Words by Jo McTavish
THERE is such a wonderful feeling knowing that you live within such a cultural and diverse nation that boasts many unique locations that one can visit, and although Melbourne, Sydney and Brisbane are obvious highlights, there is one city that should not be missed…
I was lucky enough to visit the city of Adelaide thanks to the South Australian Tourism Commission, and had the delight of passing by their cultural epicenter. The land of the South is known as the festival and wine capital of Australia, and I can assure you there is no grey area here.
Arriving was such a breeze, full of simplicity and comfort. The city resembled an old Victorian aesthetic, very reminiscent of its sister city Melbourne. I was joined by great company including the wonderful Conchita Wurst (Austrian winner of Eurovision Song Contest 2014), who was there as an ambassador and headline act for Feast Festival. Her presence was vibrant, humble and ever so inspiring.
The discovery began outside of this cultural hub (Adelaide CBD) together within the Fleurieu Peninsula, the home to the McLaren Vale and some of the Australia’s favourite beach-side holiday towns. Within this tourism destination, is a celebrated wine region that hosts 60 cellar doors, and with its warm climate is able to produce some of the best Shiraz, Grenache, Cabernet Sauvignon and more desires.
d’Arenberg Wines was our first destination. Greeted by their team we started the morning tasting some of their signature wine, and what a flame it was to our morning. This beautiful vineyard, has been operating since 1912 (so they know their grapes), and offers a curated and well known selection of flavours that reflects the history of the area.
After inhaling the rich history of this unique estate, we challenged ourselves to an enjoyable moment of blending our own red wine. This was achieved through tasting three different red blends from d’Arenberg Wines, and in the end we had our own unique take home bottle, which I had to call “je t’aime” (French for I love you).
If there was anything to gain from this point, was that wine has so many personalities and boring is certainly not one of them.
Visit: d’Arenberg Wines
Osborn Road. McLaren Vale, SA 5191
Leaving our quirky and sweet first taste, we moved on to Coriole Vineyards, which in my mind a was a picture perfect insight into what South Australia offers. Full of vines, greenery and amazing food this vineyard is positioned over the coast, that commands views down the hills to the sea. They produce their own wine, extra virgin olive oil, 5-year-old aged sweet vinegar and host many events including a “Cheese” festival.
What we got here was simple! It was laughs, location and amazing wine and cheese that created memories forever. I must say, that before here I never really enjoyed the fine selection of brie, blue or camembert cheese but I can now say after visiting this paradise of essence that I have a devoted love.
Visit: Coriole Vineyards
Chaffeys Road. McLarren Vale, SA 5171
So the next destination was the infamous Salopian Inn, which has a long history of women being at the helm. Winemarker Elena Brooks and Chef Karena Armstrong welcomed our company, to their brilliant location full of international wine, a decadent regional menu and an exotic list of gin.
At this point while light banter and laughs occurred I had my own experience of the “Art of Drag” with Conchita. Her visit was for the 19th Celebration of Feast Festival, an event that celebrates the diversity and inclusion of the LGBTIQ community. One of the unique aspects of this journey for Conchita was that public got to choose where she visited, and to our luck it was McClaren Vale.
Sitting down we spoke of the artist’s experience within the competitive yet celebratory industry, and it was here that I discovered the drive for her work as a performer. The passion was undeniable and strong, and in due time a Grammy would be coming her way. We discussed the unique aspect of drag, and how it is forever evolving. The acceptance of unique individuality and home is where the heart is.
“I am who I am, and know where I came from. I have a family the loves and supports me and fans who I am forever grateful for. I know where I want to be, I acknowledge that I am an inspiration for many, so whatever the path lays ahead I am certain that everyone will be able to celebrate in these achievements”.
It was not only here I enjoyed the delicious varieties of Asian cuisine and fine food from the Salopian Inn, it was a moment that made me sit back and appreciate the surreal company of Conchita and how someone so lucky and fine, is so humble and inspiring.
Visit: Salopian Inn
Cnr McMurtie and Willunga Road, SA 5172
Full and ready, our last visit was a private experience at Red Poles Gallery. Situated in the middle of a vineyard, it is a perfect location for a lazy afternoon of food, wine and art. Myself, Conchita and the rest of the incredible company lived up to their ethos of “relaxing” and painted with coffee, had beautiful bites and once again enjoyed each other’s company, but most importantly lavished the fun of our Host Ros Miller.
Yet again such a simple place, that allowed one to escape and enjoy the presence of others. What I also appreciated was their commitment to the indigenous community of Australia through the form of art.
Visit: Red Roles Gallery
McMurtrie Road. McLaren Vale, SA 5171
With goodbyes and memories, my experience of Adelaide was amazing and the honour of spending time with Conchita was so surreal. The best thing about this incredible memory is it’s only one of many to come.
To discover more of South Australia click here.
Originally published on 04.12.2015