We went to another winery today, this time for lunch. This time it was Buller’s, hence my title. They have extensive grounds. One of the local trees is the River Red Gum Tree, a type of eucalyptus. Here is a fine example with the vines beyond. There are hundreds of them around and they are very beautiful.
Like all the other vineyards Buller’s were gearing up for the weekend. The staff all put huge efforts in, but with a consistent sense of slight dread. The marquee and port-a-loo companies are on full stand by as every winery seems to have created extra space for tasting and drinking. The dread is that amongst the wine connoisseurs are loads of people who come out to the area to have a party, getting drunk of vast numbers of different wines. It all makes it sound as though the spittoons are superfluous to requirements!
Buller’s run a restaurant alongside the winery. Most places have some diversity in their business which is not surprising. Some run restaurants, some rent out space to other business (e.g., Andersons have a specialist cheese shop on site), but all seem to need to maximise their income from the tourists.
We had a lovely meal. I have had loads of lovely meals while I have been here. This time I actually managed to remember to take a picture before we devoured the food. I had duck, Tim had pork and Beth had beef. Oh, and we all had a glass of wine, as you can see.
Afterwards we went to the Cellar Door. This is the common name locally for the place where you can sample and buy the wines. They all call it that. By following this blog you can learn so many useless facts.
We tasted some of their wares, and ended up buying a bottle of the prize winning Muscat. I mentioned a Muscaelle the other day. Many of you know that I love port. Australian port, which nowadays is known as fortified wine (probably some European regulation about name usage and local protectionism) is different to Portuguese port. A totally different taste. That said, back home I would always choose a port over a Muscat, but the Australian sweet fortified wines here are really lovely. Again, they are very different to their European namesakes. The one we bought was festooned with its medals and prizes on the label. For the sake of clarity, the bottle in the foreground is what we bought, not the whole shelf behind. Shame, but true. I rather liked the example in the bottom left of this picture where they sell their fortified wines by the five litre plastic tub, which makes it look a bit like car screen-wash. No comment.
We had another fascinating encounter while we were there. We met Paul, who grows his own grapes nearby and supplies them to. Buller. Unsurprisingly he was there helping set up for the busy weekend. When he found out I was from London he told us that he had worked there just after the turn of the centenary. He worked in County Hall, for the Mayor of London, then Ken Livingstone. I mentioned that I worked for the Lord Mayor of London. His job was to project manage the transformation and reconfiguration of Trafalgar Square, in Westminster, which took place between 2003 and 2005. The north end was pedestrianised outside the National Gallery and the tourist offer was updated. And the team were responsible for the famous fourth plinth idea.
Here, in the middle of nowhere in Australia (Sorry Rutherglen, I have just insulted you!) I meet the guy who led the team. He remembered fondly sitting in his office overlooking Tower Bridge.
Some of you will know that as the Chaplain to the Lord Mayor and the City of London Corporation I am rigorous about the fact that only the square mile of the City is ‘London’. The rest is Greater London, or as I would have it Outer London. Everyone raises their eyebrows in exasperation when I run my little routines about this. The south starts at the River Thames, everything beyond Ludgate Hill is probably Bristol, London Wall marks the beginning of the north, and the Far East is just past Aldgate.
My parting shot to Paul was: its nice to meet someone who nearly went to London. Having worked for the other major local government office he laughed and knew exactly what I meant. This begs the question: why are my jokes only funny in northern Victoria, and never anywhere else?
Please don’t answer that question while I am enjoying myself. It would be too cruel while I am away having fun!
Have I mentioned I am going to a party on Sunday?