Sunday, November 30, 2008

Grapes, guitars and teenagers....

It is one of our dreams to be able to have our cellar door (in the old red gum stable) open regularly for small, informal, fun events. I have had many ideas written in my "winery notebook" for a few years now and my New Year's resolution for 2009 will be to start getting some of these plans into action.

One thing that I hope to see is our two teenage sons, Daniel 16 and Matthew 13, entertaining our guests at one of our functions. They are both very talented on the music front (not so much the wine one as yet!) and our home now boasts an assortment of instruments including numerous guitars (at the expense of a new oven for me:)

We were lucky to have had the great musician Chris Finnen play in the stable in January 2007 for a friend's 50th Birthday and he spent time with our sons in my eldest boy's room playing some of the boys' guitars. Chris is a wonderful mentor for anyone learning guitar but especially for youngsters. In any event, experiences like this, and in the case of Daniel, sending him to the US on a high school trip have certainly not harmed their perspectives on the music industry (in fact, Daniel came home from San Francisco even more of a Beatles freak than when he left:)

James and I are still wondering from where and from whom they both inherited their musical talents but whilst we scratch our heads in amazement sometimes, it is certainly something to be enjoyed. Here is a short clip of Daniel playing during a high school lesson a few weeks ago:

Daniel playing guitar

Once we get other clips recorded I will upload them to this post so keep an eye on this blog to see evidence that not all teenagers are up to no good:) The photo with this post is of Daniel and his mate Brodie (another exceptionally talented young man!) who both attended the International Guitar Festival in Adelaide last weekend and participated in the Guinness World Record for playing the AC/DC classic "It's a long way to the top".

Saturday, November 8, 2008

Going back to the roots of my family and the Flaxmans Valley area

I always thought it was quite ironic that I ended up living near a road with my name (well, my maiden name, Pohlner) on it. On this road is a cottage, now renovated (and extended) and renamed "Naimanya" but for many, many years it was known as one of the Pohlner cottages. There is another Pohlner cottage further to the north about 5km and only a few km to the east of that one, still stands the original Pohlner homestead - a magical place now home to Bob and Wilma McLean of McLean's Farm Wines.

As a young girl I often heard mention of "Pohlner's Scrub" which was up high in the Barossa Ranges around the Menglers Hill area. A lot of what is now known as the Kaiser Stuhl Conservation Park was originally part of the Pohlner land-holding and a controversial row arose around 1984 when the site was considered for the open-range zoo and sanctuary which was later located at Monarto.

The Pohlners were the third largest land holders in the Menglers/Flaxmans Valley area in the 1900's (after the Evans and Angas families). In 1910 Charlie Pohlner still owned between 4000 and 7000 acres but unfortunately over time, the land was broken up and sold off (or divided up due to marriages) to other now well-known families in the area(s): Argent, Randall, Zander and Thorn.

I am still tracing the family history back to the beginnings of our settlement of this area and this will take some months but I have been told that Charlie was also a councillor on the Flaxmans Valley Council. I am not certain when the FV Council disbanded but there is a plaque at Craneford (Lander's Corner) which is where the Flaxman's Valley Council used to be located. It will certainly be an interesting journey researching all the history but already I understand now why I feel so at home out here "in the hills" and how lucky I am to be of the same blood line that saw the beauty of the area over one hundred and fifty years ago and did such a wonderful thing by preserving a lot of it so that we can now enjoy it as a National Park.

Monday, November 3, 2008

A girl's afternoon at "Bucks" Bistro, Springton

We had wonderful rains yesterday morning. Humid as it was, the rain was much appreciated and needed. The late morning sun hid behind light grey clouds and only came out in full force mid-afternoon. By that stage my four friends and I were sitting in the most beautiful cottage garden setting at the rear of the new restaurant "Bucks" which is run by Poverty Hill Wines. "Bucks" is situated in the old blacksmith shop at Springton, a sleepy hamlet on the most southern edges of the Barossa Ranges about a fifteen minute drive south of Angaston (past iconic places such as Lindsay Park Stud, Collingrove Homestead and Eden Valley.)

Not only were there a range of beautiful wines to taste (even a 2004 Eden Valley Riesling, just beginning to show its soft and delicate texture and lovely aged flavours) but the menu was terrific. Between the five of us, we had an assortment of dishes. Some of the dishes on the menu were (starters): Goats Cheese and Fetta Vegetarian Lasagne ($9.00), Crumbed Oysters ($?), Salt and Pepper Squid and Soft Shell Crab with lime alioli ($11.50 - pictured below), and (mains): MSA Scotch Fillet Steak with Poverty Hill Riesling creamy garlic prawn sauce ($24), Pan fried Duck Breast with pinenuts, raison, orange, cherry cointreau glaze ($26) and a choice of salads or vegetables.

The atmosphere of the bistro, inside and out, is charming and inviting. A rustic old building with thick rendered walls and massive slabs of redgum it is one of the southern Barossa's historical treasures. The staff were friendly and courteous and that is another great attribute.

We enjoyed a pre-lunch tasting of some of the fine Poverty Hill wines: Eden Valley Riesling ($20 per bottle), the 2004 Eden Valley Riesling ($30) and the 2006 Eden Valley Merlot ($24). Of course, no "girls day out" is complete without a glass or two of bubbles and the Sparkling Shiraz sufficed nicely. We finished off with desserts and as we couldn't decide, on the advice of Peter (the manager of the bistro) we shared three of the dishes between us: chocolate cheesecake, strawberries & cream and jaffa slice ($6 each).

Many thanks to
Peter, Liz and their staff for such a wonderful experience. I hope that you enjoyed the rest of the bottle of our 2005 Riesling that I left as much as I enjoyed your 2004 Riesling! Although the Barossa is full of fine places to wine and dine, the value and ambience of Bucks is exceptionally hard to beat! Pictured below are the Salt and Pepper Squid, desserts and three of the five ladies (Denise, Jenelle and Lisa) who enjoyed the afternoon at Bucks.