If you’ve spent any time in a grape growing region you know that autumn is grape vintage.  It’s the time of the year when wineries are running 24 hour shifts, vineyard teams are working through the night, and the roads are full of tractors, trucks and machinery all loaded high with grapes leaving trails of sticky juice.  The days are clear and beautiful, followed by nights that are cool enough to see you reach for a cosy blanket – its just perfect in the valley at this time of year. Its also the time of year when the traditional food skills of our forebears were pressed into every day service.  Putting fruit away for winter, preparing the pickles, sauces and chutneys, waterglassing eggs, smoking the bacon, making the sausages, and of course stocking the cellar with pickled onions and dill cucumbers.  All of these food traditions make up our regional food stories, and we celebrate them every year by not only using as many of them as we can, but also proudly living them as part of our beautiful Tanunda show.  And what a fabulous country show this one is!  It’s a regional celebration of everything we treasure about our community, and its one of our favourite days of the year.


In all our historical research we regularly uncover stories of the women in our community who donated time and competed regularly in our wonderful show.  Mrs Amanda Kuchel who decorated hats and won prizes every year for her floral arrangements, alongside her husband who bred show winning pigeons.  And Miss Emma Eichele who competed every year with her watercolours and needlework, and who donated countless hours as a volunteer building displays and promotional work for Tanunda show.  (and who also got a traffic fine for driving her car in the valley in the 1920’s without using her indicators!  But that’s another story……)  The stories these women could tell us, but cant.  There is a saying that we stand on the shoulders of giants, but in the Barossa they aren’t so much giants, and more that they were normal women, doing normal things.  But combined, they built something extraordinary in our community and our local show.  So its important to us that we continue their legacy, and that’s why we are so passionate about our little local event.

If you have never entered a competition at your local show we really encourage you to give it a go – they are so rewarding, and if we dont participate then these beautiful old traditions will die out – and that would just be tragic.   Show tables groan under the weight of jars of preserves, row after row of cakes, family rivalries over the crunchy or soft Anzac biscuits, who judged the scones and was it rigged, much dispute over who produced the best pickled onions, and the throng of men competing in the blokes chocolate cake division as they attempt to prove that the footy club blokes are better bakers than the cricketers.

Its also the battleground for several of our most famous regional dishes.  Pickled onions are always hotly contested, as are the traditional gherkins (sauer gurkin) packed into fermenting crocks with vine leaves and dill.  But it’s also the national championships for German Yeast Cake (Streusel Kuchen) and Rote Grutze, and they are always the crowd favourites.   You will see both of these recipes and food stories feature in our posts and chats in the lead up to the show as we both prepare our entries, and we have shared our recipes for both in our blog posts.  Sheralee currently holds the blue ribbon in the Yeast Cake competition, and Marieka currently holds second place in Rote Grutze, so this year we are both out to defend our titles and proudly uphold our regional traditions.  And of course we always enter lots of jars in the preserves, because they simply look so beautiful lined up on the tables, and we tell everyone that we really don’t care who wins, because truly we don’t.


So yeah, here’s to Autumn in the valley.  There’s a lot to celebrate – with our 108th Tanunda show being a big part of that.  Keep your eye on our social channels this month and you will see all of the action (and some of the friendly competition), and hopefully we bring home a few ribbons!


So, go forth and show-bake Keepers, if for no other reason than to honour the quiet men and women who came before us and paved our way.

We are the keepers.  And in this season, and for events like these, we step forward and lead the way.  You.  Me.  Us.