With a total of 18 world-renowned wine regions in South Australia, and over 200 cellar doors all within an hour’s drive from Adelaide, it’s no wonder Adelaide is one of the 10 great wine capitals of the world. The three most famous wine regions in South Australia are the Barossa, Clare Valley and the McLaren Vale. During my four months in Adelaide I spent a great deal of time exploring these three wine regions, and I sampled some great wines in the process. Here are a few of my favourites!
Three Fantastic Wine Regions in South Australia
The Barossa Valley is located about an hour north-east of Adelaide and is most famous for its red wines, in particular Shiraz. The international success of Australian Shiraz began in the 1980s, and has continued to grow ever since. As well as Shiraz, the Barossa also produces Grenache, Mourvèdre, Cabernet Sauvignon, Riesling, Chardonnay and Semillon.
One place in the Barossa that I visited a couple of times was the Jacobs Creek Visitor Centre which is located on the Barossa Valley Way, just outside Rowland Flat. The Jacobs Creek Visitor Centre is a modern building located in an idyllic location, surrounded by lush vineyards and rolling green hills. They offer 4 complimentary tastings, or you can sample their whole standard tasting menu for just $5pp. They also have premium tasting options available for an additional cost. If you’re looking for a spot of lunch the restaurant at Jacobs Creek is very good, and serves everything from a sharing platter to a delicious three course meal. Enjoy your meal inside or outside in the glorious sunshine.
I have visited many vineyards in the Barossa, but when I stumbled across Rockford Wines it was like winning the lottery. Rockford Wines is along a side road, a couple of kilometres off the Barossa Valley Way, just outside Tanunda. From the outside it doesn’t look overly impressive, just a couple of old stone buildings surrounding a small courtyard in the shade of some large eucalyptus trees. When you enter the courtyard you will see large vats all along one wall where the grapes are basket-pressed, instead of machine pressed, and if you’re lucky enough to visit at the right time of year you may even see this happening.
On the opposite side of the courtyard is a small stone building where the tasting room is located. The tasting room is a small rustic room, no bigger than my kitchen-diner at home, with a bar the length of the room, only big enough for about three small groups to taste at any one time. All the tastings are complimentary and you can try all their whites and reds, as well as their Shiraz VP and Tawny.
In all honesty, I don’t think you will sample a wine at Rockford Wines that you dislike, whatever your preference of wine, they are all absolutely delicious. Without a doubt Rockford Wines was my most visited vineyard, not only in the Barossa, but out of all the wine regions in South Australia.
The McLaren Vale is located about half an hour south of Adelaide, between the rolling hills of the Fleurieu Peninsula, and the stunning southern beaches. Like the Barossa, the McLaren Vale is also known for its Shiraz, Grenache, Mourvèdre, Cabernet Sauvignon, Chardonnay, Semillon and Riesling. More recently, some less common grapes for the area have been grown, such as Merlot, Sangiovese, Tempranillo, Vermentino and Viognier, which are usually more prevalent in the Mediterranean.
On my flight over to Australia on Qatar Airways, one of the wines which was available in the business class cabin was Fox Creek’s Short Row Shiraz. I absolutely adored this wine when I tried it on the flight, and one of the first things that I planned to do after my arrival in Adelaide was to visit McLaren Vale and sample more of the wines which Fox Creek have to offer.
Fox Creek’s cellar door is located along Malpas Road, just off Main Road which runs through the centre of McLaren Vale. The tasting room is located in a small stone 19th century building, set in stunning grounds, surrounded by vivid green vineyards as far as the eye could see. You can either find a seat inside to sample some of their delicious wines, or you can find a seat in their beautiful gardens and enjoy their wines in the gorgeous Australian sunshine.
During my visit I just had to sample another glass of the Short Row Shiraz (I also purchased a few bottles for later on), and I also enjoyed some of their other equally as lovely wines. Some of their other wines which should not be missed are their Nero d’Avola and their ‘Jim’s Script’ blend of Cabernet Sauvignon, Merlot, Cabernet Franc and Petit Verdot. All of the tastings at Fox Creek are complimentary.
Clare Valley is located to the north of Adelaide, about an hour further out than the Barossa, and is one of the oldest wine regions in South Australia. Unlike the Barossa and McLaren Vale, which are more known for their red varieties, the Clare Valley is most famous for its refreshing aromatic Riesling. Today more red varieties are being gown in Clare, such as Cabernet Sauvignon and Shiraz, but the main focus today is still the Riesling grape.
I only managed to visit Clare once on this trip and I decided to visit Annie’s Lane vineyard, as it had been highly recommended. I sampled a few of their wines during my visit, all of which were very nice, but even though I am more of a red drinker, their Riesling really did stand out as it was absolutely beautiful.
Another recommendation which I had for Clare was to go to Penna Lane, but unfortunately their cellar door was not open when I visited which was a shame. I did however find a beautiful place for lunch in Clare called Mr Micks, which was an Australian take on a tapas bar. All their dishes were small tapas sized portions, but with an Australian twist, and all made with local produce. Delicious! Mr Mick’s also had a cellar door, but I didn’t visit as it was packed when I went over to taste some wines after my lunch.
Unfortunately I didn’t get a chance to visit any vineyards in the Adelaide Hills, which is another of the 18 wonderful wine regions in South Australia. I really regret not visiting any of the vineyards in the Adelaide Hills as I was staying so close to this region, and drove through the region numerous times during my stay. I guess this gives me something to look forward to next time I visit to Adelaide.