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Event Recap: Steel Gate Winery Tour 2022

Words by John McLeod; Photos by Jeff Whitehead, Paul Hollingworth, and John McLeod.

Sunday 14 August dawned with a typically grey, cold, overcast Melbourne day, with showers and fog threatening.

Matt G on his race livery Kawasaki Ninja

Whilst not overly fond of being woken by the alarm at sparrow fart on a weekend, nonetheless an event planned for the day aroused my slumbering body with the promise of “drivers roads” and “motorbikes” — all exciting stuff!

As a keen and enthusiastic driver and motorcycle rider, this was incentive enough to get my act together; fill my stomach with breakfast, all whilst preparing Max in the garage for the outing.

For those that may not know, Max is short for Maximilian – a good Teutonic name for a Teutonic vehicle.  Strong, stalwart, yet elegant and refined, he conjures up images of pomp, ceremony, and a good old German marching band.  He is also my pride and joy and my motoring companion for today’s outing.

Impromptu Garage talk in the Street

With plenty of coffee and toast on board, and with the assistance of TomTom navigation, we set off to arrive in good time at the pre-set meetup destination, outside the BWS emporium in main street Lilydale.

Being the first to arrive, I promptly stopped inconveniently for anyone else coming along, in the middle of the service lane, whilst checking the Navigation to see if I was actually in the right place.

Thoughtfully, within a few moments, a brilliantly detailed XR6 Falcon arrived on the scene with Chris Q and Quentin on board.

True to form, as everyone loves a crowd, in short order other cars and the bikes — oh the bikes! — Started to arrive and form an impromptu line for the garage talk and oohing and aaahing that followed.

Now, the Motorcycle Tourers were all looking wonderful and hot in their leathers — oops, I forgot, leathers are not really used for general motorcycle riding anymore, but rather for track use, whereas modern motorcycle riding kit is mainly armored and waterproof synthetics. 

Nonetheless, I digress lol, and confess my bias, as leather was mainly used back in the day when I used to ride regularly.  And there is just something intangible about a motorcyclist in leather…lol…

Naturally of course at this precise moment, Melbournes wonderful weather decided to intervene and down came a shower of rain.  

Of course, a rain shower was never going to deter the appropriately dressed motorcycle riders, whereas a bunch of us city folk, locked up our cars and headed across the road to the nearest cafe for coffee and croissants.  

Suitably refreshed, it was time for the main event to start, being the drive to Steel Gate Winery in Dixons Creek.

First to set off were the Motorcycle Tourers, after a briefing by their group leader, Fab, and they had planned a somewhat longer and less direct route, and with a stop along the way, compared to the route selected for Motafrenz by the leader, Alan B.

Alan regaled us with his thoughts about the journey ahead of us, piloting as he was, his favorite Swedish steed, Lars, and assured us that the pace would be gentle as Lars apparently was not the most nimble handler given the wet and misty road conditions.

The drive to the Winery was in convoy with Alan and Lars leading and whilst average speeds were in the 60 – 80 KPH range, the twisting, undulating, and at times narrow roads lead us through a veritable treat of outstanding Australian scenery.

Arriving at the Winery we all parked up such as to allow us all to further examine some very beautiful and rare classic automobiles, both new and old.  

Convivial hospitality and conversation enjoyed by all

The winery itself is set amongst some stunning scenery and as we were greeted by our hosts and ushered into our dining room, we proceeded to make ourselves comfortable.

Our hosts had extensive knowledge of wines in general and of course their own products and we were entertained with a verbal discussion of the vineyard’s history along with a group wine tasting that took in a great selection of wines, and the history of each variety again being detailed to us by our charming hosts.

It was about this time that the Motorcycle Riders arrived, having taken a more lengthy route, and joined us in our dining room.  Once again I was distracted by all these hot and husky motorcyclists in leather – Sorry! Synthetics!  Lol – and so finally we were all together again in our dining area, seated at two large and lengthy, tables.  

This was quite a magical room, as some of the photos may show, being almost an extended veranda floating over the ground, and with a roof, that was only bounded by hanging thick plastic sheets, given the impression of being right out in the open in the middle of the vineyard.  

The views were truly outstanding and throughout the afternoon of eating and socializing, clouds could be seen scudding across the sky as showers of rain swept the fields, whilst we were all toasty warm and dry within. 

Much laughter, merriment, and socializing ensued and it was a fabulously enjoyable and entertaining day for all — certainly one that I very much enjoyed and found it an afternoon that was very congenial, entertaining, and above all a meeting place for like-minded people to meet, greet, make and take away new friends, whilst forging renewed bonds with regular members.

I would have to say that a combined event like this was a great success, as the numbers that turned out would testify to, and I look forwards to similar combined events in the future.

My thanks to Alan B for organizing and leading this event, in conjunction with Fab from Melbourne Motorcycle tourers — it was a wonderful day, and my heartfelt thanks to all who came along to make it such an enjoyable and memorable success.

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