[Written while drinking their 2001 oaked chardonnay for just less than $4 a bottle.]
First stop Tahbilk Winery.
I know Tahbilk from a few years ago when I was on a usual 'Haven't seen that before; I'll buy it' wine shopping in Newtown. I came up with a Tahbilk 2005 Marsanne, and subsequently based a dinner party around four bottles of it.
Awesome. I did a bit of research and found out that France lost it's Marsanne to Phytophthora and replanted from Tahbilk material.
So when I saw that Tahbilk was on our route of advance the Bells of Destiny rang. (They go "Booooooooong", if you want to know, which is a bit racially insensitive, and also a bit ironic when you consider destiny and history etc.)
Tahbilk was set up in 1860 as a proper stand-alone chateau, such that they have the original blacksmith and stables etc buildings.
We were greeted by the cat - which is always a plus in my book.
Their tasting barn has a museum to the left with a trove of material and awards. To the right is the tasting bar. Underneath is the cellar into which you are welcome to wander. The tasting ladies were pleasantly chatty.
It is all set up for that soft-sell experiential style.
Their target market is, well, me.
It is perfect.
And what is even better is they have a bona fide billabong on the way in with - get this - a resident cormorant! Your jolly swagman couldn't choose a better looking nor situated billabong to jump into.
We drove into New South Wales and had lunch on the opposite shore of Lake Mulwala to which what we had whom been on when before a week before this which what.
They do good skies here.
We take our first proper dead-straight country dirt road on our way to Henty.
What's at Henty? you ask.
The mid-point between Heathcote and Cowra; and a pub that I booked solely on its name.
Wheat field in eucalypts.