Best Wineries & Wine Tours to Experience in South Australia’s McLaren Vale Wine Region
The McLaren Vale wine region is just 40 minutes south of Adelaide on the Fleurieu Peninsula. The region’s proximity to breathtaking coastline and its abundant vineyards makes it one of the prettiest wine regions in South Australia. It is patterned with abundant vineyards and is well-established, with wineries producing gutsy reds that rival those from Barossa Valley.
McLaren Vale is bordered on three sides by Adelaide to the north, Mt. Lofty Ranges to the east and south, and Gulf St. Vincent to the west. It enjoys a Mediterranean climate cooled by gully winds that blow through the ranges, and ocean breezes that blow up through the Gulf of St. Vincent. The region benefits from warm summers, moderate winters, and winter rainfall.
In This Guide
- Background on the McLaren Vale Wine Region
- Travel Logistics
- Wine Tours and Exceptional Tasting Experiences
- Best Wineries in McLaren Vale
- Where to Eat
- Where to Stay
- What to Pack
- Frequently Asked Questions about McLaren Vale Wineries
Wines of McLaren Vale
The region is known for its dry red wines, particularly Shiraz, a wine with bold character, rich flavors, and a touch of spice. Cabernet Sauvignon grows well here and is known for its depth, structure, and ability to age well. The region also produces ultra-premium Grenache, known for its elegance and fruitiness. Because of the Mediterranean climate, wine producers are growing Italian and Spanish varieties, including Fiano, Moscato, Tempranillo, and Mourvèdre. Reemerging varieties include Viognier, Sangiovese, and Zinfandel.
McLaren Vale is one of the world’s most geographically diverse wine regions with a wide variety of soil types. The terrain includes fertile red-brown sandy loams, loam over limestone and clay bedrock, and coarse sands over sandy red clays with ironstone.
According to “How to Drink Australian” by Jane Lopes and Jonathan Ross, an English immigrant named John Reynell, who came to Australia in 1838, planted the first vines in McLaren Vale. He produced his first vintage in 1842. Shortly afterward, Reynell hired another English immigrant, Thomas Hardy, who then went on to become the largest winemaker in the colony by the late 1890s. The turn of the century brought a wine boom in South Australia.
In 1947, a wave of European immigrants brought a renewed interest in wine, and, as such, a resurgence in new plantings took place. By the late 1950s, a boutique wine industry had emerged in McLaren Vale. Coriole, Wirra Wirra, David Noon, and other producers who are still significant today emerged in the 60s and 70s. The 2000s ushered in a new era for McLaren Vale with a new set of wineries, environmental sustainability, and site specificity.
One of the Most Diverse Wine Regions
Today McLaren Vale is one of the most diverse wine regions in Australia with over 80 cellar doors. With easy access from Adelaide, the region offers luxury accommodations, world-class cuisine, and of course, some of the best wine in Australia.
Four “wine and wander” trails offer visitors an opportunity to hike through the breathtaking beauty of vineyard-covered rolling hills or lush national parks. The scenic trails, many with coastal views, provide visitors with a walking path to wineries in this bucolic region. You could spend days here doing nothing else!
While most people visit McLaren Vale on a day trip out of Adelaide, there are plenty of hotels, bed and breakfasts, and Airbnb rentals throughout the region. For an insider’s look at McLaren Vale, Chooks Little Winery Tours offers small-group, customized tours to hidden gems in the area.
Adelaide Airport offers a convenient gateway for those seeking to reach the McLaren Vale. For those arriving internationally, connecting through Adelaide Airport is necessary. For a smoother and more enjoyable travel experience, choose airlines such as Qantas or Virgin Australia.
These airlines provide top-notch service, a range of flight options, and comfortable seating arrangements. You can get updates on flight deals as they arise with Skyscanner.
Trains such as the Indian Pacific and Great Southern by Journey Beyond also offer a unique mode of transportation to Southern Australia.
While public transportation in the region is minimal, renting a car offers the ideal mode of transportation. However, taxis and UBER are also readily accessible. It’s recommended that you book these services in advance.
A brief 40-minute drive from Adelaide’s city center leads to the heart of the McLaren Vale. The most direct route is via the Southern Expressway.
After arriving in the valley, visitors are greeted with a wide selection of large-production well-known brands, alongside smaller family-owned estates with the owner/winemaker leading the tasting room. The list below features a combination of large and small wineries in McLaren Vale who cater to different preferences.
Wine Tours in McLaren Vale and Unique Tasting Experiences
If you’re looking for a guided experience within the valley, there are numerous tour options and bespoke experiences that will leave you with lasting memories.
For those seeking to avoid driving, the McLaren Vale Wine Lovers Luxury Tour offers a highly-rated luxury tour, including hotel pickup and drop-off in Adelaide. The company selects four wineries for you, including three of the most popular, so you don’t have to do the planning. The tour includes wine-tasting fees and lunch.
Cellar Door Tours also offers customized tours to some of the most interesting wineries in McLaren Vale. It includes stop at up to four wineries, plus an a la carte lunch.
Escape Goat Adventures offers a guided bike tour to at least two wineries in McLaren Vale. It includes hotel pickup and drop off, plus lunch.
Finally, one popular option, Trail Hopper, offers a hop-on-hop-off the bus wine region tour, which allows you to travel at your own pace. The McLaren Vale North route includes 17 wineries, including six that are recommended below. The McLaren Vale South route includes 16 wineries. This is a grape way to really immerse yourself in McLaren Vale.
Best Wineries for Wine Tasting in McLaren Vale
Alpha Box and Dice
8 Olivers Road, McLaren Vale
What Guests Like About It: A wide variety of wines to choose from, including some unusual varieties
The tasting room is housed in a heritage-listed barn overlooking estate vineyards. Inside has a rustic, “edgy” feel to it. Outdoor seating is also available. Alpha Box and Dice is popular with a young crowd and fills up quickly. Arrive early or book ahead.
In 2008, Alpha Box and Dice embarked on a journey to produce an Alphabet of Wines. Each “letter” represents an individual winemaking project. The winery aims to produce different varieties grown in South Australia based on availability and the quality of fruit. Winemaker Sam Berkata employs innovation by bending traditional winemaking norms such as including skin contact in his white wines. You can also expect delightful Rosés and unique red varieties like Saigneé Aglianico and Pinot Meunier. The winery produces nearly sixty different wines, offering something for everyone’s palate.
Open Saturday and Sunday, 10:00 am – 5:00 pm. Reservations recommended. Tasting fees $15 (AUD) – $20 (AUD).
79 Chaffeys Road, McLaren Vale
+61 8 8323 8305
What Guests Like About It: Beautiful views, onsite restaurant, and excellent wines
Coriole is conveniently located in the heart of McLaren Vale. It sits on top of the Seaview Ridge giving travelers stunning views of the valley. Coriole also features a boutique retail store and top-rated restaurant.
It produces all-estate wines with several international varietals mixed into their 80 acres of land under vine. Coriole has been a pioneer of Italian varieties since 1985, with the oldest Sangiovese and Fiano vineyards in Australia.
Coriole Vineyard Restaurant uses ingredients sourced from McLaren Vale as well as the winery’s own produce garden and farm. The menu features two different “Feed Me” options at $80 (AUD) and $95 (AUD) per person, plus an a la carte menu on weekdays. Guests can also choose an optional wine pairing. It is a favorite for locals and nearby Adelaide residents, so be sure to book ahead if you plan to have a meal.
Tasting room is open daily 11:00 am – 5:00 pm. The restaurant is open daily during the summer. The wine tasting fee is $15 (AUD), and the cellar door accepts walk-ins. Groups of six or more must have a pre-booked reservation. The tasting fee is $30 (AUD) per person and includes cheese platters to share.
58 Osborn Road, McLaren Vale
+61 8 8329 4888
What Guests Like About It: There is so much to see and do here beyond the wine tasting
D’Arenberg’s popular cellar door stands out in the McLaren Vale Region for its unusual shape and color. Its tasting room, restaurant, and museum are housed in a five-story Rubik’s cube-like structure. Located on the top level of the d’Arenberg Cube, the tasting room has panoramic views over McLaren Vale, the Willunga Hills and the Gulf St. Vincent.
The Osborn family, in its fourth generation of owning the winery, has teamed up with the State Government Regional Development Fund to create this designation-worthy cellar door and art Museum in the heart of McLaren Vale. “The Cube” is not the first major influence the Osborn family has had in the region during their 150+ year history. Back in the 1970s, during the South Australian vine pull scheme, the family saved several old-vine Grenache vineyards from being ripped up by purchasing them themselves.
The d’Arenberg Cube is like walking into the mind of Chester Osborn, the Fourth Generation of the family, who is the creative and expressive personality behind it. But lest you think d’Arenberg is just a gimmick, the wine here is award-winning. The iconic Dead Arm Shiraz and the Hermit Crab, to name a few, are best sellers.
The restaurant onsite is designed with an equally artful design in mind. d’Arry’s Verandah restaurant is open for a degustation menu during lunch hours. Other epic offerings include a helicopter tour, plane tour, blending of your wine, and more. Be sure to stop by the toilet on your way out…you’ll be amused and delighted at the quirkiness.
There is a $10 fee to enter the cube itself; this allows you admission into their Alternate Realties Museum and a tasting of their wines. Open daily 10:00 am – 4:30 pm. Reservations recommended.
Hugo Family Estate
246 Elliot Road, McLaren Flat
+61 8 8383 0098
What Guests Like About It: The beautiful grounds, guided tasting, cheese and Ploughman’s platters
The 50-acre Hugo Family Estate is one of the most eastern in the McLaren Vale region, at 180-meters above sea level. As a result, conditions are remarkably cooler and ideal for premium grape growing and hence, the production of fine, well-balanced elegant white and red wines.
The Hugo family has utilized this climatic advantage to ensure a high level of consistency across vintages and by selectively hand picking from the vines. Expect elegant and subtle Chardonnays, Shiraz that is spicy yet soft with tannins, and herbaceous earth Tempranillos. The cellar door features nearly 360-degree gorgeous views of the surrounding vineyards. Open daily, $15 (AUD) refundable tasting fee. Reservations encouraged.
Kangarilla Road Cellar Door
44 Hamilton Road, McLaren Flat
+61 8 8383 0533
What Guests Like About It: A wide variety of wines to suit everyone’s palate, colorful artwork
The list is long here at this cellar door, but well worth wading into for depth and unusual varieties available. One of the best things about Kangarilla Road Wines is that although they could easily wear much bigger price tags, they don’t! Fantastic value given the quality and there is no set tasting menu. Guests are welcome to try any wine that Kangarilla produces.
A well-appointed tasting room is adorned with unique artworks. Open daily. Reservations preferred but walk-ins welcome.
23 Coppermine Road, McLaren Vale
+61 8 8637 4472
What Guests Like About It: Beautiful views, seriously good wines with fun names
Mollydooker’s rise to fame happened after it launched its first vintage in 2005. While the company became well-known in the US for Australian wine, today it has created a language and a culture around its brand in Australia. It’s fun, colorful wine labels, whimsical names, and a fun atmosphere have helped develop almost a cult following. Plus, its wines are seriously delicious.
The cellar door offers a seasonal rotating menu that includes small bites and cheese, charcuterie, and produce platters that pair perfectly with its wines.
Open daily 10:00 am – 4:30 pm. Tasting fees $20 – $30 (AUD) per person. Reservations recommended.
246 Seaview Road, McLaren Vale
+61 8 8323 8498
What Guests Like Best About It: Exceptional customer service, innovative wines
After six generations of grape growing in McLaren Vale, Oliver’s Taranga released its first estate-bottle wine in 1994. Oliver’s still sells grapes to some of the biggest names in South Australia but continues to make its own estate wines with great success.
The tasting room forges contemporary design with historic buildings. From the Brioni’s Blend, dedicated to 6th generation cousin Brioni Oliver, to Corrina’s Shiraz Cabernet, named after winemaker Corrina Wright, to a dozen other small-batch wines, there is something for every budget and taste. You can count on knowledgeable servers and excellent service at this family-owned winery.
Open daily from 10:00 am – 4:00 pm. Tasting fees from $15 – $30 (AUD). Reservations recommended.
S. C. Pannell
60 Olivers Road, McLaren Vale
+61 8 8323 8000
What Guests Like About It: Expansive covered outdoor deck for dining and tasting, range of tasting flights, and stunning view of vineyards
Founded by Stephen Pannell and Fiona Lindquist in 1994, these trophy-winning wines reflect decades of experience in winemaking. S. C. Pannell produces several varieties, including Italian, Mediterranean, and non-traditional. Be sure to taste the Protero Nebbiolo and the Tempranillo Touriga blend. With two other locations and two other brand names in the “Vale,” this cellar door is a must.
The tasting room offers small bites, including a cheese platter, saucisson, and salty snacks. Open daily 11:00 am – 4:00 pm. Walk-ins are welcome or contact ahead of time for groups of 7 or more.
38 Dyson Wines
38 Sherriff Road, Maslin Beach
+61 4 2097 6726
What Guests Like About It: Tasting with the wine maker, complimentary cheese platters, small group setting
Wholly grown, owned, and handcrafted under the skillful winemaking techniques and passion of Allan Dyson, and his wife, Colleen, 38 Dyson Wines has been around since 1976. True artisans with a lifelong infatuation and obsession with crafting wines of exceptional character and complexity, Allan and Colleen welcome visitors like they are inviting them into their home. Guests are seated at a well-decorated dining room table and served sumptuous cheese platters, complimentary, as part of their tasting. Guests will find one visit or sip will never be enough!
Sangiovese, Pinot Noir, Viognier, red blends, and a remarkable 40-year-old port are among some of the best to be sampled! Reservations required.
Wirra Wirra Vineyards
255 Strout Road, McLaren Vale
+61 8 8323 8414
What Guests Like About It: Touring the historic cellars, Harry’s Deli, and enjoying a tasting with artisan chocolate
The winery at Wirra Wirra was originally built in 1894 but was rebuilt in the late 1960s by the late Gregg Trott. However, the wine-stained ironstone cellars are over 100 years old.
Wine tastings are seated, curated, and guided by a cellar door specialist. The Dry Grenache Rosé and Grenache Shiraz Blend are two of the tasting room’s most popular. The onsite restaurant, Harry’s Deli, offers full-service dining at this iconic winery with indoor and outdoor seating. The “What Would Harry Have” fixed prix menu includes eight dishes to share, including one of Australia’s favorite dishes, roast lamb. Make it extra special with a wine pairing to match each dish.
Tasting fees start at $15.00 (AUD). Open Monday – Saturday 10:00 am – 5:00 pm, Sunday and public holidays 11:00 am to 5:00 pm.
Yangarra Estate Vineyard
809 McLaren Flat Road, Kangarilla
+61 8 8383 7459
What Guests Like About It: Modern looking but comfortable new tasting room with great vineyard views
When the site of the winery was purchased by the Jackson family in 2000, it had already been planted with old Grenache vines that dated back to the 1940s. Today the biodynamic vineyards continue producing wines that are widely accepted as some of McLaren Vale’s greatest. A tasting at Yangarra includes the best grape varieties from Southern Rhone, especially the old vine High Sands Grenache.
A selection of small plates like charcuterie, cheese, and olives are available at the cellar door. Tasting fees start at just $15 (AUD). Open daily from 11:00 am – 5:00 pm. Advance booking is recommended.
RELATED: How to Go Wine Tasting with Kids
Where to Eat
The Salopian Inn
Corner Main Road and McMurtrie Road, McLaren Vale
+61 8 8323 8769
One of the best restaurants in McLaren Vale, the Salopian Inn uses fresh, seasonal, local ingredients. A large percentage of fruit, vegetables, and herbs come from the restaurant’s own organic garden. The menu includes an eclectic array of dishes including kangaroo skewers, Port Lincoln Kingfish sashimi, slow braised Butchers Beef, or the popular “Feed Me” menu.
The bar stocks over 200 local and international gins. Wine is available by the glass, or guests are welcome to venture downstairs to the historic cellar to select a bottle of wine from the shelves.
Open for lunch daily, dinner Thursday – Saturday. Reservations recommended.
The Current Shed
104 Ingoldby Road, McLaren Flat
+61 8 8383 0232
Enjoy seasonal menus at The Current Shed include handmade ricotta gnocchi to locally caught Barramundi served with freshly picked greens from the restaurant’s garden. Choose two courses ($75 pp AUD), three courses ($90 pp AUD), or the five to seven-course degustation ($140 pp AUD). The optional wine pairing is curated to match each guest’s individual meal choices.
Open for lunch and dinner Thursday through Tuesday, closed Wednesday. Reservations recommended.
Harry’s Deli at Wirra Wirra
255 Strout Road, McLaren Vale
+61 8 8323 8414
Harry’s Deli, as mentioned above in the Wirra Wirra description, offers full-service dining at this iconic winery. Enjoy a contemporary Australian menu and taste the wines at Wirra Wirra all in one stop. Open daily for lunch. Reservations available.
Top Hotels & Vineyard Resorts in McLaren Vale
39 Kangarilla Road, McLaren Vale
+61 8 8323 8911
A four-star hotel located in McLaren Vale, Serafino offers an outdoor pool, a spa, luxury amenities, and an onsite restaurant. It is also a family run winery, opened in 1968. Set among 200 gum trees, vineyards, and a tranquil lake, it is an ideal location from with to explore McLaren Vale.
233 Victoria Square, Adelaide
+61 8 8217 2000
If you’re exploring McLaren Vale from Adelaide, the Hilton on Victoria Square offers an excellent location in the city center. The hotel is located close to the popular Adelaide Central Market, a dizzying array of craft food stalls, restaurants, and wine shops. It’s also close to Chinatown and Adelaide’s shopping district.
What to Pack
McLaren Vale has milder weather and is generally cooler than the Barossa Valley. It is also wetter than Barossa, particularly in the winter. During the summer months, which run from December through February, temperatures can range from a high of 80° – 85° during the day and a low of 60° – 63° at night. In the winter months, which run from June through August, temperatures will reach between 60° – 63° during the daytime.
When visiting the McLaren Vale, it is important to pack appropriately for the weather conditions. For daytime visits during the summer months, visitors should pack light, breathable clothing such as cotton or linen and a hat to protect themselves from the sun. Sunglasses, sunscreen, and comfortable walking shoes are also essential. In the evenings, the temperature drops, and visitors should pack a light sweater or jacket to keep themselves warm.
During the winter months, visitors should pack layers of clothing to stay warm during the chilly mornings and evenings. Warm jackets, scarves, and gloves are also recommended. Comfortable walking shoes are still essential.
It is important to note that McLaren Vale is a casual destination, and there is no need to dress formally. Visitors can wear casual, comfortable clothing during their visit, particularly when visiting the wineries and cellar doors.
Peruse the Winetraveler Shop for some of our trending casual vineyard-hopping apparel that is ideal for exploring the vineyards and indulging in the region’s famous wines.
The Magic of the McLaren Vale Wine Region
One could spend a lifetime immersed in the wonders of McLaren Vale, learning something new each day. Despite our team taking three trips and investing countless hours researching and visiting wineries in the region, there is still an abundance left to discover. Our authors have gained a unique perspective and understanding of McLaren Vales’s most exceptional producers. These journeys have served as a jumping-off point for sharing these remarkable places with others, hoping they, too, may someday experience the magic of Barossa Valley.
Frequently Asked Questions about McLaren Vale Wineries
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