Penfolds Wines is an institution in South Australia and indeed Australia’s wine industry. The renowned wine label is celebrating 175 years of business and we spoke with Penfolds Global Ambassador, Jamie Sach about the history of Penfolds and the unique cellar doors experience they offer.
Can you please share with our readers a brief history of Penfolds Wines?
Since 1844, Penfolds has played a pivotal role in the evolution of winemaking with a history and heritage that profoundly reflects Australia’s journey from colonial settlement to the modern era. Penfolds collection of benchmark wines were established in a spirit of innovation and the constant and endless pursuit of quality, evidenced from the secret bottling of Grange in 1951 and the unbroken line of vintages of what is now Australia’s most iconic wine.
Today, the collection continues to display the distinctive and consistently recognisable Penfolds ‘House Style’; the ultimate expression of Penfolds time-honoured tradition of sourcing the best fruit from the best regions. Historic blends, significant milestones and heritage vineyards have been honoured by a lineage of custodians whose courage and imagination, precision and humility have ensured Penfolds remains true to its original values while remaining relevant for current and future generations.
In 2019, we’re celebrating the 175th anniversary of Penfolds, which is an exciting milestone and one I’m proud to be part of.
What experiences are available to visitors at the Magill Estate and Barossa Valley cellar doors?
Magill Estate Wine Tasting with optional lunch
Penfolds’ original winery is located at the Magill Estate just 15 minutes from Adelaide CBD. Walk in the footsteps of winemaking legends and learn about their ingenuity and craftsmanship that have made the wine label a renowned name in the wine industry. The two hour winery tour leads visitors through the original Grange Cottage- the home of Penfolds founder Christopher and Mary Penfold, vintage cellar and underground drives before a delicious tasting of Penfolds award-winning wines and vintage Grange.
Wine blending experience at Penfolds Barossa Valley
The wine blending experience in Baross Valley is designed for the more discerned wine lover. Over the course of an hour, you’ll learn how to blend your own wine and then incredibly watch it be bottled so that you can take it home to share with friends. The one hour winemaking class uses wine from Grenache, Shiraz and Mourvedre to create your very own masterpiece. Wine lovers can make their own blend at 10.30 am and 2 pm every day.
What are your secrets to pairing food with wine?
There is an old adage “things that grow together go together” and I often find that is true of wine and food pairing. Whenever I travel, I like to try the regional delicacies with the local wine and I’m rarely disappointed. If you are visiting South Australia you have to try some of the wonderful local oysters with a gorgeous fresh Riesling, or if red wine is more your thing, then grill a lovely Mayura Station Wagyu steak and have it with a boisterous shiraz. Also, don’t be afraid to break the rules… Fish with red wine, why not? Grilled sardines or mackerel can work well with a lovely Grenache. I personally think 90% of good food and wine matching starts with having good quality products in the first place and being brave enough to experiment. For something unexpected, try pairing a sweet fortified wine with a slice of blue cheese and see how well the salty cheese works with the sweetness. Delicious!
Do you have a favourite wine you’d recommend us to try?
That’s a tough question, but if I had to take one bottle to my last supper I’d pack a Bin 389 Cabernet Shiraz. I love this wine. The gorgeous aromatics and the structure of cabernet sauvignon are complimented by the boisterous Shiraz with all the lashings of brooding dark fruits and the mid-palate weight you expect of the varietal. It drinks well young, but can easily last three decades or more in your cellar. Good luck making them last that long, they are so tempting mine are lucky to make it to their 15th birthday. This is the wine I tell all my friends to buy and to double down every year so they don’t run out!
Why should Penfolds be on the bucket list of wine lovers when they travel to Adelaide?
Penfolds have two cellar door wine tasting rooms, one in the Barossa Valley near the town of Nuriootpa and another at our spiritual home, Magill Estate, just 8km from the city of Adelaide. There are great experiences to be had at both and you can learn a lot more from our web site. Magill Estate is still a working winery, so visitors can join a tour and see the winery in action during vintage and visit the underground drives where Max Schubert first made Grange. We also have two wonderful restaurants to choose from, the casual Magill Estate Kitchen or the fine dining degustation experience at Magill Estate Restaurant.
Our Barossa Valley cellar door offers visitors the chance to do a “Make Your Own Blend” exercise, where one of our educators will talk you through the art of blending and give you the chance to assemble your own shiraz, grenache, mataro blend. It’s a fun thing to do with a group of friends.