It’s the perfect love story. A Bulgarian girl moved to South Australia, fell in love and decided to stay… and make wine!
Elena Brooks started Dandelion Vineyards in 2007 and is still pinching herself over its success, having just taken out the title of New World Producer of the Year at the Sommelier Wine Awards (UK) 2020.
“I don’t think I would have ever achieved what I have, if I stayed in Bulgaria. Apart from the fact I’m an immigrant and a woman, I was only 23 when I started my own wine label. But South Australians embraced me — so to me, Adelaide is where dreams come true,” smiles Elena.
Located in the heart of the Fleurieu, Dandelion is set on what Elena calls the Springfield of McLaren Vale. “Everyone thinks McLaren Vale is flat, but it’s not. We’re situated on the most magical hill, neighboured by gorgeous wineries like Coriole and Chapel Hill.”
Like Elena and her all-girl team, Dandelion’s wines are feminine, elegant and perfumed. And carrying on the love story, her wines marry well with food. “My style is about accentuating the savoury characters in the fruit and creating wines that bring out the best in food.”
So, let’s play match-maker!
Wonderland of the Eden Valley Riesling – This beautiful wine comes from 108-year-old vines in Eden Valley. Its complex acids and sugars go perfectly with fresh shellfish or a fish terrine. Drink this wine in solitude and without any attitude.
Fairytale of the Barossa Grenache Rosé – The freshness and acidity of this wine makes it the perfect match for spicy dishes like lutiniza, a traditional Bulgarian recipe made up of grilled peppers, eggplant and zucchini, served on warm bread.
Lion’s Tooth of McLaren Vale Shiraz Riesling – With only 5 percent Riesling in this McLaren Vale Shiraz blend, this is one of my favourite wines bringing together the plushness of McLaren Vale Shiraz with the racy Riesling acidity from Eden Valley. The elegance and balance of this wine enables it to cross different cuisines; from steak au poivre to chicken, apricot, and harissa tagine.
Exciting times ahead
Plans have been approved to open Dandelion’s first Cellar Door in McLaren Vale in 2021. Although her wines speak of the region, the cellar door menu will be a tip of the hat to her roots in Bulgaria, serving Bulgarian-inspired food. “In Bulgarian culture, you don’t just sit at the table and drink wine. It’s food first, then wine. And with the right pairing, it’s a match made in heaven!”