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World Wine Icon in Adelaide South Australia.

Part 1 of 3.

I grew up in the eastern suburbs in Adelaide, South Australia. It was a pretty good place to do so. I would spend a lot of my pre-driving days climbing and playing in the spectacular Morialta Conservation park and the surrounding Adelaide Hills.

In season, I would ride my bike into the Adelaide hills to pick olives that were growing all over, and when packed with all I could carry, I would ride to the Magill Grain Store to sell my load of hand picked olives.

My memory of those warm days wandering the hills and making a few dollars are happy ones.

More often than not, either on my way there or more likely on the way home with a load of coins in my pocket, a shortcut through a particular local vineyard was a given. If the timing was right, a feed of grapes was in order, and more than a few times being chased out by less than happy vineyard workers.

At the time I had no idea of the historic hallowed ground I was traversing, the magic that was to be made from this vineyard or what magical wine was being crafted inside this historic facility. You see I may be old, but this place is really old and was started in 1843. My incursions were during the era of one of the great legends of the wine world. It was the time when Max Schubert was in there making wine that would be sought after and become an Icon in the world of wine. Having toured Europe in 1950, Max implemented wine-making techniques observed in Bordeaux upon his return, aiming to create a red wine able to rival the finest Bordeaux wines both in terms of quality and ageing potential.

He started his experiment, the Penfolds Grange Hermitage in 1951 after this trip, but was told to stop in 1957. About then it started to become a huge hit and in 59 was told to start it up again. As it turned out, he never stopped! He had continued to make Grange and hide it behind other wines.

It was the late sixties and early seventies and Max had his wine project Penfolds Grange Hermitage winning Gold medals and Best Shiraz at the Paris Wine Olympics in 1971.

A few years after in 1981 I had left for California and the medals continued flowing for Max, and Grange quickly became one of the most revered wines around the world. In 1988 Max Schubert was named Decanter Magazine’s Man of the Year, and on the 50th anniversary of its birth, Penfolds Grange was given a heritage listing in South Australia.

All of this happened and I was totally oblivious.Now, some years later, and being immersed in anything wine, I enjoy visiting this amazing facility almost annually with its wonderful range of wine. At every visit I find myself amazed and wide eyed at all they have accomplished and continue to accomplish. Over the years that I have been visiting, starting in about 2000, the facility has undergone a number of significant changes and the facility tour has continuously evolved and I look forward to every new experience.

The facility with its amazing historic buildings and the contrasting new facilities is a wonder to visit and explore, and I have always been impressed with the great hospitality, whether a simple regular tasting, a tour of the facility or fine dining at the world class Magill Estate Restaurant.

So what is an experience at Penfolds like? There are a number of tours and tastings and in the next article I will talk about my private tasting and dining at the world class Magill Estate Restaurant.

Happy wine travels


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