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Howard Duncan
8 September 2017 | Howard Duncan

This week at Artisans we're talking Barossa Wine School

This week at Artisans...

I'm talking to Simon Pickett our Friends of Artisans Club Manager. He's the bloke on the left in the picture above with the Cheshire Cat grin . Simon's family and mine share a bit in common, both having turned the Barossa into a new home after 3 year posts as 'expats' in South East Asia - Simon and family in Vietnam, mine in Singapore. Simon, wife Ange and two young boys arrived in the Barossa fresh off the plane from Hanoi in July 2014.

"Our first Barossa home was a single room in the Vineyards Motel near Angaston. A planned 7 night stay quickly became a 3 night stay as we jumped at the chance to rent a 3 bedroom house in Langmeil Estate. So four days after our last bowl of steaming pho on the streets of Hanoi, Ange and I have the boys settled in a local school and a shipping container is parked in our driveway. After a few weeks unpacking and setting up a lifetime of collectables into our new place, it's pretty obvious that 'Casa del Pickett', with rooms crammed with Asian art and furnishings, was a distinctive one in the context of your average Tanunda suburban home!

Ange and I landed here with two contacts...I had the name and number of some bloke known only as 'Mattschy' who ran the cellar door at PL's. And Ange had connected with someone called Annemaree via instagram who'd arrived from Singapore a few years before! That was the sum total of our Barossa network. But the Barossa is a generous place. The wines are generous. The people are very generous...especially with how much they tip in your glass! The food is very generous...the Barossa 'diet' and I are willing partners! And the community was incredibly generous with their warm welcome when we first arrived. Schools, work, sporting clubs - these are the hubs of a remarkable community that welcomed us as one of their own.

I came here to immerse myself in wine having worked for years in wines sales in Sydney and Canberra. Because wine is fun, and people who work in wine are fun. And people working in wine and living in wine regions know how to have a lot of fun. Spending a Tuesday night in summer at the Nuri bowling club rolling bowls, drinking Riesling and celebrating a win with a butcher of the house port - that's the sort of stuff that reminds you why it's good to live here. And now Ange also works in our decision to make the move to South Australia and to live in the Barossa was a great one."

Welcome to the Barossa....the Pickett's first (temporary) Barossa home

Simon has just ticked over 3 years calling the Barossa home....but the way he talks about the place, you'd think he was 7th generation material. You'd struggle to find a more passionate advocate for the place, the community, its local produce and of course its wines. Which makes him an incredible asset at Artisans...and also the perfect candidate to head up the launch of the Barossa Wine School at Artisans later this year. This guy knows his Barossa, and in the wine school room he's a first rate teacher.
"The Wine School was launched by Barossa Grape and Wine in Hong Kong about 4 years back...and we're the first cellar door in the Barossa to offer it. It's a great way for anyone - visitors and locals - to gain an appreciation of the history of Barossa wine, the vineyard landscape and the incredible breadth of expression of winemaking that comes from a relatively small patch of dirt. That we've got 6 different winemakers sharing a home up here at Artisans means we're well placed to show off Barossa wine in its entirety through the  School. I'm in the final stages of training at the moment, and we should be ready to start welcoming our first 'students' to a class room like no other....90 minutes including a 'test', with 6 wines to taste and a complimentary gift bag all for around $60...towards the end of October.  You'll leave with a freshly minted Certificate and knowledge that allows you to make sense of the Barossa, to drink better wine and to be more adventurous in your wine drinking. Stay tuned for more details."

And with that, Simon jumps in his car and heads 'up the river' for a weekend of big skies, warming fires and plenty of delicious and generous Barossa wine. Which leaves me to jump behind the tasting bar for the first time this week at Artisans.


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