Yesterday day I had the privilege of hosting two birthday groups for a combined wine tour around Murrumbateman. I say privilege for two reasons. Firstly, one group was a close friend of my brother and their laughter and rosy cheeks indicated they had a good time. Secondly, the quality of wine in the district has come so far in a relatively short space of time. I remember tasting our local wines around 10 years ago and feeling that some improvement was necessary – and based on what we tasted over the weekend, it definitely has!
It’s not just the hospitality that you get from our local wine folk but the quality and diversity of the wine is immense. We started our day at Long Rail Gully. Our group were greeted warmly by Gary while his wife Barbara was kept busy topping up glasses. Kelly from Wagga Wagga commented that she particularly enjoyed the Pinot Gris and Merlot as they were “not too overpowering!” While my guests tucked in to some beautiful cheese, Gary ushered us to the back of the massive shed where he proudly showed us his huge dam and spoke about some plans he has for the future. My guests were equally impressed at the landscape. Row after row of vines getting closer and closer to harvest and the hilly terrain in the distance. When I reflect on such great farms like Long Rail Gully, I feel privileged that gems like this are on our door step.
Eden Road Wines, our second stop, was just starting to buzz. By the time we left, there were around 40 wine enthusiasts working their way through the list. What a list it is! Cellar door manager Matt is never shy on sharing his knowledge and is generous with his pouring! I always make a point of letting groups know that Eden Road won the Jimmy Watson memorial trophy for their first Shiraz in 2008 – this is like winning the Melbourne Cup in the wine world. Jimmy Watson died in 1962 but those in the know will tell you that he was a wine man with a wealth of knowledge and a real focus on educating others on wine. Thank you Nick, Hamish (wine-makers) and other contributors like Mike Lloyd for making Eden Road Wines such a cracking cellar door experience.
We stopped for lunch at Four Winds Vineyard who never disappoint. With 14 hungry punters ready to eat, Sarah made sure that the pizza oven was cranking and delicious pizza after pizza was delivered to our tables. Within a few minutes each of my guests were devouring pizza and sipping on Riesling and Rose. Not sure what the lads were drinking but I did spy a couple of beers on the table. Yes, they have beer and cider on tap. As I had a driver today, I demolished two beers before you could say ‘spitoon’ (that big fancy bucket that gets used once and a while to tip our spit wine into). My guests came up at their own leisure to taste the wines and as always, were impressed with the whole Four Winds experience.
Our last stop was Dionysus Wines which is conveniently located across the road. Our driver Col didn’t have to get out of second gear as my weary guests slowly poured into the cellar door. Owner Michael greeted us and soon after there were 15 glasses of sparkling wine, lightly bubbling away on the bar. Michael offered us the entire range and Gamay and Tempranillo were big hits. I’m always conscious that four wineries in one day can be a bit much and I think that it’s fair to say that some people are a little wine logged by this stage. Some of my guests opted for fresh air while some others pushed on, right through to the sweet Riesling.
A great day all round and it’s refreshing to experience that our clients’ knowledge and expectations continue to grow. Wine is not a ‘one size fits all’ and my guests’ honesty is appreciated. They told me which wines they liked, loved or were just not their tipple. For that I’m grateful as our tastes vary whether it be food, fashion, wine and the list goes on. I’m not critiquing any individual wines here today but watch this space!