The centre of a healthy and prosperous wine growing district beyond the southern outskirts of Adelaide.
Where is it?: Fleurieu Peninsula. 39 km south of Adelaide.
The McLaren Vale region is well known for its dry red wines, especially those made from Shiraz, Grenache and Mourvedre. Cabernet Sauvignon, Merlot and Petit Verdot are also grown. White wine varieties in the region include Chardonnay, Semillon, Sauvignon blanc, and Riesling.
In recent years innovative wineries have begun using less common varieties such as Sangiovese, Tempranillo, Barbera, Cinsaut, Vermentino, and Viognier. Notable for producing Shiraz, the grape is by far the most important variety for the region, accounting for about 50% of the total crush.
The area's thin soils, limited water and warm summers harness Shiraz’Äôs natural vigor and produce intense flavored fruit, and wine with a deep purple color that can last decades in the bottle. McLaren Vale wines are distinguished by their ripeness, elegance, structure, power and complexity. McLaren Vale has 3218 hectares of Shiraz under vine. Other major varieties include Cabernet Sauvignon with 1288 ha planted, Chardonnay with 722 ha planted, and Grenache with 402 ha’Äîmuch of this dry-grown (non-irrigated) bush vines.
Kyeema Conservation Park
The Kyeema Conservation Park has had a colourful history. The area was once mined for alluvial gold for several years until it was abandoned in 1890 due to low yield. A few years later some of the area was cleared for pine plantations before being used as a labour prison reserve. Following the 1983 Ash Wednesday fires, the Friends of Kyeema Conservation Park started to revegetate cleared areas of the park. This work still continues today.
Today, the park's native vegetation has regenerated from these fires and can be enjoyed along a number of walking trails, including the Heysen Trail which runs through the park. The combination of messmate stringybark, pink gum, cup gum and candlebark gum provide habitat for a diverse range of wildlife. Look out for the southern brown bandicoot and the swamp rat as you stroll through the park.
McLaren Vale Visitor Information Centre
McLaren Vale is a charming and substantial township surrounded by more than 40 vineyards and wineries. On every side there are fields of grapes and the signposts at various points are thick with invitations to visit cellar doors to sample the vintages and purchase the locally made wines.
McLaren Vale enjoys a Mediterranean climate with four clear seasons. With a dry warm summer, the area has dry weather from December through to March or April, giving an easy change between summer and winter. It is gentle with long warm days and short cool nights. Winter rains of 580’Äì700 mm per annum flow into a fresh spring.
The region rarely experiences frost or drought due to its close proximity to the sea. The region is bounded to the south by the Sellicks Hill Range and to the west by the waters of Gulf St Vincent. It extends east to the historic town of Clarendon and the area around the Mount Bold Reservoir. To the north it reaches to Reynella, named after the first winemaker in the area John Reynell.
About McLaren Vale
Natural features: McLaren Flat; Kyeema Conservation Park (12 km south east)
Heritage features: Congregational Church; Salopian Inn (1854)
Brief history: Aborigines occupied the area before the arrival of Europeans. Until the 1920s, the name applied to the whole district rather than just the town. The local Aboriginals called the McLaren Vale area Myallina Dooronga. It is now accepted that the town was named after David McLaren, the Colonial Manager of the South Australia Company, who arrived in the colony in 1837 and departed three years later. There is some dispute because some sources claim that town was named after a John McLaren who surveyed the area in 1839.
Before either of them came along the local Aborigines reputedly called the area Myallina Dooronga. Until as recently as the 1920s McLaren Vale was applied to the region more than to the particular town and even today there is a feeling that the surrounding vineyards are really McLaren Vale vineyards even if they are some kilometres outside the town.