McLaren Vale, South Australia.
For a long time lesser-known than the Barossa, the McLaren Vale has an even older history. The first grape vines were planted only two years after the establishment of the colony of South Australia in 1836, early settlers William Colton and Charles Thomas Hewett, John Reynell, and Thomas Hardy – all from Devon, England. Though Devon was hardly a natural wine region, the settlers were intrepid businessmen, and the McLaren Vale had its first full-scale winery by 1850.
Much like the Barossa Valley, the McLaren Vale switched to making fortified wine in the late 19th century. In the post-war period, many migrants from Italy settled in the McLaren Vale, introducing olive and olive oil production, as well as new vines and modes of winery production.
Kay Brothers bravely established a cellar door at their vineyard in 1956, though purchases were four flagons at a minimum, as dictated by law.
Though close in proximity, South Australia‘s two major wine regions offer very different products. While the Barossa Valley – to the north of Adelaide – has a continental climate, with great weather extremes, the McLaren Vale – set to the south-east on the Fleurieu Peninsula – has a Mediterranean climate, with a warmer, wetter winter and a hot, dry, summer. Situated near the coast, the McLaren Vale sees cool breezes in the afternoons and evenings. The result is that, even as both regions specialise in reds such as Shiraz (Australia’s most planted red grape variety), the Barossa offers rich, full-bodied wines, flavoured with dark berry fruits and rich dark chocolate; while the McLaren Vale climate results in a softer, more subdued wine style, with a twist of light berry and spice.
In the 1970s and 1980s the McLaren Vale’s wines took their place on the world stage. As a wine production region, it is defined by its complex climate and geology, allowing the area to support a wide variety of styles. The McLaren Vale has a number of micro and meso climates, thanks to the varied elevations. This has allowed grapegrowers to chose between a number of varieties – Shiraz, Grenache, and Cabernet – and a number of Italian styles including Barbera, Fiano, Sangiovese, and Zinfandel.
The McLaren Vale wine region has 3218 hectares of Shiraz under vine. Other major varieties include Cabernet Sauvignon with 1288 ha planted, Chardonnay with 722 ha planted, and Grenache with 402 ha.
The top five varieties of grape crushed in McLaren Vale are: Shiraz 57%, Cabernet Sauvignon 19%, Grenache 7%, Chardonnay 5%, Merlot 4%. (Wine Australia 2018). Pinot Noir is grown predominately in the cooler climate Yarra Valley and Mornington Peninsula whilst Sauvignon Blanc thrives in the Adelaide Hills and Margaret River. The Hunter Valley in NSW is known for it’s Semillon, Chardonnay, Shiraz and Cabernet.
As part of our tour of Adelaide ,Odyssey Traveller enjoys day tours to both the Barossa Valley and the McLaren Vale wine regions, including lunch at a local restaurant, cellar door visit and a wine tasting. Staying in hotel accommodation in the city for eight nights, we see the major sites of Adelaide, including the Botanic Garden and the historic buildings of the North Terrace and City Centre, and feast on local produce at the Central Market and Chinatown. A particular Adelaide highlight is the extensive collection of William Morris Arts and Crafts works, collected in the Art Gallery of South Australia. We also head to the museums of Port Adelaide .
Our Adelaide city tour also takes you to the surrounding regions. We make a day trip down the Fleurieu Peninsula ,passing through the McLaren Vale and looking out at Kangaroo Island. Our tour also takes a river cruise down the Murray River, and explores the Adelaide Hills, where we visit the historic German settlement of Hahndorf, and enjoy a tasting of traditional German cuisine. Whether you’re a red wine lover and after a wine tour or just want to learn more about the history of Adelaide and this famous Australian wine region, this guided tour could be for you.
Every Odyssey tour is designed especially for mature and senior travellers, with a focus on the history and culture of our destinations. We chose every tour guide for their extensive local knowledge, and move in genuinely small groups, of around 6-12 guests per tour. If that appeals to you, click here for more information.
For all the articles Odyssey Traveller has published for mature aged and senior travellers, click through on this link .
Articles about Australia published by Odyssey Traveller:
For all the articles Odyssey Traveller has published for mature aged and senior travellers, click through on this link.
External articles to assist you on your visit to Adelaide and South Australia:
Updated July 2021.