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September 7, 2008

Tanunda to Keith

Filed under: Australia 2008, Travel, Wine — anotherheader @ 6:07 am

Chateau Tanunda

Chateau Tanunda

It was time to move out of The Barossa and head south, eventually to Melbourne. We did not arrange lodging for this part of the trip ahead of time figuring that this would give us maximum flexibility. I guess that’s

Barossa Vineyards

Barossa Vineyards

another way of saying that we didn’t know what we wanted to do. Part of the flexibility we gained allowed us to make sure that the Barossa Shiraz was really as good as we recalled from yesterday. So, after an early breakfast, we headed out for more wine. Hey, drinking wine, isn’t that what everyone does immediately after breakfast?

We managed to stop at five more wineries before the exertion of heretofore unheard of levels of self-control resulted in the rental car being firmly pointed in the southerly direction. The wineries we visited, Chateau Tanunda, Veritas, Elderton, Kaesler, and Thorn-Clarke were all good. Of the five, the big, massive wines at Elderton and Kaesler were our favorites. Thorn-Clarke wines were the best values and reach the

A Shiraz addled Becky straightens a toppling chimney at Chateau Tanunda

A Shiraz addled Becky straightens a toppling chimney at Chateau Tanunda

States under a different, assumed name. Pure Grenache wines are usually not our favorites, but the Grenache grapes at Kaesler were the viticulturalist’s pet project. The resulting wine was incredibly powerful and fruit forward, exploding on the tongue. It may not have been the most balanced of wines at 16% alcohol, but it was certainly striking. We bought a bottle to bring back. I guess we will see later whether it is as good as we thought at the winery.

In terms of the tasting experience, Chateau Tanunda was the most interesting. The Cellar Door is housed in a large, older building. On the grounds, there is a sprawling, carefully manicured croquet court. The winery offers a special deal where you pay a small amount and you receive a glass of wine and a loan of the croquet equipment. Drinking wine couldn’t help but improve our aim, if we played croquet!

After Becky's work, the chimney is straight again!

After Becky's work, the chimney is straight again

As we were leaving, the chimney at Chateau Tanunda was threatening to topple. Fortunately, Becky was there to save the day (see the pictures).

At the start of the day, we figured we’d be on the road after a quick stop or two and be able to roll through the Adelaide Hills or McLaren Vale wine regions on the way south. Alas, the seduction of the Barossa Cellar Doors left us with a mid-afternoon departure from the area.

With the BeckBeck CPS (Confusing Positioning System) fully engaged in the left seat and requiring only an occasional poke to bring it out of sleep mode, we headed south towards The Coonawarra. The day was sunny and clear with temperatures peaking over 100 as the road wound through the red-tinged hills to the east of Adelaide. Closer to the start of the Padthaway wine region, we entered the region known as the Limestone Coast. The rolling hills were gone, replaced by the sandy, talc-like limestone soils of the low coastal plain. The area was sparsely populated with only the occasional farmhouse and blips of small towns popping up amongst the gum tree studded landscape.

Suspicious characters tasting wine at Kaesler

Suspicious characters tasting wine at Kaesler

We reached Keith, the last significant (loosely defined!) town before we entered the beginning of the Limestone Coast Wine region. We rolled into town around 5 pm. Keith’s a forgotten, dusty small town easy to mistake for a small town in California’s Central Valley. Well, except for one thing.

“Say what? Saaay whaaat?” Becky drawled, seemingly channeling Foghorn Leghorn. “Whaat in tar-na-tion is a ‘Land-Rooo-ver on a Poo-le’?”

The words were uttered as we drove past point of interest sign advertising a “Land Rover on a Pole,” whatever that was.

Barossa Shiraz

Barossa Shiraz

We figured this might be yet another case where we needed an English to English translation. But, sure enough, a short distance down the road, there was, in fact, a Land Rover vehicle at the top of a post in the town’s park. We read the sign at the Land Rover on a Pole, but we’re still not sure why the Land Rover is ON the pole. We guess someone thought it was a good idea.

The streets were starting to be rolled up and the restaurants were closing in Keith, so we figured we should obtain lodging for the evening. We chose to stay at the Keith Hotel and Motel. Becky splurged and upgraded our room from a complete dump to merely a dive. It’s little scary when your room comes with a complimentary can of bug spray. I told Becky that I read the spray can and it was special “spider” spray. That may not have been a good idea. She was grumpy the next day and it didn’t seem like she slept well at all.


Say what? And where's the space?

I guess the collection of sports you never knew existed on TV was not soothing enough to induce Becky into a restful sleep. The variety of the sports they show on TV in Australia is amazing. They even show NHL hockey, in the middle of their summer and in a place where ice and snow are rare.


I guess it was a LandRover ON a pole.  What's the chain for?

I guess it was a Land Rover ON a pole. What's with the chain?

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