No visit to Adelaide would be complete without a visit to at least one of its wine regions. McLaren Vale is a short 40-45 minutes’ drive away from the city centre.
There is almost a kind of romance in a wine region – the beautiful views of the different estates, well-manicured greenery everywhere you look, delicious food…and of course there’s wine!
McLaren Vale is home is some delicious wine varieties and the best way to learn more is to visit the wineries directly. With over 70 cellar doors and 160 vineyards in McLaren Vale, it is easy to get confused over which ones to visit.
So to help you decide, here are my 5 must visit McLaren Vale Wineries:
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Over 180 years ago, Hugh Hamilton’s great grandfather landed in South Australia and planted one of the first grape vines in the colony. Speed ahead of time, and Hugh Hamilton is the 5th Generation to take over the business. He was the ‘black sheep’ of the family and so Hugh did things a little bit differently. Today Hugh Hamilton Wines is one of the oldest in South Australia, and today Hugh’s daughter has taken control of the business.
The Cellar Door and Tasting Room at Hugh Hamilton was probably one of the nicer ones I have visited. To do tasting it is A$15 per person to try 6 varieties or A$20 per person with cheese added to the tasting. It takes around 30-45 minutes in total and is an interesting experience. The Black Ops and the Quirky were my picks of the bunch.
What I love about the Hugh Hamilton wine range are the design of the labels and the quirky names given to each wine….but the quirky names are no accident. They represent some of the characteristics of the wine they are named after.
Coriole is a beautiful spot in McLaren Vale that overlooks the beautiful Coriole Estate and Willunga ranges. The Cellar Door is located in an old ironstone barn which was built in 1860. It’s relatively small in comparison to some other wineries, but the Coriole offers a delicious range of must-try wine…especially the Mourvedre Wine, which was was definitely a stand out for me.
The Restaurant at Coriole is also really lovely – it’s beautifully set overlooking the Coriole gardens and view of McLaren Vale. The food is seasonal, using only the freshest of ingredients from around the region. Reservations are a must, and the restaurant is only open from Thursday to Monday. The Feed Me menu was what we opted for and was A$70 per person.
Alpha Box & Dice
Why I like Alpha Box & Dice is because they are a boutique alternate style of winery. Opened in 2008, Alpha Box & Dice is owned by 2 brothers who have embarked on a journey to create wine that works through the letters of the alphabets.
The rules are not followed here. Instead, the team at Alpha Box & Dice like to experiment. They like to bend the rules a little in order to produce uniquely produced boutique wine. There is no fee to do wine tasting at the cellar door and the mood is absolutely chill, so grab yourself a bottle and just hang out.
The absolute stand out wine for me (and another bottle I walked home with) was the Icona, which is a 2015 Cabernet Sauvignon that has been fermented in a new French oak barrel. This is a bold wine with notes of cherries and chocolate, making the Icona an absolutely beautiful wine.
Tarot is another delicious wine that is a 2017 Grenache that has been made in a Beaujolais style. It’s a beautiful balanced wine, and pairs perfectly well with a light meal.
Samuel’s Gorge was a hidden gem for us in McLaren Vale. We accidentally stumbled upon this one so that we could enjoy the amazing views. In addition to great views, we also found delicious wine – what a beautiful pair.
There is no fee to do wine tasting here, and the garden at Samuel’s Gorge is a great spot to set up a picnic blanket, pop open a good bottle of wine, and just enjoy the view. I enjoyed the range of reds from Samuel’s Gorge, but the stand out for me (and one that I walked home with) was the 2016 Tempranillo.
Settlers Spirits at Maximus Wines
We didn’t come here for the wine. Instead, we were here for the gin. Yup you heard me right. While Maximus does produce its own selection of wine, their gin range was the stand out for me.
Introducing Settlers Spirits, a small batch range of gins brought to you by Maximus Wines. To be honest, it was a pleasant break to be drinking gin after all the wine tasting.
They have about 8 bottles of gin in the range, each infused with a distinct flavor. It is $5 per tasting of Gin, and the tasting portion is quite generous and is paired with a good quality tonic and garnish. My favorite (and one that I walked home with) was the Spice Fig Gin and the G&Tea Gin.
Don’t want to drive to McLaren Vale?
Fear not young grasshopper. You can still visit McLaren Vale and enjoy all that this wine region has to offer. Check out trailhopper, which is a hop on and hop off wine bus. Services run daily and you can hop on the bus from Adelaide CBD and the trailhopper stops at different locations around McLaren Vale following a circuit timetable. And around 5pm after a full day of wine tasting, trailhopper will safely bring you back to Adelaide CBD. Easy peasy!
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No compensations was received for this review. All opinions remain my own.
I was in Australia and almost visited Adelaide. I had to cancel due to lack of time. Now I know what I have missed out on. I love exploring wineries. Hugh Hamilton Wines has such an interesting back story. Sometimes black sheep do create history.
As a wine lover I’d totally enjoy this trip. I’d yet to head towards Aus & NZ so, when I venture there I’ll surely check these out. I’ve only heard of Yarra Valley Wines, so this is new information to me. Thank you! Actually a destination wedding in any of these places would be so romantic…
A hop on and hop off wine bus sounds amazing! I love wine tastings, so any of these would be a must when I visit south Australia. I like the sound of making the wine by the alphabet too, this is such a unique idea!
So neat to see such variety between the wineries- they all have such unique character! As I’m not a huge wine drinker, I definitely gravitate more towards the special ambiance and scenery of vineyards than to the wines themselves. All of these spots are absolutely gorgeous and seem worth the visit, if only for the peaceful views and interesting conversation!
Wow these are beautiful wineries with lovely combination of greenery and blue skies. i don’t drink but would definitely visit these places due to beautiful nature. Samuel’s Gorge is really a hidden gem as it is surrounded by so much greenery and also offers free wine tasting.
heaven on earth indeed! Visiting wineries around the world is one of my favorite activities. I’ve never heard about McLaren Vale prior to this post – but I’ll for sure check it out. Something to keep in mind for future travels 🙂 Thanks for sharing!
Yum! Wine regions are so much fun to visit, and a hop on/hop off definitely makes the logistics so much easier. I had never heard of this region before! All the wineries look great, but Samuel’s Gorge looks especially beautiful.
Not only do these wineries look perfect for wine tasting but the surrounding area so picturesque too! The food options look delicious too which is important. You took some beautiful photos whilst enjoying the wine!
I adore all wine, but I really have a thing for Australian wines. I wish that I could do this trip but I don’t think I’ll be travelling to Oz any time soon. That said, I too really believe in the romance of wine regions and I’ll be passing on this tip to my family out there!