One of our favourite wine regions in South Australia has got to be the McLaren Vale Wine Region. Only a 45 minute drive from Adelaide, McLaren Vale offers everything from fine dining, breweries and wine, of course! With over 50 wineries to choose from, you may find yourself feeling a bit overwhelmed deciding which ones to visit. We’d like to recommend you visit them all, but we understand that you may have a tighter schedule so we’ve compiled a list of our top 15 to make the decisions a little easier. One thing we do strongly advise is that you bring a designated driver, as you’re going to experience some seriously top drops!
Beautiful gardens, courtyard seating, stone cottages and wine labels that are so gorgeous you’ll want to cellar them forever. You’ve got Battle of Bodsworth and Spring Seed Wines. Easily one of our favourite cellar doors, this gem is less than a 5 minute drive out of McLaren Vale, situated in a 1850’s former chaff shed and stables. Their intimate cellar door offers a variety of wines, all organically grown. Their signature wine, the Puritan Shiraz, is a super smooth number and has no added preservatives and their White Boar Shiraz Cabernet, where they dry the grapes on the vine before fermenting, is a big favourite.
One the most popular cellar doors in McLaren Vale. d’Arenberg winery offers a gorgeous space for tastings, a long tasting list (they offer over 60 wines!) and an award-winning restaurant. The cellar door is nestled in a restored 19th century homestead, making it the perfect place to have a tipple. If you want to play winemaker then book a spot on their ‘Blending Bench’- a hands on experience where you make and name a bottle of wine and then you get to take home. If you’re wanting to try one d’Arrys has prepared earlier, then the Dead Arm Shiraz is a big winner. And if you are feeling a bit peckish - book in with the d’Arrys Verandah Restaurant- their signature dish, the Lobster Medallion is incredible.
This is one beautiful cellar door. Angove’s tasting room is spacious and open, with one half of the room made from old Adelaide Bluestone and the other half offering huge glass windows taking in one hell of a view.
Outside you’ll find a huge deck with breathtaking views of the Warboys vineyards, that are fully certified organic and biodynamic. Back inside you’ll be blown away with their state of the art wine facilities, including their Enomatic wine cabinets, which dispense and store the wine at the perfect condition and temperature. Their icon wine, The Medhyk Old Vine Shiraz, is so smooth and is definitely worth a try.
If you are in McLaren Vale the iconic Pennys Hill winery is one not to be missed. Their cellar door is large, and their tasting list, well, it’s larger. Top picks off the list of their fine, full bodied, fruit driven wines include the Footprint Shiraz and Piano Shiraz. If you are hungry then head over to the adjoining restaurant, ‘The Kitchen Door’ where you can enjoy tapas style meals. After something more casual? Grab a picnic blanket and some platter essentials and head out onto the lawn with a view of the vines.
If you’re looking for a first class cellar door experience then look no further than Beresford Estate. Their tasting room is an architecture and interior lover’s dream come true. Dabble in their wine experiences (various wine flights paired with tasting plates of seasonal produce), or spend the afternoon having a picnic of wine and local produce on their lush lawns. One of their best sellers is the Limited Release Shiraz, and when you try it you’ll understand why.
One of the prettiest wineries in the Vale, Coriole offers beautiful gardens surrounding original farmhouses built in the 1860’s, which now house the cellar door. They have a strong focus on sustainability and are starting to produce organic wines. In their boutique cellar door you’ll find a variety of wines to dabble in, including the Riverstone Shiraz, named after the colour of the ironstone which pops up in the buildings and vineyards onsite. The Estate vineyards are predominantly Shiraz, planted as early as 1919. There are in total 25 different vineyards from 90 years old to 3 years old. Italian wines are also their specialty, as are olives and olive oil. Pick yourself up a jar or two - you won’t regret it.
Biodynamic wines, epic platters and kid friendly- you’ve got Gemtree wines. In McLaren Flat, this little winery offers views over rolling vineyards, a cosy cellar door and a lush lawn area with play equipment and a veggie patch perfect for the little ones to get stuck into. They’ve also recently opened their Biodynamic Hit, offering tasting and tours throughout the vineyards. Gemtree is truly committed to sustainability and is certified organic. A must taste is the Luna Roja Tempranillo - and another must try is their Bloodstone Shiraz. This place is a firm favourite among the locals, especially those with kids in tow.
If wine flights and cheese platters are your jam, then you will love this cellar door. The cellar door itself is open and airy and overlooks onto a huge lawn area- perfect for those with kids in tow (or those looking to enjoy a wine in the sun). They have a huge range of reds and whites to try, generally in the form of flights. The red wine flight takes the cake, and a glass of the 2015 shiraz is highly recommended. Feeling snacky? Head to the fridge, fill up a tray with your favourite cheeses, dips and meats and get the girls to make you up a platter. Delish!
his cellar door may be small, but it is full of personality and vintage furniture. Alpha Box & Dice was started as a laboratory for viticultural exploration in 2008. The team wanted to holistically create (through minimal intervention and vegan friendly methods) a different wine style to represent every letter of the alphabet. Taste some of the best wines on the long tasting bench, spit out the remainders into a toilet bowl spittoon (I doubt you’ll spit them out though) and kick back with a glass of vino. Their Tarot is a top pick for reds, or the Zaptung in terms of bubbles. If you’re looking for some cheese to go with your wine, then order their Super Glory Deluxe Platter- best shared with friends on a picnic table by the vineyards.
In the heart of Willunga, this unique and intimate cellar door only hosts a few, but it’s well worth the drive. In an 1860’s butcher shop, with original flooring and white limestone walls, this gem is filled with eclectic wares, vintage furniture and bottles of wine with the most breathtaking of labels. Hither & Yon is a family business and they offer a variety of wines, from light whites, to big bold reds. Their grenache, mataro and tempranillo are the best sellers, but we’ve sampled most on the list, and you can’t really go wrong.
Cosy fires in winter and decking with a view in summer- you’ve got Maxwell wines. This cellar door is one not to be missed, carved into a limestone hill with views over McLaren Vale and beyond. The oldest vineyard on the property, was established in the 1930’s. Must try wines include their Minotaur Reserve Shiraz, as well as their ‘Maxwells Mead’, a most successful range of mead from bees on the property. If you have some time up your sleeve and are feeling peckish then treat yourself to a guided food and wine flight, or a degustation at their adjoining Ellen Street Restaurant. The experience is first class.
Moody tones, neon reds and some excellent wines. You’ve found yourself at S.C Pannell. Home to some of the best wines in McLaren Vale, S.C Pannell are all about playful and delicious wines- their Grenache Shiraz Touriga and Aromatico are best sellers at the door. The philosophy is to create wines that suit the Australian climate, way of life and food. Grab yourself a bottle, head out to the deck and order some tapas off the weekend menu, and you pretty much have your afternoon made.
Good vibes galore, plenty of timber and lush gardens with BBQ facilities. Say hello to Wirra Wirra. This cellar door is roomy but still cosy, offering a variety of wines for tasting and even a ginscato- using their Mrs Wigley Moscato and a shot of gin. Their Patritti Single Vineyard Shiraz and Church Block Shiraz are crowd favourites, The Church Block being the first wine the late winemaker Greg Trott made under the Wirra Wirra label in 1972. If you have a hankering for a platter or something a little more substantial, pop next door to Harry’s Deli, where they hero locally sourced produce in their meals and serve incredible coffee. These guys are serious about the wine they make and the biodynamic vines they grow but they believe that everything else should be fun. You can tell this from the moment you enter the grounds.
Just out of Mclaren Vale, in the small town of Kangarilla, Yangarra is a winery that has a home away from home feeling. Their cellar door is oh-so-comfortable, with furniture to curl up on and a deck that overlooks lush gardens and a huge lawn area. Yangarra has three distinctive geologies making it an ideal environment for a number of grapes varities. grenache, shiraz, mataro, cinsault, and carignan are the main red varieties while roussanne and viognier are the major whites. They have several wines on offer for tasting, with favourites including the 2014 Small Pot Whole Bunch Shiraz and 2015 Old Vine Shiraz. If you’re feeling cheesy these then raid their fridge filled with cheese and biscuits- because who doesn’t love cheese and wine.
Award winning wines, picturesque views from the porch overlooking the vineyards and epic platters filled with regional produce - these are just a few things you’ll find at this cellar door. Leaconfield Wines encompasses two of South Australia's leading wine labels Leconfield Wines at Coonawarra and Richard Hamilton Wines at McLaren Vale.
Offering a very long wine list at the tasting bench with both white and reds on offer, Leconfield is the perfect place to have a vino with a view – remember to bring the designated driver because the tasting list is long! Their Centurion made in McLaren Vale is their signature wine (when you try it you’ll know why), and their best seller is their Syn (a refreshing bubbly that’s perfect for summer, or anytime really). Cheers to that!