Coonawarra: a visit to Glen Roy, home of Bellwether Wines
Bellwether Wines need no introduction on these pages. I first encountered them and the brand’s dynamic but super-grounded founder/ winemaker, Sue Bell, when I spent a week visiting the Limestone Coast in 2013. I included her Coonawarra Cabernet in my selection for Wine Australia’s Inspired event in London and was thrilled when Red Squirrel started importing them.
Bell is a talented winemaker with a strong sense of community, which I much admire. Highly respected by her peers, the Dux of the Len Evans Tutorial 2007 participates in numerous wine industry panels. She was on the project steering committee for the formidable research work which is Unearthing Viticulture in the Limestone Coast – a terrific resource. And, as I discovered when researching yesterday’s post for Wine Australia’s blog about wine shows, was on the Technical Advisory Group which helped formulate the Australian Society of Viticulture and Oenology’s 2015 Best Practice Rules for wine shows.
It makes all the more remarkable her painstaking restoration of Glen Roy – the 19th century shearing shed which now functions as her winery/cellar door. Bell hosts glamping and events at Glen Roy, including A Table of Twelve – intimate six course wine dinners, which she presents together with local private chef Kirby Shearing (sheep shearing may be over, but Shearing is still in the building!)
Bell arranged a dinner during my visit so I could catch up with Unearthing Viticulture’s contributors. They are now engaged in stage two, which involves rolling out user-friendly maps and information for each Limestone Coast wine region. I am not sure if producer locations will be on said maps but, should you visit Coonawarra, be sure to swing by (or stay at) Glen Roy. I knew it would be special, but it exceeded my expectations.
Bell has created something quite unique. I guess it makes sense that a winemaker has an eye for the vintage look! The atmospheric, quirky cellar door and winery make for a cosy, casually aesthetic environment in which to taste or dine amid the barrels.
Shearing sources vegetables and herbs from the lavish garden surrounding the shed. His cooking draws on eclectic influences, but always respecting the ingredients.
The most beautiful, statuesque red gum trees – 400 years old – surround the glamping site, protectively standing sentinel. At sunset, cockatoos flapped home to roost in their sturdy arms. Doubtless, handy alarm clocks in case you forgot yours, or that you were in the countryside!
The tents – bell, of course – are roomy and I liked the en suite hand basin (there is a claw toothed bath in the communal block).
And the central heating.
Red Squirrel import and retail Bellwether wines in the UK. Follow this link for my reviews and know that the yet to be released 2013 Cabernet is deep fruited, beautifully structured and earthy. So very Coonawarra.