There has always been this perception that Langhorne Creek is an out of the way place. No so, we discover.
Marina Goldsworthy struggles to comprehend the fact that she can get a fritz, cheese and pickles sandwich in the quaint little deli in Langhorne Creek. “What place still sells a fritz, cheese and pickles sandwich?” she asks. “Isn’t it great?
“Langhorne Creek is just that sort of place; it’s beautiful. I just love the community; the whole region is special.”
After 20 years in the wine industry at a winery, in retail and internationally with the United Kingdom Institute of Masters of Wine as its Australia-Asia administrator based here, Marina has been appointed to a new role of marketing the Langhorne Creek Wine Region.
The quality of the product continues to be unquestionable; the eight wineries in the region are brilliant in terms of their united approach to promoting Langhorne Creek. The must-visit local pub, the Bridge, also does a fair share of selling the region.
The challenge, Marina says, is to make outsiders aware that the heart of this sensational wine region where they also sell the fritz, cheese and pickles sandwiches is only 25 minutes from Mount Barker and 35 from Goolwa. It’s why the new campaign is based around the slogan: “It’s closer than you think”.
“It’s all about better connecting, not only with Goolwa, but the entire Fleurieu Peninsula,” Marina said. “We see ourselves as an integral part of the coast.
“A lot of people associate the Fleurieu and wine with just McLaren Vale; they don’t think that the wine region goes around the other side. It has completely different climate, and while the wines are all special they are different.
“Overall, we just want to raise the profile of Langhorne Creek as a tourist destination… a place for good, quality wines. We crush more grapes than the Barossa Valley despite having a limited number of cellar doors. The quality here is premium; we are the second largest wine region in the state (behind the Riverland).
“When you drive from the hills and along the plains you feel like you are on that south coast almost; the cooling breezes, the big skies and the flat.
“Langhorne Creek has a lot to offer. It lends itself to a lot of affection; most have a soft spot for the place and when you get to know the people you completely understand why.
“We want people to choose Langhorne Creek wine because they know it is good; just grab it no matter whose brand it is.
“We sell more reds than whites, and historically it is better known for its reds, but there are emerging new varieties and more and more top quality whites are coming out.”
The Langhorne Creek Wine Region team also consists of Leanne Jaensch as executive officer and James Carroll as marketing support officer, and between the trio they have a plan in the overall objective to broaden the appeal.
“We want to show people we already have a great connection with Goolwa,” Marina said. “We have already worked closely together with the Smoke Off last year and a few weeks ago, and with Cittaslow.
“There is the wine show in May, and the cup at the Strathalbyn races. We are planning another pop-up wine presentation in Leigh Street in the city like we did last October.
“Over summer we are hoping to do a pop-up in Goolwa at Signal Point… the council has been very supportive. We plan to set up on the deck and bottom area of Signal Point between Christmas and New Year and each weekend of the holidays. For $10 you get to taste six wines which is redeemable on the purchase of wine.
“We are planning The Grapest Run, a 5km fun run through the Langhorne Creek region November next year. It involves running a 5km route, and the last kilometre has five wineries along the stretch. They finish late afternoon at a winery and go late into the evening with a country or rock music band with local food and wine.
“We are starting a promotional program to run through the summer and well into next year under the banner of ‘It’s closer than you think’ and hopefully attract people from Mount Barker, south from Victor Harbor, Port Elliot and Goolwa, and other parts of the Fleurieu to just think about us as a destination for a nice day trip.
“And Langhorne Creek really is closer than you think. We want people to come down here and experience our hospitality and see the landscape… it is unique with its beautiful big gums, and come the warmer months when you drive from Mount Barker the grass is all brown and suddenly it’s like seeing an oasis. It’s fantastic. You can feel the coast and the lakes. It is different to other regions.
“From Goolwa you can see some amazing landscapes as you drive through Clayton Bay and around Milang and the lake, through the fords and the winery road that come out at Finniss.
“I was blown away when I first saw Milang… it’s like back a step in time. It’s old fashioned in a beautiful way; it’s got that two-storey pub, all those shacks, the old jetties… you really get the feeling that years ago it was a river port. I find that unique. You can really feel history here.
“I am looking forward to the challenges ahead, but I have been given a good start. Langhorne Creek has an active community that is keen to run good events. The people are all engaged with the region, the wineries work extremely well together; they each have a good calendar of events. They are passionate about their region.”
And, of course, they are close to some of the finest reds imaginable. “I am a bit partial to a Malbec,” Marina said. “We do some beautiful Malbec down here. It’s dry and it evokes the landscape. It has a bit of dusty road about it, and you can almost taste Langhorne Creek in every drop. Traditionally Langhorne Creek was a Cabernet growing region, but at the last wine show they were saying the Shiraz were exceptional; some of the best in the country. The reds are really special down here.”
There is a hint of being a wine critique here; probably due to the fact Marina, a mother of two grown-up girls, is married to one of this state’s finest-ever wine writers, Tony Love. One imagines this lovely couple indulging in an earthy red at night whilst munching on a takeaway fritz, cheese and pickles sandwich. Is there anything more South Australian?