December 12, 2014
A lot of stuff goes into Yalumba maintenance major-general Rolf Egert's shed – and a lot never comes out.
But each item in this cathedral of dreams has a story.
"Everything has a place and a use," says the frugal fifth generation Silesian.
Like a couple of kilometres of Oregon timber beams, rescued from the Port Adelaide Wool Stores. Sailed in as a ship's ballast from the west coast of America in the 1880s and matured in lanolin ever since. Stable and strong as a blacksmith's handshake.
"This'll make fine furniture one day. We have used some already in the Wine Room for shelves and flooring and counter tops – and the colour is like oloroso sherry."
An 1890s buggy in mint condition. On the leather seat you can still see the bum-prints of third generation Walter and Percival Smith bouncing their way to church in 1901. It'll get done up one day, probably in time for the 200th birthday celebration at Yalumba in 2049.
A bowling ball in a twenty-foot sling. There's a story.
"Down in McLaren Vale the Wirra Wirra winery owns a trébuchet – you know those Roman weapons they used to fling burning barrels of hot tar at the Visigoths. The boss the late Greg Trott was a classics scholar. Liked that sort of thing. Would fire it up every year after a few reds. They challenged us to a duel so we made up our own catapult. This bowling ball would have landed in Port Lincoln with a good wind. They called it off."
There's a MAS*H sign up on the wall. A memory from a staff dress up party. Hawkeye. Trapper John. Radar O'Reilly. Who went as “Hot Lips” Houlihan?
"We won't go there," he says with a grin.
A Morris Commercial van. And a Bedford flat bed truck. Pukka British. Clearly Wyndy Hill-Smith felt an allegiance to the old country.
"We'll do them up one day too. But they still go alright. Engines would go forever. Just change the spark plugs and fill them up with oil."
Then we come to a shelf that looks like a pantry. Nestling next to the boxes of gaskets and drawers of brass spigots and rolls of Number 3 wire there are jars of olives. Pear chutney. Bottles of Shiraz sauce. Tiny wild olives the size of a musket shot.
And tall, narrow black bottles of olive oil that smell of pepper and nuts and green tea and lemon. The golden slick is the fruit of roadside feral trees, planted by birds borrowing seeds from 1830s settler foundation orchards. It’s luscious, begging for an inch thick slice of Tanunda's fresh wood fired Apex bread and a dip of dukkah... and perhaps a chaser of mettwurst.
"It's my hobby," Rolf says. "The Barossa Farmers Market every Saturday bright and early. I was on the original committee ten years ago. Back on the committee now. It says everything about the Barossa. Food. People. Wine."
So does he. Purveyor of history, memories and possibilities under a galvo roof.