Monday morning, after a brisk morning walk with Mia and Francesca along the creek and a leisurely start including a breakfast of Fraser’s specialty (croissants with hot chocolate), we made our way up through Chain of Ponds (while discussing N.T. Wright’s contribution to the Symposium on Harvesting the Fruits and arguing about the reliability of his Tomtom GPS navigator), to the “Whispering Wall” at the Barossa Reservoir (always a great attraction for the kids). We then made our way into Tanunda where we checked in at “Little Para Cottage” (our home for the next few days) and had lunch together.
Then we jumped into the cars again for the first port of call: Linke’s Butchers in Nuriootpa. These guys are one of a very few commercial butchers who still make many of the delicacies I remember from childhood, including fritz (both ham and beef varieties) and – what they call – “rice wurst”, but which others call “blutwurst”, and what we as kids simply called “frying wurst”, because that’s what you do: fry it and have it on toast for breakfast. Noone – not even Linke’s – makes it quite like we used to, but it is still pretty close. So: ricewurst, leberwurst, two kinds of fritz, a bung of garlic metwurst, and a dozen free range eggs later (and a couple of fresh unfilled “bungs” to take home for my own sausage making attempts) and we were off.
This time to a rather more modern and upmarket food establishment: Maggie Beer’s Pheasant Farm and Kitchen. The kids are great fans of Mrs Beer (the cook half of “The Cook and the Chef”) and Maddy was thrilled to be able to watch a cooking demo in the TV kitchen.
From there we were off down the road to Seppeltsfield. My Great Grandfather Heintze had worked for Seppelts for 18 years back in the beginning of the 20th Century as a carter, taking kegs of wine to the station at Freeling. We stopped briefly at Gnadenfrei Lutheran Church in Marananga, then followed the aisle of palm trees down to the Mausoleum. This is perhaps one of the most bizarre private burial grounds in Australia, built in a very bare geometric classical greek style. But, as Fraser pointed out, not even a suggestion of any symbolism, no imagery, no writing, not even the names of those interred there. Neither Christian nor pagan. Just bare. The Seppelts were not part of the Lutheran community of the Barossa, and so, as far as burial grounds go, you couldn’t get further afield in character from the graves of my ancestors just around the corner.
Then to the winery itself, where, as we were entering, Cathy noticed a cooper working in his workshop. We went directly there instead of too the cellar door, and we warmly welcomed in by the cooper, Andrew. He was working turning old hogshead kegs into new home kegs, largely, believe it or not, for the Japanese market. He told us that he had been a cooper for Penfolds before Fosters took it over and sacked all their barrel-makers. At that time, Fosters owned Seppeltsfield as well, and were in the process of breaking it up, but recently a new private owner has bought the Winery and its original properties back and is reviving and restoring it. He is even intending to start up the old smoke house on the property again to make small goods. Yummy!
Fraser didn’t want to taste wines there, so we headed back through Tanunda to the other side to Bethany Wines (owned by Shrapel’s for five generations), where we tasted and purchased some very nice whites (including their signature wine, the “White Port”). Unfortunately, as it was nearing closing time for the cellar doors, we didn’t have time to linger in Bethany – or Bethanien as it was originally known. None of my ancestors are buried there, but the same Heintze clan who worked for Seppelts had originally settled there for a brief period with the rest of the immigrants who came out on the Zebra, the fourth boat in Pastor Kavel’s floatilla which disembarked in South Australia on 2nd January of 1839. From there they moved over to Walton, west of Bethany and nearer Seppeltsfield. There is still a road near Seppeltsfield named “Heinze Rd” (the original spelling did not have the “T” in it).
From Bethany to Kellermeisters at Lyndoch. When I was younger, Kellermeisters was a rather tacky establishment. They have gone upmarket, and now have some very nice wines indeed, but they still specialise in the sweeter varieties of white wine, so Cathy (for once) really enjoyed the tasting experience. Some of their wines, like the “Pink Mink” (bubbly pink Muscato) and the “Black Fire” (a sweet white version of the same wine) have been on the Kellermeister list since the seventies. Of course, both wines are popular today among the ladies still, but as a rather curious nod to their history, the winery has decided to keep the incredibly cheesy labels of that era. We were served by a young man who had just completed a four years honours degree in Wine Marketing. I kid you not. I have suggested that Madeline might interest herself in this career rather than her plan to go into hairdressing (for which I already have little use).
Kellermeister, situated at the very entrance to the Valley, has a beautiful view of the hills. The Barossa, like all the countryside in South Australia at present, is verdant green due to the higher rainfalls (marked out in vivid contrast to the bright yellow canola crops that are everywhere). The vines are not yet in leaf, although they are starting to appear. It may not be a land flowing with milk and honey, but it flows with wine and that is enough for me. It is a “green and pleasant land”, this land in which my fore-fathers chose to settle, and I bless them for it, and bless God for leading them here.
Meg and Fraser and their family left us at this point to return to Adelaide, and we returned to Little Para Cottage for dinner and an early night.