We drove up the Sturt Highway, by-passing the City of Gawler and into the Barossa Valley. Our little Toyota Seca hire from Budget Hire performed excellently, hardly using any fuel and easily doing the 110kph speed limit on the Freeway (even if its large front windscreen did allow heaps of sunlight and UV into the driver's compartment). 'Ellie', our trusty Garmin 3700 Sat-Nav system was very reliable and as equally forgiving when we failed to take an indicated turn or direction and quickly 'recalculated' another route for us.
Tanunda. surrounded by vineyards showing early Autumn colour.
We lunched at "The Bakery" in Nuriootpa and must say that lunch was the best part of our stay in that town. Our visit to the iconic cellar showroom of the famous Penfolds winery was very disappointing as we were completely ignored by the four staff members present and we walked out after standing around for several minutes without any form of acknowledgement while the two young counter staff 'gushed' over some younger tourists.
Penfolds Tasting and Sales at Nuriootpa S.A.
Nuriootpa, itself, we found to be a very quaint town with several older buildings featuring in its main street.
We drove down the road about 9kms in a vain attempt to locate the Tourist Information Centre so that we may find some directions to vineyards that were open but were without luck. Despite having gathered lots of tourist brochures we learnt that for the next day's trip we needed to gather as much information from the Adelaide Tourist Information Centre as we could before we set out.
By chance, we came across another wine making icon, Chateau Tanunda Vineyard but were unable to locate their Disabled Parking Area and faced with a climb up a steel ladder of fifteen rungs to the Cellar Tasting Rooms, we drove on.
We stopped at a motel and the receptionist was kind enough to supply us with a map of the region that showed all the wineries. Before long we arrived at the Rockford Winery Cellar Doors where we were made very welcome, so much so that as a responsible driver I had to work hard to resist the frequent offers to enjoy more and more tastings. We did purchase a very nice Semillon which we hope to have with our baked dinner tonight.
Entrance to the Rockford Cellar Tasting Area
The Tasting Room itself is located in an old stables area at Rockford with barrels of wine now stored in the loft where over a century ago 11 children once slept.
The loft at Rockford
Currently, the Barossa Valley has a population of about 20,000, most of whom live in Tanunda, Nuriootpa, Angaston, Williamstown and Lyndoch, each having over 1000 people, with a few smaller towns such as Moculta and Springton. All of these towns are part of the Barossa local government. Many facilities not available in these towns are usually supplemented in nearby Gawler. In recent years, increased development in the area has seen opposition from the local communities. The area is also a Lutheran stronghold with many residents identifying themselves as Lutherans. Some towns have more than one Lutheran church. Tanunda, for example, has Langmeil, Tabor, St. Paul's and St. Johns. Nuriootpa has St. Petri and Holy Trinity. Angaston has Zion and Salem (Penrice). Each major town also has a Lutheran primary school. Tanunda has Tanunda Lutheran School, Nuriootpa has Redeemer, and Angaston has Good Shepherd. St. Jakobi, the Lutheran primary school at Lyndoch, hosts the Barossa Airshow annually as its fundraiser.
Despite our long hot drive and a trifle disappointing day at Barossa, we looked forward to the next day and a drive to the seaside resorts of Glenelg and Victor Harbour.