Taste your way around the Clare Valley, the home of Australian riesling.
By Kris Madden
South Australia's Clare Valley is home to more than 30 wineries, most of which are small and family run. Known as the home of Australian riesling, it's one of Australia's oldest wine-producing areas, with a winemaking history dating back 160 years. Don’t despair if you prefer red wine, as the Clare Valley is also fast becoming known for its shiraz and cabernets. At the annual Clare Valley Gourmet Weekend in May you can be the first to sample the year's vintage before the winemaking process is complete, a privilege usually reserved for the winemaker.
- Visit cellar doors along the Clare Valley Riesling Trail
- Walk in the footsteps of prehistoric giants at Red Bank Conservation Park
- Stay at a historic sheep station
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Top things to do in the Clare Valley
Visit cellar doors along the Clare Valley Riesling Trail
The Clare Valley Riesling Trail runs for 35 kilometres (22 miles) between Auburn and Clare and links many of the region's major attractions, cellar doors and gourmet food producers. Hire a bike from a local business and you can cycle the trail in less than three hours. But you might want to take longer. Be sure to visit the well-known winery Annie's Lane, as well as more boutique cellar doors such as Shut the Gate, Crabtree, Claymore and O'Leary Walker.
Visit the Jesuit winery at Sevenhill
One of the wineries you shouldn't miss while exploring the Clare Valley is Sevenhill Cellars. Established by Jesuits in 1851, Sevenhill is the oldest winery in the Clare Valley. Taste wine and tour the grounds, visiting the underground cellar, Wine Museum and historic St Aloysius' Church.
Walk in the footsteps of prehistoric giants
Red Banks Conservation Park features a scenic landscape of rich red cliffs, spring-fed waterholes and old growth trees. Amateur archaeologists will love the fascinating two hour Landscapes of Change interpretive walking trail, past deep gorges and permanent waterholes, and learning what the landscape was like when megafauna walked the earth, including the giant wombat.
Stay in a historic sheep station
Bungaree Station is an authentic working sheep station dating back 175 years. The station offers bed and breakfast accommodation in various heritage buildings around the property, including a converted stable. If you prefer, you can just visit for the day and explore the historic station to learn about South Australia's pioneering past.
Stay in a charming country house
Accommodation in the Clare Valley ranges from charming cottages to hotels and a country club with an 18 hole golf course. For a luxury bed and breakfast, try the Stanley Grammar Country House, an old school converted into luxury suites, with log fires, a library, billiard room and vineyard views.
Sample boutique beers and ciders
While the Clare Valley is known for its wine, it’s also gaining an international reputation for its ciders and boutique beers. Local craft brewers include the Clare Valley Brewing Co, Paulett Wines, Knappstein Enterprise Winery and Brewery and Pikes Beer Company. The Burra Scrumpy Cumpany makes award-winning ciders, apple wines and apple liqueurs.
Take a walk
Hikers will find plenty of exciting walks in the Spring Gully Conservation Park. The most popular is the 1.3 kilometre (0.8 mile) Cascades Walk from Blue Gum lookout to the Cascades Waterfall. More experienced hikers may want to go further on the hour long (return) Wymans Hike trail, which offers incredible views of rolling hills and a patchwork of farms.
Get festive at the Clare Valley Gourmet Weekend
The Clare Valley Gourmet Weekend is held every year in May, when cellar doors, restaurants, cafes and other venues across the region host black tie dinners, wine tastings, concerts and other events. Visitors can sample the year's vintage before the winemaking process is complete.
How to get there
The Clare Valley is about 120 kilometres (75 miles) or a two hour drive north of Adelaide. Hire a car from the city or join a tour to visit several wineries in a day.