Heading to some one of Australia’s best wine regions but not sure where to start?! Adelaide and surroundings is an absolute gold mine - from foodie delights - producing some of the best cheeses and honey, to…you know it.. Wine!!!
That sweet delicious grape, grown with such purpose and potential, weather pending, permitted and picked, barrel aged and poured for you, in that instant you have found something so special and boy did I have many of realisations like these. McLaren Vale particularly served these moments up in a polished glass like it was nobodies business. Hopefully the below will point you in the right direction;
This should be number 1 on your to do list when it comes to wine in South Australia! Peter Fraser - James Haliday’s 2016 winemaker of the year - shows you just why he is so deserving of this title. The whole range of his unique wines are 100% certified biodynamic, delicious and very special. Team this with a gorgeous, quaint cellar door - complete with a large, sun drenched wooden patio - and extremely knowledgable friendly staff. Kick your feet up and buy by the dozen!
As you are driving up the dirt road to this breathtaking cellar door, your eyes will be initially drawn to the beautifully designed, feat of modern architecture that is the tasting room before shifting your attention to the small, albeit hugely excitable dog outside of it - Smudge. Bekkers wines are a husband & wife team of Toby & Emmanuelle Bekkers & produce 4 fine wines of outstanding quality. (Including a Grand Cru Chablis made by French-born Emmanuelle in the Chablis region within Burgundy, France…!) Although the price of each wine reflect this level of quality, investing in one for careful cellaring will be worth every penny & more!
This uber cool, & rather large cellar door is a funky spot for a comprehensive tasting & a bite to eat if you’re feeling peckish. S C Pannel deliver some beautifully aromatic whites & hard-hitting reds all wrapped up in some of the most eye-catching labelling around. The grounds are also expansive & provide a fantastic venue for functions or weddings.
We were recommended this cellar door with stunning views because of the scenery, however the wines were actually the stand out! The service was super friendly - and all of the vino was consistently good! We left with the Piñata People Gamay and an order form to ship more home!
Although not a public cellar door, winemaker & owner Brad Hickey is usually happy to open up his shed for appointments and it’s well worth the phone call. Hailing from Chicago, Brad’s big personality reflects in his wines. With funky labels and delicious varieties, be sure to try the Nero and recently released Mataro.
D’Arenburg’s new & unmissable ‘Cube’ is here, & billed to be the biggest thing to hit the Vale since the grenache grape itself! The three floor uniquely designed building features an art gallery, a restaurant, the quirkiest bathrooms around, as well as a slick cellar door on the top floor offering all of D’Arenburg’s extensive range & brilliant views of the vineyards. The $10 entrance fee is well worth it for everything there is to see & drink!
Based in the Coonawarra region of South Australia, we missed the opening of their brand new McLaren Vale cellar door by only a day! I can tell you that their extensive range of wines are all consistently delicious & have some of the best artwork around. Definitely one to check out.
A cellar door set up like a bar you would find in Newtown (Sydney). This rustic shed like chic space is inviting whilst the service when we visited wasn’t. I’m hoping we just unlucky and got her on a bad day but it left a bad taste in our mouths. That aside the space is fun, the labels are catching and colourful and the wine is funky. Worth a try and hopefully you don’t have the same experience we did because the wines do talk for themselves!
Walking on up to ’Tscharke’s Place’ (pronounced Sharkey) in the Barossa valley, you’d be forgiven if you thought you’d somehow been transported to a quaint German village, as the adorable little house that holds the cellar door was indeed designed & built in winemaker Damian Tscharke’s wife’s native Germany. Tscharke wines are a fabulous collection of reds that feature unique varietals for the region; such as Graciano & Montepulciano. The thorough tasting was informative & generous, & Tscharke is the only cellar door in the Barossa offering cellar door exclusive prices. E.g. $10 for a bottle of red as apposed to $20+ - you can’t go wrong!!! The setting is lovely, so be sure to snap a few photos & relax in the sunny afternoon sun!
Although this boutique Barossa winery has recently opened their long-awaited cellar door, we luckily managed to catch them before a winemaker’s lunch at the 1918 restaurant in the heart of the Barossa. The luscious Tempranillo is seriously good, & arguably the Barossa’s best. We left with a couple of bottles for the cellar!
Other wines on the radar that we unfortunately were not able to visit as the cellar doors were closed when we passed through;
OTHER THAN A WINERY
Just like a cute little ‘tiny house,’ if you cared more for booze than beds of course, the unique & quite frankly jaw dropping design of the Pink Moon Saloon is inspiring. & has to be seen to be fully appreciated. The good times here flow like the delicious craft beers out of the wall, & the cocktails look good enough to drink - many.
A vibing little cellar/wine bar in Adelaide’s east which offers free wine tastings on a friday. The extensive cellar offers a myriad of wine choices, both local and international.. the best part being that you can choose to grab a bottle to go, or crack it now for a reasonable & slightly higher battleship price. Get there early & nab a table street side. The staff are friendly & super knowledgable, all in all a perfect way to kick off your weekend.
A quirky, hip café located in the heart of the McLaren Vale. Originally starting out as a food truck, Mullygrub gained a cult following & opened it’s flagship store on the corner of McLaren Vale & Kangarilla roads with plans to expand. Our breakfast of a bacon & egg roll each was simple, delicious & exactly what we needed in our stomachs before a huge day of wine tasting. Their coffees are tasty & served in adorable pottery cups, however they are a little weak for my taste so make sure you order a double!
As the name would suggest, this cute coffee shop in the centre of the quaint little European town of Hahndorf, is a caffeine fiend’s saviour in the Adelaide Hills. Naturally, the coffees are the hero here, but their unique menu is not to be overlooked. We both had the ‘Holy Cheesus,’ which is effectively a grilled cheese & ham toastie… On crack. Delish! Be aware that the service was a little slow, & strange when we were there.
A quick & easy choice for an Vietnamese dinner, Sit Lo, located in Adelaide’s CBD offers delicious Phõ, Bahn Mi, & 3 types of Bao (steamed buns, we loved the soft shell crab!) The space features a communal table, a people-watching windowsill bench & a few low tables (hence the name, we think..)
Definitely one to book in advance as this little popular spot is damn busy for good reason. We were lucky to get a 9pm sitting which had its advantages.. that being we were not on a time limit to leave. African inspired and very funky decorations seem to pack out this place even on your average Tuesday evening. We went with the tasting menu and matched booze package.. The dishes sadly went from fab to forgettable and the wine was interesting matched. They seem to pick up a lot of funky boutique wine which doesn’t always go best with the meal. I would without a doubt recommend dining here but think next time I would just select a few dishes and choose our own booze!
Conveniently located in Adelaide’s CBD, the National Wine Centre of Australia is the primary authority on Australia’s expansive, & massively thriving winemaking industry. They host regular events such as exclusive tastings, & meet the winemaker dinners, check their website to see what’s on while you’re there.
It’s no secret that South Australia has some pretty amazing oceanfront along it’s coasts.
Maslin Beach, a seven minute’s drive from the centre of McLaren Vale, offers some spectacular views & safe family-friendly swimming. Be warned that the further towards the Southern rocks you go, the less clothing is required! Head south from McLaren Vale and if you can spare the time spent the night at Rapid bay or Second Valley! In second valley follow a light track around to the left of the jetty over the rocks until you can not seem to further. You may forget where you are as this little swimming spot looks like something out of the coast of Italy. Jump from the rocks if you dare or simply splash around in the deep blue.
A fairly easy graded walk with some harder elevated climbs, this walk covers some gorgeous bush covered ranges via a few little waterfalls. Park at the Waterfall Gully carpark & do a return trip from here, rewarding your hard work with a chilly dip in the bottom falls’ large, dammed pool.
A lush salty lake of pale pink to dance around in for the afternoon! What else would you want to do on a sunny sunday when your pours are already sweating out the excessive but delicious wine you have consumed!
Shell Beach in the Yorke Peninsula was definitely a stand out. The cute cove contained crystal clear blue water & our favourite rock pool at the north end of the beach. It does take a little while to find, & you do have to scramble over a bunch of rocks, but once you find this deep, refreshing little pool which is perfectly sheltered off from the ocean, you will be in heaven! As this is a bit of a treck to get to from adelaide (about 3 and a half hours) I would recommend camping up here for the night. There are only 8 spaces so book in advance on the South Australian parks website, and if you have a chose then select site numbers 7 or 8 as they had more space.
The Mt Remarkable National Park is home to a variety of hikes. Besides the obvious climb to the summit of the mountain itself, check out Alligator Gorge for a walk descending below the ground rather than above. If you are up for a challenge, I’d recommend doing the full loop, starting with the Terraces on the right. The hike sets off through the wild & rugged gorge before ascending up a track & onto a dirt road. From here, the downhill slog is quite boring but once you get back to the gorge you will pass through ‘The Narrows,’ which is definitely the most scenic part of the experience, before climbing the stairs back up to the carpark! This near 10km loop suggest around 4 hours to complete however even with photo stops we finished it in about 3.
This above is barely scraping the surface, but i have no doubt that we will spend a lot more time exploring this area in the future. We left spending our months #vanlife budget on vino but gosh it felt good enjoying some of Australia’s most colourful sunsets in the NT with a fine South Australian drop.