Nestled between the impressive Gulf St Vincent beaches and the Mount Lofty Ranges lies a little place that I like to call heaven. More formally known as McLaren Vale, and best known for its succulent produce, this fertile South Australian region produces some of the best wine in the country, if not the world.
Despite being recently graced with a giant Cube, McLaren Vale isn’t always the first to grace a traveller’s must-visit list. This isn’t because of its proximity to Maslin’s, but because tourists often flock to the more famous Barossa Valley instead.
This means there’s ample opportunity to indulge in intimate, authentic experiences at McLaren Vale wineries and cellar doors. That said, it still pays to know where the best wineries offering these experiences are.
To offer you precisely that, we’ve listed the best McLaren Vale wineries to visit off the beaten track. These are:
- Inkwell Wines
- Shottesbrooke Wines
- Samuel’s Gorge
- Noon Winery
This McLaren Vale winery is headed by a leading expert in sustainability, so you can imagine just how things are done around here.
The winery’s off-grid cellar door is exquisitely fashioned from 20-odd recycled shipping containers. Certainly different, but no less beautiful, the contemporary set-up features floor-to-ceiling windows overlooking the lush vineyards and a rooftop deck serving up delectable views from Mt Lofty to the Fleurieu Peninsula.
Inkwell is extremely proud of their single-vineyard wines and keeps their production as natural and as simple as possible. The certified organic drop you can taste from a daily tasting menu, as part of a sit-down experience, or from the glass or bottle on an outdoor deck.
If you think you’ll be tasting a lot of it (easily done), consider booking one of three luxury on-site suites for a night or two. Delightfully tucked away in the secluded valley, these elegant, ultra-private rooms feature a huge standalone bath from where you can sip, soak, and savour magnificent views across the undisturbed vineyard.
Where: 377 California Road, Tatachilla SA 5171
Open: Wednesday to Sunday, 12 p.m. – 5 p.m. or by appointment
From humble beginnings in 1981, Shottesbrooke today is a proud and passionate producer of an incredible range of award-winning wines distributed – and no doubt loved – worldwide.
At its not-so-humble winery in McLaren Flat, Shottesbrooke’s premium drop is carefully crafted by an experienced team, state-of-the-art equipment and meticulous growing practices. (They operate by the mantra that ‘great wines can only be made from great grapes.’)
Airy, framed by flowers and with a delightfully rustic feel, Shottesbrooke’s cellar door warmly welcomes visitors to enjoy premium wines while soaking in the beauty of the vineyards and surrounding hills. Staff at this McLaren Vale winery are friendly, knowledgeable and more than happy to tell you all about their impressive range.
If you’re keen to learn more about winemaking, Shottesbrooke offers an immersive, full-day tour that’s topped off with a delectable three-course meal at the hatted Currant Shed.
Where: 101 Bagshaws Road, McLaren Flat SA 5171
Open: Daily, 11 a.m. – 5 p.m.
One of McLaren Vale’s most picturesque wineries, Samuel’s Gorge oozes old-world charm. Calling an 1853-built farm shed home, this boutique winery boasts a beautiful facade of stone walls set among Cypress trees and tumbling vines.
Perched atop a ridge overlooking Onkaparinga River National Park, Samuel’s Gorge also offers exquisite views to match its exquisite wines.
If you’re a fan of red, as you’d have to be to visit McLaren Vale, you’ll be happy to know that Samuel’s Gorge specialises in five key varieties: Grenache, Shiraz, Mourvèdre, Graciano and Tempranillo. Visitors are strongly encouraged to slow down, relax and enjoy their tasting, much like the wines themselves were produced, which involved patient techniques and long, slow ferments.
Where: 193 Chaffey’s Road, McLaren Vale SA 5171
Open: Daily, 11 a.m. – 5 p.m.
A gorgeous McLaren Vale winery with an affinity for furry, four-legged friends – there’s a lot to love about DogRidge Wines.
A small, family owned venture, DogRidge Wines inspires a homely environment where you can comfortably sample some of the region’s best flavours in the intimate setting of the kitchen table (which is of the hand-crafted refectory variety, but still…). They say there’s no place like home, but DogRidge might be just as sweet.
Wine tastings at DogRidge are accompanied by freshly baked sourdough, local olive oil, and in-depth insights into each of the wines – which range from whites and reds to fizzy and fortified. You’ll be charmed by the winery’s warm hospitality and tranquil setting among its vineyards, roses and gum trees.
DogRidge offers affordable group tasting experiences; taste their most popular (or their entire) range and even create your own unique wine label to plaster on a bottle you can get … into later.
Where: 129 Bagshaws Rd, McLaren Flat SA 5171
Open: Daily, 11 a.m. – 5 p.m.
Noon opens its cellar door just three weekends in November every year. For that reason, it’s unlikely to be free from a crowd, though you’ll want to experience it anyway if only to pick up a bottle or two of their delicious, full-bodied red.
As a small, family-owned business, Noon Winery produces a limited amount of wine every year. Its fantastic taste and the fact that there ain’t much of it make Noon’s product highly coveted; they sell only to their mailing list and often sell out soon after their release day each year.
Obviously, they do save some for those weekends they open to the public, so if you are in the area during that Jacaranda-blooming month then be sure to pop by and see what all the fuss is about.
Where: Rifle Range Road, McLaren Vale SA
Open: 14-15, 21-22 & 28-29 November 2020, 10 a.m. – 5 p.m.
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