- Oct 25, 2021
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Clare Valley, the influential wine region that produces world-class red and white wines
Clare Valley, about 2 hours north of Adelaide, is the perfect weekend escape, switching the buzz of the city for the buzz of bees and butterflies.
The name, Clare, comes from Clare County Ireland, which was the home of the founding European, Edward Gleeson. He was clearly feeling a little homesick when he arrived, as the Australian Clare Valley with its warm summers, koalas and blue gums, bears almost no resemblance to the rugged, Atlantic coastline and gentle, if persistent, rain of its European namesake.
Rollin’, rollin’ rollin
Nestled in the Mount Lofty Ranges, Clare has a slow, relaxed pace of life, incredibly popular with hikers, bikers and foodies alike.
One of the most pleasant ways of discovering the region is to hop on a bike at one of the many rental stations, and follow the Riesling trail which is a leisurely 3-4 hour tour that meanders down the valley. The route follows an old railway route (which means it’s pretty much flat the whole way – certainly a good thing if you do the tour properly and stop at a couple of wineries on the way). For those keen beans who don’t want to miss a single stop on the 33km tour, there are also plenty of picturesque spots to stay – including the opportunity to stay in a genuine classic sheep station where you can pick which heritage site you’d like on the property. Our favourite has got to be the Stallion Box!
While this isn’t truly in Clare Valley itself, the region can reasonably boast, at the very least, proximity to Lake Bambunga, also known as The Pink Lake because, well, it’s pink. And certainly worth a detour!
Small region, big reputation
The region has occasionally been described as the ‘quiet revolutionary’ – with its slow pace of life, it is not the obvious hub for creativity and innovation in the Australian national wine scene. But it’s a region of two halves; the picturesque Old-World exterior fronts a hive of pioneering winemakers who are behind major international advances, such as the use of screwcap instead of cork. Similarly the climate offers warm days and cool nights, with new and exciting varieties growing on some of the world’s most ancient soils.
Given the fact there is a Riesling trail, it probably doesn’t come as a huge surprise that Clare’s headline white grape is Riesling, and the region is home to some of the finest Riesling producers in Australia (including international superstars such as Jim Barry Wines and Mount Horrocks, as well as the famous Jesuit Sevenhill winery founded back in 1849). But for those of you more inclined towards a glass of red – fear not! The region is also making some outstandingly good Shiraz and Cabernet Sauvignon as well. This versatility is thanks to the varied soils in the region, and also the warm days and cool nights, with the option of planting at higher altitudes for the Riesling to avoid the heat for a more elegant expression.
Get a taste of the region with these wines:
Clare Valley image credits:
- Riesling Trail - South Australian Tourism Commission/Adam Bruzzone
- Sevenhill Jesuit winery - South Australian Tourism Commission/Adam Bruzzone
- Clare Scenic - South Australian Tourism Commission/Adam Bruzzone