Cellar Door - The Wood-fired Oven

Built circa 1880, at the same time as the original section of the homestead, the wood-fired oven was an integral part of early life for the Kraft family in the Barossa Valley. The pioneers built black kitchens or outside kitchens to minimise the risk of their cottages being burnt down and to keep the heat out of the living quarters in summer. They baked bread, cooked meals and smoked meats in an adjoining smokehouse. The wood oven and fireplace at Rusden is one of the few survivors of that era. Most have been torn down or neglected to a state of ruin.

Before the first test run, (it had been dormant for over 30 years) we consulted the Fechner family who have run the local Apex wood-fired bakery oven since 1924. Nipper Fechner advised us to warm it up slowly, over a week long period, in order to re-temper the masonary and avoid cracking and damaging the oven. We did that, and cooked a veritable feast along the way with the verdict being that it cooked some amazing food with great wood-fired flavour.

Today it is the focal point of our cellar door and an imposing monument to times past. We are happy it is now housed indoors so it can be appreciated for many more generations.