighbouring far. and they had thirteen children, who all grew up working on the winery. Originally Joseph had planted tobacco, but it had done poorly in the region, so he converted to planting grapes, despite not knowing anything about wine making. He began making brandy and fortified wines, which grew to be what Seppeltsfield became famous for, particularly the Para Port.

Main building, Seppeltsfield winery
Seppeltsfield Winery.

Terene led us outside and to various different buildings in between the showers of rain. One was the old brandy distillery, which contained a huge distillation vat, as well as other equipment and memorabilia. Part of the walking was through dense stand of elm forest, the elm trees having grown from seeds brought out from Germany by Joseph's wife. The other striking thing about the landscape was the hundreds of palm trees, one of which appears as the logo of Seppeltsfield wines. During the Great Depression, Benno had retained his skilled workers despite the downturn in wine selling by getting them to propagate palm trees. So when the Depression ended, he still had his skilled staff to ramp up wine production again quickly.

The final building of the tour was the port ageing cellar, where hundreds of barrels of port are stored. This includes the hundred-year-old port barrels, initiated by Joseph in 1878. The building had an obvious smell of port inside as we entered, and we could look up from the bottom floor through three floors of stacked barrels above us.

Original cellars
Original cellars at Seppeltsfield Winery.

The tour ended at the tasting room, where Terene gave us samples of the various ports that they sell, ten years old, fifteen years old, and twenty-one years old. She also showed us and let us smell a sample of the hundred year old port laid down in 1915, but there was no tasting of this, as it retails for $1500 a bottle! I actually thought the 15 year old port was the best, as the 21 year old was less flavoursome. We also then tried some tokay and muscat, both made on the premises from juice imported from Rutherglen in Victoria.

With the tour and tasting done, we headed out to the Jam Factory, which is another nearby building on the estate and used to be an actual jam factory, but was now a gallery and workshop for a series of artists. There was a glass blower, a leather worker, a milliner, and a guy who makes knives using sword forging techniques, including making knife blades of layered Damascus steel. Most of them seemed to be on a lunch break however, as the only one working when we went through at first was the milliner. The ladies who did the leather work and glass blowing reappeared after we went through the gallery, and we spoke to the leather lady for a bit.

Shoe making, The Jam Factory
Shoe maker's worksop, The Jam Factory.

We left, intending to get lunch at the brewery in Tanunda, but we stopped too early and parked in the town, and it was raining and windy, so we went into the nearby Nosh cafe to get some lunch instead. I had a house made pie with beef, bacon, and mushrooms, which came with a salad and home made tomato chutney. It was very good, with huge chunks of steak in the tall pie. M. had a spinach, pumpkin, and goat's cheese flatbread with roasted tomato and rocket, which she also said was good.

House made pie with beef, bacon, and mushrooms
House made pie at Nosh.

This was a late lunch and we sat for a while before heading out again. Before driving off we looked in an antique bookshop nearby. This had a huge collection of old books, many of which were for sale for prices around $50-$100 or more. There was a large selection of original edition Biggles books, for example, all priced at $65 each! This wasn't just a second hand book shop with bargains, but a place for serious book collectors.

From there we drove over to Angaston to check out the Barossa Cheese Company shop. We parked nearby, but first walked up and down the main street, stopping in at various shops along the way. We took a detour off the main street to look at the old town hall building, which was a beautiful neoclassical facade made of bluestone, now converted into the public library. Nearby was a similar bluestone architected church, which looked beautiful in the late afternoon sun filtering through the heavy clouds.

Monkey at the Barossa Valley Cheese Company
Barossa Cheese Company.

At the cheese shop a friendly lady gave us samples of a soft fresh cheese, a triple cream Brie, and an aged goat's cheese, all made at the shop. The goat's cheese was very good, the ageing process having removed a lot of the sourness and gamey flavour normally found in goat's cheese, leaving it very smooth and delicious. The lady took a liking to Monkey, and placed him inside the cheese chilling case for us to get a photo of him amidst all the cheeses, both locally made and from other producers. We bought some dried pears for a sweet snack in the car as we left and drove back to our motel to pick up our key and drop our bags.

Then we headed out for a relaxing evening here at the brewery. M. is trying a glass of local Shiraz, while I am trying a glass of the Hop Heaven beer, an ale with lots of hops in it for a very full flavour. We've just had some arancini balls with dried tomato and basil in them as a snack, before ordering a pizza for dinner in a while. It's good to relax here in front of the fire and just chill out.

Monkey enjoying a beer
Sitting by the fire at the Barossa Valley Brewery.

We eventually had a margherita pizza, which came with paper thin slices of fresh tomato and ripped basil leaves on a crisp, thin crust. It was good, though I doubt the menu's claim that the pizzas serve 2-3 people as we finished it off and then pondered perhaps ordering something else like the garlic cheese bread to fill us up. In the end we settled on a dessert for me of "deconstructed passion fruit cheesecake" and a peppermint tea for M.

The deconstructed cheesecake was perhaps the most hipster dessert I have ever seen, being a shapeless scoop of cheesecake filling on a wooden board, sprinkled with biscuit crust crumbs and drizzled with passionfruit pulp sauce. Despite the avant grade nature of the presentation, it was delicious.

Deconstructed cheesecake
Deconstructed cheesecake, Barossa Valley Brewery.

Eventually we left the brewery about 21:00, having been there nearly four hours. We drove back to our motel and turned in for the night.



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