Are you looking for a detailed day-to-day guide on the best wineries in South Australia?
I recently took a trip back home, for a best friends wedding, to meet a new niece, catch up with friends, the beach, nature & family, but I couldn’t make it home without squeezing in a Wine Region, so decided to explore the South Australian Wine Regions that put my country on the map.
We managed to cover over 28 original cellar doors and 125 wines across 4 regions; McLaren Vale, Adelaide Hills & both the Clare and Barossa Valley’s, in just under 8 days – however Eden Valley was initially included, so I’ve added it in this itinerary for you.
My goal was to cover as many regions within SA as possible, yet take it slow enough to actually absorb all the wine knowledge.
My goal was not to waste any time during my travels; by googling where to go next, feeling disappointed by mediocre wineries or getting lost in the larger commercial ones – so I asked my network of wine loving followers, industry professionals & sommelier connections @chloe_cristallini – thank you team!
We boiled it down to this:
8 days of the Best Boutique Wineries in South Australia; including where to stay, what wineries to hit, in which order you’ll wanna hit them (google map guide), where to eat & where to stop on your travels.
What will you need: one serious wine person (& one not so serious wine person to do the driving, unless you’re both a fan of the spittoon), a car, google maps, caffeine & a notebook or camera to document your findings.
Let’s get stuck into it:
Arrive at Adelaide Airport, pick up your hire car and drive through Adelaide City to Marino. Marino is a coastal town just 30-minutes drive south of the city, 20 minutes from the lively town of Glenelg & an easy base for McLaren Vale & Adelaide Hills.
Where to stay: (book 3 nights) @ Airbnb Marino
What to do: Depending on your arrival time, drive up and down the coastline to explore the magnificent views, head to Glenelg for dinner around sunset.
Dinner: Zucca Greek Mezze offers modern Mediterranean Greek Cuisine, and introductory regional wine list & scenic ocean views – www.zucca.com.au/menu
Are your palates ready?
The birthplace of South Australia’s Viticulture, McLaren Vale has been producing wines since 1838. With the breathtaking scenery, rolling hills & sea views, you could be on an island in the Med. Be prepared to feel like a tourist here, as it’s the closest wine region to Adelaide city, more people are passing through, but that doesn’t mean you can’t find boutique wineries, away from the crowd, with sensational wines.
P.S Type the winery suggestions into google maps in the order they are listed in this article, they are organised according to fasted and neatest root times.
P.S.S Each winery stop below includes a blurb about the winery and my favourite wine(s) tasted at each, look out for these to purchase in your local wine shop.
1. Kay Brothers; Amery Vineyard Block 6 Shiraz
“ Established in 1890, Kay Brothers is the oldest winery in McLaren Vale still in founding family hands. Kay’s are specialist traditional red wine makers utilising grapes from their own 22-hectare Amery Vineyard. The grape varieties grown are Shiraz (including the 1892 Block 6 planting), Cabernet Sauvignon, Merlot, Nero d’ Avola, Grenache, Mataro and Muscat Blanc. The Kay’s winemaking philosophy is to make rich full-bodied fruit-driven wines (using the original Open Fermenters and Basket Press) with a mix of small and medium oak cask maturation.”
2. Oliver’s Taranga Vineyard; 2014 Cabernet Sauvignon, 2014 M53 Shiraz
“Six generations of stubborn, competitive growers and one equally spirited winemaker- that’s the Oliver family. Living smack bang in the middle of McLaren Vale, they flourish on producing perfect parcels of fruit on their 100 hectare ‘Taranga’ property. Their collection of small batch, handcrafted wines speak of both the variety and vintage, capturing a time and place, while continuing to document the family’s ongoing 179 year relationship with the land.”
3. Molly Dooker; 2017 The Boxer Shiraz
“All of our grapes are grown sustainably. We aim to make 80,000 dozen cases of wine each vintage. The tank farm, barrel hall and crushing area are our cellar team’s pride and joy. We’ve got a 1500 tonne crushing capacity, but we only crush just over 1200 tonnes so that the team has plenty of time to mollycoddle the wines, and to keep the winery spick and span”
Lunch: The Salopian Inn offers modern Australian Cuisine in a charming 1950s building, with a fireplace and vineyard views – www.salopian.com.au
4. Alpha Box & Dice; 2018 Pink Matter Rosè(Chardonnay & Riesling on unpressed Grenache Skins)
“Forming Alpha Box & Dice as a laboratory for viticultural exploration in 2008, the team set upon constructing a different wine style to represent every letter of the alphabet. Each member of the ‘Alphabet of Wine’ has its own unique personality that fulfils a different purpose – no two wines are created alike. AB&D wines are all linked by their environment and surroundings, being created holistically through minimal intervention, vegan-friendly methods. However, they are completely distinct in their flavour, appearance and orientation. In this way, AB&D wines are just like a (mostly) happy family.”
5. S.C & Pannell; 2017 Arido Grenache Rosè
“S.C.Pannell the label was established by Steve and wife Fiona in 2004, but Steve’s journey to winemaking really dates back to 1969, whereas a toddler he grew up on one of Australia’s most iconic boutique wineries, Moss Wood in the Margaret River. The S.C.Pannell winery was realised to focus on Stephen’s passion for the McLaren Vale region and its ability to produce dry – grown and environmentally sustainable Shiraz and Grenache. Steve’s holistic philosophy to winemaking starts with our climate, emphasises the importance on the vineyard, as well as wine’s relation to the food we love to grow, cook, and eat. Stephen Pannell was recently named Gourmet Traveller Wine 2015 Australian Winemaker of the Year.”
6. Samuel’s Gorge; 2017 Grenache
“ The wines of Samuel’s Gorge are crafted by hand and reflect the landscape in which we work. We reference history for texture, complexity and harmony. We engage patient techniques, utilising indigenous yeast, ensuring our ferments are long and slow. Our winery is under the cover of a lean-to and at night a ceiling of stars. Visitors to Samuel’s Gorge are welcome to see our process during harvest, in late summer. Driven by aromatics, texture, silkiness and intrigue our wines are great to drink now and yet have structural support and intensity that ensures they cellar well. Samuel’s Gorge wines reflect the unique vintage conditions and represent the personality and the imagination of the makers.”
Kick off your shoes, drink some Hydrolite and head back to your Marino AirBnB to cook something for dinner – open up one of the bottles your purchased today – you can’t take them all home with you.
I have one word to describe the hills district: class.
Despite that grapes were planted in 1839, it was not until 1979 that viticulture ignited in the Adelaide Hills. Adelaide Hills has constructed a notoriety for being one of Australia’s most exciting regions – situated in the Mt Lofty Ranges thirty minutes drive from Adelaide, elevation sits around 350 meters, to more than 710 meters at Mt Lofty. The Adelaide Hills is neighboured in the North by the Barossa & Eden Valleys and McLaren Vale to the South, however, because of its height, the Adelaide Hills has a cooler and wetter climate.
Before climbing the hills, start your day with the supplied breakfast from the Marino Airbnb (eggs, bread, milk, coffee, tea), punch in these wineries into your google map app
Let’s jet on out into this conservative district;
1. Deviation Road; NV Altair Sparkling Brut Rose, 2013 Beltana Blanc de Blancs, 2018 Pinot Gris, 2017 Grüner Veltliner, 2016 Chardonnay (Can you tell I like the Hills?)
“For many Deviation Road is best represented by its signature Australian sparkling wine. Deviation Road Winery produces exciting cool climate wines from mature vineyard resources in the Adelaide Hills. Owners Hamish and Kate Laurie continue a five generation winemaking tradition. Devoted to the high altitude sites of the Adelaide Hills and with Kate’s French oenology training, the wines they produce are at once traditional and contemporary. With a fiery passion to create premium bottle fermented and aged Australian sparkling wines together with textural aromatic whites that can genuinely cellar, their signature style is restrained, elegant and balanced.”
2. Tapanappa; Foggy Hill Vineyard 2017 Pinot Noir
“The word Tapanappa is probably derived from the local aboriginal language, and likely translates to “stick to the path”. This is exactly what this partnership intends to do, by continuing Brian’s career-long mission of selecting distinguished sites. Matching the climate, soil and geology of the site to the right varieties, and fastidiously managing the vineyard to maximise quality and produce unique Australian “terroir” driven wines.”
Long Lunch: The Bridgewater Mill offers contemporary Australian Cuisine in an old Mill, with a cozy fire and an extensive wine list – www.thebridgewatermill.com.au
Next, head to the cute German established town Handorf.
3. Somerled; 2017 Reserve Pinot Noir, 2015 Picnic Races Tempranillo, 2014 Shiraz
(there is no tasting here, you must purchase from the bar in full or half size glasses, but ABSOLUTELY WORTH IT!)
“The winemaker at Somerled, Rob, has a 50-year winemaking career, starting in 1969. He was employed at Penfolds by Max Schubert, the ‘father’ of Penfolds Grange, when Penfolds was still a family-owned company. Rob continued working on iconic South Australian wines at Penfolds and Wynns until 2001. Quiet, unassuming and profoundly talented and patient in his profession, Rob’s greatest delight currently is producing this compact, super-premium range, with absolute consistency, in close connection with his family.”
4. Shaw And Smith; 2016 Lenswood Vineyard Chardonnay
“Shaw + Smith own two vineyards in the Adelaide Hills, at Balhannah and Lenswood, totalling 55 hectares. The vineyards are planted to varieties that perform particularly well in the region, namely Sauvignon Blanc, Chardonnay, Pinot Noir and Shiraz. Site selection is particularly important in the Adelaide Hills, with its diversity of altitude, aspect, microclimate, and soil. We also use a number of different cultivars or ‘clones’ of each grape variety, which contribute different qualities to the final product.”
Dinner: Head back home for your last night in Marino, sit outside on your picnic table and chairs and watch the sunset over the Gulf of St Vincent.
Gobble up your remaining breakfast from Marino and get on the road to Clare. Grab a coffee for the picturesque road trip, as you start to imagine Outback Australia, orange dirt roads weave through the seas of wheat farms against an open blue sky.
Situated at the northern end of the Mt Lofty Ranges, the first vineyards were planted in the 1840s, and range between 400 to 500 meters. Although its reputation is for its quality and consistent Watervale Riesling, another variety shockingly impressed me; Shiraz.
Where to stay: (book 2 nights) @ Travelia BnB
P.S store the luggage in the car while you explore for the day! Don’t waste time by checking, most cellar doors in Australia shut by 4/5pm.
1. O’Leary & Walker; 2013 Cabernet Sauvignon Malbec 70/30, 2018 Polish Hill River Riesling
“O’Leary Walker Wines was established in 2000 by winemakers David O’Leary and Nick Walker. With over twenty-five years experience and established reputations making premium wine with the big companies, these two longtime friends decided to take control of their own destiny and craft small batches of wine from some of the best vineyard sites in South Australia. With a great leap of faith, they are now doing exactly what they set out to”.
Lunch: The Seven Hills Pub offers outstanding food for optimum value, enjoy a pint of one of the Clare Valley regional Pale Ales! – www.hotelsevenhills.com.au/bistro/
2. Sevenhill; 2016 Indigo Shiraz, 2017 Barbera, 2014 Brother John May Reserve Release Shiraz
“Sevenhill was established in 1851 when the Jesuits who settled in the area planted vines to produce sacramental wine. From these modest beginnings, the Jesuits’ focus on wine has remained, with Sevenhill adding to its sacramental wine production with an extensive range of table wines that are highly regarded throughout Australia and overseas. Sevenhill’s reputation reflects a commitment to the creation of distinguished wines that express the authentic styles and flavours of the Clare Valley. Integral to this philosophy are our modern winemaking skills and highly prized vineyards that provide high-quality, estate-grown fruit, some of which is sourced from vines among the oldest in the Clare Valley.As the only remaining Jesuit-owned winery in Australia, residing Jesuits are actively involved in Sevenhill’s ongoing development in partnership with lay staff who share the ethos of building the Jesuit Mission to support works of charity and compassion throughout Australia.”
3. Jeanneret; 2018 Riesling/Malbec Rosè, & all of the reds – 2016 GSM, 2017 Malbec, 2016 Cabernet Malbec, 2016 Rank & File Shiraz
“ Our philosophy is simple and straight to the point, to make the best wines possible. We’re not one for trends or rules, we just make what we love. Our wines are generous in flavour and quality. Charismatic and spirited. Our motto ‘naturally perfect’ reflects our passion to make each of our wines a true expression of the time and place from which they come. Jeanneret Wines was established in 1992 by the Jeanneret family who were led heart first into the regions’ vineyards. A passion for making wines purely for their own enjoyment organically expanded into a business and the Jeanneret cellar door was opened in October 1994.
Dinner: Pick up something to eat for dinner and head back to your B&B where a cozy fireplace awaits!
Rise early, you have lots to squeeze in today!
1. Grosset’s; 2018 Alea Riesling, 2018 Springvale Riesling, 2018 Polish Hill Riesling, 2018 Aplana Fiano – call to check if they are open first – if not – find one of these bottles. Best Riesling I had the entire trip.
“Grosset Wines’ philosophy has remained steadfast over thirty-eight years. The emphasis is on the purity of fruit. The estate vineyards are hand tended (100% hand pruned, hand-picked) and each bunch of grapes is harvested at optimum ripeness. The winemaking process is gentle and uncomplicated. The result is the finest expression of variety and place.
We believe in producing the best examples of variety and place; Clare Valley rieslings which express dramatic differences between soft and hard rock sites, and uniquely suited cabernet from the coolest place in the region. Our challenge is to make the most of this unpolluted environment. We work organically and are not afraid to use different approaches to show grape variety and vineyard at their best. Each wine we make is a testament to this philosophy. ”
2. Mount Horrocks; 2018 Shiraz Rosé, 2016 Nero d’Avola
“Stephanie carefully crafts “essentially hand-made food wines with an emphasis on structure as well as generous fruit flavours”. The only estate grown grapes are used and these are hand-picked and gently handled under conditions that ensure the varietal and site-specific flavours in the resultant wine, as well as its organic status, are retained. As no findings have been found necessary the wines are all suitable for vegans and vegetarians. Only the finest French oak barrique are used for those wines spending time in the barrel.”
3. Crab Tree; 2016 Watervale Shiraz
“The house that makes up the cellar door dates back to when the Clare Valley was first settled, and has been the home of a number of local identities over the years. Adolf Glaetzer was one of these residents, known best in the Clare Valley for his fresh fruit and vegetables rather than winemaking, though his descendants have made the Glaetzer name synonymous with Australian winemaking. Robert Crabtree purchased the house from the Glaetzer family, it is heritage listed, the oldest sections date back to 1849.”
4. Shut The Gate; 2012 Watervale Riesling, 2016 Barrel Fermented Sauvignon Blanc, 2014 Single Site Shiraz, 2016 Single Site Barbera
“If you can only make it to ONE cellar door in Clare, this would be your pick. Shut The Gate has everything you are looking for; if it’s a fun and trendy cellar door experience, classic and traditional Rieslings, elegant shiraz, or alternative old world grapes made in new world modern styles. These guys are people to look out for.”
Lunch: Seed Winehouse + Kitchen offers shared style bistro food with a European accent – www.seed.kitchen.com
OR head next door to UMBRIA Rustic Italian Restaurant (didn’t eat at the latter but in hindsight wish I had) –www.umbriarestaurant.com.au
5. Jim Barry; 2014 Armagh Shiraz , 2015 the Mcrae Wood Shiraz
“Certain names resonate strongly within the halls of Australian wine history. Jim Barry is one such name. It was Jim Barry’s drive and community spirit that helped shape South Australia’s Clare Valley as a benchmark producer of world-class Riesling and cemented its place as one of Australia’s premier wine regions. Jim Barry Wines has a strong lineage. Jim himself was the first qualified winemaker in the Clare Valley, graduating with the 17th Degree in Oenology from the famous Roseworthy Agricultural College in 1947. Working for 22 years as winemaker at the Clarevale Co-operative, Jim Barry became a pioneer of Australian table wine. He then went on to establish Taylors Wines in 1969.”
Dinner: Head back for a home-meal and make use of that fire!
Head to Mintaro today for the morning.
1. Pikes; (Start with the beer tasting – it’s awesome!) then head to wine – 2017 ‘Impostores’ Savignan, 2018 ‘Traditionale’ Riesling, 2018 ‘The Merle’ Reserve Riesling, 2018 ‘Olga Emmie’ Riesling
“Our aim at Pikes is to produce wines with character and personality which reflect the variety, the region and vintage conditions. We closely monitor our wines during their formative stage and intervene as little as possible during the vinification process, thereby protecting the integrity of the fruit characters delivered to us by the vineyard. A combination of both modern and traditional winemaking techniques is used to produce wines of subtlety and style which celebrate the fruit grown in our Polish Hill River Estate.
2. Mintaro Cellar Door – Experience the small production Riesling Wines, but do not expect a warming cellar door experience.
“Mintaro wines was established in 1984 by the current owner/wine producer, Peter Houldsworth.
Located in the historic town of Mintaro, the vineyards were originally planted in 1962 and consistently produce award-winning wines. Mintaro Wines is a small boutique winery with an average production of between 3-4 thousand cases per year. We produce a range of premium red and white table wines”
Lunch: Magpie and Stump offers contemporary yet traditional pub-style meals, good value, killer wine list & occasional live music – www.magpieandstump.com.au
Whilst waiting for your lunch, head to the back of the venue where they offer a popup tasting experience – this brings me to number 3
3. Koerner; Pigato 2018 Vermentino Orange.
“Our winemaking philosophy is very simple – the wines are made in the vineyard. The date of picking is the most crucial part of the process. Once the grapes make their way to the winery, they are carefully nurtured and each batch treated individually. An understanding of terroir and the individual varieties enables us to produce unique wines using nothing but the grapes and a small amount of sulphur!
Time for the BIG guy,
Drive to Barossa.
Where to stay: (book 2 nights) @ Airbandb Gawler
Head to one of the 7 pubs in town for a relaxing afternoon/beverage and chill back at your accommodation with a spa, movie & hydration!
You’ve got a big day tomorrow.
The big bold Barossa Valley is perhaps Australia’s most famous wine region. The region was founded by German Settlers who were fleeing persecution from the Prussian province of Silesia (Poland). The warm continental climate produces wines in which are very ripe and holds some of the oldest vines in the world – as the phylloxera disease that wiped out most of the world didn’t make it there. Barossa is home to some of the largest and most famous Australian wineries like Penfolds, Peter Lehmann & Seppeltsfield, however, we decided to experience some of the smaller guys.
1. Torbreck; 2017 Roussane, 2016 The Gask Shiraz, 2015 The Factor Shiraz, 2015 The Descendant Shiraz.
“ A critical part of this journey is remaining unwaveringly true to our core vision and not being diverted by trends and fashions. Since 1994 Torbreck has been committed to creating exceptional rhone style red and white wines reflecting the very best vineyards in Australia’s famous Barossa. Provenance is everything to us. We believe the Barossa is the most exciting place to make wine in the world, with its gentle Mediterranean climate and 175 years of Silesian and English commitment to winemaking and grape-growing. There is a European sense of tradition here that means vines planted in the 1840s – many of the Rhone varieties such as Shiraz, Grenache, Mourvédre – still thrive and bear the fruit of unique concentration and flavour.”
2.Rolf Binder; 2014 Bull’s Blood Shiraz – Mataro Pressings, 2015 Old Vine Shiraz Limited Release
“Rolf Binder and sister Christa Deans, produce a range of highly acclaimed Barossa premium wines using fruit from their own estate and other Barossa vineyards. Rolf focuses on red winemaking, for which he has received international accolades, and Christa is recognised as one of the region’s finest white winemakers. American wine critic, Robert Parker Junior describes Rolf Binder as “one of my favourite wineries (whose) offerings are never excessively oaked, possess extraordinary ripe, concentrated fruit, great individuality.”
3. David Franz; 2016 Red Rosé (108 Varieties), 2014 Benjamin’s Promise Shiraz, 2013 Georgie’s Walk Cabernet Sauvignon Shiraz 75/25
“ When I finally came home to the Barossa, the desire to make wine was burning bright. Peter (my father) in his wisdom set me to work as a labourer in our vineyards. As he put it, “first you have to understand where wine is really made. Through experience and great mentors, my knowledge and passion for our vines have grown. I now manage the family’s Stelzer and Stonewell Hill vineyards (around 75 acres). Carte blanche in the vineyards has allowed for a focus on producing the fruit of the highest quality, without compromising for the sake of yields. In real terms, it means that I produce my wines from the vine to the bottle. Pruning is where the journey starts, not just when the grapes are picked and arrive at the winery.”
Lunch: Participate in the DIY Picnic at David Franz Winery, select from the gourmet cheese, cured meats, bread & dips and elongate your wine tasting over lunch – https://david-franz.com
4. Lengmeil; 2016 70 Vine Grenache, 2015 Mataro
“Capturing the distinctive hallmarks of Barossa’s rich viticultural landscape lies at the foundation of each Langmeil wine made with dedication and an individual style.
We are committed to making premium Barossa wine of the highest quality and believe the secret lies within the vineyard. That’s why we allow biodiversity to thrive amongst the vines while maintaining an intimate knowledge of every row of the cherished varieties we grow.
We also trust and preserve the loyal relationships we hold with the grape growing families of Barossa, who we believe are the jewels in the crown to this unique region and the backbone to its success as a great and enduring wine community.
In the winery, Chief Winemaker, Paul Lindner, draws on both old world and new world techniques while practising both minimal filtration and human intervention to ensure the grape’s full potential is captured.”
5. Rockford; Sparkling Shiraz, 2015 Basket Press Shiraz
“All I can say is if you are looking for Tradition in the Barossa, Rockford is exactly that.”
6. Murray street; 2016 Greenock Shiraz, 2016 Gomersal Shiraz
Our story is all about the celebrated ground. Over 200 million years of glacial movement and receding oceans; black, cracking-clay; ferrous-red ironstone and a fine silt of blond sand that has blown across a vast desert to be here. This is the Western Barossa ridge – the oldest soil in the world, hosting the oldest vines in the world and offering up that rarest of prizes: old vine Barossa Shiraz, Mataro and Grenache.
These are wines that are grown, not made. The patchwork soils, the long silence of the warm growing season, and the occasional, faster-moving air of an afternoon breeze, all play their part in helping to shape flavour, structure and style.
7. Kalleske Wines; 2017 Kalleske Old Vine Grenache, 2017 Kalleske Moppa Shiraz, 2017 Kalleske Dodger Tempranillo
“In South Australia’s Barossa Valley, the Kalleske family have been farming and growing grapes since 1853 near the village of Greenock. They are one of the region’s leading grape-growing families consistently growing some of the Barossa’s best quality grapes. After six generations of growing grapes, winemaker and seventh generation family member, Troy Kalleske, together with his brother Tony, established the Kalleske winery and made the first ‘Kalleske’ wine. The winery is situated on the family estate where traditional winemaking techniques ensure the vineyard realises its full potential as wine.”
If you make the time, head to Eden Valley before a late evening flight from Adelaide.
Unfortunately, we didn’t. Although I had a media day organised with both Hentley Farm & Henschke, due to bad weather their plane and daytrip was cancelled. I did get to do some research on them though so add them to your list and tell me what you find!
www.hentleyfarm.com.au (restaurant on site)
So there we have it my friends,
8 Best Boutique Wineries in South Australia, for serious Wine people.
Now send this to any of your Wine Geek friends who are heading to Australia soon!