The Eat Drink Blog, food bloggers conference, brought me to South Australia for the first time. I have long been a fan of SA wines so my excitement, when I found out we would be visiting the wine areas, was palpable.

After our memorable Central Market tour we split up into groups and my group traveled by bus the short distance to the McLaren Vale wine region. The excitement built, as the details of our tour were somewhat of a mystery. The Adelaide city quickly disappeared in the busses large rearview mirror and houses and shops turned into rolling dry hills. Then the landscape shifted and we entered an oasis dominated by rows of lush rich vines… we were here… the d’Arrenburg winery.

We headed straight to the stables. An absolutely stunning conversion seeing a wonderfully historic farm building turned into a wine blending, tasting and viticulture education venue. I have done my fare share of wine tasting over the years and was absolutely delighted to hear that were going to be learning about wine blending.

Owner and wine making legend D’Arry got things underway with a run down of the winery’s history and the current celebrations for the it’s 100th birthday. I couldn’t help but be in awe of this man and the cultural and technologic changes he must have lived through and adapted to during his career.

Senior Winemaker Jack Walton then took over the teaching on the wine-blending bench. We were given three Shiraz wines to work with. All three wines where from different regions of the property. The differing soil and position of the vines giving each wine very different qualities. The three has also been cellared in different varieties of oak barrels. The difference was quite remarkable.

Firstly I had no idea how I could possibly begin but my blending partner Tara took charge mixing and blending, adding flavour here, and rounding rough edges there, until we had three quite different blends to choose from. Our favorite, a smooth but robust drop, we bottled as “The Rusty Windmill”.

After our wine blending 101 class we had worked up quite an appetite which was looked after with mouth watering canapés in the sun from d’Arrenburg’s very own Verandah Restaurant. A glass or two of the very popular sparking DADD bought the sun soaked afternoon, in the countryside, to a stunning end.