Our favourite spots to explore, stay, wine and dine in The Clare Valley.
It’s an internationally recognised fact that South Australia does good wine. With no less than four unique regions close by, Adelaide is certainly spoilt for choice when it comes to selecting a bottle. The Adelaide Hills is proud of its Pinot, McLaren Vale its Cab Sauv and the big Barossa Shiraz is probably the most famous of all. But just a little farther afield, beyond what can comfortably be considered a day trip, lies the peaceful and breathtakingly beautiful Clare Valley. Clare’s iconic variety is Riesling, although as we discovered the valley has a whole lot more to offer if you’re looking to eat, stay and play.
Just under two hours from Adelaide, The Clare Valley is quite different to its South Australian siblings. Its tree lined roads and cute little towns are dotted along a 35km dedicated track called ‘The Riesling Trail’. An absolute must when you visit Clare, it’s designed for leisurely bike riding between vineyards, although in the winter it’s a great way to explore the region on foot. It meanders through paddocks passed herds of cows and flocks of sheep offering views, protection from the elements and plenty of country scenery along the way.
Undoubtedly one of the cutest places we’ve ever stayed is Owl Cottage at Skillogalee. Perched on a hill that gradually reveals the most stunning view across the vineyards as the mist clears each morning, this 3 bedroom cottage is the perfect retreat after a long day of wine tasting. Completely self-contained, the highlight is an open log fire and suite of comfy couches in the living room. And do not miss the Skillogalee restaurant for a long, lazy lunch.
As one of the two acclaimed Riesling regions in the world (the other being Germany), The Clare Valley specialises in this fresh, crisp and delicious variety. Our favourites include Skillogalee, Pikes and Shut The Gate. Visit each of these gorgeous cellar doors to experience vertical tastings and how different a single variety can really be. We were similarly dazzled by the elegant reds at Kilikanoon, with the Killerman’s Run Shiraz and GSM favourites for quaffing with dinner. (They also have a stunning sparkling, grown by the winery in France and imported back into Australia in the bottle. Unusual and amazing). But the highlight red was from relative new comer Shut The Gate. Their Sangiovese is simply outstanding and entire approach to the experience of wine is as unique as it is exciting.
Without a shadow of doubt the place to dine in The Clare Valley is Seed. A husband and wife team, who saw the light and left The Hunter Valley, have lovingly restored an old barn into a cottage-chic restaurant that has given the entire town a new lease on life. Fun and busy, despite torrential rain and it being a Tuesday, it is relaxed regional dining at its best. To experience Clare’s best produce, opt for the Seed Table, a series of shared courses with matched wines selected by the chef. Every single dish was fresh and utterly delicious.
To learn more about the beautiful region, head to clarevalley.com.au