We've been to the Barossa Valley many times; it's always been a favourite weekend outing to pop into a winery for a tasting or a nice lunch. When we were invited to First Drop Wines to have a tapas lunch at their Home of the Brave Wine and Tapas Room we didn't really know what was in store for us. In fact, we did think it was going to be another nice winery with a nice restaurant. Yes, yes, it was nice - there was definitely no disappointment here but what a surprise! This is exactly the kind of place we have been screaming for! Wine and a casual tapas lunch with nothing pretentious here. This is the place you can "Seriously have Fun!"
The whole day was fun from go to woah! There were about 20 of us in a bus that took us to First Drop Wines - nothing like a fun bus trip to the Barossa Valley. When we arrived we were greeted by owner John Retsas. John, along with business partner Matt Grant, started their winery from a passion of wine - "First Drop is about passion for life, fun and flavour!... a lifelong commitment to making kick arse booze... wines with flavour and texture, and a splash of funk!"
First up, we tried some red wine straight from the barrel and then had a fun game of who could spit the wine the farthest. Now this was harder than it looked but lots of fun and laughter was had. Adelaide's legendary food man Dougal McFuzzelbutt was the winner of the first prize, a First Drops Wine cricket bat, spitting at 4.2 metres. Tempting Palates came in overall third at 3.8 metres (we must say we were 1st amongst our fellow females!) which was a gallant effort in itself.
After the fun and games of the wine spitting, we were all revved up and in the mood for some wine tasting. That's where we come to Home of the Brave. This distillery house is much more than a place to taste wine. As John describes "Home of the Brave is a place for enjoying great food and great times the way they should be". That perfectly describes our day!
First Drop wines are made from the three main wine regions of South Australia - Barossa Valley, McLaren Vale and the Adelaide Hills. So this makes for some unique and fun wines. In their owns words "this is booze crafted with a flair for creativity, a twist of innovation - and a sensitivity for tradition". John and Matt have worked in many wine regions around Europe so they know their stuff. More importantly, as much as they have fun with their exciting approach to wine they know how to mix fun - serious fun with the traditional aspects of wine-making.
A lot of thought goes into the names of the wines. The stories and creativity for the labels show the fun and funky side to all the First Drop wines. The wine labels give away the cheeky fun the First Drop guys like to have all the while producing some stunning wines. There were six wines all up that we tried - 2014 Mere Et Fils Adelaide Hills Chardonnay, 2015 Endless Summer Adelaide Hills Pinot Grigio, 2014 Mother's Ruin McLaren Vale Cabernet Sauvignon, 2013 Nacional McLaren Vale Touriga Nacional, 2015 Mothers Milk Barossa Shiraz and the 2013 Does Your Dog Bite? Moculta Eden Valley Syrah.
Our favourite was the Endless Summer. This outstanding Pinot Grigio had us pouring more than a tasting. The clean clear colour captures your eye, while the crisp refreshing flavours tantalise your palate. No, we aren't exaggerating. This left such an impression on us we made sure we each bought a bottle to take home.
Another favourite was the Does Your Dog Bite Moculta Eden Valley Syrah. This is a full bodied drop for those Shiraz lovers. First Drop appropriately describe it as "complex and expressive; an exotic tease"! We are still wondering if they were talking about the wine or the label printed on the bottle - perhaps both?
After a few great wines it's perfect to nibble on some tapas rounding out the whole Home of the Brave experience. To start with we had a feast of Anchovies marinated in extra virgin olive oil, fresh lemon and parsley, Trio of Marinated Olives, Finely Sliced Cured Meats, West Coast Cooked Prawns and Pan Fried Haloumi. All the dishes were of fresh local produce and well matched with the First Drop wines served.
Local Calamari with aioli mayonnaise, Spring Roasted Lamb Racks, Caprese Salad and Patates Bravas was the next lot of delicious tapas to go down a treat. Along with some more sipping of First Drop wines this definitely sent us into a food coma!
As always, no matter how full you get, there's a tiny space left to fill with something sweet. Served up were some Mixed Chocolate Plates and Sicilian Cannolis. The pistachio nuts in the cannolis added a crunchy surprise. We have to say the cannolis were the perfect end to our tapas feast. It was disrespectful to not eat more than one...yes it was; really it was!
Home of the Brave at First Drop Wines is a fun and funky wine tasting and food experience. Nothing pretentious here - just great tasting homely food, excellent wines (of course!) and hospitality that makes you feel like you are part of the family. The guys at First Drop have created something special in the Barossa. It's the perfect place to grab a group of friends for a day out in one of the world's best wine regions - yeah, that's our own opinion and we are sticking to it!
Where: First Drop Wines, Home of the Brave, Wine and Tapas Room 30/38 Barossa Valley Way, Nuriootpa
When: Wednesday - Saturday 10am - 4pm