Just 45 minutes from The Playford is the magnificent McLaren Vale wine region, home to over 70 superb vineyards. It is internationally renowned for the wine it produces with its pride and joy, Shiraz, the real centre of attention. The region has debatable naming heritage. It was either named after David McLaren, the Colonial Manager of the South Australian Company or John McLaren who surveyed the area in 1839.
Among the very first settlers in the region were two English farmers from Devon, William Colton and Charles Thomas Hewitt. William Colton established the Daringa Farm and Charles Hewitt, Oxenberry Farm. Both men would prove to be prominent figures in the early days of McLaren Vale.
The first winemakers to plant grapes are two of Australia’s most famous and enduring winemakers, John Reynell and Thomas Hardy. Some of their vines are still producing wines 100 years later. Today there are over eighty-eight cellar doors with the majority being small family run operations and boutique wineries.
The McLaren Vale region is famously known for its dry red wines made from Shiraz, Grenache and Mourvedre. Cabernet Sauvignon and Merlot are other varieties that are also grown. White wines in the region include Chardonnay, Semillon, Sauvignon Blanc and Riesling. Shiraz, the grape, is by far the most important variety for the region, accounting for about 50% of the total crush. The area’s thin soils, limited water, and warm summers harness Shiraz’s natural vigor and produce intense flavoured fruit. The wine consistently exhibits a deep purple colour that can last for decades in the bottle.
In the McLaren Vale, there are so many superb vineyards to visit where you can relax and savour the best they have to offer. Let’s pick a few that might take your fancy. Take D’Arenberg cellar door for instance. Set on a hilltop in a nineteenth century homestead, it’s a great place to take in the view. You might also like to dine at d’Arry’s Verandah Restaurant. You just couldn’t imagine a better place to tuck into sublime food and taste fine wines. At Coriole Vineyard’s cellar door, you’ll find yourself in an old, ironstone barn. If after sampling a few top wines you’re feeling a bit peckish, you can enjoy a great lunch in the courtyard.
At Penny Hill, it’s all casual farm charm. You can relax on the couches inside or soak up the sun on a deck chair. Try Shiraz, Merlot or Chardonnay. Then you can meet the Rhode Island Red Chickens and Black-faced Suffolk sheep. Play petanque on the lawn while tasting the delightful wines and eating tapas. Wirra Wirra is one of the country’s grand old names and has an outstanding range of vintages and exclusive volume releases at its cellar door. If you venture to Chapel Hill, you’ll be able to take in panoramic views of the Onkaparinga Valley. If you’re a beer lover, then you can’t go past the Red Poles Restaurant and Gallery. Local craft beer and cider producer, the McLaren Vale Beer Company hold tastings of their award winning range. The Goodieson Brewery is another local favourite producing superb pale ale, stout and wheat beer.
With so many cellar doors, fine foods and glorious views to take in, the McLaren Vale region is right at the top of any travel agenda when you come to Adelaide. And it’s just a short drive from The Playford. And don’t worry – should you want to revisit some of the extraordinary wines that you have just discovered, there are plenty to be enjoyed from the wine list in The Playford Restaurant, a “Two Glass Winner” in the Gourmet Traveller Wine List of the Year Awards 2014. Book your stay in Australia’s most awarded boutique hotel today, and enjoy all that Adelaide has to offer.