McLaren Vale wineries and cellar doors
Some of our favourite wineries and cellar door experiences have been at McLaren Vale wineries with unique tastings to suit every palate.
McLaren Vale has a clear advantage when it comes to wine. Best known for Shiraz, this region is also famed for it’s premium Grenache and Cabernet. Varieties of Fiano, Tempranillo and Sangiovese are also making their mark in McLaren Vale.
McLaren Vale’s coastline and sprawling ranges provide stunning Australian vistas for all who visit. Enjoy the journey and take in the views of this beautiful wine region.
The McLaren Vale History
McLaren Vale is a town and region in the Australian state of South Australia and just 45 minutes south of Adelaide city.
The McLaren Vale region’s Mediterranean climate drives exceptional wine styles and diverse food experiences.
Producing wine since 1838, McLaren Vale has more than 182 years experience in the Australian wine industry.
Today, McLaren Vale hosts more than 80 cellar doors within the region. Their winemakers continue to receive awards and trophies at the most prestigious wine shows in the world.
McLaren Vale Wineries and Cellar Door experiences
We chose to take a private wine tour with Cellar Door Tours. Without doubt, our best decision of the day.
Our Cellar Door Tour experience
Our brief to Steve at Cellar Door Tours was to take us on a private tour of the McLaren Vale region and include a delicious lunch. We asked to visit smaller boutique style wineries offering quality wines which were not available at the usual cellar outlets. And in addition, something left-field, I wanted to photograph the d’Arenberg Cube.
Steve, our tour guide extraordinaire and Cellar Door Tours owner personalised our tour to provide exactly what we wanted. Steve’s knowledge of the Adelaide wine regions was impressive and his sense of humour ensured our tour was fun for everyone.
Our first winery of the day offered a surprisingly great start and reflected the Adelaide Hills/McLaren Vale region.
Coates Wines have a ‘no compromise’ approach to blending the best in Australian and European winemaking styles. Not normally a Riesling lover, I was pleasantly surprised by the crisp finish of their Riesling.
Wine of note:
- The Riesling
A family owned winery, Hugo Wines has a charming cellar door overlooking the vineyards and the Fleurieu coastline. Hugo’s winemaking philosophy ensures wines are produced with minimal intervention to retain fruit purity.
My choice was their Non Vintage Cuvee which was light and refreshing with buttery notes.
Wines of note:
- Non Vintage Cuvee
- Reserve Shiraz
Vasarelli Cellar Door Restaurant
In the heart of McLaren Vale, the Vasarelli’s have combined award winning wines with their love for Italian cooking. Antipasto platters and classic pasta dishes using the finest local produce and freshest seafood.
This lovely restaurant was included in our Cellar Door Tour as our lunch destination where we enjoyed a delicious two course lunch on the verandah.
Graham Stevens Wines
Graham Stevens himself welcomed us to his cellar door. An unpretentious winemaker who was happy to share his knowledge about wine as we tasted his selection of wines.
I was impressed that within 2 tastings, Graham had identified my palate and began recommending wine that was more aligned to my taste. A perfect example of how a cellar door tasting should be.
Recently celebrating his 80th Birthday, Graham runs this family winery with his daughter, Carolyn. Graham Stevens Wines has won more than 50 awards in recent showings of wines at Australian Wine Shows.
Without doubt, our favourite winery of the day. Exceptional wines, demonstrating the expertise of this gentleman winemaker.
Wines of Note:
- Fleurieu Cabernet Sauvignon
- The Arrogant Cleanskin’s Best Mate
- Vintage Fortified Shiraz (Wine of the 2017 McLaren Vale Wine Show)
We didn’t attempt another tasting however wandered through the lawn sculptures enjoying the views over the McLaren Vale hinterland.
The d’Arenberg Estates have plenty to see and do. Attend a masterclass, enjoy the choice of à la carte or degustation dining or explore the contemporary art museum. You can even play winemaker for the day and learn to blend your own wine.
It was a fitting end to our Cellar Door Tour and a wonderful day with friends. We promised to revisit allowing more time to explore the Cube, the Salvador Dali exhibition and dine at d-Arry’s Verandah.
Explore the d’Arenberg Cube
We were offered complimentary tickets to the Cube after dining at d’Arry’s Verandah.
An impressive structure, the d’Arenberg Cube has 5 levels of experiences to enjoy, with the tasting room on the very top floor.
Each of the five levels have been designed to entice and excite the senses. Explore the wine sensory room, a virtual fermenter, a 360 degree video room and many other visual and tactile experiences.
View the chefs behind glass in the state-of-the-art kitchen as they create unique dining adventures for the Cube restaurant. The d’Arenberg Cube restaurant offers a degustation indulgence with wine parings from their extensive wine list.
The restrooms are a source of creative amusement so make sure you visit for yourself. If you missed them, I have posted a few happy snaps in our Cube Photo Essay taken while I was visiting.
The Salvador Dali exhibition was on display during our visit. Considered one of the most important artists of the 20th century, the Salvador Dali exhibition is on loan from the Dali universe in Switzerland. Take the opportunity to enjoy the exhibition.
Enjoy 360 degree views over McLaren Vale, the Willunga Hills and the Gulf of St Vincent as you taste a selection of d’Arenberg’s wines. This spectacular top-level tasting room has a number of outdoor viewing decks to take in the expansive scenery.
A relaxed cafe area where personalised charcuterie platters can be ordered, accompanied by your wine of choice. Choose a relaxed spot on the lawns or get cosy on the verandah to relax and enjoy the view.
Dining at d’Arry’s Verandah
We returned for lunch on d’Arry’s Verandah a few days later.
Our table at d’Arrys Verandah was on the patio of the restored 19th century homestead, overlooking the McLaren Vale countryside.
We were impressed with the elegant menu and selected the Signature Dish ‘The Lobster Medallion bisque’ as our first course. Accompanied by their sparkling non-vintage Pollyanna Chardonnay, it was a perfect start to one of the finest menu’s we’ve tasted.
Dine at d’Arry’s Verandah for complimentary entry to the d’Arenberg Cube
In short, amazing food, faultless service and perfectly matched wines made for a wonderful dining experience at d’Arry’s Verandah.
We’ll definitely be visiting again.
Wines of Note:
- Pollyanna Polly Chardonnay Pinot Noir Pinot Meunier
- Stephanie the Gnome Sangiovese Shiraz Cinsault Rose
- The Bonsai Vine Grenache Shiraz Mourvedre
How to get to McLaren Vale
Just 45 minutes south of the city of Adelaide in South Australia.
- Via car, taking the main South Road from Adelaide.
- Daily bus service to McLaren Vale township with Premier Stateliner Coaches.
- Take a Day Tour as we did with Cellar Door Tours.
Accommodation in the McLaren Vale & Fleurieu Peninsula
Consider staying nearby while exploring the McLaren Vale region.
Explore more of McLaren Vale and the Adelaide Hills
McLaren Vale wineries have a significant reputation within Australia however, some of us want a little more from a day trip.
Drive south along the South Australian coastline and take in the views from from Port Noarlunga Lookout before heading inland.
The township of McLaren Vale is considered a boutique village and although small, it is full of charming restaurants, cafes, boutiques and art galleries. Come with us on this unique journey into McLaren Vale.
This fantastic little café in McLaren Vale was voted for ‘best coffee’ on the Fleurieu Peninsula. It is the starting point of the McLaren Vale Cheese & Wine Trail and home to a world class cheese selection. Discover more.
The Almond Train
Step back in time and explore a 1920’s train carriage loaded with delicious treats. They’re local produce showcasing some of the best gourmet foods in McLaren Vale. Daily tastings are available.
The Almond Carriage Café
Right next door to the Almond Train, a 1908 train carriage has been converted into a cosy café. It’s a great place to enjoy food and produce from the region. Find something special.
But wait, there’s more
- Enjoy delicacies from Robert Menz chocolates.
- Stroll through art galleries displaying local art and sculptures.
- Explore a number of boutique brewers and distillers in the area.
- Take a walk or ride a bike along the Shiraz Trail – the old railway line from McLaren Vale to Willunga, visiting wineries along the way.
- Visit in June for the two-day Sea and Vines Festival featuring local wine and produce.
- Stay longer – choose one of the luxury Bed and Breakfasts for a cosy romantic getaway, weekend retreat or somewhere to enjoy some ‘relaxation’ time.