_jk68633First held in 2008, the annual Barossa Generations Lunch is hosted by the Barossa Grape & Wine Association (BGWA). The event is open to all, and is attended by many association members from the grape growing and wine making communities. In 2016, 250 people attended the event, held at the Tanunda Show Hall. Guests included wine grape growers, wine makers, food producers and the broader Barossa community. Many guests look forward to the annual Lunch, enjoying it both as an end-of-year social catch-up and as a valuable professional networking opportunity.

Guests were greeted by 2017 Barossa Vintage Festival Young Ambassadors and BGWA staff and invited to enjoy a welcome drink and a traditional Barossa platter with produce by Barossa Heritage Pork, Tathra Homestead, Apex Bakery, Barossa Bark, Zimmy’s, Barossa Cheese and Steiny’s. The delicious main meal was provided by Owen Andrews Catering and dessert by Barossa Valley Ice Cream.

The event was MC’d by BGWA Office Manager Ashleigh Fox, who announced that Seppeltsfield Estate had generously provided all lunch guests with a complimentary ticket to the Culture Club concert held at the winery this Friday 9 December.

The final plans for The Barossa Cellar were revealed by the Barons of Barossa in the form of conceptual drawings which were supplied as table placemats provided by JBG Architects.

James March, CEO of the Barossa Grape & Wine Association spoke at the lunch and reflected on the positive changes in the region since the first Barossa Generations Lunch in 2008.

Welcome, everybody – it is always great to look out at a sea of celebrating Barossa faces! Make no mistake that is what today is all about – deserved recognition for hard work and a job well done – so far!

 Apart from the impending holiday, I always like this Christmas build-up…

 _jk68631As a year prepares to turn, it seems to make sense to reflect on where we have come from; how far we have journeyed; and to even consider what may yet still lie ahead.

 This year we have broadcast our Next Crop stories and environmental champions; we have shaken hands in Texas and renewed acquaintances in San Francisco and New York; we have put our best foot forward in Hong Kong; and we have welcomed Barossa Wine School graduates on home soil. We have competed together and among ourselves at Wine Shows; and we have kept our promises to new and existing Barossa Trust Mark holders.

 Casting my mind back even further I reflected on the title of the inaugural Barossa Generations Lunch in 2008 – ‘Getting it Done’. If the job was to share, inspire, laugh, respect, learn, grow and unite as a community, I’d suggest we have made significant progress.

 In 2008 when we sat down for the first Generations Lunch we were reviewing the vintage of 2007 and counting our losses getting ready for 2008.

 In 2007 the Barossa Valley crushed 39,700 tonnes of grapes worth $45million; the Eden Valley 8,600 tonnes worth $11million.

 On the Valley Floor average grape prices were Shiraz $1522; Cabernet $1153 and Grenache $1170. In Eden Valley Shiraz was $1138; Cabernet $1208 and Riesling $1252

 Forward to 2015 and the Barossa Valley crushed 44,706 tonnes worth $79.4million; the Eden Valley 9,658 tonnes worth $15.9million.

 Average grape prices in Barossa Valley were now Shiraz $2137; Cabernet $1808 and Grenache $1495. In Eden Valley Shiraz was $2314; Cabernet $2270 and Riesling $1416.

 In 2015 40% of reds in the Barossa Valley were purchased at over $2000 per tonne and 82% over $1500.

 In 2015 for the Eden Valley the proportion of fruit sold over $2000 per tonne was the highest of any region in South Australia. 65% of white varieties in Eden Valley were purchased between $1500 and $2000 per tonne with 23% above $2000.

 In summary; from the 2007 vintage to the 2015 vintage an extra $39.3 million came into the region for grape purchases this year. That’s up just over 70%.

 I cite these numbers as a means of reinforcing the need to keep our grape and wine community profitable and resilient, so that we can all share in the collective ambition and collaborative effort that comes from supporting the BGWA in its endeavors.

 Above all, we have always set our sights high, while never forgetting to keep our feet firmly on the ground.

 And finally, we have met adversity with the same determination and humility as we have greeted opportunity. This – more than anything – says the most about us as a community: we are united in character, even if not in shared background and origin.

 And so we should always remember: it is not our contribution to the Barossa that commonly defines us, but rather this great region’s extraordinary influence on us that binds us together. 

 In preparing to close I would like to share with you a recent discovery from the contemporary UK-born poet, screenwriter, and playwright, Nick Drake, who attended the Adelaide Festival of Ideas in October this year, and is an amazing moral philosopher.

 Drake is also an explorer, and this poem – The Farewell Glacier – is the story of an ice core sample found on a recent expedition to a remote archipelago of islands in the Grand Arctic, 500 miles north of Norway, where he wrote about what he’d witnessed.

 An ice core is the glacial equivalent of a tree-ring or a timeline – it is a record that preserves every winter’s falling rain as a passage of natural history. Its colorations and imperfections can be used to chart history as accurately as carbon dating. From this one you can mark the first use of smelting forges by the Romans, as well as the profound effect that the industrial revolution had on the earth’s atmosphere. All of these events have been captured in the rain and moisture that fell at the time; and all perfectly captured in a frozen photograph.

 It is an icicle needle of witness to history, and it made me think of how privileged we are to ask this Barossa landscape to host us throughout our lives. I think next year we should invite our global audience to join us in this experience:

 An excerpt from The Farewell Glacier – An Ice Core Sample:

 “I am a long story,
Ten thousand feet long,
A hundred thousand years old,
A chronicle of lost time
Back to the first dark,
Too dark for telling;

I am every winter’s fall;
I am the keeper of the air?
Of all the vanished summers;
I honour the shadows of the sorrows
That come to lie
Between my pages;
I distill lost atmospheres
Pressed into ghosts
Kept close to my cold heart.”

I think we would all do well to listen to Nick Drake’s conclusion: there is a time for telling; there is a time for listening.

 After more than eight years of hard work of asking questions of ourselves; setting goals; framing ambitions; crafting stories and breaking bread all over the world – I think we are now at a stage when we should reap what we have sown.

 Now is a time for listening and connecting. Now is the time to bring our audience home.

Here is how Mr Drake elegantly frames it:

“I have no more to tell.
No questions please
About the future
For now the great narrator
Takes over;
Listen carefully to her story
For you are in it.”

 Out next chapter is going to be our most challenging yet. Not to tell a new story, but rather to invite our audience to find their place in Barossa’s story to date. A few years ago, we set sail on a sea of strategy; now we’re returning home on a tide of culture.

 Barossa as a construct is a deep and multi-layered idea, as rich in history and witness to place and people, as the core of the earth. There’s always another door to open in this big house and we’ll be inviting the world to step through these welcome halls.

Preparation on this has already started and I am excited to share this with you after our holiday break.

 In the meantime: Rest up; enjoy the holiday; congratulations on a job well done to date; and prepare to reap what we have sown.

 Merry Christmas and let’s raise a glass to our wonderful Barossa community. Here is to us – cheers!


Full image gallery here (Barossa Dirt Flickr Gallery)