It is upon us again. That time of year when the fruits of the South Australian vignerons labour is magically converted into that liquid that enriches our lives, provides refreshment, enhances our meals and gives us so much enjoyment throughout the year.
Wine is a beverage that should be celebrated and Australia’s largest and longest running vintage festival, The 2013 Barossa Vintage Festival, does just that with a series of fantastic events over the week-long event that will satisfy all members of the family, from the foodie and wine geek to the kids.
The first Barossa Vintage Festival was held in 1947 and the festival continues to be a celebration of all the things that we love about Australia’s most famous wine region - its wine, food, history, people and stories. It’s a community driven event with the whole of the region getting behind the event from the old hands with many generations of toil on the land under their belts to the local school children. The event has some 1500 volunteers making sure the week’s activities flow smoothly and without a hitch.
The 2013 Barossa Vintage Festival runs from Saturday, March 30 through to Sunday, April 7, kicking off with the Carnival from 10.30am to 5pm in the beautiful, date palm studded surrounds of Seppeltsfield. This Easter weekend opening event is perfect for wearing out the kids on the first day of the long weekend with plenty of activities, food and entertainment to keep them occupied throughout the day. Parents can enjoy a range of wines from throughout the Seppeltsfield sub-region and local Barossan produce, bands and even a grape treading competition will make sure it is a memorable way to start the festival off on the right note.
For marketeers, the Harvest Market at Yalumba Wines on Tuesday, April 2 and Wednesday, April 3 is the place to be for superb local produce, the famous Yalumba museum tasting, long-table lunch, cooking school, art exhibition, barrel making demonstrations and music all set in the grounds of one of the most beautiful, historic wineries in the country. The Ziegenmarkt on Thursday, April 4 is like taking a step back in time to experience a traditional Barossa market - fresh fruit and vegetables, small-goods, pickles, livestock and game all go under the auctioneers hammer during the course of the morning and it’s a chance to try some traditional fare such as Rote Grutze, Kartoffel Kuchen and Deutsch Kuchen. Of course the renowned Barossa Farmers Market is also open at the Vintners Hall in Angaston on the Saturdays during the festival.
Of course on the wine front there is plenty of action, for the wine geeks there is the Barossa Grounds Tour on Wednesday, April 3, which looks at the ways in which climate, geography and geology influence the flavours of the wines from the various parishes of the Barossa. An amazing opportunity to travel to the various sub-regions, hosted by the winemakers and grape-growers of the Barossa to uncover what it is that makes wines from this part of the country so special.
The Penfolds Rare & Distinguished Wine Auction on Friday, April 5 is one of the festival highlights. There are some very sought-after vertical collections up for grabs including Orlando Steingarten Riesling, Rockford Basket Press Shiraz, Torbreck Run Rig and Yalumba Signature Shiraz. Rare collections include a Penfolds 1996 Classics set of Grange, Yattarna, Bin 707, St Henri, Magill Estate and Block 42, as well as Seppeltsfield Anthology set of Para Tawny spanning from 1907 to 1912. There is also an emphasis on large format bottles with imperials (six litre) bottles of 2008 Penfolds Grange, 2009 Langmeil Freedom Shiraz, 1996 Peter Lehmann Stonewell Shiraz and 1996 Henschke Hill of Grace going under the hammer.
With the Barossa’s rich food culture it stands to reason that that there will be know shortage of events to keep your appetite sated. The Race to the Plate on Saturday, April 6 is an event where you compete in a kitchen ‘cook-off’ with Maggie Beer. With a shopping list in hand you hit Barossa institutions such as the Farmers Market, Apex Bakery and Barossa Valley Cheese before returning to The Farm where you will recreate a series of dishes and dine with Maggie and family. The festival also features cooking classes with Saskia Beer, The Grand Cellar Dinner and the famous Legends Behind the Barrel dinner if you fancy carousing with the regions famous winemakers.
The Vintage Festival Parade on Saturday, April 6 is another event not to be missed as more than 100 floats and 1200 participants travel along the Barossa Valley Way between Tanunda and Nuriootpa. It’s a fun day and highlights the tightly bound social fabric that makes the Barossa such a beautiful and enjoyable place to visit. It’s a jam-packed schedule and one that is hard to do justice to in the scope of this article. Head over to the official festival website at barossavintagefestival.com.au for a full run down of all the events and celebrate what looks to be another fine South Australian vintage and a region that has helped put Australian wine on the world stage.
Barossa Vintage Festival
Saturday, March 30 to Sunday, April 7