My self-imposed rule about ‘postcard’ length posts from my tour of South Australia is going to be sorely tested by Rockford Wines. I really dislike the modern use of ‘iconic’ of wines (and increasingly almost anything) but Rockford would deserve it and I could write at length about them. There really is so much to love about Robert Callaghan’s Barossa business. My get-out clause is to send two postcards, the first about the winery and its wonderful, old fashioned mechanical equipment, the second about the wines.If you love nineteenth-century machinery but are not really fussed about wine you should definitely visit Rockford! The famous basket press from the 1890s has two-speed gearing and gently presses its lucky grapes over 24 hours. Ideally, it is tightened up every twenty minutes. The wooden basket presses and everything else that comes into contact with grapes or juice have to be individually waxed before they are used. Its two modern brother-or-sister powered basket presses do the job just as well with a fraction of the effort but in terms of the Rockford ethos of preserving the best of the past, nothing can beat the grandfather of all presses. Equally to be loved is the old destemmer with its wooden blades which are driven by the most magnificent motor you are likely to see in a winery. Once destemmed the fruit goes into waxed slate fermenters which have a perfect open-top-to-volume ratio for fermentation and gentle extraction of the famous Shiraz, no punch-downs, no drilling through the cap, just wetting it with one volume of must twice a day. There follows ageing in mostly old barrels. Wine as our grandparents used to make.
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