While a number of our travel posts and winemaker profiles are written after the fact, I still think it's fun to update our customers from the road in real time. As K&L's assistant head buyer I'm on the hunt in Australia this week, visiting a number of distilleries and wineries in the Yarra Valley outside of Melbourne. This is my first time to the region and I'm loving everything so far, from the relaxed vibe, to the superb selection of wines and the warm summer weather. What's been most striking however is how eager everyone in Healesville (where I'm staying this week as a guest of Four Pillars distillery) is to participate in the culture, from the tourists who visit the region to the locals who embrace it. Within just a few minutes of dropping my bags at the hotel, I chatted with a guy on the front porch about chardonnay and how he thinks the Yarra Valley makes the perfect expression of it. As a huge fan of Yarra whites from producers like Oakridge and Giant Steps, I couldn't argue with him.
Speaking of Giant Steps, in heading over to the Four Pillars distillery to meet up with head honcho Cameron Mackenzie (with whom I'll be making a K&L exclusive batch of gin next week), I ran into Steve Flamsteed, the head winemaker who happened to be catching a gin and tonic after work. The three of us made plans to come by the winery over the weekend to taste a few of the new releases and see the property. Steve recently won "Winemaker of the Year" from Gourmet Traveller, so the wines are definitely in the spotlight right now. Look for a number of new posts over the next ten days as I work on a new Faultline gin recipe for K&L and try to distill the essence of the Yarra Valley into some of these articles.