"I know he is a king, but she is out of his league."

The McLaren Vale Wine Bushing Festival began in 1973. Its traditions were taken from medieval times when Tavern owners would place ivy bushes above their tavern doors to celebrate the arrival of the new vintage wine, or fresh mead. In the early 1970’s, McLaren Vale’s winemakers incorporated this symbol to 'ring in' the new vintage by hanging olive branches over their cellar doors.

As part of the Festival, the winemaker who achieves the highest points for an entry in the McLaren Vale Wine Show is named Bushing King or Queen.

Early festivals had a decidedly medieval theme with costumed events and such social activities like the 'Swains & Wenches Disco'.

The Bushing festival also featured a parade down the main street of the town.

Through to the 1960s the region struggled and went into decline apart from the Hardys which was on its corporate road to domination of the national wine industry. The local demand switched to cheap sherries and ports and the English export market dried up. Much of the dry table wine was blended to liven up wine from other regions. 

Southern Vales Programme. Note that lots of the  activity takes place around Reynella which is now an urban area. Wineries featured include Trennet's, St Vincent, Dridan and Akeringa.

The turning point came during the 1970's as the Southern Vales were in a good position, both geographically and in terms of the people involved in the local industry, to take advantage of the quality table wine revival of the 1970s.
1983 Poster Design.

Come out 85
The graphics used in the posters reflect the vibrancy of the region in the early to mid 1980's. The Southern Vales were experiencing a renaissance with the development of new wineries and the beginnings of a food culture movement. 


Originally the area which we now call the McLaren Vale Wine Region had many different names, one for each of the hamlets or groupings of farms that were settled in the 1800’s. Over the span of time these names have been swallowed up into the towns we now call McLaren Vale, McLaren Flat and Willunga, but for those with a sense of history names live on if you look closely.

View McLaren Vale Historic Names in a larger map

What is in a name? Click on the map to find out more.

One hamlet has survived with its own postcode almost into the present day. Landcross Farm, which had its own postcode, 5170, until recently centered on and named after the farm property which has been rejuvenated by Paxton Wines.

A few of the original settlement names have been merged into common postcodes but survived as map or service addresses. Whites Valley and Willunga South, which are both part of the Willunga postcode 5172, live on as utility addresses. Tatachilla also remains in common usage both as an address, winery brand and school, despite being swallowed by the McLaren Vale.

Some names live on as business names, Hillside formerly near McLaren Flat, lives on as Hillside Haulage the Sullivan families freight business. Taranga, which was the southern section of a farm established by William and Elizabeth Oliver when they settled in 1841, lives on in several business and property names.

Others names have fallen out of general use and remain as property names, like Bethany or Beltunga. Some have fallen out of usage entirely like Gloucester.

Why this happened makes an interesting story.

The first amalgamation of names was due to a natural increase in population. As settlers arrived in the area hamlets merged together to form towns.

Originally the region was survey in 1839 by a party led by John McLaren. McLaren was appointed as Senior Surveyor was given the task of surveying the southern districts of Adelaide. McLaren divided up the south of Adelaide into three districts - B, C and D to be released to the settlers in stages. Section C included all the land south of the Onkaparinga River to Willunga Hill as was released from 1840.

McLaren Vale was the general name for the wide valley south of the Onkaparinga Gorge. The township of McLaren Vale originally consisted of 2 small villages; Gloucester, a triangle between the Salopean Inn and Kangrilla road, established in 1851 and Bellevue, where The Barn and Limeburners stand, established in 1854.

Both small towns had a unique character. In 1841 two of the early settlers were Devonshire farmers, William Colton and Charles Hewitt. The farmers bought workmen with them and established neighbouring farms, Daringa and Oxenberry Farm. These farms formed the nucleus of the hamlet Gloucester. Daringa and Oxenberry live on as cellar doors on Kangarilla Rd.

Bellevue, town to the north, began on land purchased by Richard Bell at settlement who built a little colony of thatched pug houses. He also built a hotel in 1857 and named it the Clifton in honour of his wife, nee Clift. Ellen Street also bore her name until recent years, but is now retitled as part of Chalk Hill Road. Ellen Street lives on as a wine made by Mark Maxwell. The Clifton Hotel is currently the Hotel McLaren.

The Gloucester and Bellevue towns grew together so that by 1923 McLaren Vale was gazetted by the Lands Office as a private town. In that year Mr CE Pridmore, owner of land situated half way between Bellevue and Gloucester at Sylvan Park, applied for a transfer of the portion of section 156 in the township McLaren Vale. All previous transactions for that locality were designated as in the township of Gloucester in the McLaren Vale (or Valley).

Approximately four kilometres to the southeast of these towns in the McLaren Vale was Wesleyan chapel was opened in 1854 and was given the name Bethany Chapel. Other cottages were established which gave rise to Bethany the hamlet. Later Bethany was also home to the first illuminated tennis courts which can still be seen on McMurtrie Road. 

Bethany Chapel c. 1990 prior to renovation.

I have always assumed Wirra Wirra’s Church Block wine is named after the chapel as Wirra Wirra's vineyards sit directly opposite. Can anyone confirm this?

North of Bethany is the town of McLaren Flat. McLaren Flat had the satellite villages, or hamlets, Hillside which was located west towards Kangarilla and Beltunga, to the north whose houses were mostly built at the instigation of Richard Bell, founder of Bellevue.

Blewitt Springs was further north and consisted of a series of sandy ridges linked by roads that ran in between. It has maintained its ‘independence’ on maps and as a street address although shares McLaren Flat’s telephone exchange and the greater 5171 postcode.

Bush Grenache vines at Paxton Wines - Landcross Farm.

Traveling back towards the McLaren Vale township was known as Seaview. Sir Samuel Way’s 1870’s farm called Sea View lent its name to a Seaview hamlet complete with a chapel built in 1880’s, now the cellar door for Chapel Hill Wines. Sir Samuel in turn lent his name to Justin McNamee’s Samuels Gorge winery now based in the former Sea View blacksmith’s and olive press house.

Along the road back down the hill to the McLaren Townships, George Manning established Hope Farm in 1851, which was turned into a winery over the years. The winery was renamed Seaview in 1951 by its new owners, Mr Edwards and Chaffey. The names Seaview and Edwards & Chaffey have been wine brands.
A look back in time... Chapel Vale, now Chapel Hill, circa 1973

Around the town of Willunga were Willunga South where the slate mines were grouped and Whites Valley which lay on the direct road to Port Willunga to the north of Aldinga. The Whites Valley village was centered on Adey Rd, Aldinga Rd and Little Rd. Several historic building remain. Some have been restored while some of the farm houses and mills have fallen into ruin.

Olivers Taranga in the 1990's.
I have been told that the Sellicks Hills, part of the Mount Lofty Ranges, which stare down on Whites Valley, were once known as the Front Hills, and are marked as such on some old maps. I haven’t seen these, but I believe it possible this name was then corrupted to be called foothills. Foothills are dryly defined as gradual increases in hilly areas at the base of a mountain range.

We get the sub-regional name Sellicks Foothills from this, but Front Hills has a ring to it in my opinion and might warrant a comeback.

Postcodes were introduced in Australia in 1967 by the Postmaster-General's Department (PMG), the predecessor of Australia Post. At this point many of the smaller regional names were swallowed up. Landcross Farm survived with a fresh postcode but Tatachilla, McLaren Flat, Blewitt Springs, and remnants Hillside, Beltunga and Bethany were all merged into McLaren Vale 5171. Willunga 5172 took over Willunga South and Whites Valley.

Willunga Post Office also had responsibilities for Hope Forest, The Range, Dingabledinga (where Lazy Ballerina the cellar door is located across from the southern tip of Kuitpo Forest) Montara and Kuitpo.

What is in a name? A lot of the history of this region.

 Wine Fight Club June 09

If you know more to these stories please comment below. It is worthwhile checking out Oliver Taranga's Cellar Door to see their old map of the region. Also the main source for this article is the great book - McLaren Vale: Sea and Vines - Barbara Santich.

The Cult of Personality - THE HISTORY OF MCLAREN VALE WINE #4

There was a time in Southern Vales where there were no cellar doors. Up until the 1970's wineries did not sell direct to the public or undertake direct tourism. One of the first cellar doors in McLaren Vale was started by Enzo Berlingieri as Settlement Wines in the 1970's.

"In 1984 the most flamboyant figure in McLaren Vale, Vincenzo Berlingieri, purchased Oliverhill with, as usual, grand schemes in mind." Oliverhill Wines- Excerpt from "The Australian Wine Compendium" 1985 Edition by James Halliday

"Old times... good times... when dirty ashtrays were a socially acceptable part of the whole cellar door experience", says Enzo's daughter Annika, "As well as tops off Fridays."

Wayne Thomas was a McLaren Vale veteran, having started his winemaking career in 1961, working for Stonyfell, Ryecroft and Saltram before establishing a cellar door at Fern Hill with his late wife Pat in ’75.

Fern Hill in 1984.
When they sold Fern Hill in 1994 they started again, launching the Wayne Thomas Wines label, using grapes sourced from growers throughout McLaren Vale.

Wayne Thomas passed away in April 2007.


You can write words, or you can take pictures. Welcome to our project of finding old photographs of McLaren Vale and surrounds and retaking them to show how everything looks today. We hope you enjoy!

Taranga as a ruin in the 1990's.
The Olivers Taranga site has been heavily re-vegetated as these photos show. The road has been built up higher forming a large embankment.

McLaren Vale Fruit packers building in 1980. Note the Caltex service station in the far right.
Fruit packers gets a makeover in 1981.
Fruit Packer Building is very similar accept for changes to the windows at the front. Cars have changed and both the trees in the foreground and the petrol station in the background have grown. If you look closely the building has 'strunk'. Part of it has been removed to make the petrol station bigger.

Aerial view of Main South Road Morphett Vale, showing the Emu Hotel centre, left of road, in the early 1950s.
Esplanade Aldinga Beach c.1979.
1970, the original Christian Bible Church chapel seen here at Sea View Chapel Hill. Gladys Stillwell & Peg Dunstan pictured.
Chapel Hill as a modern winery.
With thanks to Andrew Tuck for the pictures from the 1970's and 80's as well as some archive pictures from the State Library of South Australia.

You can view more of our work on Lazy's Facebook page.


AC Kelly: Original Wine Hero

AC Kelly: Original Wine Hero

Stephen Pannell. Current custodian of the the old vineyards Dr A. C. Kelly sold to Thomas Hardy in 1876, bits of old buildings and the remnants of an orchard. Photo Philip White; DRINKSTER

Stephen Pannell. Current custodian of the the old vineyards Dr A. C. Kelly sold to Thomas Hardy in 1876, bits of old buildings and the remnants of an orchard. Photo Philip White; DRINKSTER

To quote Dr A C Kelly from Winegrowing in Australia published in 1867 -

'The time has come when the winegrowers of this colony must bestir themselves and boldly face the difficulties before them. They must be prepared to take their stand on the ground already occupied by the experienced winegrowers of Europe. 

'All have a direct interest in each other's success, for according to the quality of wine produced for export will be our status as a winegrowing country. 

'No petty jealousies need stand in the way of that friendly rivalry to produce the best wine which ought to be the endeavour of each winegrower.'

Now here was a pioneer...

Alexander Charles Kelly (1811-1877), winegrower and medical practitioner, was born on 5 June 1811 at Leith, Scotland, son of John Kelly, agent of the British Linen Co.'s Bank, and his wife Margaret, née Porteus. Alexander was educated in France and Scotland, and studied medicine at the University of Edinburgh (M.D., 1832). After practicing briefly in Scotland, he became a surgeon aboard the East India Co. ship Kellie Castle; he kept a vividly written and illustrated journal of the voyage from England to Bengal in 1833.

Later, Kelly visited Canada, where he became interested in the problems of popular education, then returned to Scotland and practiced medicine at or near Dunbar. Perhaps inspired by his brother Thomas Bell Kelly, who had migrated to South Australia in 1839, he followed, arriving in the Baboo on 11 March 1840. Kelly was enrolled as the twelfth name in the medical register of South Australia and set up at Port Adelaide. In June 1842 he was made resident dispenser at Adelaide Hospital. He bought 80 acres (32.4 ha) of land west of Morphett Vale, south of Adelaide; the official title was dated 21 August 1843, although he probably occupied the land earlier. Here he built his home, Trinity, and planted his first vineyard, about 1845.

On 1 November 1854 Kelly married Annie Frances Worthington, in the Church of Scotland, Morphett Vale. He drew on the writings of French and other European authorities, which he translated and commented on, for his first book, The Vine in Australia (Melbourne, 1861); it introduced wine chemistry and modern science to Australian winegrowers and was so popular that it was reprinted next year. His Wine-Growing in Australia (Adelaide, 1867) followed. Kelly's two influential books did much to establish Australian technical expertise in viniculture.

In November 1862 he and five of Adelaide's businessmen—(Sir) Thomas and Alexander Lang Elder(Sir) Samuel DavenportRobert Barr Smith and (Sir) Edward Stirling—formed the Tintara Vineyard Co., with Kelly as manager. Next year he sold Trinity to concentrate on clearing the 213 acres (86.3 ha) of heavily-timbered country near McLaren Vale which the trustees had bought in December 1862, and on planting vines, building cellars and, eventually, making mainly table wine. In 1871 Tintara shareholders sent him to London to search for new markets. The difficulties of an English market more accustomed to the strong, coarse wines of Spain and Portugal, financial depression in the colony and intercolonial tariffs that disadvantaged South Australian wines contributed to the demise of the company. In September 1877 it was announced that Thomas Hardy had purchased the vineyard, with 27,000 gallons (122,742 litres) of wine. The land was not transferred to Hardy until June 1878.

In 1868 Kelly had given articulate evidence before a parliamentary select committee on education reflecting his long-standing interest in the subject. A photographic portrait of him later in life showed a clear, kindly, open face with silvery hair and a full white beard. In 1876 he retired to his home at Norwood, where he died of bronchitis on 9 October 1877. He was buried in Clayton Chapel cemetery, Kensington, survived by his wife, three daughters and two sons, one of whom (John) was involved in the wine industry. An obituarist noted Kelly's 'obliging disposition . . . his kindness to people in straitened circumstances . . . high character, benevolence, and kindly genial manner'.

Easter Holiday Tips

Got some time off this Easter? Here are our tips for what to do in the McLaren Vale region. We have a listed of our picks of attractions open in 2016.

Good Friday can traditionally be a tricky day for those on holidays as the 'shops are shut.'

We have some good news! Hugh Hamilton Wines, Fox Creek Wines and Magpie Springs - wine.art.coffee are OPEN! All great locations for a wine and family day out. Make sure to book though.

In the evening why not book a table at INDOMEX, Indian for us, why not for you? It is open for dinner til late. 

Saturday: Why not start the day with a walk along the beach? Our favourite is starting at Port Willunga and walking north along the shore and cliff edges towards Maslins Beach. 

For lunch why not visit Waywood Wines. Then you can either visit Olivers Taranga (wine bar), Beach Road (magnificently family friendly), Maxwell Wines or Bekkers Wines (both producers of some of our regions flagship wines) all of which are a short distance from each other. 

Bekkers Wine - https://bekkerswine.com/

Bekkers Wine - https://bekkerswine.com/

If you want to have a relaxed dinner, head back to the beach this time Aldinga and pick up some Indian takeway from Arbind at The Aldinga Bay Cafe (The Esplanade Aldinga Beach). Eat it on the beach as the sun goes down. 

Easter Sunday: Ditch the car and hire bikes for the day (Oxygen cycles, Main Rd McLaren Vale). You can travel up the Shiraz Way bike path in the morning and shoot up to Pertaringa Wines on Rifle Range Rd.  

Pertaringa offers a natural setting among gum trees with views and outdoor picnic facilities. They can put together a platter so you don't have to carry any food with you.

For dinner The BARN is open.  

Magpie Springs- http://magpiesprings.com.au/

Easter Monday: Take your car up to Kuitpo for a bush walk and then come and relax at either Lazy Ballerina, K1 by Geoff Hardy or Top Note to end your weekend. All of these are a short drive from the forest. All recommended!

Tip: Remember if you are buying wine and don't want to lug it around. Cellar doors are very accommodating with shipping your wine to you. Just explain your situation and the staff will work out a solution for you. 

Tell them that James & Miri sent you!

The view at Top Note Wines - https://www.topnote.com.au/contact.php

The view at Top Note Wines - https://www.topnote.com.au/contact.php

Easter at Lazy Ballerina

We can be a victim of our own success.

Easter is one such time. We have gone from being backyard wine producers, with a nice garden, that no one had heard of, to one that people KNOW and travel to visit. 

Our Shiraz wine has been selling quicker, and quicker each release.

This easter we are releasing the 2015 version.

This year we are one of the feature activities that our region, McLaren Vale is promoting. We are sure to fill up.

We are open for visitors Good Friday, Saturday, Easter Sunday and Easter Monday. 11-5pm.

You can book a table for lunch, we will hold it and not let anyone else in.

Being part of our inner circle means we like you to have have first option to visit us. Please contact us through any of our social media channels, or even ring us up! 08 85567 085


James Hook


What is Botrytis? Is it good for wine?

Botrytis is, in almost all cases 'bad' for wine grapes. There is on very specific wine style that is can help, called "Noble rot".

Firstly "Noble Rot" and "Botrytis Bunch Rot"  in grapes are both caused by the same organism - Botrytis cinerea. Often in photographs both rots will look the same the difference being one is considered a problem the other a desirable trait!

Grapes are susceptible to this fungus as they ripen and produce sugar. Generally it causes a bunch rot that is bad for grape quality, it turns grapes mouldy, as mention above commonly known as "Bunch Rot", "Botrytis Rot" or "Grey Rot". It also creates conditions favorable for the growth of other nastiness like yeast, mould, and bacteria are we call secondary rots. These rots are even worse for grape quality with some being toxic!

The beginning of a Botrytis infection in Sauvignon Blanc.

The beginning of a Botrytis infection in Sauvignon Blanc.

Under certain ideal microclimatic conditions the fungus causes "Noble Rot", which is responsible for the production of some of the world's finest sweet white wines, and not as severe as what is pictured above. "Noble Rot" dries out fruit rather than turns it mouldy. The key is the weather conditions during infection and then what occurs as the fruit matures.

Development of Noble Rot

Temperature and humidity are the two critical factors influencing the development of "Noble Rot". During the botrytis infection phase, a temperature of 20-25°C and a relative humidity of 85-95% for a maximum of 24 hours are considered desirable. Once the infection has occurred the relative humidity should drop below 60%. This drop in humidity is a key factor in dehydration of the infected berries.

In Sauternes, France botrytis slowly develops into noble rot on ripe grapes and gives the wine unique aromas, colour, and flavour. Note the golden colour of grapes changing to grey as the infection increases - http://www.myquem.com/noble-rot/

In Sauternes, France botrytis slowly develops into noble rot on ripe grapes and gives the wine unique aromas, colour, and flavour. Note the golden colour of grapes changing to grey as the infection increases - http://www.myquem.com/noble-rot/

During the course of development the botrytis penetrates the grape skin. The skin becomes permeable but does not split. This condition facilitates drying of the berries. The loss of water from the berries leads to the concentration of sugar and other constituents like flavour. The osmotic pressure inside the berry increases, consequently the metabolic activity of the fungus decreases. The limited activity of this mould causes certain changes in the fruit which enable vintners to produce unique and prestigious sweet white wines.

In simple terms the botrytis only infects the grape on the surface and sucks the water out of it leaving a concentrated berry behind that makes a unique wine. 

Development of Bunch Rot

Following infection by Botrytis, if the relative humidity remains high, and drying of the berries does not occur, the fungus continues to grow and produce certain undesirable changes in the fruit. The berries swell and burst. This splitting of the berry makes it susceptible to attack by other spoilage organisms, especially molds and acetic acid bacteria. 

Botrytis on Shiraz in McLaren Vale 2011. Note the severe rot. High levels of botrytis in red grape varieties cause unstable wine fermentation and other taints that are not desirable.

Botrytis on Shiraz in McLaren Vale 2011. Note the severe rot. High levels of botrytis in red grape varieties cause unstable wine fermentation and other taints that are not desirable.

How do winemakers make Noble Rot wine?

The natural weather helps. 

Sauternes is probably the best known region that makes wine botrytis. Botrytis takes advantage of autumn weather patterns specific that region. The Sauternes region is located 40 km (25 mi) southeast of the city of Bordeaux along the Garonne river and its tributary, the Ciron.  The source of the Ciron is a spring which has cooler waters than the Garonne. The different temperatures from the two rivers meet to produce mist that descends upon the vineyards from evening to late morning.  By mid day, the warm sun dissipates the mist and dry the grapes to keep them from developing less favorable rotThe humidity is high in the morning and low during the day. 

The Ciron genteelly meeting the Garonne.

The Ciron genteelly meeting the Garonne.

Other regions have weather that replicates this pattern of morning mists then dry weather. Internationally renowned botrytised wines include the aszú of Tokay-Hegyalja in Hungary and Beerenauslese or Trockenbeerenauslese wines from Germany and Austria. 

Botrytis has also been imported for use by winemakers in California and Australia. In some cases inoculation occurs when spores are sprayed over the grapes, while some vineyards depend on natural inoculation from spores present in the environment. Growers are then relying on dry weather with low humidity to 'hold' the botrytis infection and keep it at a Noble Rot level.

Ribereau-Gayon, P. 1988. Botrytis: Advantages and Disadvantages for Producing Quality Wines. Proceedings of the Second International Cool Climate Viticulture and Oenology Symposium. Auckland, New Zealand, pp. 319-323.

Yquem website - http://www.myquem.com/noble-rot/

Vintage 2017

Wet winter has vintage on track.

McLaren Vale Agronomist and Winemaker James Hook said his region was running about three weeks behind recent years, making it more akin to typical seasons in the 1990s, meaning most of the grapes will be picked in March.

“As soon as the weather got warm they grew very quickly so they probably did two month’s worth of growth in one month – it’s really accelerated growth because they had a belly full of water in winter and spring and it took a long time for the weather to warm up,” he said.

“We’re looking at a larger vintage again like last year.

“If the summer doesn’t turn into a scorching heatwave I think it will be a very good year. At the moment the Bureau of Meteorology is predicting average conditions so if that happens over the next two or three months it will be good for quantity and quality, which both sides of the market like – the grape growers get good tonnage and the consumer likes it as well because they get good wine.

“People are fairly optimistic and from a weather point of view if we get average weather from here it will be a good year.”


Vale Cru

Inviting you to our Vale Cru Long Lunch lunch at the Victory Hotel on November 20th.

Four course menu, 16 wines, great company - $100 pp.



 Lazy Ballerina: With James Hook, Miriam Bourne and daughter Emmaline

 Lazy Ballerina: With James Hook, Miriam Bourne and daughter Emmaline

What is one of the wines you will you present?

The 2010 Lazy Ballerina Shiraz

What can we expect?
This is a very good example of a mature Shiraz that’s had five years of bottle age. It’s half way through its ageing; you could open it in another five years and it will still be very drinkable.

I chose this wine because it’s a typical McLaren Vale Shiraz with blackcurrant, red and dark fruit characters. And 2010 was an uncomplicated growing season, it wasn’t too harsh on the vines. No heat waves and no serious rain events. It was an enjoyable wine to make and it’s an enjoyable wine to drink.

What are you looking forward to?
Seeing all the different years and different styles – and an opportunity to be part of the tasting experience.

Other years we’ve held exhibitions but this year, with the format being a long lunch, we can taste each other’s wine and share that experience with guests.

Many of the wines were made in tiny qualities, so they’re just not around much, so I’m looking forward to having the opportunity to seeing what they’re like.

Why does McLaren Vale Shiraz taste like chocolate?
All the flavours in wine come from either the grapes themselves, the barrel or the yeast.

Soil influences everything, but it’s not like the soil tastes like chocolate; it’s not a direct flavour that gets dug out of the ground. It’s a complicated flavour that isn’t attributed to one source. And neither is chocolate. That’sa combination of dairy and beans.
Fruit, oak and yeast: when you see that chocolate flavour in our wines you’re getting a combination of these elements.

Encouraging your children to dream big.

We are not experts in work/life balance. Far from it. Balancing work and our personal lives is difficult.



We are witnessing a generational shift in our attitudes to work. Millennials (those born after 1980) are more likely than their elders to blur the lines between work and home. Some 81% of them think they should set their own work patterns. For some, that might involve virtual meetings (by Skype, for example) rather than real ones, the opportunity to work from home when they want to and, ideally, a no-recrimination clause in their contract that would be activated when they tell their boss to shove it when she asks them to work next Sunday.

What happens To our business over the next few years will be determined by little Emmy. What does she want form her life? Right now that is having fun with her parents. Dream big. 

McLAren Vale Wine. Family Friendly.