McLaren Vale Cellar Doors
There is no doubt about it: It is the McLaren Vale wineries and their cellar doors that are the main reason for most visitors to the region.
But, most of our guests are surprised about the number of cellar doors (more than 80) and we are often asked for our recommendations - be it to discover that hidden gem to add to your list or to suggest an itinerary to spend a day or more to truly experience the best McLaren Vale has to offer.
Amongst our fantastic wineries in McLaren Vale we have the obvious and well-known big names, like d'Arenberg and Wirra Wirra, both of those are definitely worthwhile a visit with exciting and, in the case of the d'Arenberg Cube, truly unique cellar doors. But what makes McLaren Vale special and different to let's say the Barossa Valley is the number of lessor known, small family owned wine businesses - many award winners, that you might just not find in the big bottle shops. And what better way to learn about wines than talking to the wine maker!
Then there is the perception that McLaren Vale is all about Shiraz - and yes, about 2/3rd of the red wines planted here are Shiraz, followed by the 'old' staple grape Grenache which is gaining in popularity again and not just as part of blends but as single grape variety. And McLaren Vale is producing some of the best Grenache there is.
Many of our wine growers and makers, like Mark Lloyd from Coriole Wines, have been amongst the first in Australia to start planting and producing alternative or better said 'climate appropriate' varieties. Think Sangiovese, Nero d'Avola, Tempranillo and others all hailing from similar hot and dry climates of the southern Mediterranean.
And contrary to popular believe, we actually do grow white wines in McLaren Vale as well - just not the Sauvignon Blancs or Rieslings that need a cooler climate. You should give some the McLaren Vale Fiano's, Verminoto's, Greco's or a Blewitt Springs Chardonnay a try.
We have listed below a couple of 'themed' wine tasting experiences (you can simply scroll down to read them all, or click on the image to jump straight to the one that interests you most).
For something more elaborate and pre-organised for you - think wine tasting tour with heli flight or just a picnic basket to take along on your self-guided day trip - check out our bespoke Experiences, that you can book in advance through us.
To find our cellar door dining and restaurant recommendations in general, please see our Restaurant section.
We look forward to sit down with you after arriving at Karawatha Cottages, your McLaren Vale accommodation, and help you create a personal list of McLaren Vale wineries to visit, based on your preferences and tastes - we might just throw in a wild card for you to try something different and new.
Meet the Neighbours
When searching for a property to fulfil our dream of moving away from Sydney and setting up boutique accommodation in McLaren Vale, there was one non-negotiable requirement: we wanted to truly live in wine country, have views over vineyards and be able to explore on foot.
That was actually not as straight forward as we had thought, until we found Karawatha (as the property was called already). And that means our guests can equally benefit from this and very often we see our guests stroll down our driveway right after arrival to 'check out the neighbours'. With Geddes Wines, the Beresford Wines Tasting Pavilion and the Woodstock Wine Estate we do have 3 renowned wineries and their cellar doors within 500 m from our cottages.
At Geddes Wines, being a true family business, you are bound to meet Tim, the wine maker or his wife Amanda, a well-known chef, when calling into their cellar door. Rightly proud about what they have achieved with their own wines (Tim is also makes wine for quite a few other well known labels at his winery), they are always more than happy to spend time with you, talk you through their wines and even give a you peek into the winery.
Next up is the Beresford Wines Tasting Pavilion, a very modern cellar door with not only their wines, but also their beers (Vale Brewing and Fox Hat) as well as Gin and other spirits (23rd Street Distillery) for tasting. Have your tasting outside on their beautiful verandah, overlooking the vineyards up to Beresford House - and don't just go for a standard tasting but do one of their wine experiences with matching food. You won't regret, promised. Beresford also offers cheese platters & delicious grilled panini at their cellar door!
And last but not least, there is the Woodstock Wine Estate, with their newly renovated cellar door, The Stocks Tasting Room, using recycled Jarrah timber from 70 year old brandy vats to create an intimate tasting experience by eliminating the counter altogether. And then obviously there is amazing food from the Woodstock Coterie restaurant. And for our young guests and those young at heart, there is a daily feeding at 11:30 am of kangaroos, wallabies and emus in their wildlife sanctuary .
Karawatha Cottages - Flat Mates Wines Walking Trail
Feeling a bit more energetic?
How about a leisurely ~ 5 km walk to justify all the good food and wine and to avoid any debate about the designated driver ...
We have put together what we call our 'Flat Mates Wine Walking Trail' ('Flat Mates' are a group of wineries and restaurants from the McLaren Flat region that we work closely with) that not only leads to our three immediate neighbours, Geddes Wines, Beresford Wines and Woodstock Wines (see above) but past vineyards and some beautiful back-country on to the small but excellent cellar doors of DogRidge, Shottesbrooke Wines and Graham Stevens Wines.
And, with the one-hatted Currant Shed (absolutely amazing lunches), the Woodstock Coterie Restaurant and the Vale Brewing Restaurant there are three outstanding options for lunch along the walk. If you prefer just something light or sweet, there are few options along the way: Pruners Hut, offering (open weekends only) pizza, coffees, cakes and an art gallery roughly at the halfway point (with a little detour), or almost back home at your accommodation, there are panini and platters at the Beresford Tasting Pavilion.
For us, that is the perfect way to spend a day in McLaren Vale - be out in nature, enjoy the beautiful views and no excuse to not sample the wines and indulge in some fine dining.
The walk is a clear guest favourite - we even had others in McLaren Vale asking about "our legendary walking trail".
And you don't need to be worried about your wine purchases along the way either - we have you covered and are happy to pick them up on your behalf and ship at cost.
You will find a detailed mud map in your guest info folder in your cottage!
Karawatha Cottages - Flat Mates
Wine Bike Trail
And for the truly active, here is an extension of our Wine Walking Trail - still very much walk-able or take a bike along.
Our Flat Mates Wine Bike Trail is a 12 and 17 km loop, an extension of our walking trail that lets you tick off a few more wineries and/or some outstanding restaurants from your bucket list.
There is the family owned Hugo Wines cellar door, also showcasing artwork and with the option to enjoy a 'ploughmans or cheese platter' picnic lunch in their garden; virtually opposite is Gemtree Wines, focused on organic and bio-dynamic wine making. Not only are the views from their cellar door among the best in McLaren Vale - across the basin all the way to the ocean - but they also offer tours of their bio-dynamic hut to learn about sustainable wine growing.
A bit further afield is the modern Kangarilla Road Wines cellar door - great opportunity for single vineyard Shiraz tasting to learn about the impact of different soil types on wine.
Back on your way to McLaren Flat, you will pass The General Store (great place for coffee and small bits to eat), Scarpatoni, and then Parri Estate (open for pizzas on weekends). Or, take the longer loop and stop by the Vine Shed (Conte Estate - offering wines and food), the Goodieson Brewery for some beers or McCarthy Orchard (for wines, cider and food).
From there is back along familiar territory past Graham Stevens Wines, the Currant Shed restaurant and the Vale Brewing Taphouse to your McLaren Vale accommodation at Karawatha Cottages.
Again, we do have a mud map ready for you in your cottage - just speak with us before heading out, as some of the cellar doors won't be open on all days.
Paired Wine & Food Tastings
A great way to experience both, the award wining wines and amazing regional food that McLaren Vale has to offer, without indulging in a long degustation lunch: try one (or more) of the paired wine tasting experiences.
A wine flight with matching food, showcasing complementary and contrasting flavours and textures. And there is something for everyone, from little charcuterie & cheese plates, to creations from award winning chefs, to chocolates & desserts. Here are some of our favourites:
Chapel Hill Wines Icons Tasting: Taste the Chapel Hill Flagship range or try the Shiraz Masterclass - both matched with saucisson, cheeses & pork loin, for only $25
Beresford Shiraz & Chocolate Tasting: Do we need to say more to tempt you? 4 different Shiraz, paired with chocolates ... and this only 250m from your McLaren Vale accommodation, all for $ 30
Maxwell Wines Canape & Wine Flight: 5 wines perfectly matched with creations from the award winning Maxwell Restaurant ($40) are not to be missed - or, for those with a sweet tooth, try the Maxwell Wines Mead Flight: with matching petit fours ($35)