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. 

James is the 2016 chair of the Vale Cru

Tuesday night the Vale Cru hosted our AGM and elected our representatives for the year.

The Vale Cru works collectively. Each member helps themselves and each other in developing new skills in the making, marketing and selling wine. Each of members has different skills and specialities. 

We have been working together since 2008 which makes us one of the longest collectives going around in the wine industry!

Behind the scenes I have taken over as chair for 2015/16 assisted by Scott Heidrich (Rusty Mutt) as vice chair, Sadie Gomer (Wistmosa Wines) as secretary, Maria Bottin (vigna bottin) as treasurer and Toby Bekkers (Bekkers Wines) Rose Kentish (Ulithorne Wines), Julian Forwood (Ministry of Clouds), Andrew Wood (Waywood Wines) and Paul Bottin as a committee.

We have offered membership to five new up and coming wineries which we will announce once they accept joining with us.

I am a massive believer in working collectively and sharing information, techniques and skills. I am excited to work with the Cru.

We have a series of high quality events planned kicking off with the SALA festival in August and the Victory Event in October.  

The calendar will be published soon. 


James Hook


Lazy B and the Vale Cru are proud to sponsor the 2015 SALA festival.

Did you know that in our own small way we are helping with this years SALA festival? With our fellow members of the Vale Cru we have supplied a wine sponsorship to all the SALA launch events.

 Look out for our wines and enjoy the art! We are proud to help in our small way.

2015 SALA LAUNCH: with Kate Moskwa, Angelique Joy and Brent Leideritz at the official launch held at the Advertiser building on July the 3rd. Image (c) SALA 2015.  

2015 SALA LAUNCH: with Kate Moskwa, Angelique Joy and Brent Leideritz at the official launch held at the Advertiser building on July the 3rd. Image (c) SALA 2015.


SALA has exhibitions, displays and performances running all through July and August. WWW.SALAINC.COM.AU

McLAren Vale Wine. Family Friendly.