McLaren Vale is often considered to be the cradle of wine in South Australia, as one of the first to be planted with vines. It’s also pretty old in its own right, with some of the most ancient rocks, dating back further than 500 million years. But despite its ancient roots, it’s got a vibrant and hip community that teams with energy and enthusiasm.
While McLaren Vale is known on the global scene for its ‘big three’ – Grenache, Cabernet Sauvignon and Shiraz, the region, thanks to its Mediterranean climate, is also a natural home to range of grapes that you’d expect to find in Italy. Fiano, Vermentino, Barbera, Sangiovese… All of these Italian Stallions are making waves on the McLaren Vale wine scene. Due bicchieri di vino australiano, per favore!
Life’s a beach
With the dramatic backdrop of the Mount Lofty Ranges and the postcard-worthy white sandy beaches of Gulf St Vincent, McLaren Vale really has a Mediterranean vibe going on. As such, it’s unsurprising that the beach is a key element of life in the Vale. And there’s plenty of beach to choose from: the region boasts 30km of jaw-droppingly gorgeous beaches. Don’t believe us? Check out these beach beauty snaps and see for yourself.
Food, glorious food
Not only famous for its wine, McLaren Vale is also a foodie hotspot, with an abundance of good restaurants and locally grown produce. In particular, it’s known for its premium olive oil and related products, thanks to the Mediterranean climate and Italian immigrants who arrived in the 1950s and ‘60s. There is even an olive trail! Not into olives? No problem. How about locally grown almonds, best enjoyed from the Almond Train (obviously). Or for a few more options, you can always try the Willunga Famers Market which is open every Saturday and crammed full of fresh produce, set to a soundtrack of some excellent buskers enlivening the tone.
Walk on the wild side
For those who want to really earn their grub, don’t miss the Onkaparinga River National Park which boasts hiking trails, permanent rock pools, as well as kayaking – a good way to see the birds, koalas, kangaroos and possums – maybe even an echidna, which is, as far as we can tell, a seriously battle-ready hedgehog. If you’re two-wheel inclined, there’s also the Shiraz Trail, which takes in some of the most iconic spots of the region. The trail ends up on Port Willunga beach; for the true McLaren Vale experience, we suggest ditching the bikes and getting a quick round of beach tennis on the insta-perfect sand before heading to the Star of Greece for a sunset meal. Howzat!?
Get a flavour for the region with these exceptional wines below:
- Sellicks Beach – amixlouise
- Almonds 253466 – Josie Withers
- Port Willunga Beach – Trent John Martin
- Star of Greece 250257 – South Australia Tourism Commission / Josie Withers
- Olives 132284 – South Australia Tourism Commission