With its brilliant mix of great food and wine experiences, breathtaking scenery and a rich heritage, Clare Valley is full of delight, no matter how often you return.
To newcomers, the Clare Valley may look like a single destination – a place famous for its Riesling, steeped in pioneering history and surrounded by wondrous scenery – but the region cannot be defined by a single experience. Each visit is a series of great moments and revelations – a particular view, a great meal, an exciting new wine or a friendly chat with a local.
With around 30 cellar doors – some operating out of stone cottages, heritage buidings, state-of-the-art structures and farm sheds, the Clare Valley provides a compact wine tasting experience. Several wineries are located close to the Riesling Trail so you can simply jump on a bike and follow the 35 kilometre trail, which runs between the townships of Clare and Auburn.
Although vines were first planted at Sevenhill by Jesuit priests in 1851, the Clare Valley has never been bound by tradition. Alongside its dominant varietals of Shiraz, Cabernet Sauvignon and, of course, Riesling, alternative grape varieties such as Pinot Grigio, Malbec and Tempranillo have been added. Several wineries now operate small breweries, making pilsners, ales and stouts, along with a variety of other styles.
The same spirit of enterprise is evident in the Clare Valley’s approach to food. Celebrated for its high quality grain and hormone-free meat, the region is now producing a wealth of gourmet foods – everything from virgin olive oil to capers, pistachios, cherries and carob. Visitors can buy this produce direct from local retail outlets or at town markets.
Inspired by the excellence and abundance of local farm produce, Clare Valley chefs are fast developing a recognisable regional cuisine. Their menus reflect the changing seasons and perfectly match the food-friendly wines from the Clare Valley. New restaurants, cafés and wine bars are springing up across the region.
Long before winemaking, the Clare Valley’s economy was fuelled by copper mining and Merino wool. Evidence of these twin booms can be seen in the many ornate public buildings, grand country estates and elegant streetscapes in towns like Burra, Auburn and Mintaro. It’s no wonder that actor and director Russell Crowe shot several scenes for his 2015 historical drama, The Water Diviner, in this part of South Australia.
With its quiet country roads, well-tended vineyards, abundant produce and warm country hospitality, the Clare Valley is a place that will lure you back again and again. Relax, delve into its many different layers, enjoy the solitude and savour every moment.