October 21, 2005 Features & Images » Feature Story

It rises to the Gorge… 

Good wines, good people and other lessons from the land

It was a slow Sunday. The morning bathing, coffee and stretching rituals folded lazily into one another. Lisa had a real estate opening in a gorgeous Adelaide suburb and so her sweetheart Ben and I poured ourselves into the car as escorts to her destination. The two of us would carry on to a nearby beach suburb to amble along the promenade and await her call on the mobile. Then we would all dine on eggs benny, the perfect late Sunday morning feed. Lisa called and we descended on the feast.

After another cup of coffee and our fill of fare, we returned to the car for a meander through the winding South Australian countryside. There was the occasional drop of rain and once in a while, a car, but for the most part, the three of us were the sole occupants of this pastoral landscape. We chatted and were silent, as the optional ambience of the perfect Sunday encourages.

Ben’s Uncle John and Aunt Jacqui lived the area, so Ben decided we would venture up to their bucolic homestead and pay a visit. He informed me that we were driving through the famous McLaren Vale, a premier wine producing area in Australia. As we tottled along, I recognized the signs for Seaview , Rosemount and finally, Chapel Hill . Had we not had our fill carousing the night before, my soul would have been aching to stop at one, two or all three of these cellar doors for a nip of nectar.

Past Chapel Hill , the road wound up and around to reveal a small barn, and behind it, a lovely house of the old English country ilk. To the right, the view was breathtaking. This magnificent gorge plummeted into a lush expanse of impenetrable forest. Rosellas spiraled off the brick wall and cockatoos dove from the trees. The architecture and surroundings transcended the present. It was truly enchanting and overwhelming at once.

We drove up to the gate, stopped the car by the barn and got out. A young man with lightning-struck hair, sparkling eyes and an easy gait approached the car with a large smile. Ben, the consummate manners man, saw to the introductions. Apparently John and Jacqui were away, but Justin, as he introduced himself, welcomed us to come and have a look around. He sheepishly introduced us to Pascoe, his large dog, who had taken to lounging in Justin’s car on that particular day.

Now Ben had mentioned something about his aunt and uncle and a modicum of on-site wine production. But it was a comment in passing, no inkling of the wardrobe we were to penetrate.

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