Information about work, life and play in Regional Australia

Tuesday, August 15, 2006

McLaren Vale and the Fleurieu Peninsula

At present I am in loco parentis to two elderly cats. More precisely, the cats are in quarantine.

Their English owners are on their way to Australia under as migrants under the Regional Migration Program (see earlier story on Program). This Program treats all of South Australia including Adelaide as part of Regional Australia, although Alison and Geoff are planning to settle in McLaren Vale rather than in Adelaide.

Why am I loco parentis? The quarantine rules laid down by the Australian Quarantine and Inspection Services (AQIS) require a local contact in advance of the people's arrival. This created something of a difficulty. The cats had to come first. But how do you provide a local contact in advance of your arrival? A bit of a catch 22.

It's been interesting fielding questions from spiders to plastic furniture.

Like all Australians, I knew of McLaren Vale because of its wine. However, I had not focused on the Fleurieu Peninsular itself. This stretches south of Adelaide to include Goolwa and the mouth of the Murray River. I wrote of Goolwa in earlier posts on paddle steamers, now encapsulated in a full story In Search of the Paddle Steamer on the main Regional Living site.

I had not realised just how compact Fleurieu was, nor the variety offered in scenery, food, wine and life style in such a small area.

In my post on Regional Australia and wine I outlined the early history of the Australian wine industry. In many ways the French did Australian a great service, themselves a dis-service, when they forced Australia to stop using traditional generic wine terms such as claret or burgundy. This forced Australia to adopt new systems for classifying wine, in turn opening the way for increased specialisation at regional or sub-regional level.

We can see this on the Fleurieu Peninsula where there over 60 individual cellar door wineries, with the region's largest concentrations of wineries at McLaren Vale and Langhorne Creek producing some of Australia's most exciting wines, together with emerging wine centers at Currency Creek, Victor Harbor and along the southern coast.

We can also see another trend on the Fleurieu, a growing emphasis on regional food to compliment the wine. This trend is in its earlier days, presently focused on local produce rather than cooking itself. But it will be interesting to see how it evolves across Regional Australia.

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