The Clare Valley
About a hour and a half from Adelaide by car, this region will sweep you off of your feet and transport you to a place of incredible food, excellent wines and breathtaking scenery. Whether you are a lover of wine or beer, or if you’re stuck as the designated driver, then you will be in safe hands. this region caters to all tastes- it’s known around the globe for its award winning Rieslings and within Australia for its ever growing beer scene.
It’s home to the Riesling trail- 32kms of sweeping views of vineyards and lush rolling hills, taking you through small villages and via wineries so you can stop off for a cheeky tipple. It’s one best explored by bike and takes about 2.5 hours to complete (given you don’t stop and enjoy a wine to two). The trail links the towns of Auburn, Leasingham, Watervale, Penwortham, Sevenhill, Clare and White Hut. When we visited the Valley the weather was a bit chilly so I have kept the lycra in the closet until spring when I visit next!
sorry for the mental image
This was the second time that my partner and I visited the Clare Valley so we made sure we squeezed in as many of the 40 or so wineries as we could. We visited on a monday/tuesday night so sometimes we were a bit stuck for options when it came to wineries and dinners as they only open on thurs/fri and the weekend. But that didn’t stop us having a fabulous time- I actually enjoyed it more as it gave us the opportunity to take things at a relaxed place.
Browns House Bed and Breakfast, Boconnoc Park, Boconnoc Park Road, Clare: Located about 15 minutes outside of the Clare township, down a dirt road and opposite a sheep paddock surrounded by huge trees. It is a cosy cottage that sleeps 4 that focuses on the finer details to make your stay a unforgettable one- locally sourced breakfast provisions, big comfortable beds, a huge tub bath, open fire and even a carafe of port. Gail has set the cottage up like a home away from home and every one of our needs was catered for.
Hillsview Estate, Port Road, Auburn (we stayed in the Hillsview cottage): this gorgeous self contained cottage for two is in the heart of Auburn and close to fabulous wineries and cafes. In our last stay we were greeted with a cheese and olive platter and each morning were cooked a huge breakfast complete with fresh juice and house made lemon butter. its the perfect place to wind down and I loved exploring their huge gardens. they also have the Pine grove cottage which sleeps 4 if you have a larger group.
Skillogalee, Trevarrick Road, Sevenhill: If your after lavish lunches, picture perfect sweets and excellent wines to match then look no further than Skillogalee. In the winter months sit under the pergola with the heat of the open fire and in summer try and book ahead and sit under the olive tree (my favourite spot in the whole of the valley). The restaurant sources ingredients locally and I haven’t found a dish I didn’t love. my top pick- pasta of the day and goats curd wrapped in prosciutto. see my review of this gem here.
DeVine Bush Cafe, Polish River Hill Road, Sevenhill via Clare: We are in LOVE with this place. Boasting one of the best views in the valley, this cafe incorporates traditional Indigenous flavours into their reasonably priced dishes. Their duck curry and pork belly is sensational and the wattle seed icecream is like no other. Kids in tow or just after coffee and cake- this place does it all.
Sevenhill Pub, Main North Road, Sevenhill- The perfect place to have a drink with mates, grab a bottle of wine to go or to settle down and have a meal. Sevenhill hotel has a extensive lunch and dinner menu which has your usual pub style food (huge steaks and schnitzels) and main menu which is a bit fancier- think slow cooked pulled beef shank wrapped in prosciutto, pork belly and pan seared chicken breast. The staff here are super friendly and there is a great outdoor area complete with vertical garden to enjoy in the warmer months.
The Little Red Grape Bakery, 148 Main North Road, Sevenhill- We didn’t have the opportunity to try any of the food from the bakery but we had a gawk and it looked sensational. They usually locally sourced meats for their pies, bake all the food on site and use only the freshest produce in their products. Boasting flavours such as rosemary and saltbush lamb in their pies you will find it hard to walk away without one- I know we did.
Wild Saffron, 288 Main North Road, Clare– The perfect place to stop for a lunch mid week or dinner on the weekends. Baguettes, treats, big breakfasts and locally sourced produce- this place has it all. This cafe is child friendly and dishes out one of the best coffees in the valley.
Get in touch with nature at:
Red Banks conservation park and Spring Gully conservation park
We spent a short time at the spring gully conservation park and admired the view of the trees, greenery and vineyards for miles. The weather was cold so we ended up back in the car rather quickly, but if the weather was better it would be worth bringing your runners and having a explore through one of the many walking trails. The Clare Valley wine region boasts a variety of parks from the basics where you can have a picnic on the grass to parks made for kids with play equipment and bbq facilities (you can find all the locations on the Clare Valley website or at tourist information)
Enjoy a tipple of wine at:
Skillogalee– This cellar door is quaint but offers a long list for tasting. this winery has won several awards and has a excellent selection of both red and whites. Do yourself a favour and grab yourself a glass of Riesling and sit outside under the olive tree and take it all in.
Kilikanoon- Fire places, charming cellar door staff and incredible wines are just a few reasons why this winery and its drops have received stellar reviews. It took out James Halliday’s 2013 winery of the year and there’s no questioning why. Their Rieslings are like no other- we wanted to take a bottle of everything home.
Paulett Wines- A large cellar door boasting high ceilings, timber throughout and a roaring fire. The wine list is not for the faint hearted- no driving if your tasting both whites and reds! the sparkling red and Trillians sparkling riesling is to die for and the Polish Hill River aged release riesling was a personal favourite.
Shut The Gate- Nestled on a old nursery, this cellar door is as eclectic as it comes. Lightboxes, succulents, cow hide rugs and timber are scattered throughout this boutique gem. They have a selection of reds and whites at reasonable prices, with each bottle adorned with incredible artwork of animals and designs by a London tattoo artist. With the option of DIY platters and ample seating outdoors, you may as well book the afternoon off and make it a long affair.
Mad Bastard– The name says it all. covered in hilarious signs and bottles labelled with eclectic labels this cellar door screams boutique and fun. You’ll no doubt be greeted by their lovely little dogs ( now famous as they are being featured in the new wine dogs book). The winery has a small list of wines- with several being sold out- but don’t let that deter you as what they have on offer is excellent. There is a reason why they sell out quick.
The Little Red Grape Cellar Door- The little red grape consists of a bakery, homewares store and this beauty of a cellar door. It’s small and cosy and showcases a variety of smaller wine companies, including their own, and for those that don’t have their own cellar door. The little red grape 2013 Riesling was sensational and the owner who runs the cellar door was lovely and made you feel at home.
Clos Clare– Sadly this winery was closed when we visited so I suggest that you call prior to visiting, especially if you’re making a special trip. The cellar door is located in a beautiful setting surrounded by vineyards in a cottage covered in vines.
Oleary Walker Wines– Oh my view. Prepared to be blown away. in my opinion one of the best views in the valley and some exceptional wines to match. Their Riesling is and its no wonder why they are listed as one of Gourmet Travellers Wine Magazine ‘Australia’s best cellar door’. This is a great place to pop in for a full tasting or just to take it all in and have a coffee if you need a break from some wine.
Have a brew or two at:
Hop and Vine- Home to the Clare Valley Brewing Co beers. My partner was a bit excited when we came here. Cheap beer flights, tastings and a cool interior complete with a buffalo head with lit up eyes (when you visit you’ll understand). Hop and vine is popular with both tourists and locals and offers a range of local beer, wine and refreshing Miss Molly- The Insider. The hardest part is picking the 4 beers to put in your flight!
Pikes Brewery- Tucked away near Pikes Winery, the pikes brewery is found in a huge shed with glass windows. Incredibly big and incredibly large beer flights, giving you more than a taste of their popular beers for $10. Watch the boys brew their beer and chat about the beer making process while you sip on a pilsner or my favourite, the new tonic ale.
Knappstien Brewery– This always popular brewery is located in Clare and always busy on the weekends. We didn’t stop for a tasting but I have heard some excellent reviews. It’s part of the every growing beer culture that’s taking over the Clare Valley and I love it.
Have you you a favourite winery or secret spot in the Clare Valley? I’d love to hear about it- let me know where it is in the comments below.