Matriarch & Rogue

You know it’s Monday when you get to open a new bottle of wine and i am starting my working week with this beauty from Matriarch & Rogue.

In a word. Wow! A real sour cherry oak to the nose but oh my god yeah, the delightful light fruitiness to the palate is just divine. I’m getting strawberries followed by some lovely light peppery spice.

If you’d had have said to me just a few years ago that i’d be knocking back a red wine this early on a Monday night i would have laughed and laughed….. but this one is very easy drinking.

The ‪#‎MatriarchandRogue‬ ‪#‎Sangiovese‬ is deliciously light and i am picturing myself partnering it with a fig, goats cheese & rocket salad drizzled with a sticky balsamic. Perhaps throw in a few walnuts for good measure!

If it wasn’t a school night i’d be polishing off the bottle no worries!



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The Rhynie Hotel – the little pub with a big heart…

I’m opening the Clare Valley gate this month and taking you a bit further South but still within the boundaries of the Clare & Gilbert Valley Council, to the iconic little pub that’s always had a big heart, The Rhynie Hotel.


I visited ‘The Rhynie’ many times during the err, eh ehm…1990’s, but not so much in the last 15 years which is ironic really because that’s around the time i moved back to the Mid North. I guess not driving past as much, taking the Balaklava route to Adelaide on occasions, has meant less trips down Main North Road plus, we just don’t seem to stop and smell the roses when we’re driving through our own backyard on our way to Adelaide. We’ve somehow become so time poor, always in a rush to get there and then in another rush to get back home.

But i digress. After years of not seeing much action at the Rhynie, Mr Spruiking and i noticed some action during the last few months. There’s been several cars lined up outside on any given day as well as people enjoying the beer garden and what appeared to be a bit of ‘working bee stuff’.

Being the interested person i am, i check social media, facebook in this instance, and voila…there it is, The Rhynie has a fb page and yes…new owners!

So a couple of weeks ago we went for a drive to Rhynie and called in to the pub for a chat and drink.

We met the new owners, Michael & Donna…..
and within moments felt right at home and as we all know, SA is a small place so it didn’t take long to establish we have knocked around with the same people over the years. In fact, Michael lived only a few houses away from where my father-in-law once lived. Freaky!

Let me take you back for a minute. Remember the days when you went to the pub and sat on the barstool and actually spoke to the person sitting next to you, sans mobile phone, or any other distraction other than a casual game of darts or 8 ball?

Yep, they were the days for sure and that is exactly what you get at The Rhynie Hotel. Lemme tell you, it’s refreshingly brilliant and there should be more of it. Staying true to themselves, Michael & Donna have embraced a lifestyle-less-cluttered and firmly stamped it into the hotel’s atmosphere.

And there’s no pokies either, Like i said, brilliant!

I’m going to let you in on a little secret. Before i knew i loved wine, i loved Canadian Club & dry. Well guess what The Rhynie has on tap? Emegherrd yes….Canadian Club & Dry! Ima thinkin it’s time i got myself a new swag, kicked the harley in to gear and took a little ride to Rhynie on a Saturday arvo & settled in for the day because….Spruiking #ClareValley enjoys responsibly and it’d hardly be fair to expect Mr Spruiking to play chauffeur all the time….. 😀

With a long career in hospitality, Donna knows all too well what’s involved in running a successful business and Michael is familiar with long hours having spent many years in the mining industry. And the enthusiastic couple have some very exciting plans for the outdoor area. They’ve already tidied the beer garden, given the familiar old cart out the front a decent coat of paint and cleared the adjoining block and got the lawn looking very lush. I can see some fantastic Blues & Roots music events out on the lawn or maybe even a Hot Rod Show n Shine. The licenced area lends itself to a very chilled out atmosphere and would be a great way to spend a long weekend Sunday attending a show.

Since it has been a long time that i’ve stepped foot in the Rhynie pub’s door i was suitably impressed with the dining room. Being a lover of polished timber, the result of being a carpenter’s daughter, i totally fell in love with the gorgeous red gum slab table tops and the stone wall makes for the perfect companion and compliments the atmosphere.

Meals are available at the hotel and on Sunday they put on a free bbq. Yep, you read that right, a FREE bbq! Quite unheard of in this day and age but it’s already very popular as you would imagine. You’ll get a good honest meal at the pub and the Rhynie Burger & Pint deal sounds like it’s worth checking out.

Included with the pub was the block next to the outdoor lawned area and Donna was excited to talk of their future plans for accommodation on the block by way of a B&B and caravan overnight stay facility. I like the sound of that so i can only imagine how the locals feel about once again having a their pub run by people with vision and energy. It can only mean good things for Rhynie, no doubt about it! Maybe i’ll hold off on buying that swag….!

The Rhynie Hotel is this month’s featured business and once again Spruiking #ClareValley is proud to support a local business and share with you their news for the month.

Welcome to the region, Michael & Donna, we wish you well with all that you have planned for the little pub with a big heart……..

#ClareValley #GilbertValley #LoveThyNeighbour

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Collins Booksellers Clare -the face behind the counter

Without a doubt the most endearing thing about living in the country is knowing the people ‘behind the counter’. People who have gone out on a limb to own and manage their own business, work long hours, take risks, donate to as many local clubs and events as they can possibly afford and, front up every day as if it’s their first.

They are ordinary people who are local community members, just like you and me.

One such business is Collins Booksellers Clare and as part of our monthly featured business i’d like to introduce to you, Kim, one half of the CBC partnership.
Kim and husband, Al, bought the business with a couple of other partners back in 2008…Wow, time flies! And a few years later became outright owners.

The bookshop was a popular addition to the Edwards Mall, as it’s often referred to by locals, and has hosted book launches and events from a variety of celebrated chefs-come-authors such as, Maggie Beer, Karen Martini & Kylie Kwong, to name a few. There was also the luncheon event with former Australian Prime Minister, Mr John Howard, that drew a massive crowd. So yes, a welcome addition to Clare’s shopping precinct indeed and all made possible through the vision and passion of the owners.

It’s not just a bookshop though. It’s a place where you are greeted with a friendly smile and a wealth of knowledge about what’s on the shelf and advice on what to read if you’re stuck for ideas. I also love the quirky bespoke gift cards and items such as the ever popular, ‘Stay calm and…..’ series of pocket books. These make great gifts if you can stop flicking through the pages and giggling long enough to wrap them! There’s also cds available from the ABC label such as, JJJ’s Hottest 100. At the moment the shop has a huge variety of the latest ‘fad’, adult colouring books. “Huge’ being an understatement!

The next event on the Collins Booksellers Clare calendar is this Thursday night, Feb 25th, at the Clare Wine Food & Tourism Centre. The two businesses have joined forces to host the new book release from local author, Meredith Appleyard, The Doctor Calling. When Meredith’s last release, The Country Practice, was released, Collins Booksellers Clare sold all copies on the same day as the launch! Amazing effort and a testament to the author no doubt, but you can’t overlook how fabulous that is for a local business. Locals supporting locals, supporting locals!

For the event this Thursday night, please RSVP to the CWFTC by tomorrow, Feb 22nd, their number is 8842 2131.

Collins Booksellers Clare can be located in the Edwards Mall & their number is, 8842 2222.

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The Clare Chicks helping restore Sight & Faith

A few weeks ago i told you that i met The Head Hoe. Well, she’s not just a Head Hoe you know, she’s a Crazy Clare Chick who, upon meeting, makes you feel like you’ve been friends for years.

We all do things for other people right? Lending a hand here, donating there. So i know The Head Hoe won’t want me tooting her horn too much but i just wanted to share with you that she, along with 3 other fiercely dynamic women, are taking part in the Wild Women on Top, Sydney Coastrek Sydney Coastrek

You see…..Sydney Coastrek is raising funds for the Fred Hollows Foundation and as someone who relies on contact lenses & glasses to function every day, i am only too aware of how precious sight is. Isn’t it great to live in Australia and have advanced technology at our disposal and have our eyesight cared for without relying on donations.

The recipients of the amazing work set up by Fred Hollows and his foundation are grateful for whatever they can get and a simple operation has restored the eyesight of hundreds of thousands of people.

Fred Hollows

Spruiking #ClareValley is proud to sponsor The Dirty Hoe and her team, The Clare Chicks, and is inviting you all to get on board and do the same if you can.

“4 out of 5 people who are blind don’t need to be.”

Let’s help The Clare Chicks raise some healthy cash for this cause. A lazy pineapple ($50) restores sight to TWO PEOPLE. It’s that easy!
Head to this page if you can hand over some cash… The Clare Chicks Donation Page




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It feels like a long while since i’ve, ‘shut the gate’ so i reached toward the back of the stash and pulled out this beauty, the 2015 Polish Hill River Riesling – For Freedom.

It does not disappoint. Just the right amount of crispness with a hint of orange blossom. Well that’s what it says on the back label…….Ima just kidding, kind of. It does say that but it is what i tasted before reading the label. And no, not all rieslings taste the same.

Freedom. What does it mean to us? To you? To me?

For some, it may be as simple as not having too many responsibilities. To be able to pack up and take off on a weekend away whenever the desire gives the nod. For others it could take a financial spin, having the expendable cash to buy whatever, whenever. For many new Australians it could quite possibly mean the good fortune to relocate their family to our beautiful Country and make a new life for themselves. One without fear of retribution, war and terror. Hard for many of us to even begin to imagine and as an Aussie who is ‘born and bred’ here, i feel grateful we do not have the existence of war in our lives every day.

For me personally, i think, without straying too far from my moral compass, it means something different on any given day. It depends on what i’m doing. But to delve a bit deeper i like to afford myself personal freedom whereby i have learned to say no and be kind to myself so i can be kind to others. To live my life for me without being selfish. It’s an age thing and a conversation for two bottles of great red wine with like-minded friends!

Here’s what the rest of the Polish Hill River Riesling back label had to say……

“There one was an ornate guilded cage, hung high in a palatial room. It was home to a wild bird, an enviable creature with plumage more grand than the room itself. Loved and adored, the bird was tended daily by a generous and caring young man who passed food and water through a small golden gate. Though always nurtured, the creature longed for a life beyond the bars. With each shutting of the gate, a small light of hope inside the bird was snuffed out. The majestic creature implored his master for freedom, to extend his wings and live the life for which he was intended. Reluctantly, the caring hand unfastened the golden gate one last time. He knew too well that if you love something, you must set it free. If it comes back, it is yours. If it doesn’t, it never was. 
Fate, no matter whether or not you SHUT THE GATE.”

So here’s to opening gates and sometimes shutting them, to give ourselves our own personal freedom and to also extend that freedom to those around us.

Cheers to the Dreamer and the Gatekeeper, they are beautiful people who exude their own freedom. They also make cracking good wine!
2015 shut the gate riesling

#ClareValley #ForFreedom

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Ramblings. Because it is that time of year.

A great blog to read written by a wonderfully talented and, extremely giving, young lady.
Give it a go.


So. An interesting year.

I have worked with some outstanding people, and learned some difficult lessons. I’ve eaten a little too well, drunk even better, and made some outstanding new friends.

I also came a wee bit too close to dying – twice – due to my silly body and some inept medical professionals. My ankle is due to be sliced into again in coming months. And I worked harder than I ever might have anticipated at the gym. Because: balance.

The wine people have been wonderful, as always. Supportive, fascinating, and inquisitive.

The hospo trade have been generous, and accommodating. Mostly. Except for the ones who are not. A sale is definitely NOT a sale until it’s been paid. And I will be a thorn in the side of those who try to take advantage.

I wonder, still, how we can improve our wine world. Make wine easier, accessible…

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You know how i love a good wine story? Well this one starts with; I finally got my hands on a Dirty Hoe…..

Did so just say that.

It happened just this last week in fact. After several back and forth conversations with the Head Hoe for some months now, finally the week before Christmas we met in person, and i now have a bottle of Dirty Hoe Shiraz from Woodvale Vintners in my possession. Sweeeet!

What were you lot thinking?

The Shiraz has gone straight to the ‘pool room’ (for now) because in this blog i want to tell you about one of Woodvale’s other labels, The Sharegarden, and it’s a Semillon that i am super excited to try. I know what you’re saying, i love Riesling. I do for sure but i’ll always try something else because you just never know!

Pours glass of Semillon…….Woodvale Semillon

So i’ve mentioned before how much i enjoy reading back labels, especially if it’s a little story about how that particular varietal came to be. The back label on the Woodvale Sharegarden Semillon has transcended me to years gone by in Clare Valley when past generations worked incredibly hard to establish what we now take for granted; glorious rows upon rows of vines. You know the ones, the trunks & heads are gnarly and knotted and if you stare at them long enough you can hear their stories of producing the Valley’s world-renowned wine, year after year after year. Not suggesting our present day vignerons don’t work incredibly hard but, you catch my drift.

The name Mort Mitchell is synonymous with Clare Valley. We’ve all seen the sign on the way to Adelaide that says; “Mort’s Block”. Well, he’s the bloke the Sharegarden label is based on.

Mort’s son, Kevin Mitchell, also a local wine maker, has been generous enough to share a piece of his childhood on the back label of the Semillon. It’s a lovely story of when his father first started out in the industry and was involved in a sharegarden.

For most of us, when we think of a sharegarden, we picture a range of fruit & vegetables with community members, most likely the elderly in a retirement home, tending to it and sharing the spoils of their labour. The sharegarden Mort was involved with was along similar lines but of the grape growing kind. It was an initiative by a local winery that gave many young aspiring viticulturalists a foot into the industry and several of whom are now producing award-winning wine that is no doubt sitting in mine, yours and, hundreds of other collections.

A lot of partnerships were formed in those days, no doubt by a simple but, highly valued, hand shake. A time when moral compasses were true and strong and your word was your word.

What a fabulous idea the Sharegarden was. I can only imagine the dreams and aspirations of those young viticulturalists as they embarked on their journey, and how lucky we are to reap the rewards by having superb wine to place on our tables.

As the back label says; “Mort still refers to the vines he tends as his gardens.”

Let’s just think about that for a minute. When you drive past the rows and rows of vines throughout the Clare Valley on your way down south and you see how big some of the blocks are, there is a gentleman of the industry still calling them ‘his gardens’. I think that is one of the most beautiful things i have ever read and it will forever change the way i view those ‘vineyards’.

Working alongside his dad as a kid is what encouraged Kevin to embark on his own life in the wine industry and, most recently, to make the Sharegarden label. While he couldn’t have imagined it at the time, the stories that were passed down back then has today inspired him to make a range of wine that is distinctly (Clare Valley) regional with the image of those early sharegardens in mind.

Every time i buy a bottle of local wine i think; there is most probably someone across the other side of the Globe enjoying this wine that was grown in a vineyard, garden, not too far from where i live and talking about Clare Valley. So good.

I love that i am fortunate enough to meet our local winemakers and listen to them talk about their wine. Ever watched a wine producer when they teach you about what’s in your glass? Look closely next time, it’s sheer joy. The small growers are a humble little lot but i can assure you they are very excited that someone is taking an interest in their years of hard work! After visiting the cellar door you’ll take your purchases home and either stash it in your own cellar or slot it straight in the fridge door. Either way, when you get it out to consume, make sure you read the back label. Some are more interesting than others but they all teach you something. Next time you buy a bottle of local wine, please do try to get it from the cellar door where you quite possibly will meet the maker. I guarantee you, it will change the way you taste and appreciate that wine. If they don’t have a cellar door, find out who stocks it but generally speaking, you can most likely purchase direct from the producer. I’ve had several deliveries dropped off at work by the one person who wears the hat of; grower, winemaker, designer, marketing & freight and many more! I love it and truly appreciate them making the time to deliver their wine in person. That won’t happen all the time though, Australia Post helps out as well. Oh yeah, and grab a glass of the same label if they have one. Also helps with the appreciation level 🙂

So hands up those who buy wine based purely on the front label? Don’t be shy, i know you’re out there! Well, another lovely family twist to the Sharegarden Semillon is the artwork on the front label is inspired by Kevin & Taff’s son, Jack. Cool, hey? It’s a great picture and a lovely addition to this range. Would look good on a wine glass in my opinion.

Cheers to the Head Hoe for sharing the Semillon with me and to answer the question that’s burning everyone’s lips…”What does this Riesling lover think of the Semillon?” I like it. I like it a lot and here’s my layman’s wrap up…

I was advised to drink it really cold, and of course the first glass was but with any white wine i like to let it warm up JUST a little because you get to taste the fruit that little bit more. 

I give the Woodvale Sharegarden Semillon a big thumbs up. It was incredibly smooth and very easy to drink. One minute you’re pouring your first glass and, Nek Minnit, the bottle is empty! It’s clean and ’round’ without being too floral and will please those who are not as fond of the crispness of a Rizza as i am. It’s a straight up easy drinking wine. I’d partner it with a Jarlsberg cheese and fig & walnut log. Yummo.

End verdict……I’m ordering more.

Cheers to the Head Hoe & Woodvale Vintners!


Woodvale Vintner Pty Ltd and the Sharegarden label is the lovechild of Kevin Mitchell & Kathleen ‘Taff’ Bourne.
Enquiries can be made at

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Weekend Wrap on a Wednesday

There’s a few things happening on the Clare Valley calendar this weekend that are well worth noting, starting Friday evening with the Clare Valley Business & Tourism Centre showcase of Greg Cooley Wines and Pangkarra Foods.
If you haven’t been to one of these Friday night events i can tell you they are a lot of fun. We went along a couple weeks ago not knowing if we were going to know anyone (yes, this does happen…) but had a great time meeting positive people who were up for a light hearted chat about anything and everything.
But of course the bonus of the night is you get to taste wine and food from two local producers. Entry is free and a glass of wine is just five bucks. And if you notice any tourists there, don’t be shy, go and say hello and get to know people who visit our region. It’s good soul food.
Goes from 5pm – 7pm

CVWFTC 301015

Saturday Oct 31st is Halloween and there are 3 markets happening. That’s no trick, it’s definitely a treat!

Sevenhill Producers Market. I have the good word that Horrocks Bounty Coffee Roasters will be there so i’m looking forward to meeting Hayden and checking out some locally roasted coffee! I hope Juanita has made extra spring rolls, the line up last market day was HUGE!
Starts at 8.30am – midday
SHMarkets 311015

Clare Valley Childrens Centre Market is on from 10am – 2.30pm at the Clare High School Gymnasium.
Lots of stalls and great coffee!CVCC market 311015
And, the Vineyard Lutheran School BIG GARAGE SALE from 9.30am – 2.30pm
I believe there are stalls still available but to sure, give Kate a call on 0417805681
VLSchool 311015

Plenty of bargains to be had this weekend. Have fun shopping local!


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Find Something You Love & Do it Without Expectations……….

Five years ago i joined the Twitter craze. It took a couple of months to get the hang, but i quickly found people with similar interests and followed accounts of people and celebrities/journalists i respect and admire. Gone were the days of sitting down to watch the six o’clock news, this was my daily/hourly source of current affairs and news. Those early days were hilarious to say the least. A real, ‘you had to be there thing’, but here i am, five years later, still communicating with several original ‘tweeps’ and, loving it.

Back then, there were very few local Clare Valley people or businesses on twitter and instagram but there seemed to be a heck of a lot of other regions promoting themselves and people living in those regions happy to share the love as well. I searched around to see who was promoting Clare Valley as a region and there really wasn’t anyone. Pangkarra, Sevenhill Hotel, Jim Barry Wines and Naked Run Wines were about the only ones putting it out there and sharing their news.

So that was my cue. I started using #clarevalley on my tweets because i am damn proud of our region and the people who get involved with either running their own business or being proud to work for someone local. And there’s always so many events going on so why not share them and invite people to come and visit #ClareValley.

It’s been a fabulous journey and one that is still growing. Just last weekend i was contacted by a Melbourne based wine enthusiast to contribute to his wine magazine and promote Clare Valley. To say i am humbled and bursting with excitement at the same time is an understatement. Not sure how i’ll fit it in with fulltime work but i will because both are equally important to me. I genuinely love my fulltime work, it keeps one side of my brain active and busy and alive all at once! And this, my humble little hobby is what brings calm and peace, equilibrium, to the other side.

Earlier this year a social media friend encouraged me to start a facebook page for my hobby. I already had a blog, twitter and instagram so facebook was the next natural step. I was a little dubious but also carefree and determined. I am, afterall, doing something i love. And i have always been one to follow the beat of my own drum so i took the advice of my dear friend and set up Spruiking #ClareValley. And yes, i can so call her a good friend. We’ve been chatting, emailing, texting, for 5 years. It’s the modern day version of a penpal.

This weekend just gone we had several events as part of the Clare With Fresh Eyre collaboration. What a fab idea. Eyre Peninsula seafood paired with Clare Valley wine. Unless you break out in hives, you’d be an absolute mug to miss such an opportunity.  I thoroughly enjoyed the events we went too and i might just make a mention here of my fabulous designated driver. Never complains and he is my #1 supporter. What a trooper. Is currently snoring on the lounge but for all husbands of the women reading this, i bet he is not alone!

I’ve had people ask why aren’t i working in tourism and if i’m remunerated for what i do. I answer that it doesn’t matter. If you find something you love and do it without expectation of anything other than positivity, you will be rewarded in many ways and most will surprise you. It doesn’t have to be monetary to be successful. Besides, if i joined the local Lions Club and (voluntarily) cooked a few snags on Saturday morning outside the butcher shop, no-one would bat an eyelid. It’s a hobby and for me it’s fun and easy.

I’m still hashtagging Clare Valley on all social media accounts and i am pleased to see it has caught on with other business owners and locals. My social media mates often send people my way for Clare Valley info about the region, where to eat and, where to stay. I am proud to say i have steered many a tourist in direction of several local businesses and it’s lovely to hear locals tell me they have attended events after reading my posts about what’s happening in the region.

So i sign off tonight with some affirmations, memes and just a touch of sarcasm, that makes me smile and reaffirms i love what i do. I also want to shout out out to a few (a lot of) people who have been on this ride with me, you know who you are, you continue to inspire, support and, encourage me to do something i love and do it without expectation.

Live your life, friends, and live it exactly the way you want too. The only person you have to answer to, is you.

As always, #ClareValley


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Clare With Fresh Eyre – final week

Today is shaping up to be another stunning Spring day and a perfect host for the last Sunday on the Clare With Fresh Eyre calendar. The fresh breeze is gorgeous and if it stays, will make for a great afternoon of sitting, sipping and salivating the day away.

Right now there’s a deck full of lucky people out at Paulett Wines Bush Devine Cafe, the precursor for Shut The Gates Wines and Greg Cooley Wines events which are about to get underway.

The masters of quirky entertainment, Shut The Gate Wines, have just opened the gate for their Fins & Fire event which is on until 4pm.

Greg Cooley has pulled another event out of ‘the blue’ with his Reds, Whites, Blues & Brews which will start at 1pm.

As always, there’s plenty going on in our Region so don’t be a bunny and miss out, or you’ll be waiting until next year!

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