This is the final chapter in the Great Southern Diaries, covering what was only a brief, yet suitably poignant visit, with perhaps the most welcoming atmosphere of any cellar door on our trip.
To set the scene: 430pm, December 31st 2008. I am still dragging my now humourless partner around to yet another cellar door, with the knowledge that this would be the last winey experience of our Great Southern Adventure (Caryn, thanks for putting up with my wine geek ways, you’re awesome).
We arrive at the West Cape Howe cellar door and the carpark is full. The sounds of a bluesy violin eminate from the lawn outside, where a free concert has apparently just started. Families stream past us, carrying picnic blankets and chairs. The air is full of excitement, carrying the scent of promise and anticipation that is NYE – the one night where drunken celebration is encouraged, where parents can get pissed, whilst kids play with firecrackers.
So we stand there and watch, as people flow in one door of the cellar door and out through the other, carrying bottles of fresh dry whites and approachable reds, laughter eminating from everywhere and everybody. The staff behind the counter look just as keen to start drinking the wine that they are serving. The large range of West Cape Howe wines seemd to exude a bright sense of drinkability, nee gluggability, that few others on the trip could match, at prices that commanded that you buy a bottle and join the throngs on the lawn outside.
We felt a little like outsiders, but it wasn’t hard to appreciate the setting. Its experiences like this that make winery reputations – no gimmicky advertising campaigns, no ageing rockers and high ticket prices, just people drinking wine in environments where wine seems like a natural addition. Kudos then to West Cape Howe for getting things very right and we only hope that your move to Mt Barker only enhances the wines.
I didn’t take much notes, but these where just two of the wines available at the cellar door:
West Cape Howe Tempranillo 2007
Another drinkable Tempranillo. Slightly tawny red colour this shows some meaty ‘biltong in red dirt’ characters that seem altogether regional and varietal. The palate is savoury, slightly choc oaky & presents as a solid mouth of meaty red. Its a little simple but the signs are there. Good value @$16. 17
West Cape Howe Viognier 2008
It’s a lighter and slightly undefined Viognier but the varietal richness and juicy mid palate are all there. Some more grip & complexity wouldnt go astray but it makes for a good enough drink. 16