There is, as mentioned elsewhere in these pages, a body of opinion (voiced, among others, by the Dragon Lady Who Used To Operate Out Of The Other End Of I Block) to the effect that Hughesy is, if not travel-averse, at least travel-reluctant. 

This might be seen as a fair conclusion based on the fact that, for several years after we’d finished constructing the Little House of Concrete was complete, Hughesy didn’t engage in significant travel activities until ‘Er Indoors appeared on the scene. 

The travel-hiatus over those years was, however, the result of economic factors rather than an inbuilt aversion to travel per se. 

The same financial considerations had, before the construction of the Little House of Concrete meant once Hughesy’s assorted cricket-related Odysseys were out of the way for the year there wasn’t a great deal of cash available for anything above subsistence-level eating and drinking.

Then, in the run-in to retirement when we sat down and looked at the figures it became evident that my allocated pension would suffice for day to day expenses, but that would be about as far as the money was likely to go.

As a result, travel planning, choices of destination, activities along the way and such were matters for ‘Er Indoors since she’d be the one paying for each little jaunt.

Bearing those financial constraints in mind, we’ve done fairly well over the past seven years with trips to destinations along the Queensland coast, the Hunter Valley, to Melbourne, around the Yarra Valley and up to north-east Victoria, down to northern Tasmania and, most recently, Japan.

There’s also been the opportunity to catch the 2001 Byron Bay Blues & Roots Festival and last year’s Eric Clapton concert in Brisbane.

So I’m happy to sit in the Little House of Concrete and pass the time reading, writing, listening to music, drinking wine and doing some gardening on the side.

On the other hand, if Madam appears beside my right elbow inquiring whether I’d be interested in a trip to South Australia the answer is almost sure to be in the affirmative.

A cynic would point out that many of the destinations have been wine-producing areas of note and that Hughesy would hardly be likely to refuse the chance to indulge in a spot of tasting.

And the cynic would be quite right.

Once Madam has set out the basic parameters (destination, length of stay, et cetera) Hughesy does get the opportunity to do some planning of his own to fit in with his interests, but the basic thrust of the journey is largely beyond my control.

Given a basic itinerary that allowed for seven nights in South Oz, there’s no way we’d be able to go everywhere. Once we’ve narrowed the possibilities down to a couple of areas the number of places we could go will always be greater than the number of locations it’s physically possible to visit. 

When wine tasting is involved experience suggests visiting any more than half a dozen wineries at well-spaced intervals through the day is likely to result in a severe case of palate burnout.

I could, of course, learn to spit, removing the inebriation factor from the equation, but the increase in the number of wineries that could be visited wouldn’t be worth the raised risk of domestic discord.

So, with seven nights at our disposal, the first decision to be made was which of Adelaide’s environs we’d be visiting this time.

Based on her previous residence in Croweater Country, ‘Er Indoors suggested Clare as a desirable destination and the suggestion was one that a dedicated Riesling drinker could comfortably endorse.

Since we’re not very likely to be back that way unless we’re stopping over on the way to somewhere else a basic structure of Adelaide > three nights in Clare > the Barossa overnight on the way back to the City of Churches seemed to fit reasonably well. That meant four nights in the wine country and three days for Madam to catch up with friends and acquaintances. Looked like a fair deal all around.

With the basic outline of the trip sorted out it was time to set out on basic research, and when you’re researching Australian wineries, there are few better starting points than Halliday’s Australian Wine Companion.

If you’ve spotted Mr Halliday’s weighty tome in a bookshop, you may well suppose it contains details of every winery on the continent, and I guess that, at some point, it did. 

The recent growth of Australia’s wine industry has, however, posed a problem for Halliday since there are now too many wineries to fit into a book limited to eight hundred odd pages and they produce more wines than any one person can physically taste.

There’s also the question of tasting notes for previous vintages, so a dedicated drinker could well end up with a shelf full of Hallidays for reference purposes.

The combination of those factors induced me to subscribe to the online version of Halliday’s tome, and I think that having worked my way around the website a couple of times, I might have bought my last hard copy of the Companion.

Mind you, I did use the hard copy to start research into the wineries of the Clare Valley, but only to start a basic list of what was there from the handy list at the back of the book, get the star rating and check which establishments were not open to the public.

That data went onto a spreadsheet. Name of the winery, Halliday’s star rating, a blank column for the address, another for details of opening hours and a final column for anything of interest.

With that done it was over to the Companion website for a dash of cut and paste. 

Physical and website addresses, opening hours and anything of interest went into the appropriate columns and anywhere that hadn’t made it into the print version got slotted into alphabetical order. So, voila, a neat summary of the wineries of the Clare Valley.

Since we were only planning to spend a day in the Barossa, there was no point in repeating the whole laborious exercise there. For the next bit, I wandered over to the front of the book and the list of the highest-rated wineries before going through the same basic process, carefully deleting any that were not open to the public.

The remaining list still contained too many places for us to visit in a day but if you’re only going to be able to visit a couple of wineries out of a multitude of competing establishments you may as well head for a couple of the best.

Having done that, it was another cut and paste job as I checked each winery’s website and anything of note added to the summary column.

Research complete, the contents of the spreadsheet were pasted into a plain text document, which was then cut into individual slices to cover all the wineries along with accommodation details. 

That done, it was a case of plug in the iPod, create three folders called Clare, Barossa and Adelaide, transfer the files from the desktop to the appropriate folder and drag the folders over to the iPod and I had a handy pocket reference for the trip.

© Ian Hughes 2017