Barossa Vintage Festival 2011: Ron treads the grapes, samples the foods and enjoys the brass bands in the Barossa Valley region of South Australia

There's a sense of expectation throughout the Barossa Valley with the vintage now well and truly under away. In cellar doors and out on the hills the locals wait for the summer sun and the vines to work their magic. It's been much the same ever since the Silesian Germans first began arriving here in the late 1830s.

Water colours by colonial artist George French Angas show life as it was lived by the hard working immigrants as they carved out a new home in a new land. But soon the Valley would reverberate to their rhythms and traditions... much as it still does today.

Music has always been a fundamental part of the Barossa Valley. The old Silesian settlers loved their brass bands and their singalongs. We caught up with some players in the Tanunda Town Band which goes way back to 1857. In fact it's the oldest brass band in the Southern Hemisphere.

During the Barossa Vintage Festival the Tanunda Town Band will match it with four other local bands at the Tanunda Showground as part of "Big, Bold and Brassy". And in this part of the world many band members like Euphonium player Stephen John will have a family connection going back at least four generations.

Stephen John: "When they came out here, they didn't have organs etc in their churches so they needed music for all their functions, their festivals, their funerals, their weddings. So the brass bands were essential."

Not that long ago, my Barossa guide Bec Gross would have been crowned Vintage Queen. Today she's known as a Young Ambassador and part of her role is to publicise an event that stretches back to 1947.

Bec Gross, Young Ambassador: "It's Australia's longest and largest running food and wine tourism festival."

Town's like Tanunda and Nuriootpa have come a long way since the Barossa Duetsche as they became known established their long strip or hufendorf farms by the banks of the nearby North Para River. But with Becc as my guide we can still uncover the rich German history which still runs through the streets.

At Nuri we catch up with legendary butcher Graham Linke for some small talk about small goods and dill pickles. Graham's third generation Barossa Deutsche. His father Edgar worked as a butcher here in Nuri for 55 years. Graham's being doing it even longer carrying on a tradition of curing and smoking meats that the original Silesians knew only too well.

Travel through the Barossa as part of the upcoming vintage festival and food will know doubt play a big part in your visit. At Angaston the flavour is a little more French, thanks to Victoria McCurg at the Barossa Valley Cheese Company.

Victoria McCurg, Barossa Valley Cheese Company: "The reason I started this was all about lifestyle and being able to show people what the community and family and friends is all about."

Brie, Camembert, chevre or goat's cheese are all part of Victoria's cheese platter but just what the old Barossa Deutsche would have made of Victoria's Petit Princess is anyone's guess. Victoria McCurg, Barossa Valley Cheese Company: "Not sure if they would have been that excited about itů but again, it's part of celebrating our diversity."

But there's no doubting the old German settlers would have embraced the Vintage Festival's Grape Crushing competition. Under the strict supervision of Ronnie Liebich of Liebich Wines and in competition with his brother Peter and partner Rachel, Bec and I take on the locals. This has been a part of the Barossa Vintage Festival since 1947 and believe it or not the winner of this particular event wins a pallet of beer... Go figure!

Wine, Cheese, smoke houses, brass bands.. there all there to be discovered and enjoyed.. and all will be on show at this year's Barossa Vintage Festival. It's on from April 23rd to May 1, 2011. If you have any further questions please email them to info@postcards-sa.com.au

Barossa Valley Vintage Festival
April 23 - May 1, 2011

Published 13th March 2011

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