First published on 28 Feb 2012. Updated on 13 Aug 2012.
A short drive south of Adelaide, McLaren Vale is set between the wilds of the rugged Gulf St Vincent and the rolling dales of the Mount Lofty Ranges. Old vines, old vineyards and generational family businesses exist here, and there are pioneering new makers as well. Shiraz here is exceptional, along with cabernet sauvignon, chardonnay and Grenache. Here are Time Out’s picks of the best cellar doors to visit in M-Vale. And if you’ve had enough of the grapey stuff, the Victory Hotel perched above Sellicks Beach is one of Australia’s best pubs. Main South Rd, Sellicks Hill, SA 5174 (08 8556 3083).
For over 170 years the mob at Oliver’s Taranga have plied their winey trade to the folks of South Australia and beyond. Premium wines are the forte here and the sandstone cottage restored as cellar door gives eager visitors a bit of a history lesson at well as a journey into the region’s full-flavoured shiraz. Oliver’s Taranga have also been excelling with ‘alternative varieties’, so have a refreshing slug of a Fiano or Vermentino when you pass through. 246 Seaview Rd, McLaren Vale SA 5171 (08 8323 8498).
This Rolls Royce of cellar doors in McLaren Vale has fancy facilities including an interactive cooking school and a produce store inside a restored 19th century stone church. Phenomenal views from the Adelaide Hills to across the Onkaparinga National Park form the backdrop. Traditional winemaking is meshed with modern nous, resulting in a broad range for all palates. Cnr Chapel Hill & Chaffey’s Rd, McLaren Vale, SA 5171 (08 8323 8429).
The Samuel’s Gorge cellar door is a rustic stone-and-wood shed with charming old shearing equipment among bits of old machinery. Set on a peak above the Onkaparinga National Park, with lofty views over parched hills and bushland, this is a spectacular site for minimalistic winemaking, scenic panoramas and wines of genuine ‘terroir’. “Ask for directions from a local,” McLaren Vale, SA 5171 (08 8323 8651).
Alpha Box & Dice
Alpha Box & Dice is the madcap, defiantly original vision of winemaker Justin Lane. Lane eschews regional conventions for single, noble varieties and a love of quirk. Wines like Golden Mullet Fury and Blood of Jupiter make for compelling drinking, and a chance to talk grapes with Lane is more than a treat at the cellar door. Do drop in. Lot 50, Oliver’s Rd, McLaren Vale, SA 5171 (08 8323 7750).
A hodgepodge of d’Arenberg winery buildings dots the escarpment way above McLaren Vale’s undulating vineyard land. This 100-year-old winery offers another historical glimpse into the region’s diverse wine landscape. Epicurean delights with a heavy focus on local produce await at the cellar door restaurant, along with views of vines, sea and sand. The cellar door reveals a gigantic range of wines from d’Arry’s Shiraz Grenache to the unusually named sticky wine Botryotinia fuckeliana (yes). A glimpse of winemaker Chester Osborne’s wild shirt collection is another plus. Osborn Rd, McLaren Vale, SA 5171 (08 8329 4888).