Barossa now a global brand
Picture: Supplied

Like Bordeaux and the Napa Valley, the words Barossa Valley spark instant recognition overseas. It's both the engine room and the womb of Australia's wine industry, according to wine writer David Brookes.

"It's one of the most famous wine-making regions of the world," Brookes said.

And though relatively small, this area, some 60km north east of Adelaide, is home to about 150 wineries including some of Australia's best known.

The Barossa Valley forms the foundation for a series of interactive masterclasses Brookes will present at the Good Food & Wine Show.

Four times a day, he will discuss a different aspect of the region, also famous for the quality of its produce (Maggie Beer is based there, too).

Brookes has strong credentials. He's a Barossa resident who works in the wine industry and writes for wine magazines.

He was, however, a beer man until the rock group U2 inadvertently opened his eyes to the noble grape and inadvertently steered him towards a new career.

For a decade Brookes worked as lighting designer for some of the world's top bands and was touring America with the Irish supergroup in the 1990s.

Rumour has it that U2's lead singer Bono is intolerant to the naturally forming chemical salicyclates found in wines. But this is less prominent in older wines, so Bono sticks to the vintage stuff - as Brookes discovered to his benefit.

"They had 84 Grange on their rider (a list of backstage requirements) and that got me interested in wine," he said.

"I had to pry it out their hands but I did manage to get a few tastes of it. It shifted me from beer to wine."

Brookes describes touring as gruelling, and following a tour with Iggy Pop decided to call it quits and work instead in the wine industry.

He started in retail, and went on to manage a wine auction company as well as work cellar doors.

He also started to write about wine and was one of the dozen wine lovers each year put through their paces as part of the Len Evans Tutorial which aims to improve the standard of Australia's wine judges.

The prestigious course involves a week's tuition and tasting of the world's best wines and Brookes was nominated the dux of the 2011 class.

He's been judging at wine shows in Australia and overseas ever since and divides his time as a wine writer and adviser in marketing for a few wineries.

He moved to the Barossa Valley eight years ago.

Why the Barossa?

"It's got a great history, it's chockablock full of characters, and there's a great community feel," Brookes replied. Plus, he already had friends in the area after working a couple of vintages.

Then there's the Barossa's famous produce. The German settler influence comes through in small goods such as mettwurst and there's amazing bacon and pastries and pies, he said.

Barossa produce will be paired with Barossa wines in the first of Brookes' daily masterclasses - the Long Table Barossa Brunch.

Whites are not forgotten, with some great rieslings to sample from neighbouring Eden Valley.

Another masterclass will focus on shiraz, the region's most famous grape, and yet another will address on icon wines from the region - Barossa Rare & Distinguished.

On recent vintages, Brookes describes 2010 and 2012 as "absolutely cracking".

"The 2013 is very good as well, though yields are a bit down," he said. And 2014?

"We had some pretty hot weather and then a dump of about 120ml of rain in about 24 hours," he said.

"The rain cooled everything down and it was quite a long growing season in the end.

"But yields are down across the region by about 30 per cent.

"As for drinking now, 2006 and 2004 are drinking beautifully."

As befits the engine and womb of Australia's wine industry.

The West Australian

Popular videos

Compare & Save

Change location

°

- °

Lifestyle Videos

Latest

More from The West