5 Reasons to Visit McLaren Vale

McLaren Vale is an idyllic and charming wine region in South Australia just 40 minute's drive from Adelaide. With its close proximity to the beaches and more than 60 cellar doors, it's a wonderful getaway destination. 

Here are just a few of the best reasons to visit the area, according to long-time McLaren Vale resident and Director of the Gorgeous Festival, Sally Cranney.

1. Wineries

McLaren Vale is known nation-wide as one of Australia’s premium wine regions and the wines have been enjoyed at hundreds of dinner parties, in thousands of lounge rooms and millions of glasses over the bar Australia and worldwide – but I’m talking about the wineries themselves. A visit to the McLaren Vale cellar doors and meeting the characters that run these joints will take your wine appreciation to a whole other level!

McLaren Vale has the best of both worlds with historic family owned establishments to passionate, creative newcomers all promising an intimate and original experience. Visit Oliver’s Taranga and say hi to Corrina, she has a story or two about the regions history to share; pop into Dogridge and have a laugh with Fred Howard as he takes you through a tasting; call up Paul Petagna for a taste in his shed and drop into Paxton Vineyards and catch up with Ben Paxton who’ll share a taste of the ‘Quandong Farm’ Shiraz, which won ‘Gorgeous Iconic Shiraz’ to feature on this year’s bar at the festival. Each winery has its own character, feel, views and quirks. The McLaren Vale wineries will draw you back to the region sooner than you think – this a place to be listed several times on your bucket list.

2. Food, Glorious Food!

 The restaurant scene in McLaren Vale is like no other!! With access to some of Australia’s best produce when you visit this region you’re sure to have let out a notch on your belt. Let’s start with breakfast. Rob and Jo at Blessed Cheese churn out an amazing flat white and alongside Corn Fritters with Chorizo and homemade tomato relish you leave fully armed for a day of McLaren Vale abundance. Lunch and dinner offer amazing opportunities for indulgence. FINO, the multi-award winning restaurant is a privilege and a delight, not only because of the amazing cuisine but your pocket rocket host Sharon Romeo is a highlight all on her own. For a more outdoorsy feel, dine in at The Currant Shed. Set amongst the lime orchid and vineyards, chef Brian Richot and owner and host Emily Dowie give you a relaxed yet topnotch lunch time love-in. 

Image: The Currant Shed

3. Art

The Fleurieu Art Prize is one of the most significant landscape painting prize worldwide and celebrates South Australian talent. The finalists are exhibited in wineries and galleries throughout the region, which is just another reason to visit the region. With striking vistas and extraordinary geological formations, the area has long been the home and source of inspiration for some of Australia’s most important landscape artists including Dorrit Black, Horace Trennery and Robert Hannaford. For any aspiring artists, this region is the place to fall in love, find inspiration and make your way through the 30 galleries spread across the region.

4. Beaches

McLaren Vale really is where the Sea meets the Vines. We are lucky to have some of Australia’s richest and exquisite coast lines here in the South of SA. From the white sands of Port Willunga beach to world renowned surf breaks such as Gull’s Rock; to the nudie Olympics at Maslin’s beach to horse riding along Silver Sands. Our close-by coastline is magical.

5. Gorgeous Festival

I couldn't possibly highlight the 5 reasons to visit McLaren Vale without mentioning my passion, Gorgeous Festival. My husband and I started this festival nearly 3 years ago with a vision – his was to bring a fantastic music event to McLaren Vale for those that live here and nearby and for tourism for the region. My passion was to show people a snapshot of the incredible abundant region by showing off the real food and wine that I have grown to love. Our bar hosts 9 wines from 9 different wineries around the Vale and each of their own varietal. We have 6 restaurant participants from the region that each produce one dish each to show off who they are. We have an Art show displaying the works of local artists and this is all situated in the heart of McLaren Vale. Gorgeous Food, Gorgeous Wine, Gorgeous Music – Gorgeous McLaren Vale.

Image: Tony Lewis

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