This article was first published by Winecraft for Tasting Australia.
It’s only a 90-minute drive north of Adelaide but you’ll feel worlds away in the Clare Valley. With its grapevine-dotted hills set amongst deep green, eucalypt-forested gullies; its family-owned wineries, local produce and great restaurants, the Clare Valley is a stunning spot to spend a few days exploring with friends and loved ones.
The region is renowned for its crisp, citrusy riesling but there’s much more to Clare than this refreshing aromatic variety. This is red wine country, too; keep your eye out for plush shiraz, perfumed cabernet sauvignon and juicy grenache, as well as Mediterranean varieties like tempranillo and sangiovese. The cabernet malbec blend is arguably Clare’s signature red, the most notable examples produced by Wendouree, Jim Barry Wines and Tim Adams.
Exploring the Clare Valley by bike is a great option. The region’s dedicated cycle paths are legendary; the ‘Riesling Trail’ runs 33 kilometres north to south, passing through serene bushland, historic homesteads and leading, of course, to plenty of wineries – all on easy terrain.
Where to stay
For the romantics, The Mill Apartments offers luxury, self-contained apartments set in tranquil surroundings. If you’re in a group, Skillogalee House is a lovingly restored three-bedroom house and offers the perfect cosy retreat for friends and family. If it’s views you’re after, Gullyview Vineyards Retreat also accommodates up to eight guests, with unbeatable vistas across the property’s vineyards.
Whether you’re a riesling fanatic or beginner, Grosset Wines is the perfect place to start. Be sure to try the flagship Grosset Polish Hill Riesling, as well as incredible fiano, semillon, shiraz and cabernet. Around the corner is Mount Horrocks, where you can try some of the valley’s most sought-after small batch wines including their 2017 Nero d’Avola. If you can time your visit, be sure to drop in to Wines by KT (run by 2017 Gourmet Traveller WINE Winemaker of the Year finalist Kerri Thompson) – it’s open on the last weekend of each month, long weekends and public holidays.
Taylors is the perfect place to chill out – unwind with an award-winning bottle and cheese platter on the lawns. If you’re looking for a hands-on experience, be sure to book in advance on one of their tours or luxury tailored tastings. Hungry? A pitstop at Watervale General Store is in order for a tasty bahn mi, signature burger or sandwich.
After lunch, stop by O’Leary Walker Wines and choose a drop to enjoy on the verandah or inside their cellar door and experience the panoramic views. For a lazy afternoon, Shut The Gate offers an unpretentious and relaxing space to enjoy a glass and pick up some local produce for dinner. If you’re not in the mood for cooking, visit Terroir Restaurant for a refined dinner championing fresh, local ingredients.
Kick off at Skillogalee Wines for a hearty breakfast followed by a tasting in the cellar door. Next, hit up Kilikanoon and sample their stellar shiraz and grenache, alongside a host of other varieties. Bicycle hire is also available here – $50 also includes a sit-down tasting of the luxe Asset Collection wines on your return.
Lunchtime calls for a stop at Sevenhill Hotel to enjoy modern pub fare with a great selection of beer and local wine. While you’re there, pop down the road to South Australia’s oldest winery Sevenhill Cellars for a look and taste into the rich history of Australian viticulture.
The perfect way to end your day is at the Jeanneret Wines and CVBC (Clare Valley Brewing Co) cellar door. Chill out on the deck with a glass of wine, freshly-poured pint or a beer tasting paddle before heading for dinner at Clare’s culinary star, Seed Winehouse + Kitchen.
Head to Jim Barry Wines to taste classic examples of shiraz and cabernet, as well as their unique Greek variety assyrtiko, before checking out the Tim Adams cellar door. Tim’s standouts are white wines (think pinot gris, semillon and riesling) but don’t forget the reds – his speciality, tempranillo, is a must-try.
Pikes is one of the region’s best-known wineries. They’re renowned for their flagship riesling ‘The Merle’ but varieties like mourvedre (pronounced ‘moo-veh-dreh’), sangiovese and tempranillo are full of personality. After your tasting, head over to the brand new Slate Restaurant for lunch overlooking the vineyards, and be sure to check out the Pikes Brewery before heading back to Adelaide.