|Me, at Tarindah Estate on the|
Bellarine Peninsula this weekend
by Emmie Dark
I am very, very fond of spending a Saturday or Sunday driving around a wine region, sampling wines and gourmet foods and, towards the end of the day, sleepily listening to lovely music as we head back into town. Preferably with someone else driving.
And as my August SuperRomance “In His Eyes” reveals, I’m reasonably familiar with weekends spent in just that way. I had to do a lot of “research” to make sure my hero, Hugh, and my heroine, Zoe, faced realistic challenges as they each worked on their respective wineries and fought over who made the best shiraz.
In fact, I’m lucky enough to have been to most of the wine regions in Australia, some of them multiple times. It’s not that I’m problematically fond of alcohol (I do love a nice glass of wine, but I also believe in “everything in moderation”, as a lady should). There’s so much more to a wine region day trip than just drinking wine.
1. The scenery. Seriously, is there anything better than rows of vines stretching out into the distance? I’m sure people who have studied art will be able to explain why those lines are so appealing to the eye. Then there’s the rose bushes (there are usually at least a few around for technical wine-growing reasons), and the sloping hills, and the sunshine (hopefully).
In fact, even without sunshine, it can be a gorgeous sight. This is my photo from Domain Chandon in the Yarra Valley just outside of Melbourne on a recent, pretty miserable winter’s day (it’s winter down here in Oz right now), and isn’t it still just gorgeous?
|Looking across the Yarra Valley from Domain Chandon.|
2. The people. People who grow wine are an amazing lot. They’re passionate about what they do and, if you’re lucky enough to get the actual person who owns or is responsible for the grapes and/or the wine making, you’ll see a light in their eye that only comes when people talk about something they truly, truly love.
It certainly isn’t an easy passion to take up. I remember visiting a winery in New Zealand that had suffered severe frosts the previous night and the winemaker had lost his whole vintage. (It’s a typical hazard in the area and the bigger wineries bring in helicopters to hover over the vines and keep the air moving so the grapes don’t ice over. Seriously.) A whole year of work, gone in one night. And even though, at that moment, he was devastated, when we went to taste his wines, as soon as he was talking about them, that light was back.
There’s nothing quite like being around people who absolutely committed to their work and I love their energy – I think it’s contagious.
3. The food. Once an area has a few wineries up and running it doesn’t seem to be long before the gourmet produce and special cafes and restaurants follow. What better accompaniment to a beautifully balanced chardonnay, or a rich and rewarding shiraz, than a plate of cheese, or bowl of olives, or fresh pasta with hand-crafted pesto? Am I making you hungry yet? If not, don’t forget dessert: the lemon tart combined with a decadently sweet sticky dessert wine. Yum!
4. The wine. Obviously. Being able to sample a range of well-crafted wine is a hedonist’s true pleasure. And while you’re tasting, you get to talk more with the passionate wine maker about their craft.
I know just enough to be dangerous. Just enough to make a fool out of myself by asking questions about malolactic fermentation that instantly reveal my ignorance to a true expert. But it’s still a lot of fun. And when you do pick the right flavour (a hint of pepper?) and see the vindication from the person pouring, it’s like a little private victory. You think to yourself: Maybe I do know what I’m talking about after all.
Let me know your favourite wine experience. Have you been to visit any wineries -- and if so, do you have a favourite? Do you prefer your wine served at home? Or is wine not your thing at all?
One lucky commenter will receive a copy of my brand new book, “In His Eyes”. This is the first preview copy I’m giving away, so it’s quite the honor! :) I’ll choose someone at random and announce the winner early next week.