There are a lot of wineries to visit in the Barossa. From the big boys like Jacobs Creek to tiny cult like producers like Greenock Creek. I decided to visit some of the older wineries. The ones who have a long history and have come a long way. And which have beautiful grand old buildings. I seem to love these ones. The wines I thought are a bonus. In any case, I am saving myself up for one winery of which the wines I would not miss for the world.
This winery celebrated its 125th birthday this year. Believe it or not, it is Australia’s largest and oldest wine Chateau. It is so iconic that it is designated a monument in Australia’s Register of State Heritage Places. But it almost did not get here. In 1998, it was discarded by its giant parent, completely abandoned, empty and kept company only by pigeons. It was in a sorry looking state with even holes in the ceiling.
Then like sleeping beauty being woken up by her handsome prince, a South African by the name of John Geber came along. Instead of a stead, he happened to be cycling in the area when he saw the unoccupied building. He immediately fell in love with the majestic bluestone winery. Without even stepping inside, he bought it. He then ploughed wholeheartedly into the challenge of rebirthing the place and today thanks to his passion, this grand old dame of the Barossa is enjoying a new lease of life.
The grounds have been extensively landscaped with historic cobblestones and hand cut slate. Potted olive trees grace the front of the building. There is a cricket oval, croquet green and even a Grand Ballroom. I can just imagine the lawns being used for the perfect garden wedding (and it is in fact available for hire!) I don’t know what more you can add other than (a rose garden with 30,000 roses?)
And finally what about the wines you ask? Well being home to some of the earliest plantings of vines in the Barossa Valley (1840’s) does have its advantages. I did not get to try the wines but I read that their Everest label which are produced in minute quantities from old-vine reds is a monumental shiraz. It won the trophy for the best shiraz in the world at the International Wine & Spirit Competition in 2010. So, it is already building a pedigree that will bode it well in years to come.
In short, I am glad I dropped in on Chateau Tanunda, The people who have worked here reads like a who’s who of some famous names in Australian wine history from Bill Seppelt to Peter Taylor to Robert O’Callaghan. I should pay tribute here also then to John Geber who took on an unloved building threatened by demolition but with passion, patience and vision, restored it to its former grandeur for all of us to enjoy.