Monday 16 – Sunday 29 October 2017
10 am – 5 pm daily (4 pm on weekends)
McLaren Vale Visitor Information Centre, Main Road
When I work at our pop up cellar door, there are the questions I always expect to answer, and then there are ALWAYS ones I’ve never heard before! Like…
“How many bunches of grapes does it take to make a bottle of wine?”
Now, I knew he was asking because he wanted to know how many bunches he’d need to make a bottle of his own wine in his backyard…but in case you’re curious, if we’re talking about Shiraz for example (since it is the most widely planted variety in South Australia, and McLaren Vale), it would take about 10 bunches of grapes to make one bottle.
That’s also if we’re talking about making the wine in the De Lisio style of winemaking, as the extraction methods used by different winemakers will affect the amount of juice each bunch will produce.
“How is the health of the bees in McLaren Vale?”
Shamefully I’d never really thought much about the role of the bees in McLaren Vale, but that is the plight of bees all over the world – working hard to help our food, our flowers and our entire planet flourish, yet being taken for granted.
I’d also never thought of a grapevine as a flowering plant in the same way you think about an almond blossom giving way to the almonds, or the flowers on a lemon tree becoming lemons. However, grapevines have flowers just like all other fruiting plants, and you’ll see those delicate flowers just before they turn into grapes. Budburst will occur around the time you’ll see me back at the Pop Up Cellar Door at the Visitor Information Centre, then towards the end of the year you’ll see (if you look closely enough) the flowers on the vine, which will then become fruit.
“Do you put the honey in there?”
Still on the theme of bees, people often ask about the name of our ‘Honeypot’ Moscato. No, there’s not actually honey in there, honey is just one of the flavour characteristics which comes from the fermentation of the Frontignac grape.
The same goes for all of our wines, while you may be able to pick out the red berry, the anise, the leather or the chocolate flavours, we haven’t added any of these things. The flavours in the wines are all there naturally, all we do is allow for the natural fermentation of the grapes and their natural concentration in barrel, where they can pick up flavours from the oak.
Yes, people ask me this at cellar door all the time, and no, they’re not from another planet. Often they’re from Europe, where because of our Aussie accent and the different spelling, they don’t recognise their Syrah grape in its Australian incarnation.
Shiraz and Syrah are the same grape varietal, but they result in a different style of wine because of the differences in old world and new world winemaking techniques, and of course weather and soil differences.
“What does the A.D. stand for?”
Actually another one I’m asked all the time, but it’s an important answer to show the De Lisio style and philosophy. A.D. are the winemaker’s initials, Anthony De Lisio, and it comes from this quote:
‘For a winemaker to lend his name to a wine it becomes personal. Share my taste.’
“Why are the vines planted in that direction?”
One savvy visitor to our region noticed that the direction of the vineyard rows differed from block to block. Having been involved with the De Lisio family after they planted their vines, and only in the years of picking, pruning and vineyard management, I assumed the rows were planted in the direction which gave the easiest access for the tractors and harvesters. This is true, but it’s not the only factor.
It is rare to see terraced vineyards in McLaren Vale, because the undulations make for too tight turns between the terraced rows. The other factor in the direction of the rows is of course the sun. Traditionally, and where possible, vines are planted east to west (or west to east, ha, ha) to maximise the amount of sun the vines see each day.
“What are those big chocolate balls?”
Those, dear tourist, are Fruchocs, which are only the greatest South Australian treat around. Not only are Fruchocs a ball of milky chocolate, they’re filled with a soft, tart apricot and peach filling, making this delicious treat practically a health food.
Plus, in the main street of McLaren Vale is the Fruchocs factory, where you can see all of the old production line machinery used to create these sweet treats. And if you pick up the McLaren Vale Visitor Guide from the Visitor Information Centre, you’ll find a Fruchocs voucher inside!
I always recommend Fruchocs as the perfect South Aussie souvenir for visitors to take home…after the wine of course.
And yes, those BIG chocolate balls are the GIANT Fruchocs!
“Why is it called the Fleurieu?”
While the Barossa has a strong German influence and McLaren Vale is rife with Italian immigrants (yes, that’s us), our region was actually named in honour of a French navigator.
In 1802 Matthew Flinders and Nicolas Baudin met in Encounter Bay, now known as Victor Harbor, Flinders on the Investigator and Baudin on La Géographe. While Flinders charted the coastline, and named Cape Jervois and other points, Baudin named the Peninsula in honour of the French navigator and Minister of Marine, Charles, Count of Fleurieu. However, the name Fleurieu Peninsula was not formally adopted until 1913.
This is one of the reasons I love spending time behind the bar at cellar door, because I do know the answers to most of your questions, and when I don’t, we both learn something!
See you in October when I’m sure you’ll have all new questions ready for me. Cheers,
Vanessa De Lisio