No wine lover’s time in Adelaide would be anywhere near complete without a drive down to McLaren Vale.
This stunning patch of prime Australian wine country is definitely worth the forty minute trip out of the city - upon arriving, the gently undulating, green landscape will quickly make you feel as though you’re a million miles from anywhere, and the scent of some of the country’s finest wine hangs sweetly in the air.
Visiting wineries is a fantastic way to gain a more intimate understanding of wine. You’ll get to see the soil which imparts so much flavour to the grapes, you’ll feel the same breezes on your face which add balance to the wine.
It’s easy to get lost in the romance of the land and the fruit, but a quick chat with the vintners and people who run these places will quickly remind you just how much hard work, tireless dedication and determination goes into producing your favourite bottles.
Thankfully, at a winery, you have ample opportunity to show your gratitude; by visiting the tasting rooms and shops, and piling your car high with the treasures you uncover.
McLaren Vale boasts several world class wineries, which go out of their way to welcome visitors and inform curious minds, as well as offering some seriously good food in their stunning restaurants. Here’s a brief overview of five wineries which we’d suggest you can’t miss for next time you’re in the area.
There’s a distinctly Mediterranean vibe at Coriole, a beautiful winery in the heart of McLaren Vale. The pretty brick buildings set among seriously gorgeous scenery, the beautiful gardens, the smell of home cooking… it all adds to the effect, and this is a really special spot to start a wine tour.
The Mediterranean theme at Coriole extends to the wine, as well. This is where you can pick up some of McLaren Vale’s best Italian inspired wines - their Sangiovese and Fiano wines are absolutely stunning, and they produce a delightfully soft and juicy Merlot, too.
While the wine is definitely worth purchasing, possibly the best thing about a trip to Coriole is their restaurant. Run with the same nonchalance and faith in natural produce as the rest of the winery, the restaurant doesn’t have a menu.
It offers one dish per day, and you just know it’s going to be excellent - cooked with whatever fantastic ingredients the chef picked up that morning. The restaurant also offers the opportunity to purchase some of the cured meats and olives produced on site, giving you even more to take home!
Image by Coriole
McLaren Vale is an Australian wine region with a serious bit of history behind it, and nowhere is this more obvious that amid the stately, 19th century grandeur of d’Arenberg.
d'Arenberg has recently celebrated its centenary year, and despite their enormous success, they still run the place as a family winery, with the same dedication for expressing the very best of the land they work with through their wine.
This isn’t a snooty old chateau, though. d’Arenburg’s motto is ‘The Art of Being Different’, and they demonstrate this philosophy through their decor (giant bronze fingers stick up out of the soil at the back of the main building), their eccentric-but-delicious menus, and their bottle labels, which poke fun at major French Champagne produces, and frequently bear names like ‘Noble Botryotinia Fuckeliana’.
A tongue-in-cheek fine winery? Brilliantly unique, brilliantly Australian, and definitely worth popping into.
Image by d'Arenberg
3. Battle of Bosworth and Spring Seed Wine Co.
Over the past two decades, the organic farming revolution has taken Australian wine regions by storm. One of the best organic wineries to visit in McLaren Vale is undoubtedly the Battle of Bosworth and Spring Seed Wine Co, two labels run from the same estate by the Bosworth and Hemsley-Smith families.
This vineyard has been in the Bosworth family for 170 years, but in the 1990s, it was converted to a 100% organic operation, as Joch Bosworth firmly believes that this is the only real way you can achieve the full expression he believes his land deserves.
The views of the Vale, and of the sparkling gulf are pretty magnificent, and the whole winery has a magical quality that is unbelievably relaxing. You can really get a sense of the land here, and from tasting their wines (beautifully packaged using labels inspired by antique floral designs), you can see why they do what they do.
Image by Battle of Bosworth
4. Alpha Box and Dice
Winemaking sometimes attracts a rather eccentric crowd, and if it’s eccentricity you’re after, then Alpha Box and Dice is the place for you. It’s altogether a little weird at this winery - the decor has a slightly gothic vibe, all quirky, haphazardly-placed antiques, and the tasting room seems to be set up to resemble some sort of Olde-Worlde shop… but the wines on offer demonstrate that this isn’t a case of style over substance.
In fact, the odd names - such as Blood of Jupiter and Dead Winemakers’ Society - and medieval vibe really add to the experience of visiting this sort of winery, which is based very much around the singular vision of the vintners who run it.
Alpha Box and Dice use a fascinating array of French and Italian grape varietals, with a big emphasis on Sangiovese and Dolcetto, and produce characterful, intriguing wines which really pack in their rich, red flavours.
The staff who work there get very involved in the theatricality of it all, and are renowned for their light-hearted yet deeply informative presentations of the winery’s produce.
Image by Adelady
5. Wirra Wirra
This winery is absolutely perfect if you’ve managed to put a gang of wine lovers together, and you’re looking for somewhere spacious to have a great day out with all the trimmings.
Wirra Wirra is full of facilities so many other wineries are lacking - not least a large barbeque area, allowing you to make your own lunch and thus save a few dollars to spend in the wine shop.
The tasting room is nice and large, too, so you and your mates can get relaxed and not worry about elbowing other guests out of the way at the bar.
Wirra Wirra is probably best known for their intense Tempranillo wines, which go fantastically well with that grilled fare you have been cooking out on their back lawn.
Image by True Local
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