You could easily miss the turn off down the dirt lane to Rod Hooper's charming 19th century winery, with the undistinguishable look of the Wild West about it, and we did. But once we finally found the low stone structure that constitutes Macaw Creek, a tiny, neatly kept winery, replete with an attached storage shed and a cozy antique tasting room, which was aglow with a fire to ward off the winter's chill from the clear cold mistral-like wind that was scouring the sweeping expanse of the Gilbert Valley, we knew we had come to the right place - Rod Hooper's home. Rod Hooper is more or less a one-man band at Macaw Creek. Nearly single handedly, he has resurrected his family's old farmhouse and winery and become the voice for the burgeoning number of wine growers and fledgling wineries popping up astride the low South Australia hills of the Gilbert Valley, about an hour an half north of Adelaide. He is a pioneer, much as his ancestors were more than a century and half ago when they came as free settlers to what we now know as South Australia. Thanks to Rod's forebear, an accomplished stone mason, the winery and several nearby stone buildings still survive, more or less intact. One such structure, now overgrown with flowering almond trees and a high field of tall grass and wild flowers is slated to become a bed and breakfast, a popular concept among small wineries whose cash flow and customer base have remained relatively tiny, in spite of selling out of all of their wine in short order. Fortunate are the lucky souls who get to bed down at the Hooper's. The wines are great and Rod's mother can really cook. Rod is a man with a vision. He has come back to the family homestead from a career as an oenology professor and acclaimed winemaker with the dream of producing fine wine in the all but forgotten Gilbert Valley. Moreover, Rod is bent on putting Gilbert Valley and its wines on the viticultural map. Already, he has made a darn good start. There is little doubt that Rod Hooper has succeeded in fashioning some very fine wines at his estate, with a little help and equipment from his long time friend and fellow winemaker Tim Gramp. Both men share their equipment and their knowledge on winemaking with the idea that every winemaker needs a second opinion. Well, the opinion of the tasting panel seconds Rod's handiwork. Indeed, very fine red wines are being fashioned at Macaw Creek, especially those containing Grenache, Shiraz, and Cabernet Sauvignon, and Rod's Riesling is a winner, too. And as a pioneer, Rod is of course experimenting with Sangiovese and other varietals, which he hopes to have for sale in the future. This is the kind of estate we can hardly wait to come back to because we know this is only the beginning for Rod and our club members. Assuredly, there will be more than a few good wines to follow. Stay tuned!