Located just 40 minutes south of Adelaide, South Australia is where you’ll find McLaren Vale, one of the most unique wine regions of Australia. Its peaceful Mediterranean-style climate and close proximity to spectacular beaches makes this destination so appealing. I can see why so many food and wine lovers seeking a relaxing escape are heading this way.
Having never been before I jumped at the opportunity to meet with Damien Smith, Marketing Manager for local winery Chapel Hill on my recent visit to Adelaide. My parents bought a house in the heart of Rrrrradelaide (as I so fondly know it) a few years ago and my younger brother lives there while he’s at uni. Christmas, Easter and other holidays have since been celebrated here and this Easter was no exception.
I hitched a ride to the winery with Damien who took me through some of the history of the region, in particular Chapel Hill. Set on 44 hectares of vineyards the winery was once the Christian Bible Church for the local area and later used as a parish school. The chapel closed in 1965 and was restored in the 1970s by Adelaide Professor, Tom Nelson. The winery and Chapel Hill brand was established 1973. It now produces approximately 80,000 cases of wine per year.
80% of wines coming out of Chapel Hill are red. Shiraz is what they do best but I’m also a fan of their white varieties including the McLaren Vale Bush Vine Grenache (RRP $35). It’s also hard to go past the il Vescovo Sangiovese Rose on a warm day. It’s also great with sashimi according to Damien and I’m looking forward to trying it next time I dine on Jap. For me the McLaren Vale Shiraz (RRP $30) smells delicious and is bold without being too overbearing. It would be perfect with venison or a good roast. For those willing to part with some extra cashola the The Vicar 2010 (RRP $75) is about to be released and is a top drop now or one for the cellar.
Having tasted the wines it was time for lunch. Chapel Hill has a retreat available for people to stay with Exec Chef Rebecca Stubbs manning the kitchen. Bec whipped up a beautiful spread and the three of us dined in the kitchen. I scored the best view overlooking the vineyard with peeks of the ocean on the horizon.
A short 15 minutes drive from Chapel Hill is Port Willunga beach. Home to snapper, King George Whiting and break taking beachside views. There’s also a cute little restaurant called Star of Greece, which I look forward to trying next time I’m in McLaren Vale. Also on my to do list is a visit to boutique winery Alpha Box and Dice. I’ve heard they’re doing great things.
I’m now planning my June long weekend and getting a group of friends together for my next visit for the Sea & Vines Wine Festival
One for the diary…
Sea & Vines Food and Wine Festival (June Long weekend 9th, 10th, 11th June 2012)
Choose from 28 venues, each with their own unique style over three different categories. Experience, Relish & Delight your senses. There are a host of free events as well as ticketed with everything from degustation to wine tastings and farmers markets. Chapel Hill are hosting a ‘Ribs and Red’ dinner at their winery with winemaker/DJ Michael Fragos on the decks spinning beats.
For more info on things to do in McLaren Vale check out this website: http://www.mclarenvale.info/
Chapel Hill Winery
Chapel Hill Road, McLaren Vale SA 5171