Life is for enjoying in the McLaren Vale region, which sits on the Fleurieu Peninsula, just 45 minutes drive from Adelaide. Nestled between the rolling Mount Lofty Ranges and Gulf St Vincent beaches, the area is known for its impressive wines, lush regional produce and postcard-perfect scenery. Make your way between some of the region’s 65 wineries, cycle past almond orchards, visit the art galleries and savour local food - from strawberries to seafood.
From Adelaide, you can travel to the McLaren Vale by car, train, bus, or by cycling along the dedicated bike lanes. The various wine tours also have a range of transport, so you can arrive at the wineries in a limousine, chauffeured mustang or on the back of a motorbike. However you arrive, you’ll be struck by this lovely gum-lined countryside, where vineyards and orchards meet the ocean. The first McLaren Vale vines were planted by John Reynell in 1838, and by 1850 two of the region’s best-known wineries had been established. Today the McLaren Vale has 65 wineries, mostly boutique-sized, all sitting within a short drive of McLaren Vale’s main street.
Be sure to sample the McLaren Vale’s flagship Shiraz as you meander between cellar doors. The region also specialises in producing Chardonnay, Cabernet Sauvignon and Grenache, and is fast stablishing a reputation for Merlot, Sauvignon Blanc and Riesling. You’ll also find some vineyards doing delicious experiments with Viognier, Marsanne and Sangiovese. In between your tastings, meet the winemakers or get a behind-the-barrels tour. Pack your picnic hamper with fresh bread, cheese, olives and fruit or linger over lunch in a picturesque vineyard restaurant.
The McLaren Vale is rich in fresh produce, thanks to its clean seas and lush farmlands dotted with almond orchards and olive groves. It also has thriving culture of dining out and hand-crafted foods. Head to nearby Willunga, where the weekend Farmer’s Market sells artisan breads and cakes, relishes and sauces, traditional cured and smoked meats and seasonal fruit and vegies. In the restaurants and cafes, acclaimed chefs work this field-fresh produce into unforgettable meals. You can also join the lively, gourmet-themed celebrations at the Sea and Vines Festival in June, or Fiesta, held in October across the Fleurieu Peninsula
After wining and dining, soak up the region’s rich creative culture and rural vistas on one of the many driving and walking trails. Follow an art trail to the neighbouring townships of Willunga, Aldinga and Port Noarlunga or drive the Fleurieu Peninsula Arts Trail to some 62 galleries and studios across the region. Spot wildlife as you hike through the tranquil bushland of Onkaparinga Gorge, or walk or cycle between Willunga and Seaford. You can walk, bike or horse ride along the Shiraz Trail, which follows an old railway line from McLaren Vale to Willunga.
The McLaren Vale is also a great base for exploring more of the Fleurieu Peninsula, with its rich wildlife and stellar surfing, fishing and diving. Stay in holiday hamlets such as Victor Harbor, dive and snorkel with shipwrecks and leafy sea dragons in Rapid Bay or cruise the Coorong wetlands from historic Goolwa.
What’s not to enjoy in the McLaren Vale, where the first-class wines are served with delectable food and unforgettable views.