The Clare Valley is a pretty special part of South Australia – it is one of the country’s oldest wine regions after all.
WORDS: Giselle Whiteaker
Situated around 100 kilometres north of Adelaide, the Clare Valley is one of Australia’s oldest wine regions. Winemaking here stretches back to around 1840, when the first Europeans settled in the valley and planted the initial vines. More than a decade later, Austrian Jesuit priests built the first winery in the region, to make sacramental wine. Fast forward to today and the Clare Valley is home to around 35 cellar doors – each with its own take on winemaking.
Overall, the South Australian wine industry is responsible for more than half of all Australian wine production. The Clare Valley is a relatively small contributor, accounting for only 21,500 tonnes of grapes each year. What it lacks in quantity, however, it more than makes up for in quality. Clare Valley winemakers here have won countless national and international awards and their wines can be found on many a restaurant wine list around the world.
Clare Valley Riesling is rated among the world’s best, recognised for its purity, rich lime flavours and ability to age for decades. As South Australia’s most northerly major wine district, the area should be too warm for this high-acidity wine, which usually grows best in cool climates. Something works differently here though, whether it’s the altitude of up to 500 metres above sea level, afternoon breezes, cooler nights or the magic in the air.
Not a Riesling drinker? Don’t panic. There are plenty of other varietals to choose from, including Pinot Grigio, Chardonnay, Semillon, Grenache, Mourvedre, Tempranillo, Cabernet Sauvignon and Malbec, to name just a few. So pick a vineyard, raise a glass and sip your way through the beautiful Clare Valley.