Journey to Australia

Better than a kick up the backside


Chris Ambrose

Part 3

Grapes Anyone?

That is exactly what you will find every year as you pass through (and of course, stop and enjoy) when visiting The Annual Adelaide Festival! But before I say much more about wines, know that this town is one rockin’ area, for festivals you won’t want to miss! It offers almost  everything the general public could ever want to attend, from writers conventions, food and wine festivals, fine arts and music festivals to  almost any activity you may think possible to see!

Let’s first take a look at the hosting grounds and learn a bit about this annual festival. We will look at the history and tastes of this spectacular event.

Here are two of several posters from 

The 1968 Adelaide Festival

Okay, you guessed it! It may not be actual grapes, as in a cluster off a fresh bush but after refined, stomped upon and aged? Wine, you say…well, of course and from the magnificent wine festival in Adelaide! This festival has a participation of 100+ wineries from around South Australia. Source:

Have you ever wondered how wine was processed in the beginning and if it still works the same way? The wine festival in Adelaide offers up wine it is finest faire. And if variety is what you are seeking, this is definitely the right place!

So, lets examine the history of such wineries, along with other fine establishments learning the histories, so we can make an informed decision as to whether we want to attend. I for one, was very happy I did.

The Adelaide Festival audiences, have enjoyed outstanding theatre productions and dance segments, astounding world-class musicians, striking visual art displays, and also recognized for it’s renowned writers. All of this and more in the warm March days and dark evening skies, amidst the stars for over 55 years. It has been quoted to be an event of epic proportions! Some of the names seen at these festivities include: Glyndebourne Festival Opera, Akram Khan, Grace Jones, Cecile McLorin Salvant, Anne Sofie Von Otter, Robert Lepage, Sylvie Guillem, John Zorn, Marlene Dietrich, Allen Ginsberg, James Thiérrée, Philip Glass, Pina Bausch Tanztheater Wuppertal, Isabelle Huppert, Schaubühne Berlin, Yehudi Menuhin, Isabella Rossellini, Cloud Gate Dance Theatre, Nina Simone, Jane Birkin and Malcolm McLaren.  

If you love being in the center of the hottest scene in town, you have selected the perfect site for your destination vacation in the world! You’ll dance the night away, with international music, become enthralled with the visual arts, and laugh with the greatest of comedians.

Your days and evenings will be non stop entertainment as you graze across the tables lined with every possible gourmet delicacy, accompanied with hundreds of the finest wines in all of Australia. You will also find the best of international and Australian cellists, that will delight audiences, throughout the 10-day event.

This festival in Adelaide, host the film festival where you will watch the world movie premieres and whereAustralia’s only festival, finances and screens the films. All of these  activities are held in the heart of the city, at the Adelaide Botanic Garden. The breathtaking grounds, are alone, worth the stop over in Adelaide and certainly worth your time, making this wine festival, nothing short of inspirational.

The 1968 Adelaide Festival was held from Thursday, March 7 to Saturday, March 23 and programmed by a committee consisting of Sir Robert Helpmann, John Baily, BLD Coughlan, Wal Cherry, David Galliver and CJ Glover (chair). 

Welcoming 1.5 million visitors per year, the sprawling grounds offer diverse landscapes—from wetlands to rose gardens to a mini rainforest housed inside the southern hemisphere’s single largest conservatory—and a sense of calm in the midst of bustling downtown Adelaide.


The Wine History:

South Australia, with its manicured vineyards and fertile hills produces some of Australia’s most famous wines. Day trips to visit a few of these vineyards make an excellent day trip taking a tour, departing from the city center of Adelaide. Such vineyards reigns as the Barossa Valley, Adelaide Hills, and Fleurieu Peninsula, and all make for an interesting, pleasurable and educational tour, where you will enjoy a wine tasting experience, with the best known wineries in all of Australia.  

If you have an imagination, try thinking back many years ago, where wine processing was quite different from anything you may have seen or experienced…not to mention exciting, messy and quite entertaning!

The history of the wine press and of pressing is nearly as old as the history of wine itself with the remains of wine presses providing some of the longest-serving evidence of organized viticulture and winemaking in the ancient world. The earliest wine press was probably the human foot or hand, crushing and squeezing grapes into a bag or container where the contents would ferment.

The drawing below is of a grape stomping illustration courtesy of Wikipedia.

Adelaide is Australia’s wine capital and the industry’s heart and soul which can be found in South Australia’s 18 unique and distinctive regions.

Proud history of events and grape crops come together in Adelaide with it’s prestigious wines, with style and personality created from old vines. effecting the harvest quality of future crop generations. The commitment to quality and purity has sustained the wineries throughout the valleys of Australia. The soils and climates are provided, with the aid of mother nature. 

Although the wine history of Australia is short by Old World standards, it is incredibly rich and full bodied. The wine industry is the major focus in South Australia’s pride and the economical force for this country. But it takes passion and skill to bring potential to reality and to do it with style. That is the real South Australian story.

Wineries span the country from the Coonawarra Wine Region, which is the Home of Award Winning Reds; Currency Creek Wineries and Wine Region: Sea and Vines, with their main varieties to include the Sauvignon Blanc, Cabernet Sauvignon, Merlot and Shiraz, with its climate being moderated by the ocean and lakes; The Clare Valley is fast becoming known for its Shiraz and Cabernets and boast with more than 30 cellar doors to visit! Although famous for its Riesling, don’t despair if you prefer red wine; There is so much choice when it comes to exploring cellar doors in the Clare Valley. There are some that operate out of stone cottages, some in heritage buildings, some in brand new state-of-the art structures and others operating out of old farm sheds. These authentic cellar doors showcase the passion Clare Valley has for its wine.

Adelaide is surrounded by famous wineries and these are just a few with another 12 regions not disclosed here. You’ll find world-class wine regions and over 200 cellar doors only a short drive away, from about anywhere you are!

In the 1960s, Australia turned its focus to the production of sweet and sparkling wines. In the latter part of the 60s, full-bodied reds came into vogue.

Aromatic wines, such as gewürztraminers, gewürztraminer rieslings, and Rhine rieslings, became popular in the 1970s. During this decade, Australia also developed the wine cask, or bag in a box. This simple Australian invention, made wine more accessible, as people could drink a small amount at a time. Angoves began to use the cask in 1965, and Penfold’s Wines quickly followed suit. It’s now used all over the world.

Save the date for the 2019 Adelaide Festival: March 1-17th.

As I have read and researched many facets about wine making and the regions in Australia, I must have had a continued look on my face, of what the heck is a cellar door, other than that like a basement door!

Finally I looked up the term and surprised by it’s answer. So, I decided to include it here for those of you that may wonder the same thing!

In the wine industry, cellar door, basically means a wine tasting room, where you can learn about that particular winery and it’s wines offered, along with tasting them. Some wineries will include a knowledgeable staff and often the winemaker themselves to help you understand the mysteries behind their superb quality of wines. Also, for your knowledge, the term winery is the facility where the wine is made…think: crushers, presses, barrels and large stainless tanks.

Historically, wines were made and stored underground to keep them cool in a stable environment. Customers, once they were able to buy direct from wineries, would knock on the door to the cellar. Hence, over time, that cellar door, evolved to become a fitted-out tasting and sales area. These days, the cellar door is often not part of the winery at all.

The term cellar door, seems to be an Australian wine term and isn’t used nearly as much overseas.

Now, you may be asking, why go to a cellar door? Simply stated, these cellar doors open opportunities to taste wines not available to the mass marketplace and where specialized wines are only available from the winery, to sample and at usually at no cost. So why not learn the language of wine?

Now if you’re wondering if grape stomping still exist in Australia, the answer is yes and that you are able to participate in it yourself, with reservations at some wineries, and for private parties.

Time to be honest!

I must now admit as a young newly graduated student of Civil Engineering, I probably did not pay attention to detail as I should have because I was really into partying and celebrating my graduation at that time in my life and had no real interest in these facts until I grew up! Now, I look forward in returning, to enjoy the many sides of this most incredible festival and I strongly recommend you do the same.

Here are a few ideas of what you can do at this festival along with the enjoyment of so many wines and their wineries: 

  • Venture off-road on a 4WD day tour of the Fleurieu Peninsula or take a scenic bike ride around the cellar doors of McLaren Vale.
  • Sight seeing tours
  • walking tours
  • Victoria Square/Tarntanyangga
  • Rundle Mall
  • Architecture Museum 
  • South Australian Museum
  • Kangaroo Island Day Tour from Adelaide
  • Adelaide City Food and Street Art Walking Tour
  • Haigh’s Chocolates visitor Centre

I would like to suggest you set up your itinerary with a travel agent that knows this area well, so you do not miss anything and you plan a visit for the 10 days at this festival and at least two weeks to visit other delightful areas of Australia. I promise, this is one destination vacation site that will leave you with lasting memories and a legacy to pass down to many generations to follow you.

I, again invite you to live life to the fullest and be grateful for each new day. If you want to read about a special topic, please write to me and I will reply.


Until We Meet Again!,


  Chris Ambrose, Author 

       70 is the new 50`

No matter what Life throws at you, 

it’s where Giving Up, is Never an Option!



You are also welcome to write to me for a signed copy of my book.

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