Pleased to say that I ticked an item off my Riverland Bucket List! I’ve tasted my way around Renmark with the Flavour Safari! Yay, go me! I also managed to pick some fresh life lessons from the tree of knowledge and get a sneak peek behind the scenes of producing the most iconic Riverland delights.
“What are this The Flavour Safari?” I hear you ask. It is a day tour that showcases food & beverages within 20km of Renmark. Hanging out at places like Almondco, Mallee Estates Wine, Riverland Sunfresh & The Woolshed Brewery for a day is all it took for my already slightly wise mind, to crack out a few more pearls of wisdom. Oh and I also managed to feed my face which is always a bonus!
Let the lesson begin…..
So apparently nectarines (and other stonefruit) go through this process of thinning to promote the plumpest fruit to grow. I was oblivious to this phenomenon where people go through the rows of trees and cut/pick off a certain amount of not yet ripe fruit. Living on an almond orchard where crop is grown for high density, it was a strange but a logical concept to me. If the trees weren’t thinned, they would be weighed down (literally) by the pressure of having to grow triple the amount of perfectly plump Riverland stonefruit. Cutting a certain amount of crop off, reduces the pressure and every tree can deliver the goods to the standard consumers demand. I stood there dumbfounded, releasing that although I know more than your average personal about how almonds grow, I don’t know much about growing anything else (even humble garden vegetables).
Life Lesson #1….always seek out opportunity to increase the knowledge stored inside your brain’s library.
Living amongst locals for over 7 years now, I’ve noticed that Riverland people can be extremely humble. Our primary producers, innovators and entrepreneurs don’t generally go around tooting their own horn. Nothing could be truer said for Jim Markeas of Mallee Estates Wines. Jim, who was named Winemaker of the Year at the 2015 Riverland Wine Show, let us find out this piece of information not by telling us, but by allowing us to stumble upon the accolade ourselves. His very proud mum put the clippings from a Murray Pioneer with the announcement story on display in the also humble, cellar door.
Gazing around the cellar door while sipping on a crisp Savignon Blanc, family and heritage has a strong presence. As we all know, the wine making game hasn’t always been a piece of baklava, but the Mallee Estates family have soldiered on, contributing to raising the profile of Riverland wine. They don’t just do it for their own gain, but also for the gain of the region.
Life lesson #2….Being humble means recognising that we are not put on this earth to see how important we can become, but to see how much difference we can make to it.
The smell of roasted almonds escaping Almondco’s factory is comparable to walking past Woolworths when the roast chickens are almost ready for sale. *Drool* Unlike Woolies chickens, you can be 100% sure that no almonds were harmed in the process. I’m confident to say that my knowledge of almonds growing is more than your average iced latte with almond milk drinking hipster. Hence I was as excited as Charlie was for his trip into Willy Wonka’s factory to learn about the other side of almond growing.
Donning a mesh fascinator, this seasons Chanel white cape and hyper orange vest (see photo snapped by the paparazzi below), I was ready for the exclusive peek into what happens after almonds leave the orchard. Stepping out onto the South Australian Exporter of the Year’s packing shed runway, the rich roast almond aroma was pleasantly inescapable. If air particles could talk, they would have complimented me on my choice of outfit “That’s so Fetch Lauren!” You’re too kind good smelling air….
Life Lesson #3….embrace the chance to look silly; it’s likely that no one is paying attention to you, or they are looking just as silly as you right at that moment in time.
There are some things in life that we don’t initially enjoy, like face planting into the water when you muster up too much courage on a wakeboard. Or eating rocket. Actually, no, no matter how many times you try either of those, you will never truly enjoy them. The Woolshed Brewery’s brews do not however, fit into that category. They are more suited to the “if at first you like it, then continue to enjoy it again & again” category!
If you are a long term Riverland Unearthed follower, you may have picked up that I am an avid fan of the amber liquids coming out of the Murtho region…and the yellow ones too….not that kind of yellow!! Geez, I was referrring to the Hard Lemonade! Visiting the brewery on brewing day transported me back 25 odd years to when dad would turn our laundry into brew house and that homely smell of hops was all we could smell for months. Although I know that my tongue likes all the Woolshed brews, I can’t help but reply with sarcasm, “oh yes I’ll try the AAAMber ale, I’ve never tried that before!” when asked if I would like to taste anything!
Life Lesson #4….Never be afraid to try something again, and again, and again…unless it’s rocket, then stay as far away from it as you can.
So when you head out this summer to experience The Flavour Safari, go with an open mind. See how many life lessons you can learn, or at least see how many locally produced delicacies you can taste and buy on the way!