McLaren Vale Guide: Weekend Eatinerary | Gourmand & Gourmet

Bottoms up to McLaren Vale: Weekend Eatinerary

Guide McLaren Vale

Forget about the moon, when the sun hits your eye in Queensland you’re not going to be feeling amore – you’ll be wanting to head south as the heat rises. Melbourne might have laneways, but South Australia has wineries within wine spitting distance, and lots of them.

With McLaren Vale, Adelaide Hills, Clare Valley and the Barossa all within reach the hardest part of planning your trip is going to be figuring out how much extra baggage you’re going to need to get all those bottles home, as well as the few extra kg of cheese you’ll be carrying.


The minute those wheels hit the runway you’re going to want to grab an Uber to Adelaide Central Market. It’s been feeding our faces since 1869 so you know it’s legit, and the good Radelaidians agree.

Grab an almond croissant from Dough and take a turn of the markets, soaking up all that culture like a sponge finger, before brushing off the pastry flakes and taking a seat at Zuma Cafe for a coffee. Just don’t forget to grab a box of fresh ricotta cannoli from Dolcetti Espresso Bar on your way out, it’s an offence punishable by death in South Australia.

After you’ve finished breakfast it’s time to nab that hire car and make tracks, we’re heading south of the city to McLaren Vale.

Start off at D’Arenberg and marvel at ‘The Cube’, part museum, part art piece. Inspired by the complexities of wine making, the building houses a wine sensory room, a virtual fermenter and a 360 degree video room.

After you’ve tasted the best of the red stripe – head to the hills, Chapel Hill. Originally, you guessed it, a CHAPEL, this beautiful building is now home to a different kind of religion – viticulture. Known for their bold reds, sip on Shiraz and Cabernet Sav blends and let the expert staff take you through tastings, before rolling your dice on another winery – Alpha Box & Dice.

Inspired by the alphabet, this quirky little winery is of the newer residents of McLaren Vale. The wines have achieved cult status, and the legendary cheese and charcuterie platters available will cure those third winery wobbles. We HIGHLY RECOMMEND signing up for their ‘Life Improvement Plan’ – with your choice of 6 or 12 wines delivered to your door regularly.

McLaren Vale Guide

After you’ve sipped your way through the vines, you’ll be needing a luxe dinner…and maybe some more wine. The Salopian Inn is waiting for you with warm, open arms. With a stellar menu and its own cellar – take a wander around their huge collection of wines and bring up a bottle (or two) before taking your seat.

Enjoy Laucke flour sourdough bread with fleurieu butter (on the house, classy!) before devouring soy braised kangaroo tail with chilli caramel and Szechuan salt, potato gnocchi with grass-fed ragu, Brussels sprouts and lemon and confit Nomad Farm chicken with spiced cashew curry.

You might have to bribe an Uber back to town, but it’s well worth it.


After rising early (not too early, those bottles of wine worked their magic), head to the cliffs to look out over Port Willunga, and inhale in all that sea air and serenity, as well as a Farmers Union Iced Coffee and a Kitchener Bun – essential eating during a SA visit.

After you’ve had your fill of salt and maybe attempted a stroll on the beach to work off some of those wine calories, head to Sellicks Beach and Victory Hotel. With an intimidatingly huge list of cellared McLaren Vale wines, a killer menu and beach views – it’s the ideal spot for a long liquid lunch.

McLaren Vale Guide

Start with antipasto platters of chargrilled chorizo, local olivers, pickled baby vegetables and sliced meats, fresh natural oysters and confit ocean trout with chargrilled Spencer Gulf King Prawns and chorizo crumb before moving onto the main event.

Eat your way through the animal kingdom with tea smoked Nomad Farm’s chicken with Swiss mushroom ragout, roast duck breast pie and parmesan gnocchi with roasted Jerusalem artichoke, broccolini, butternut pumpkin and toasted walnuts.

At this point you’re going to be seriously, uncomfortably full, but it would be sacrilidge not to finish your SA trip without a honey and vanilla bean panna cotta with quince and rhubarb compote, toasted hazelnuts and Riverland orange sorbet. Absoute sacrilidge.

Say goodbye to the rugged cliffs and squawking gulls, it’s time to head home, a few kilos and a LOT of wine bottles heavier.

Words by Emma Callaghan
- the gourmet who dreams of southern skies.