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January 13, 2011
The Tour Down Under kicks off next week and I couldn’t be more excited. In my opinion it’s one of the best professional bike races you can attend. It’s logistically simple, you don’t have to change hotels, you can get heaps of bike riding in, the riders are laid back and accessible, and Adelaide transforms into this buzzing city of energy for the whole week. The other great thing about the TdU is that stage 1 passes through the Borassa Valley which is home to some of Australia’s best wineries.
Vern Pitt has had some great experiences watching the Tour Down Under from some of the Barossa Valley wineries. Here are his tips on the best wineries to watch stage 1 from (Tuesday, 18 January).
By Vern Pitt. Check out his excellent blog, The Silver Cyclist
What’s the next best thing to the pain, sacrifice and achievement of cycling? Watching someone else experience all that pain and sacrifice while relaxing with a refreshing beverage. That’s why the Tour de France returned to Bordeaux this year (I suspect) and it’s why the Tour Down Under route launches itself into the Barossa Valley on its first day.
The Barossa has remained one of Australia’s premier wine making regions for over 100 years, so it’d be criminal not to take advantage of its fermented fruits alongside the cycling. If you get up early you could even cycle out from the city, chased by the UCI’s rolling roadblock.
When you get there you’ll want to make sure you can get a good drink, good wine and good food, here’s the top five cellar doors where you can do just that. However, be warned, cycling back after a couple of bottles might be ‘challenging’.
View Barossa Wineries and the Tour Down Under 2011 in a larger map
The peloton is likely to be travelling at full pace as it barrels along Rowlands Flat, right outside Lou Miranda. The cellar door restaurant is a shady relaxed wood adorned room, complimenting the winery’s Italian heritage. You can see the road from inside the restaurant but you may be the only one there because all the staff usually head out onto the roadside to cheer the riders on.
Recommended wine: Lou Miranda Estate 2008 Old Vine Shiraz, a robust and spicey wine which is consistently popular.
Riders pass: 12:25-12:35
Regarded as one of the best wineries in the region, Kellermeister has gone all out in its support for the Tour. For $38 you can get yourself a brunch and a glass of wine before being taken on a tour of the winery and enjoying a VIP tasting of some of their finest vintages among the barrels. Finally you’ll be led down to the roadside for more wine and complimentary cheeses while the riders pass by.
Recommended wine: The 2010 Red Frontignac Rose is a fine example of what this winery is known for.
Riders pass: 12:20-12:30
Taste Eden Valley
This small independent acts as the cellar door for a variety of boutique wineries in the Eden Valley. On the main street of Angaston you can watch the riders go past three times as the stage winds around the town. You can do that from the comfort of your chair on the wooden decking outside, assuming you can see through the crowd on the roadside, or just get-up and take a step onto the pavement when you hear the hum of tires on tarmac. Plus, as it’s so close to the finish line you can wander up the road to see who takes the leaders jersey on the first day.
Recommended wines: The region is known for its Rieslings of which David Franz’s 2010 is a prime example.
Riders pass: 13:00-13:10, 13:40-13:50, 14:25-14-35
Ross Wines Barossa
On the long stretch of straight road where the Ross Wines estate sits you will be able to see the riders coming from a distance as they climb up out of Lyndoch. Plus you’ll be greeted with snags from the complimentary sausage sizzle and glass of bubbly on arrival, in celebration of the race.
You can escape the heat inside and still see the race or customers are welcome to sit out front, but you do need to bring your own chairs – not recommended if you’re travelling by bike.
The winery itself has only been running since the early 90s but claims to bring a fresh approach to traditional wine making techniques. A slew of awards over the last five years indicates they’ve gotten fairly good at it.
Recommended wines: 2008 Barossa Shiraz – eight wine shows with eight medals, says it all.
This small family owned boutique winery benefits from a large lawn which runs right up to Barossa Valley Way from which you can see the riders pass three times on the circuit. However, it does get busy so you’ll need to be there early to get your place. It’s a good choice if you want to extend your tour of the wineries as a walking trail connects Stanley Lambert to Richmond Grove Winery, Peter Lehmann and Langmeil Winery.
Recommended wines: Either the premium Family Tree Shiraz or for something different the chocolate infused Choc-a-bloc port.
Riders pass: 12:40-12:50, 13:20-13:30, 14:05-1415