Mulled wine 2018

It’s that time of year when we are having cold nights and icy mornings. You know you are in for a cold one when the evenings have clear skies with pinks and purples in the Eastern sky. As the night sets in the fields start glistening with Jack Frost’s breath, his fingers are reaching into our houses and we huddle around the blazing log fire with rich casseroles, big reds and of course our sought after Mulled Wine.

Mulled wine is the English version of what is known as Gluhwein in Germany and is a traditional spicy winter drink made from red wine, heated and spiced with cinnamon sticks, oranges studded with cloves and sugar. Traditionally it is sold at Christmas outdoor craft markets in Germany, or at home people warm it in a teapot with a little tea light. I’ve been told by German migrants that in their old country it is served in half sized glass cups like the one in the picture, as it is essential to keep it warm. When you visit our cellar door you can enjoy it with us around our fire pit! It is also sold in these pubs in the Adelaide Hills: Gray’s Inn, Mt Barker, and Bridgewater Inn, Bridgewater. Available over the counter and in their bottle shops! In The Lobethal Hotel it’s available just in the bottle shop. As it’s just down the road from us it’s a good place to stock up if we are closed or have run out!!

Hello Spring

To celebrate spring, embracing the cooler nights, and the warmer days, we have put together a recipe for you to enjoy.

A simple Chicken Roast with a twist, under the skin, is some delicious preserved lemon and tarragon. This dish goes perfectly with our Chardonnay, Sauvignon Blanc or Pinot Gris.

Down load the Roast Chicken Recipe here

Eat, Drink, Be Merry

Our new release Syrah is drinking beautifully. Unlike other South Australian Reds, we thought we would try our hand at a cooler climate style wine with beautiful subtle complexities.

This is a food wine, and we have been working hard to decided what it goes best with. After some cooking and drinking, we came to the conclusion that Pork Belly is the sure winner.  You can try our recipe for Pork Belly.

Winter Reds and Gluhwein!


The Adelaide Hills is celebrating its Winter Reds festival on the weekend of 26 – 27 July. There’s over 40 events taking place over the weekend, and we’ll be at one of the best! This year we are pairing with the next door Lobethal Markets for “Play with Fire at Lobethal Markets”. There’s 2 other wine producers and the wonderful Lobo Cider people, as well as lots for all the family:

“Devour beasts cooked over scorching coals or pizza from a blazing wood oven as you become spellbound watching a blacksmith create a fiery red glow. Warm your hands around mulled wine and cider while being serenaded by local trio Crazy Jester. Conquer the temptations of Schoenthal Estate, Tilbrook Estate, Top Note and Lobo Cider and celebrate the victory of a sticky red semillon and warm apple crumble with Top Note.”

And for the kids we’ve organised a face painter and a magician!

Come and taste the latest releases of our Merlot 2013 and Shiraz 2013. Both cracking wines!

And of course our sought after Mulled Wine. This is known as Gluhwein in Germany and is a traditional spicy winter drink made from red wine, heated and spiced with cinnamon sticks, cloves, oranges and sugar. Traditionally it is sold at Christmas outdoor craft markets in Germany, or at home people warm it in a teapot with a little tea light. Theo from Holden Hill (SA) told me that in his old country it is served in half sized glass cups like the one in the picture, as it is essential to keep it warm. We’re on the hunt for ones like this but in the meantime you can enjoy it with us in latte glasses!


Mulled Wine

Winter has finally arrived in the Adelaide Hills with pouring rain, high winds and cold weather. In the cellar door we have stocked up on lots of wood and have the wood fire blazing and also the new season Mulled Wine is now available!

South Australian residents can either order it over the phone and we can deliver it (minimum 6 bottles Hills/Adelaide) or come and collect it. We’ll give you an extra bottle per 6. For customers further afield we can send it to anywhere in Australia just order it online via the “Buy Our Wine” page. Please allow at least two weeks for delivery as we make the mulled wine on demand as well as enough to have in the cellar door.

We hear stories from customers about where they have drunk our mulled wine or on what occasion. If you have any places you have drunk our mulled wine, please send me a comment or let me know on our Facebook page. Photos are most welcome!

Wood Oven Pizzas

With the advent of warmer weather, it’s time to start thinking about firing up the wood fired brick oven. We bought our brick oven second hand from a chap who was making pizzas outside the old Heart of the the Hills Market next door. He had taken early retirement to do this but decided in time that he was better off earning a salary and so sold us his oven. We gladly accepted the oven as it definitely complements what we are doing at the cellar door. Initially we used the oven on weekends until we discovered that we needed development approval to use it in the space outside our cellar door.  Then it was winter and no one wanted to sit outside or indeed come to the Hills because it was cold and wet.

So “Hooray” for the warmer weather! Warmer temperatures, sunnier days and staying light later has meant people coming back to the Hills for a day out. There’s a new page called “Menu” under our Visit our Cellar Door page. This lists what we are offering, including our popular Adelaide Hills Gourmet platter and of course, our Wood Oven Pizzas. We have a lovely courtyard to sit in, but on very hot days or bad weather we can seat up to 40 inside the winery in amongst the barrels.

Since we have had the oven we have experimented with various types of wood – red gum being the best for throwing out the most heat for a sustained length of time. But as we have a lot of vine trunks and arms this season from retraining one of the Pinot Noir blocks, I am now using these instead. Once alight they give out a lot of heat but we have to keep an eye on the oven as they burn quite quickly. Anyway it makes for an interesting story to say we fire our oven with vine trimmings!

We have also experimented with using thick bases, thin bases, par baked bases, pre made pizzas, and making our own. We have found the best combination to buy in par baked thin crust bases from a very good wood oven pizza restaurant and to then add our own toppings. Our base supplier makes enough bases for about 100 pizzas on a friday night and whatever he has left over he freezes and we collect them the following friday. At the moment this is working well but once things get busy we may have to work out another way of getting more. But we will still be getting them from him because they are so good!

So what do we use on top? For thin crust bases the received wisdom is “less is more”. A case in point is our popular gourmet meat lovers pizza. This is topped with our crushed tomato sauce made with fresh oregano & basil. We then add Skara Smallgoods sliced chorizo & proscuitto, diced smoked leg ham & a sprinkling of mozzarella. Then just 3 or 4 minutes in the wood oven, with a few turns to make it evenly cooked. It doesn’t need much time to cook as a well fired wood oven can be up to 300 degrees Centigrade! The result is a delicious wood oven pizza where the flavours are allowed to shine and a very satisying meal is to be had.

We are now doing wood oven pizzas every weekend from the beginning of November till ANZAC day (25 April)  from midday to 5.00pm, so next time you are in the Hills why not pop in and try one out! For groups please give us a ring a couple of days beforehand so we can make sure we have enough ingredients……and pizza bases! Ring the Cellar Door on 08 8389 5318 and leave a message if I am not in.

Cheers! James

Mulled Wine

The time is fast approaching for some Antipodeans to celebrate “Christmas in July”. Being from the Northern Hemisphere, I have always looked forward to a cold, and hopefully snowy, Christmas, but now living in Australia it doesn’t seem quite right that it is hot at Christmas time! For a few years after I emigrated I hung on to the traditional roast turkey with all the trimmings, followed by Christmas pud and brandy butter. But then I discovered the joy – and a lot less work in the kitchen – of having crayfish, king prawns, salad, hollandaise sauce and Champagne. That said I still sometimes have to get my fill of a traditional English Christmas lunch. But over here it is quite hard to get pork chippolatas, chestnut puree for stuffing and cranberry jelly. It invariably involves a great deal more planning than popping down to your local Waitrose or Sainsbury’s!!

The other thing I miss is the lead up to Christmas. All the ads on TV, the Christmas music blasting out of every speaker in every shop, the Christmas decorations, the air of expectation in the air, carol singers serenading country households up and down the country, and of course the multiple parties with the de rigeur mince pies and mulled wine.

Having the means of making wine and this obvious love of all things to do with Christmas got me thinking one year. What about making mulled wine and then selling it to people who came into the cellar door by the glass? Instead of using the cheapest bag in box wine I could use my own cabernet and shiraz, which would make the end result far better than the fairly ordinary ones had at Christmas parties back in the old country. So we started making it in 2004 and haven’t looked back since! It’s now made from ANZAC day till the end of October. (The latter might seem quite late but it is often cool at night here in the Adelaide Hills during the Spring). We also now sell it by the bottle so you can take it home with you. It is ready to drink, you don’t need to add anything, just heat it up and enjoy!

Cheers! James

Food, glorious food!

I love Winter! Maybe it’s the English in me or maybe it is a season when there is time to think about other things away from the hurly burly of the warmer months. My focus is inevitably drawn to other interests like food, travel and of course wine. By wine I mean what is happening elswhere in the world of wine.

Last night I read two articles in the UK’s Decanter Magazine, the first was about Olivier Humbrecht, the forty something owner of the famed Domaine Zind Humbrecht in Alsace. He’s been immersed in the world of wine since birth but he has taken the Domaine to new heights of excellence with Biodynamic Viticulture and non interventionist winemaking. Then there was the article about the so called Club of Five. This is the informal grouping of the five managers of Bordeaux’s First Growths. They used to meet every month over lunch and discuss areas of concern or interest to them. Now the Club has been expanded and renamed the Club of Nine! It now includes the other great growths: D’Yquem, Ausone, Petrus and Cheval Blanc. How fantastic would it be to sit round that table!

This brings me neatly onto food. Smoked Salmon is something we used to only have as a rare special treat. But with the advent of fish farms Salmon has become something that is still a treat but a less expensive one that it once was.

Harris have been in the smoked fish game for many years. They started in a little coastal village in Suffolk called Orford, then one of the sons moved to Australia and started Springs Smoked Salmon based in Mt Barker. Some years later Tas Sal bought them out and the old owner had a clause in his contract that meant he couldn’t start a rival company within a certain time frame. Now luckily for the consumers Harris is his new venture and the quality is the best I have tried outside Orford! (My family are from Suffolk so I know Orford well)

Interestingly another foodie person is associated with Orford: the TV personality, food writer, restauranteur and hotelier, Ruth Watson who does Country House Rescue, and did The Hotel Inspector. She actually started by buying Hintlesham Hall from the food writer Robert Carrier and turned it into a successful  hotel. Then she sold that and bought the Fox and Goose in Fressingfield and turned it into one of Britain’s first gastro pubs. She wanted to “get out of the kitchen” so she sold the “effing G” (her husband’s witty acronym) so they bought an old Pub in Orford and did it up. This included making the rooms fit for guests who wanted better quality than the run of the mill pubs could offer, and making the food also of an excellent standard. The word soon go out and people flocked to the new watering hole, so much so that Ruth was able to add on luxurious accomodation out the back. Now she tells owners of British Country Houses how to get their estates back on a firm financial footing. It makes fascinating viewing but also reminds me that anyone can make a go of things with the right combination of determination, know how and inspiration.

Cheers! James

Good Coffee!

What makes a good coffee? In my experience it’s more to do with having decent roasted coffee beans (we use Rio’s Espresso blend) and someone who has the patience and passion to make a really good espresso. The machine is secondary. You can spend a lot of money (thousands of dollars) on a state of the art Italian espresso machine and then have someone who doesn’t care making the coffee and all you will get is a thin, watery, flavourless coffee. On th other hand you can have a very basic machine and someone who is passionate and end up with the best you have ever tasted! A case in point is our mate Kim. He has a $20o espresso machine, but is fanatical about coffee. He has researched, for instance, by his own experimentation, how many days after the coffee is roasted will it taste the best. He’s looked into the quality of the milk, what other factors make a difference to the coffee eg the size of the beans. The result is that he makes the best coffee I have ever tasted! His example has inspired me to make sure we make very good coffee but not to worry about getting the best equipment.

That said our trusty Sunbeam Cafe Series espresso machine is now being sorely tested by increasing numbers of people wanting our coffee. The poor thing is really just a domestic machine, but it does make really good espresso. However, it is slow at texturing the milk, which in the past hasn’t been a problem, but now it is beginning not to be able to cope with getting orders for 5 or 6 at a time. Also the pump is beginning to wear out. I am in two minds whether to replace the pump or upgrade to a small commercial machine. One that can take the work load and also texture the milk quickly.

What are your experiences with making coffee and where do you think the best coffee is to be found?

Brisbane here we come!

Since the early days we have sold wine in Brisbane and on the Sunshine Coast, as Annabelle’s family come from this area and so it seemeed a natural place to start interstate. For the first few years we sold direct which invloved myself and my trusty sales guy, and all round good mate, going up to Brisbane and the coast for a week and trying to get our wine into all the best restaurants. We had some notable successes, most notably Il Centro in Brisbane putting our Reserve Chardonnay on by the glass. Since those halcyon days, when a sales trip meant also enjoying some fine dining (shhh don’t tell Annabelle), we have managed to get our wines on to quite a few lists as we decided that it was probably more cost effective to have a QLD distributor. This worked well for a while but it was time to move on and appoint another distributor who could manage a larger territory. Namely the entire East Coast!

So last week I spent a day going to all my old stomping grounds, seeing old customers and potentially new ones, in the company of my new distributor. It was great fun to spend a day doing this, without having to worry about follow up phone calls, getting the orders out in time and generally managing the account. That’s their job and I believe we all are better for it!



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