Rabbits in the vines

Before Adam came to Australia he lived in a house on a vineyard to the north of Malvern. He’s talked endlessly about the place and couldn’t wait to show me his old ‘home’, so at the end of last week we jumped in the car and made the short trip up to Astley.

The vineyard itself is off a lovely tree-lined lane. After popping into the cellar door to say hello to owner (and former landlord) Jonty we walked up to vines.

The Riverina region (where I’d been living for the decade prior to moving to the UK) is one of Australia’s big grape growing areas and there are dozens of wineries within an easy one to two hour drive. You don’t see a real lot of English wine about, so I was keen to explore.

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There are beautiful hand carved signs all around the vineyard, but this one was my favourite!

Sure enough, as the sign hinted we spotted a rabbit nosing about in the autumnal leaf litter. Rabbits are seen as such a pest in Australia, but here they feel like they belong in the landscape.

At around five acres the Astley Vineyard is small, even by English standards, but what it lacks in size it makes up for in beauty.

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I’m a red wine girl at heart, but climate means it’s predominately white varieties that are grown locally. Jonty rattled off the types of grapes grown on site, but I have to admit they weren’t ones that I had tasted, nor heard of.

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Back at the cellar door, Jonty gave us a sample of his cirrus, which he confessed was a bit of an experimental wine -a combination of a few varieties including sauvignon blanc, aged oak that just happened to ‘work’. It was fragrant, fruity and light and would go down an absolute treat on a hot summer’s day with a plate of good Australian seafood!

The bottles were reasonably priced and the ever-kind Jonty ensured we walked away with a  very good deal on a cirrus and Adam’s favourite, a madeleine angevine.

We’re looking forward to drinking both over the coming weeks!

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