THE MCLAREN VALE WINE REGION: DISCOVER A RANGE OF WINERY EXPERIENCES
Bordered by mountains and sea, the McLaren Vale wine region provides interest for the traditional and intrepid wine lover alike, with its wineries serving up classic wines, surprising styles and impressive quality across the board.
As the first place vines were planted in South Australia, McLaren Vale is a well-established wine region with a wealth of haloed, ancient sites. And with its wine trail offering a huge range of producers experimenting with all manner of varieties and styles; landscapes stretching from the Mount Lofty Ranges through undulating vineyards and out to the sea; and cellar doors dishing up experiences from the casual to the conceptual, it’s a dream destination for travellers.
"McLaren Vale has many secrets waiting to be discovered, from the folds of its ever-changing landscape, to its small restaurants and cellar doors and the spectacular d’Arenberg Cube." – James Halliday
If you’re touching down in the city, it’s a short 45-minute road-trip from Adelaide to McLaren Vale. Adding to its appeal, McLaren Vale is within easy reach of the Fleurieu region’s breezy beaches, made inviting by the typically temperate weather, and if you have some extra time it could be worth tacking on the drive and ferry ride to visit the dramatic, deserted coves of Kangaroo Island. That said, with McLaren Vale’s charming heritage architecture, tempting restaurants, 80-plus cellar doors, and producers of food and drink from cheeses to spirits, olive oils, honey, chutney, chocolate and more, you’ll have plenty to keep you occupied.
McLaren Vale's history
“In the late 19th century McLaren Vale had a brisk trade with the UK based in no small measure on the belief of some English doctors that the ‘ferruginous’ qualities of the wineswould restore the health of anaemic patients.” – James Halliday
THE STORY OF MCLAREN VALE'S SOILS
McLaren Vale’s climate is a contributing factor to its diverse wine styles, but that’s not the whole story. The success of its wine is linked to an intricate geological story under-vine. Up to 50 sub-soils can be found across the region, some dating back 550 million years, and they each contribute to the character of its sub-districts and wines. An intensive piece of work has been done to map these, showing specifics about the soil types, where in the region they exist and how old they are, as well as where McLaren Vale's wineries lie in relation to them.
MCLAREN VALE'S SUB-REGIONS
McLaren Vale is demarcated by its various elevations and soils into several distinctive sub-regions. Their proximities to the mountains and sea also create particular microclimates, which in turn influence the styles of their resulting wines. Of these, one of the most celebrated is Blewitt Springs, with sand over clay soils and a location alongside the southern part of the Mount Lofty Ranges that’s sacred for winemaking. According to James Halliday, the wines here “have a unique structure, texture, flavour and style, elegant yet highly aromatic and effortlessly flavoured”. Others sub-regions of note are Willunga, Sellicks, Seaview and McLaren Flat.
Mclaren Vale's Wine Varieties
“Grenache is McLaren Vale’s secret weapon – not merely Australia’s best, but every bit as good as that of the Rhône Valley.” – James Halliday
McLaren Vale's winemaking
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Mid February to late April