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  • Writer's pictureDorothy Snyder

Our "Iconic" Experience At Penfolds Magill Estate Adelaide

1 June 2022

Cost $295.00/person = $590.00/couple Date of Visit: May 07, 2022

Note: Mobility: If you have mobility issues, there is a significant amount of walking on this tour. The ground was uneven, and you had to walk up and down an incline to reach the cottage. Be sure to wear comfortable shoes and dress for the weather. Make sure to eat breakfast- if you don't, the wine will go to your head. Lunch: If you have allergies or preferences, you may want to contact them ahead of time as this was a set menu, and there was no alternate choice offered. The website describes this "Iconic Tour" as : "Join us on a guided historical tour of Penfolds Magill Estate. Your host will take you through Penfolds history, including a visit to the Grange Cottage and our vintage cellar. You will also experience the underground drives and see the original hiding spot of Max Schubert's hidden Grange. Your host will then lead you through a structured Tasting of some our most highly coveted wines, followed by a 3-course lunch in one of our Private Rooms. Lunch is matched with 3 Penfolds' Wines."

When we first arrived in Adelaide, we had been told about the fancy Penfolds Magill Estate winery. As you can imagine, moving to a new place from Canada is overwhelming at the best of times, nevertheless in the height of covid. So I took the suggestion and placed it in the back of my mind. A few months later, there was a knock at my door, and a fancy envelope was handed to me. Inside that envelope was a pretty fancy-looking gift certificate. It seems that the reputation of Magill Estate had reached our dear friends Joe and Colette in Canada. I found this very amusing as I had completely put it out of my mind and had forgotten about it until I connected that these were the same places and thought," wow, this is a big coincidence. " Joe and Colette confirmed that they had found this place independently, and I had never mentioned anything about it.

The Day Has Come!

The day of the tour. We arrived for our 11:00 tour early as we didn't know what to expect for distance and traffic. The parking lot was a bit of a hike from the front door. Our tour guide suggested that we grab a coffee while waiting as we were early, and she wasn't ready for us. When we walked through to the restaurant, my initial impression of the eating area was that it had the look of my college cafeteria, I was about to be pleasantly surprised. It was bustling, and we were told to sit in this area of low stools and tables that you would see in your child's classroom. We sat in the kid sections and waited for a time for the coffee to appear. The wait was worth it, as the coffee was pretty good, but the seating was terrible, and if you have a bad back or bad knees, you may want to stand. When we neared the 11:00 mark, we made our way to the front counter again. There were nine people in the tour group. Once the guide was ready, we were off on the tour.

We started outside in the grass just out front, where the tour guide ( I believe her name was Claire) gave us the history of the property and the family that started making the wine. In 1844 Dr. Penfold created the wine as a therapeutic for his patients. The original homestead is down the hill from the main building and is staged with original family furnishings and photos.

After a photo opportunity on the grounds, our group was led back up the hill to the processing cellars.

We were shown where the wine was pressed and fermented. The tour guide explained the entire process from start to finish. It was fantastic to see the cement tubs where the wine is held and to know that the workers, after cleaning the tubs, will coat the walls with wax to protect the cement, a thing I didn't know.

We then went into another cellar that housed all the winemaking barrels and more family photos. The guide explained the significance of the barrels and the taste effects they have on the wine.

We were then taken into a large cellar where the special wine was kept. Here we were told about the grange wine and how, in the 1950's a blend was made, and the owner hated it and ordered it all destroyed. The crafter disagreed and hid bottles in the wall. Years and years later, the wine was reintroduced, and everyone loved it. This wine was the Grange that this place is known for. Lucky for the owner, the crafter was not very obedient.

Our second last stop was in the tasting room. The room was beautifully appointed, and the long table was set with a sampling of 6 wines and a glass of water.

Our guide walked us through the flavours and what to look for in each. She was very knowledgeable and took the time to explain everything.

After the tasting, we walked back to the restaurant ( where we started with our coffee) and set up for our lunch. The staff were amazingly attentive to the group of diners. One person in our group had a seafood allergy, and the staff were quick to address this and make accommodations for her.

They brought fresh bread to the table, which was great as I felt dizzy from the wine sampling. The lunch was a set menu, and the server gave a quick rundown of what we were about to eat.

The dishes were served at a leisurely pace, allowing us time to talk about our favourite parts of the tour and get to know our tour mates. During our conversations, we discovered that most of the people at the table either had a gift certificate like us or used the covid recovery certificates offered by the government. You may not like this setup if you are shy, as it was not an intimate-style lunch. You are placed with your group, and I'm not sure even if you requested a single dining experience, it could be accommodated as the restaurant was full. We were served a ceviche-style tuna dish. I don't exactly know what it was as there was no menu or place cards explaining, and I couldn't remember what the server had said. It was absolutely amazing, and the wine paired with it was a perfect compliment.

The main course was lamb. Again, the main was paired perfectly with the selection of wine. The lamb was full of flavour, juicy and perfectly cooked. I am not a lamb lover, but this impressed me.

The dessert was light and delicious with a perfect presentation. Paired with a dessert wine, it was the ideal ending to the day.

Throughout the meal, the servers worked very hard to get all of the dishes out to us in an orderly and efficient manner, which added to the overall experience. We had the opportunity to make new friends and shared a lovely dining experience together. When asked if I thought the experience was worth the $600.00 price tag, I would have to say if you have the money, you should do it.

The value would also depend on your love of wine. My husband and I are not educated in the art of wine; however, we did appreciate the specialness of the craft and dedication. If you are a wine expert, you would probably get more from everything included in this experience. Overall, I highly recommend this Iconic experience. Yes, it can be expensive, but it's more about the whole experience that you will have at Penfolds Magill Estates. With extensive knowledge of the winemaking process and impressive sights and food along the way, these tours provide a unique opportunity to learn about wine while enjoying all that Australia has to offer. And if you're lucky enough to visit during harvest season, as we did, you'll get to see the grapes being picked and crushed right before your eyes!



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