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d'Arenberg McLaren Vale

Vignerons are full of fun – try your hand at winemaking!

By Dave Brookes

For anyone who has visited a cellar door, leant on a barrel in a winery or walked down rows of vines, I’m sure the thought has crossed the cognitive threshold: “I reckon I’d like to give this winemaking thing a shot.”

Perhaps it was just a fleeting distraction, perhaps something more serious, but rest assured you’re not alone.

There are a couple of options available. Four years’ study (or six years’ part-time) at an esteemed educational facility like the Waite Campus in Adelaide will see you with the requisite knowledge to tackle the vines and seasons.

There are alternatives available to those of us who think that four years with heads buried in textbooks takes a little of the romance out of the whole winemaking caper.

Penfolds offers a 90-minute Make Your Own Blend experience at the Barossa cellar door that could just sate your winemaking fantasies.

Would-be vignerons are set up in the lab with three bottles of wine – shiraz, grenache & mourvedre, six glasses, measuring flasks, a funnel and other tools of the trade.

The aim is to give the Penfolds Bin 138, a wine produced from the same grape varieties a run for its money, a Penfolds staff member running you through the dark arts of blending and presenting you with a bottle of your wine at the end of the proceedings so you can impress your dinner guests and confound your enemies.

The Penfolds Make your own Blend Experience costs $65 per person and runs every day at 10.30am and 2pm at their Barossa cellar door.

Just down the road from Penfolds, Wolf Blass run the Blend it like Blass experience. It costs around $40 per person and is an opportunity to learn about the different wine regions and components of the famous Black Label and then using your newfound dilettante knowledge to blend your own wine. All up it takes about an hour and hopefully you’ve created something approximating Black Label – or something even better!

Blend your own masterpiece, bottle and label it at D’Arenberg Wines in the McLaren Vale. The   Blending Bench is a hands on, interactive experience where you are led by cellar door staff through the art of winemaking before you’re let off the leash to let your creative juices flow. Costing $65 and taking around 90 minutes, budding winemakers are given a range of distinctive regional wine parcels to blend. Your goal is simple – to create a rare alchemy of flavour in limited time. How hard could that be?

Wynns Coonawarra Estate offers a Make your own Blend experience at their famous cellar door in Coonawarra albeit it with different base materials, in this case cabernet sauvignon, shiraz and merlot. The one-hour blending masterclass costs $55 per person and runs weekdays at 11am and 2pm and at 10.30am on weekends.

Still in Coonawarra, Sue Bell from Bellwether Wines offers a slightly more intensive immersion into the art of winemaking. A week-long vintage experience is available for those with the fortitude and conviction to realise their dream of winemaking glory.

You will work in the winery and vineyard, sampling and picking the grapes, seeing the raw materials through fermentation and generally getting an inkling for what life in a winery is really like.

You will of course he housed and well-fed and watered during the experience, having ample time to not only try the fantastic wines from Bellwether but also experience what the Coonawarra has to offer. Contact the winery for details.

So there’s never been a better time to try your hand at winemaking without the burden of intensive study, you may well get hooked.

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