Tuesday, March 8, 2016

Three Delightful Days in McClaren Vale, Australia

Reunited with my Australian Relatives in McClaren Vale
(February 14 – 16, 2016) Our plane touched down in Adelaide around noon, but it only took a short time to pick up our rental car at Hertz and drive the 45 minutes to McClaren Vale.  We reached our private cottage around 1:30pm and after a shower and power nap, went to visit Hugh Hamilton Winery (see other post), before driving up Marshall Road to visit my relatives who live on top of the hill. As usual on this remote road, we passed at least 8 kangaroos jumping in the yellow grass.  As it was February (late summer in Australia), out visit was blessed with sunny and warm weather in the mid 70’s and 80’s F.

That first evening, we had a wonderful dinner of roast beef, grilled vegetables, and a big green salad all washed down with a variety of McClaren Vale shiraz wines.  We also sample some local cheeses, which we had with the Hugh Hamilton pinot grigio and sparkling pink moscato.  It was a great family reunion.

White Sandy Beaches

Beaches Near McClaren Vale
The next day we slept in, before driving to the beautiful white sand beach only 15 minutes from the small town of McClaren Vale.  Here we visited the Star of Greece restaurant and took a long walk on the beach, wading in the warm water of the Southern Ocean.

The sand on the beach is fine and powdery, and we had almost the whole stretch to ourselves.  Lovely and invigorating walk!

Salopian Inn
Food at the Salopian Inn

Later we visited Molly Dooker winery (see other post), and then had a late lunch at the Salopian Inn.  I would highly recommend this famous historic restaurant, because the food and wine were excellent. They even have a wine cellar downstairs where you can select your own bottle of wine and bring it back to your table.  I ordered the small plate of local fish, which was fresh and tasty.  It went well with a glass of sparkling vermentino, which they called “Verdecco” as a play on Prosecco.  Very clever, and very refreshing.

Victory Hotel Gastro Pub

That afternoon we rested, before heading out to dinner at the Victory Hotel. This is situated on a small rise overlooking the ocean with incredible sunset views.  The restaurant is actually a casual pub, but with excellent food. We ordered a variety of dishes to share, including grilled steak, local snapper and squid.  This time we tried a McClaren Vale Rousanne as well as a Shiraz. As we ate, the sun slowly slid into the ocean, creating an amazing display of soft colors across the landscape as it wove its way amongst strands of clouds.

Parrots and Kangaroos Prints

The next morning, I took a long walk down dusty roads that bordered vineyards and gum trees. Along the way, I saw many colorful green parrots and grey and pink gullaws. Then I came upon some strange looking footprints in the sandy soil. They were large with four indentions and spaced quite far apart. It took me a few minutes to realize they were kangaroo prints, from a roo that must have been jumping along the road.

That afternoon, we headed into Adelaide where we spent the next five nights at the Majestic Lion Apartments near the zoo.  It was a good location to attend the 3 day wine conference, and also visit many local sites.

Other Great Wineries in McClaren Vale

I must admit that this was my fourth visit to McClaren Vale over the past 20 years, and each time I have visited a variety of wineries. Since my relatives immigrated from the US to Australia in the 1970’s and settled in McClaren Vale, it has always been a wonderful place to visit. Over the years I have had wonderful visits to Noon Winery, D’arnberg, Chateau Reynella, Tintara, and many others.

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