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I recently returned home to Adelaide for a few weeks, and you bet I was going to take the opportunity to do some wine tasting! As my childhood home is nestled on the edge of the Barossa Valley, I’ve done that to death – so I decided to venture out to one of the lesser known wine regions and check out some of the best wineries in the Clare Valley.
I love this gorgeous wine region. It’s very different from the Barossa Valley and most wine regions I’ve visited in the world – think rolling, sunburnt hills and gnarled gum trees. It’s definitely one of my favourite wine regions in South Australia, thanks to its unique character.
It’s certainly all very ‘Straya so if you’re looking for a unique wine tasting experience, I highly recommend paying a visit to some of the best wineries in the Clare Valley.
Getting to the Clare Valley
The Clare Valley is located a bit further north than the Barossa Valley, and can easily be accessed as a day trip from Adelaide.
As it is a bit less known that alternatives like the Barossa Valley or the McLaren Vale, there aren’t as many options for group tours – so you will probably need a vehicle to visit.
Another great option is to explore the region by bike! The “Riesling Trail” is ideal for bikes, and will take you past some of the best wineries in Clare. It’s particularly focussed (as you may have guessed) on the white variety, Riesling.
The best wineries in the Clare Valley
With some logistics out of the way, let’s get started on the best wineries in the Clare Valley.
If you want to visit a cellar door that sums up all the best things the Clare Valley has to offer, I highly recommend a visit to Eldredge Wines.
First of all, it’s in a gorgeous old farmhouse – there’s no better place to taste wine in my opinion. This one is particularly interesting, though, because it is surrounded by a large dam – although it was bone dry when I visited.
Inside, Eldredge Wines kind of feels like walking into a family living room rather than a stuffy cellar door. There’s a scattering of kid’s toys, a few photos (including one where the dam was full), and a bar for tastings.
I love a good family-run winery, and Eldredge Wines is certainly that. The main winemaker’s daughter was lingering behind the bar, before her dad came out for a chat, too.
The wine is excellent, too. In particular, I really enjoyed their bold Shiraz – certainly proving that it’s not just the Riesling where Clare excels.
I highly recommend a visit to this great winery – it certainly ticked all the boxes for me!
Address: Spring Gully Road, Clare 5453 | Phone number: +61 8 8842 3086 | Cost: Free tastings | Wine prices: Mid-range (from $20)
With wine names like ‘Dark Side of the Moon’, ‘Bittersweet Symphony’ and ‘Blackbird’, the muso in me just knew I’d love Claymore Wines.
There’s a fun, laidback approach to life and wine that I think sums up the Clare Valley – and wine in Australia – very well.
With eye-catching names in honour of popular rock songs, Claymore Wines might be the kind of drop you buy for the label first. However, you’re sure to be really impressed when you open it up – the wine is fabulous, too.
You can find out for yourself at the modern and picturesque cellar door in Leasingham. As well as enjoying the fabulous selection of red and whites, there are also cheese platters and other local produce like dukkah.
Definitely check this one out, for the nostalgia – and the fab taste.
Address: 7145 Horrocks Highway, Leasingham 5452 | Phone number: +61 8 8843 0200 | Wine prices: Mid-range (from $20)
There are a couple of Clare Valley wineries that boast a fabulous view, and Paulett Wines is certainly one of them.
They’re, understandably, pretty proud of it too – there’s a great cafe out on the deck so you can enjoy fab food as well as wine.
Of course, it’s a winery first and foremost so you can certainly do a stand-up tasting first. You might like to try a few different drops before settling on one to enjoy with your lunch.
Their grapes are from the acclaimed Polish Hill River, and are excellent – their sparkling white was recently named one of the top 25 New World Sparkling Wines.
The view is really gorgeous and the food is excellent, too. It’s all “modern Australian” themed, with many of the ingredients plucked from the nearby bush garden. Pretty cool, right?
They also support a number of charities and are pretty environmentally-friendly, so you can feel good about indulging (or over indulging) in their fabulous wine and food.
Address: A 752 Jolly Way (Sevenhill to Mintaro Road), Polish Hill River | Phone number: +61 8 8843 4328 | Wine prices: Mid-range (from $24)
The Clare Valley is mostly known for its Riesling (although it does plenty else well, too). If you want to find out what all the fuss is about, you’d best head over to Mitchell Wines.
They produce some of the world’s best Riesling (no, that’s not hyperbole), and there’s a few great reds in the mix as well. Surprisingly, the wine is pretty affordable too – life really is great in South Australia.
As well as the superb wine, there’s also the fact that the cellar door is tucked away in a 19th century farmhouse. That’s really old by Australian standards, and super charming.
Inside, the character continues, and the staff are super friendly. Despite the big international reputation, the staff just seem to really love wine and want you to enjoy it – whoever you are.
One of the main winemakers at Mitchell Wines is the vivacious Jane Mitchell, who is recognised as a Clare Valley legend. It’s always great to see women in wine, and especially at the helm of such a great label.
It’s certainly a worthy addition to our list of best wineries in the Clare Valley.
Address: 246 Hughes Park Road, Sevenhill, 5453 | Phone number: +61 8 8843 4258 | Wine prices: Medium (from $20)
Located just out of the gorgeous township of Mintaro, Reilly’s is another of the best Clare Valley wineries.
From first glance, it’s hard not to be drawn to it as you look over to the stone farmhouse surrounded by green vines.
As you enter, things are about to get even better – inside the charming cellar door you’ll find an amazing array of delicious wines. It’s not just me. who thinks so, Reilly’s is a five-star James Halliday winery.
(For those not in the know, James Halliday is a famous Australian wine critic – so he really knows what he’s banging on about.)
As seems to be the norm in Clare, the emphasis is on friendly service where you learn about wine over some enthusiastic chatter.
As well as the fabulous wine, there’s also an excellent restaurant where you can enjoy some local produce. If you’ve got cash to burn (woo) I hear they also do a fab four-course meal for $90pp.
If you’ve got even more cash to burn, they also have some pretty adorable cottages to rent on a B&B (bed and breakfast) basis. Sleeping amongst the vineyards, and waking up to explore Mintaro and drink amazing wine? Sounds pretty good to me!
Address: Corner Leasingham Road & Hill St in Mintaro | Phone number: +61 8 8843 9013 | Cost: free to taste | Wine prices: Varies, starting from $20
Jim Barry Wines
Another of the bigger names in the Clare Valley, Jim Barry Wines is certainly one of the best Clare Valley wineries. It’s also one of the most historic.
While Jim Barry Wines’ profile has grown and the wine is now sold all over the world, it’s still proudly a family-run operation. Started in 1959 by – you guessed it – Jim Barry, it’s today in the hands of his son, Peter.
Jim Barry’s grandchildren also help out, meaning it’s a real family affair.
The large cellar door is just five minutes from the township of Clare, which is a bustling country town. Here, you’ll get to taste many of the label’s best wines – and perhaps chat to one of the family members!
Amazing wine and good quality conversation to boot? I’m in!
Address: 33 Craig Hill Road, Clare, South Australia, 5453 | Phone number: +61 8 8842 2261 | Cost: $5 tasting fee (refundable on purchase) | Wine prices: varies, starting from $19
Although it pains me to admit this as a proud Barossa-ite, I reckon O’Leary Walker has one of the best cellar doors in South Australia.
It’s got a gorgeous view that is distinctly Clare: vineyards, gum trees and sunburnt hills, and the attitude to boot: friendly, with a sense of humour and not a hint of pretentiousness. Yep, you can’t miss this one if you’re looking for the best wineries in the Clare Valley.
The building is quite modern and fancy, but you certainly don’t need to worry about any snobbiness. A big smile and some friendly chatter will certainly put you immediately at ease.
As well as an excellent selection of reds and whites – including my favourite, sparkling Shiraz (an Aussie classic), they also have a great cafe. A winery that serves mac ‘n’ cheese balls? Uh, I think I just found my idea of heaven.
A good idea is to put in your order as you taste through the wine list – that way you’ll be able to choose your favourite to accompany your delicious lunch.
Address: 7093 Horrocks HWY, Leasingham 5452 | Phone number: 1300 3425 69 | Cost: free to taste| Wine prices: Mid-range (from $20)
You can’t find a much more picturesque setting than the pretty town of Mintaro. It’s sort of a “blink and you’ll miss it” town, but it’s well worth stopping to take it in.
One good excuse to stop is to visit Mintaro Wines, a cute boutique producer that enjoys a fabulous location in the township.
Established in the 1980s, Mintaro Wines is a small producer that makes just a few thousand cases of wine a year. This means that if you pick up anything from the cellar door, it will be totally unique.
They have a great selection of both red and white wines. They’re mainly your classics, including Shiraz, Cabernet Sauvignon and, of course, Riesling.
While you’re there, drop by the old Martindale Hall home, which was used as a backdrop in the creepy thriller Picnic at Hanging Rock.
Address: Leasingham Road, Mintaro, SA | Phone number: +61 8 8843 9150 | Cost: Free to taste | Wine prices: Mid-range, starting at $25
If you know a thing or two about South Australian wine, chances are you’ve heard of Grosset Wines. These premium reds and whites are exported all around the world, and are highly regarded.
So, if you’re looking to impress your wine loving friends – drop by their gorgeous cellar door.
Despite their big reputation, Grosset Wines is still a family operation and has a friendly atmosphere. Whether you’re a sommelier-in-training or a brand-new wine drinker, you’ll be welcome.
Due to the cellar door’s limited opening days and the reputation of the wine, it can get very busy. Nonetheless, it’s totally worth it to sample some of the best wine from Clare (and their other vineyards throughout Australia).
If you’re looking to buy a special bottle and – like me – cannot actually cellar (aka keep) a bottle of wine for more than about three months, you might like to check out their museum releases. All of the age, none of the waiting! Win!
Address: Corner of Manoora Road and Stanley Street, Auburn, 5451 | Phone number: +61 8 8849 2175| Cost: $10 to taste, redeemable on purchase | Wine prices: premium (from $50 a bottle) | Note cellar door has limited opening dates, check the website for details
Jeanneret Wines and Clare Valley Brewing Co
Alright, I’m going to be totally honest here – Jeanneret Wines were not my favourite, well, wines. But their fab cellar door made up for it.
You can taste the wine – or enjoy a tasty platter – out on their large deck area, surrounded by gnarled gumtrees. It’s such a quintessentially Australian scene that I just had to include it as one of the best wineries in the Clare Valley.
They also do beer, so if you’ve had your fix of wine (never!) or it’s just not your thing (shock horror!) then there are some other options.
As well as their reds or whites which just didn’t suit my palette (by all means you might love them), they do some very nice fortifieds which went fabulously with their tasty cheese platter.
This spot seems to be a favourite of many Clare locals, so why not make it your last stop, and enjoy a glass or two as the sun sets over the gums?
Address: 22 Jeanneret Road, Sevenhill 5453 | Phone number: +61 8 8843 4308 | Cost: Free to taste | Wine prices: Low-cost (from $15)