McLaren Vale is a name with great resonance for anyone who enjoys Australian wines. And our wonderful friends had decided to drive us up to the region for a couple of tastings on Saturday so we could enjoy the local produce to its fullest. Roadworks on the main road out of Adelaide meant we saw quite a bit of the South Australian countryside before arriving at our first stop: Chapel Hill winery.
The gothic windows that feature on the labels are omnipresent at the winery itself. We enjoyed a range of delicious wines here. They charge a nominal amount for the tasting, but waive it if you buy wine, which we did. They had a really nice shiraz so we grabbed some of that.
After Chapel Hill, we moved on to Coriole. This is a name I am less familiar with and I don’t think we see as many of their wines back in the UK, but the winery is a McLaren Vale veteran. They have been growing some interesting grape varieties on the estate so the tasting here was not the usual grape varieties.
They have a farm shop here as well and produce their own olive oil, which is very popular with visitors.
After Coriole, we went on to another winery and a very familiar name: d’Arenberg. I first became aware of their wines many years ago when I discovered a bottle they named “The Custodian”. As I was working for a Global Custodian, it appealed to me, and it tasted pretty good as well.
D’Arenberg has upped the ante on where tastings are hosted with their new building: The Cube.
Tastings are hosted on the top floor of the building. There’s a museum/gallery on the ground floor and a reputedly excellent restaurant on the first. There’s an entry fee here to get in to the gallery and tastings, but it’s reasonable and they were fairly generous with the tastings.
We passed a pleasant time here then headed back downstairs but we had been told that the men’s toilets here were a must-see so stopped off for a look.
The time had flown by and as we finished at d’Arenberg, it was time to head back to Adelaide for a lovely home-cooked meal and a chat.
Sunday was our last day in the city and we had arranged a couple of activities. First was a drive over to Adelaide port and a trip on the dolphin watching boat that goes out into the harbour. Dolphins are pretty much guaranteed on these trips and we were not disappointed on this occasion. The only problem is that they are out of the water so briefly and you have no idea where they will pop up so it’s difficult to get a photo.
After the boat trip, we took a little stroll around the port area which is undergoing a renovation/gentrification project, then drove over to the Wheatsheaf Hotel where we had tickets for our second Adelaide Fringe Festival event of the weekend: Ukulele Blues Explosion. And if you thought the ukulele was an inappropriate instrument for playing the blues, these guys would put you right.
After all this excitement, we just had time to get back to the house and freshen up before heading out for a farewell dinner at another splendid Adelaide pub: The Colonist. Either Adelaide has a wealth of excellent pubs or our friends are particularly adept at finding them. Or Both.
That was it for Adelaide. Monday was the start of our long drive back to Melbourne using the Great Ocean Road.