Life is completely crazy here at the moment - I have a new business about to start (along with still running many aspects of the winery, and indeed, the family, house and garden) and took a few days off for some important business and even more important leisure before I land head first into a whirlwind next six months. I amaze myself at how much I can squeeze into a mere forty-eight hours sometimes!
I left the Barossa at 4pm on Tuesday with a car load of sparkling shiraz to deliver to Glasscraft Print. The wonderful manager, Bronte, helped me to unload the car and then gave me a very brief look at the terrific facilities at his business at Mount Barker before I headed further south to Kuitpo for a very important meeting with someone I had been wanting to meet for a very long time.
When I arrived at the Lazy Ballerina cellar door in the middle of the magnificent Kuitpo Forest, there was absolutely nothing lazy about the man behind the label, James Hook. Despite having worked a full day at his other job as a viticulturist, there he was, while waiting for me to arrive, busily loading the wheelbarrow with mulch and tending to his family's incredibly beautiful garden.
James graciously took me on a tour of the Lazy Ballerina cellar door and gardens while I happily clicked away on my over-worked digital camera trying to encapsulate even a little of the beauty around me. I was truly stunned by not only him, but also by all the hard work he and his parents had done to create such an incredible place which after bushfires many years ago, had left little to work with. Totally inspirational! And that was before trying his wines. I had always refused to try the Lazy Ballerina wines until I had met the man himself so needless to say, when we left to continue our journey to a mutual friend's house for a wonderful dinner, I didn't walk out empty handed. I highly recommend James' wines to everyone!
The next morning, after a peaceful and relaxing slumber, belly still full of fine food and wines from the previous night, I arose, and headed further south to McLaren Vale. My stop here was to another equally incredible place called Fall From Grace which is run by an effervescent lady named Gill Gordon-Smith. She sells the most divine range of international wines and also runs wine education classes - it's a must-do stop on your list if you are visiting McLaren Vale. She also happens to be the Spieglau distributor for trade so I now had the glasses to accompany my Lazy Ballerina wines. Could it get any better? Yes it could.
By early afternoon I had left McLaren Vale, headed further north again, past Yangarra where I'd previously had a look at the amazing new winery being built with James Hook, tour-guided by Philip White, and headed east toward the historic town of Strathalbyn before taking a sharp south turn to end up at Clayton where I spent the late afternoon and evening with my lovely new friend Annabelle. One of South Australia's most talented artists, Annabelle is as vibrant and gorgeous as the art she produces and I couldn't have thought of a better way to end my very short break than to spend it with her.
In less than forty-eight hours I had met two incredible new people, spent time with two good friends, and throughout, enjoyed the best of what South Australia has to offer - fine food, fine wines and great hospitality. Now, back home and back to the grind, I feel much more refreshed and ready to face the next month which is surely going to be quite mad... but more about that in my coming posts.