Sipping The Wines of McLaren Vale Region, Adelaide, SA, Australia


About 25 years ago, in another life, I used to be a ski instructor at Blackcomb Mountain, Whistler, BC, Canada. During that time, I had several Australian flat mates and had some interesting times growing up in my twenties. Through Facebook, I was able to re-connect with some of them, which, in part, prompted this visit to Adelaide. For the next 4 days, we had a home stay with our friends as they showed us around some fantastic South Australia vineyards.

This post is one chapter in our trip to Australia on Air Canada & Qantas Business Class and United Airlines. This trip was booked using British Airways Executive Club Avios and Starwood Preferred Guest (Marriott Bonvoy) points. For more information on how this trip was booked, please see our trip introduction here. For other parts of the trip, please see this index.

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Region Visit: Sipping The Wines of McLaren Vale Region, Adelaide, SA, Australia.

We visited several wineries around the Adelaide area thanks to our wonderful hosts. For those are not familiar with the wine regions near Adealide, they are: McLaren Vale, Barossa and Adelaide Hills.

An early morning departure and we are off on the wrong side of the road. 

The Roads to McLaren Vale

Getting to McLaren Vale:

The McLaren Vale town is located a short drive away from our nearby stay in Adelaide, South Australia. It is located very close to the nearby waters of the ocean and inlets that make up the surrounding regions of Adelaide.

Visiting Hugh Hamilton Wines:

We started our first days wine tasting in McLaren Vale at Hugh Hamilton. We experienced some beautiful elevated views surrounding the valley floor of McLaren Vale. 

Hugh Hamilton Wines
Hugh Hamilton Vines

Hugh Hamilton has an attractive round tasting room in middle of vines surrounded by prevalent sheep branding. 

Hugh Hamilton Cellar Door
Our friends and host: standing with the sheep
McLaren Vale Wines

It was a pleasant environment surrounded by the vines. With Hugh Hamilton’s Cellar Door being just on top of the rise, there were views stretching over the McLaren Vale hills as far as the rolling hills would allow.

Views from the Cellar Door: Sweeping Views Across the Valley
Cellar DoorL Walkways too and from the Cellar Door

Entering into the Tasting Room, it was immediately obvious from our first tasting experience that we were well off the regular wine tourist trail. There were a complete lack of outside tourists. We enjoyed a tasting with a Portland couple who were spending two months down between Australia and New Zealand. There were the only non Australian tourists we saw all day. I also found it different that almost all the wine tastings (15 out of 17 over several days) were completely complimentary with no attempt to charge for pricing or anything like that.

Small Scale Tastings: Hugh Hamilton Cellar Door
Hugh Hamilton Wines
Hugh Hamilton Reds

We enjoyed a great tasting here and kick off to our visit to the wineries of the McLaren Vale region.

Blue Sky Tastings

Wines of The Battle of Bosworth:

After a few samples, we went onto Battle of Bosworth, an organic winery well off the beaten path. It was so far off the beaten path, I think we were in the smallest tasting room ever. It was all part of the charm as we enjoyed a private tasting there with some really tasty unoaked chardonnay. Their wine labels were reminiscent of seed sachets that your parents used.

The Battle of Bosworth at McLaren Vale
Walking to The Battle of Bosworth Cellar Door
The Smallest Tasting Room Experienced
The Group at the Battle of Bosworth Cellar Door

The seed sachet labels that reminded me of visiting Buckerfields with my parents when I was young.

Battle of Bosworth Labells
The Battle of Bosworth Red Wines
Battle of Bosworth Vines

We continued on to the Star of Greece restaurant which is beautifully situated on the coast for lunch. We’ve covered that experience in our separate restaurant review.

A tour of funky Alpha Box Dice winery:

After lunch, we headed up to the electric and funky Alpha Box Dice. While I had never heard of it before today, it’s actually available on the shelf back come in Canada.

Kangaroo Road Signs
Alpha Box Dice Cellar Door
Cellar Door: Alpha Box Dice

Inside the taste in decor was pretty eclectic and farmhouse traditional to say the least. It was the first time that I’ve seen pinball machines in the Cellar Door.

Cellar Door at Alpha Box Dice
The First Time I’ve Seen Pinball Machines inside the Cellar Door

Their wine labels were equally as noisy. There’s something about branding, and you certainly won’t forget these labels anywhere you go.

Apostle Alpha Box Dice: You won’t forget this brand
Quiet Tasting Tables Outside

We enjoyed an outdoor tasting under the warm early summer sun. They were some reasonable boutiques wines from the area. I was more surprised to see their labels back home in Vancouver, Canada at my local boutique wine store.

Tasting at d’Arenberg:

Our last stop of the day was at the global medium scale giant d’Arenberg. D’Arenerg is known for it’s wine “The Black Chook”, a globally famous version of their Shiraz Voigner. They have been producing wine since the 1800’s and are w world renowned label.

d’Arenberg Cellar Door
Kangaroos Everywhere in Australia

D’Arenberg also had another small format tasting room. It seems that because Australia is so far from everywhere, there aren’t many international tourists that are travelling all the way to taste here. As a result, all the wine tasting room are quite small by comparison.

D’Arenberg Cellar Door & Tasting Room

We had an opportunity to taste their flagship reds. I had tried “The Dead Arm” before but their wine The Galvo Garage was new for me. Both had won several gold medals in the Australian Wine Competitions and were proudly displaying them across the bottles.

D’Arenberg Wines

D’Arenberg was situated in a quiet, almost rural like setting without much fan fare or commercialness to the whole matter. It made for another peaceful existence in the farm lands and hills of McLaren Vale.

Under a rural setting
Hillside Vine Views
Hillside Views

It’s always a treat to be able to enjoy quality and speciality wines with the knowledge that you can get some mainstream wines back home.

Our day Sipping at McLaren Vale:

Our day at McLaren Vale was a terrific and low key tasting experience. The cellar doors were easy to access and wonderfully hospitable. The beauty and setting of McLaren Vale, South Australia was also picturesque and made for a pleasant setting for a day of wine touring. If you happen to get the opportunity to visit Adelaide, make sure you care out some time in your schedule for a day to explore the wineries of McLaren Vale, South Australia.

If you’ve had the opportunity to wine taste in McLaren Vale, how did you find it compared to other tasting regions of the world?

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