Karawatha Cottages - Your McLaren Vale Accommodation
With three fully self-contained cottages - nestled between vineyards, garden with native bushes and a pine forest - we strive to offer you a luxurious, environmentally sustainable retreat in the heart of the McLaren Vale wine country
Thank you for considering Karawatha Cottages as your home away from home to explore the McLaren Vale wine region – or even venture further south and discover the secrets of the Fleurieu Peninsula.
Our vision when planning our semi-retirement project of creating a boutique accommodation option for McLaren Vale was simple: we wanted to create a luxurious home away from home vs. a luxury retreat, an escape with an eclectic mix of old and modern, that has all the creature comforts but that is not pretentious and just reflecting the latest instagram trend, featuring high quality appliances and content but still be very much affordable for that guilt-free trip. And, it needed to be truly located in the "vine" country vs. just the wine country, but still so close to wineries and restaurants that you can walk there.
Maybe that vision of ours wasn't that simple after all, but we believe we have managed to get at the very least very close to it. And what better way to show you what Karawatha Cottages has to offer than sharing with you a bit of the history of Karawatha, our own story and why we have chosen McLaren Vale and this particular property for our vine & wine country retreat.
You will find details about each cottage, including more images, on our dedicated Cottage page and again on our booking page. Booking Direct with us gives better rates, a more flexible cancel policy, an extended 11 am check-out, plus a complimentary set of wine pourers & a bottle of premium wine.
Before we go into details enjoy a first overview by scrolling through our image gallery - showcasing Karawatha Cottages and and some of the best of McLaren Vale and The Fleurieu Peninsula:
It was our love for Australia and the Australian country side in particular that brought us, after crisscrossing the country many times on holidays, from Germany to Australia way back in 2005; whilst settling in Sydney first and pursuing our respective corporate careers, that dream of living in the wine country and being able to share some of our passion and love for it through a small B&B or boutique accommodation had never left us and we soon started looking for the perfect wine region.
Location, location, location
But, our expectations had been high, one could say almost impossible – our dream location had to be a decent size block of land in a rural wine region, with outstanding views, surrounded by vineyards (but not necessarily owning one), yet easy accessible from a major city, close to beaches and the sea but also providing a reasonable easy access to true Australian outback.
So off we went with the ‘tough’ task of checking out all the different wine regions across the country, but we actually very quickly settled on McLaren Vale as the one that is ticking all the boxes.
And as we found out, that was the easy part – finding the perfect block of land within the region was more challenging – but we truly believe we have found it now.
All that travel and staying in the other wine regions in Bed Breakfast Accommodation, boutique guesthouses, etc. helped us to clearly define what we wanted in terms of location and in terms of our McLaren Vale accommodation.
Coming from an inner city home, it was clear that we wanted a rural property rather than being in the McLaren Vale township, as the best restaurants and wineries aren't in the township anyhow; and not only should our property be in a true country location, it should also be well away from major roads (we looked at some beautiful properties in the region, but most were far too close to the Main South or Victor Harbor roads and traffic noise was worse than what we had in Sydney). Plus, we obviously wanted views and ideally be close to a few wineries that you can go wine tasting on foot.
It took us a good 4 years of looking - but eventually we found it: Karawatha
Karawatha, meaning “Place of Pines”, has originally been a working farm with a fruit orchard and a farm house built in the 1920’s (today the private residence of your hosts, Friederike and Georg).
During our build, we found lots of old rusty farm equipment hidden away in dilapidated sheds or buried in the sand - the more striking of those you can now find placed throughout the property, as decoration in your cottages or as shown in the picture here to our communal fire place / BBQ area.
In 1980 the fruit orchard was replaced with 8 acres of Chardonnay and 2 acres of Cabernet Sauvignon vines. By the time we bought the property, the land had been subdivided, separating the vineyards (apart from 2 rows) from the farm house and half of the pine forest.
As a result of this, we now have a 2.5 acre property with enough grapes and some remaining fruit trees to make jelly and jam for our guests (and leave the wine making to our wonderful neighbours who know what they do), plenty of space for three separate, private cottages - all on a hillside location offering stunning views.
After engaging a local building designer and going through a lengthy approval process (after all, we are located in the McLaren Vale character preservation zone), we were finally able to engage a local builder and start the build of Karawatha Cottages in mid 2016.
The brief for the designer was to create something that is modern, yet timeless and not just the latest trend, that allows for plenty of space in each cottage and privacy between the cottages, yet minimises the environmental footprint, blends into our hillside location and still provides a private deck for each cottage for our guests to enjoy the views.
And we hope we have achieved this, with our Unwind Cottage and our Relish Cottage being new and purpose-built and our Ponder Cottage based & converted from the original tin shed; we did indeed “ponder” for a while whether to tear down the tin shed and build new - or preserve and convert; in line with our philosophy of being as environmentally friendly as possible, the re-use of existing material (as you will find it used even throughout the new cottages, for example using hard wood from the old sheds to build the vanity tops, etc.) and therefore the preserve & convert was never really much of a question. We completely striped the tin shed, added insulation to walls and the roof before re-using close to 90% of the corrugated iron sheets again. The only give-away now that the Ponder cottage used to be an old tin shed is the steel structure that we have partially exposed inside the cottage as feature.
What we have started with the buildings is also true for the furnishing of our cottages and the provisions we provide: the balance between modern and a warm, comfortable homely feel, being environmentally sustainable and still luxurious but not over the top.
With that in mind you will find in your cottage "up-cycled" dining room furniture, like 1930's Australian school chairs which we found in the local antique shop, and kitchen cupboards but obviously brand new sofas and beds. Sheridan linen and towels complement the purpose built bathroom vanities (from hardwood from one of the sheds).
And apart from the old farm equipment & tools, we also found a lot of old little bottles during excavations and our native re-vegetation efforts, bottles that we have also used as decorations throughout.
Being environmentally conscious in our offering also means that you won't find toiletries, jam or butter in the typical single use plastic containers.
Instead we utilise re-usable glass dispensers and jars - all thoroughly cleaned after each stay and filled with quality products and produce (like our organic, home-grown and home-made jams).
The only exception to the rule are the espresso coffee pods that we provide, as we haven't been able to source compostable ones yet that are affordable and make a great morning espresso.
Over the past few years we have started re-vegetation of the property, having planted approx. 50 native bushes and trees, attracting by now an ever increasing number of birds.
Solar power and rain water for our laundry, and to water the fruit trees, veggie patch and rose garden, are equally playing a role to offer you an environmentally friendly stay in McLaren Vale.
Officially opening in January 2017, we are excited to offer you what we believe is indeed close to our vision - a luxurious, comfortable yet unpretentious accommodation option that allows you to enjoy the best of the region:
Quiet rural setting, with stunning views over the vineyards all the way to the Mount Lofty ranges; early risers will be rewarded with stunning sunrises over the ranges – but even at sunset, it is always fascinating to see the colours change and hills glow in the warm evening light
Multiple cellar doors & restaurants in walking distance - which you might think is standard for any McLaren Vale accommodation, but is actually hard to find. Hence we are super excited that Karawatha Cottages does offer multiple options for you to enjoy some of the best wines in the region by just walking to one of our neighbouring cellar doors like Geddes Wines, the Beresford Wine Estate and the Beresford Wine Tasting Pavilion or the Woodstock Wine Estate (see the “Meet the Neighbours” and our "Flat Mates Wines Walking Trail"). And with Woodstock Wine Estate's Coterie and Shottesbrooke's The Currant Shed, there are two restaurants close by.
Great food always goes with great wines and the same is true for Karawatha. You can enjoy your home cooked food - each cottage has a fully equipped kitchen - on your private deck, or share a barbeque with like-minded guests at our communal patio; or check-out some of the great dining options available in the region on our Restaurant page.
So much to do and see around Karawatha Cottages: Beaches, historic towns and nature are other attractions within the region or further down the Fleurieu Peninsula that many are oblivious to and we have the impression some of the locals would almost prefer to keep a secret. You have guessed it – we are happy to share and can find ideas and inspirations on our Explore page.
We hope this little story has excited you about a visit to Karawatha Cottages and McLaren Vale and you are ready to start planning your next trip.
We are looking forward to welcoming you to Karwatha Cottages.
Georg & Friederike