Dear people of the Barossa,
This is a letter of truths. And let me begin with the biggest one. You intimidated me. All through the days of slow driving through the Great Ocean Road, I had a nagging fear that seemed to grow with each small town we passed. What am I, someone pretty illiterate when it comes to wines, going to do surrounded by wine connoisseurs for 3 days? I didn’t let it show during our drive there, lest Rave think my otherwise I-can-handle-anything personality was taking a quiet beating from a bunch of people I hadn’t even met.
But the truth is you intimidated me. So now that I have that out of the way, let me continue with the rest of the truths that made me realise I was so wrong to feel intimidated.
To the ones we met at our wine tastings, thank you for completely neglecting the fact that we were wine novices and treating us like someone special. From the first tasting at Torbreck to the final one at Jacob’s Creek, thank you for never failing to crack us up with some quip or the other and making us feel like we were regulars at your cellar door. From the kind stall owners at the Farmer’s Market to the Gobells of Stonewell Vineyards, everyone had so much to share with us.
Lachlan Colwill at Hentley Farm Wines, you are a legend. Of course, you’re already a legend in the culinary world but you were just the opposite of what we expected from a renowned chef. You welcomed us into your kitchen, showed us around, answered questions and did it all with absolutely no airs of grandeur that you actually deserve to throw around. Thank you for that spectacular meal. Thank you for sharing how you work with us. And thank you for letting us know that fame and humility can live side by side.
As we drove to the Schild Estate end of harvest dinner, I kept asking myself what I would have to talk about with a bunch of winemakers I was meeting for the first time. But you guys made us feel at ease after the very first hello. We talked about travelling, India, my camera, food…everything but wine. And when I did mention my love for big Shiraz’s, the generosity with which you kept refilling my glass is something that will always remain with me. So while we walked in apprehensive, let me assure you that within moments it gave way to the kind of laughter that’s usually only shared with old friends. Thank you for being real, genuine, funny and generous all at once.
Chris and Jayne from Whistler Wines, we always think of you guys with a bit of regret. Our brief visit to Whistler Wines and those wonderful hours spent together at our last dinner at the Barossa just made us wish we’d spent a little more time with both of you. Chris, we still smile when we think about your light-hearted brushing off of ‘bloggers’, and your mock disdain for the Internet and most things digital. Little did we imagine the Chair of Tourism Barossa would actually be the most entertaining person that evening. Jayne, it’s unfortunate you missed out on your trip to India. But hopefully you will find your way to India soon and you can be sure we’ll be on the other side, stiff drink waiting!
And finally Simone and Grant. Irrespective of where you live, you will always be Barossa folk to us! I think it took less than a minute to go from total strangers to comfortable friends. You guys did more than just welcome us to The Reserve. You welcomed us into the spirit of the Barossa. You made us feel like we were no longer visitors but friends coming over to stay at your home. You guys went out of your way taking us to tastings, driving us to spectacular meals, planning a feast for our last night, giving us a tour of the Farmer’s Market, and so much more. Without a doubt, our Barossa experience wouldn’t have been as spectacular if it wasn’t for both of you. We were really touched with the genuineness with which you made so much out of the 3 short days we there. And that includes getting Shane over to take us on a helicopter ride through the Valley. Needless to say, we’re sure this won’t be the last time we meet. You guys are the center point of our entire Barossa experience. We cooked (actually we watched while Simone cooked), drank more wine than we should have, laughed harder because of it, ate a few spectacular meals and hated having to say goodbye.
That’s perhaps the best way to sum up this letter. We hated having to say goodbye to the Barossa and the people who share so much without expecting anything in return. To the ones who don’t have the Barossa on their travel itinerary yet, we have this to say to you – pack your bags and head there right away. See the vineyards, drink the splendid wine, taste the splendid produce. But don’t forget to experience the Valley’s greatest offering – its people. Because unlike us, you may not enter the Valley feeling intimidated but when it’s time to leave, we guarantee you will wish you didn’t have to. And the people of the Barossa are entirely to blame for this.
With much love and a promise that we will be back,
Revati and Charles