Thursday, on our way here, we had a delightful lunch stop near Rutherglen. Around noon we started looking for picnic spots, and I suggested to Lloyd that we look for a winery to do some tasting at the same time. We had great luck. We turned into a winery named "Olive Hills". As we drove up the long dusty driveway, I wondered if it was even open for tasting and sales. We passed vines that appeared to be neglected and dried up.
We arrived at the cellar door...
...and went in, to find no one in sight. There was a note on the bar saying to ring the winemaker, Ross, for assistance. We could hear a tractor out back. We decided to eat our lunch on the patio out front and to phone him later. He appeared soon after, and invited us in after lunch. This is a very small family-run vineyard. The historic house--which appears to be solid brick like many of the old homes here--was built by one of the original Europeans in the late 1800s.
Just over a hundred years later in 1996, Ross and his family bought the property and established one of the few dry land vineyards in Australia. He prides himself on not irrigating his vines, but as a result his yield is less than half of his neighbours. The average annual rainfall is about 23 inches per year and one of his biggest challenges is a late spring frost, for example his 2014 vintage was wiped out by a frost just after the fruit had set. What keeps this winery afloat are weddings. The cellar is a fabulous location, very reminiscent of Italian and French cellars...dark and dusty with a long table down the centre and crystal chandeliers above. They are getting ready for a wedding with 180 guests in two weeks time.
We enjoyed the wine tasting...I even liked the red "Durif" which was smooth and velvety (white wines are my usual preference)...and bought a couple of bottles of his Chardonnay and Rose for later. See the website for some lovely photos...www.olivehills.com.au
More about the Snowy Mountains in the next post.