McLaren Vale…welcome to one of our favorite places in Australia. The wine that is produced in this region is outstanding…big, bold Shirazes, fruity Cabernet Sauvignons, and full-bodied Chardonnays.
We have traveled to wine regions throughout the world, including France, Italy, South Africa, Argentina, Chile, New Zealand, and the USA. South Australia is by far one of our favorites, and in particular, we love visiting the cellar doors in McLarenVale.
This region has a wonderful, laid-back feel to it. There is nothing snooty or pretentious about the wineries in McLaren Vale. These friendly, welcoming winemakers put their heart and soul into producing really good wine.
At each cellar door, a unique experience awaits. With creative names and labels, cozy indoor tasting rooms and expansive patios that offer vistas of the vine covered hills, McLaren Vale’s allure extends far beyond its liquid treasures.
In this guide, we will share with you some of our favorite wineries in McLaren Vale, plus tips to help you plan your visit.
About Our Experience
So far, we have visited the wine regions of South Australia twice.
The first time was in 2015. We were on a trip around the world, traveling on a very strict budget. Our knowledge of wine at the time wasn’t very extensive, but we were fans of big bold reds, so we loved touring this wine region.
Over the years, as we have traveled more, our love for wine has grown, and we now seek out more experiences like these. Many of you know of us from our more adventure-themed guides, with hikes and treks from around the world. But as we have gotten older, our love of food and wine has grown.
In 2023, Tyler spent several months in Sydney, studying for one semester at the University of New South Wales. Tim and I flew to Sydney visit him and had an additional week in our schedule to visit one more place in Australia. We chose South Australia because we couldn’t resist another visit to McLaren Vale.
This time, it was just the two of us. With no kids, more money to spend, and the goal of shipping home some wine that is hard to get in the USA, this was a much different experience than 2015.
This guide is the combination of our two experiences: our quick, budget minded, family trip in 2015 and our longer, more researched trip in 2023. We will share with you where we went, which wineries were our favorites, and tips and tricks to help you have the best experience. We also have a Guide to Barossa Valley and a recap of our experience wine tasting in Clare Valley from our visit in 2023.
Let’s get started.
The Coriole vineyard | Wineries in McLaren Vale
About McLaren Vale
McLaren Vale is located 40 km south of Adelaide. This wine region sits just a few kilometers from the sea, and the warm, salty air influences the taste of the grapes. A Shiraz from McLaren Vale can taste very different from a Shiraz produced in Barossa Valley.
In McLaren Vale, there are roughly 300 small winemakers, which also makes a visit here a much different experience than a visit to the bigger, more popular wineries in Barossa Valley.
For those who want to visit a handful of small, unique cellar doors, McLaren Vale is the place to visit.
Wineries in McLaren Vale
In no particular order, here are the wineries that we visited on our two visits to McLaren Vale. We spent one full day visiting the wineries in 2015 and two full days in 2023. At the end of this list, you can see all of them on a map.
Battle of Bosworth
For those who want to visit a small, cozy, unpretentious cellar door, put Battle of Bosworth on your list.
For well over 100 years, the Bosworth’s have been growing grapes in McLaren Vale. This winery gets its name from the Battle of Bosworth in England, which was fought in 1485. This battle ended the War of the Roses.
Battle of Bosworth produces wine in McLaren Vale as well as on Kangaroo Island. They also make the Spring Seed Wine range of organic wines. In 2022, Battle of Bosworth’s 2021 Cabernet Sauvignon won Best Cabernet Sauvignon of Show at the McLaren Vale Wine Show.
Tim and I arrived here right at opening time on a Monday morning. We were the only ones at the cellar door so we were treated to a wonderful, “private” tasting experience. This was the smallest of the cellar doors that we visited and the wine was some of the best that we tasted in McLaren Vale.
Battle of Bosworth Cellar Door | Wineries in McLaren Vale
Battle of Bosworth
Learn more about Battle of Bosworth on the official website.
WHY VISIT BATTLE OF BOSWORTH: To visit one of the smallest, coziest cellar doors in McLaren Vale and taste some of the best wine produced in this region.
Alpha Box & Dice
This is one of the most creative wineries in McLaren Vale.
Instead of using bin numbers to label wines, like many wineries do, Alpha Box uses the alphabet.
For example, their wine Siren had a picture of a naked woman on the label, her body curved in the shape of the letter S. This wine comes from grapes that grow close to the ocean, not far from Australia’s first nude beach. I love the creativity!
We purchased a bottle of wine here, DWS, which stands for Dead Winemakers Society. There is a party in McLaren Vale every year where guests have to bring a bottle of wine produced by a deceased winemaker, and this wine is named in honor of the party.
Alpha Box & Dice Cellar Door | Wineries in McLaren Vale
Learn more about Alpha Box & Dice on their website.
WHY VISIT ALPHA BOX & DICE: To visit a casual, laid-back winery with a creative twist to naming wines.
d’Arenberg is one of the oldest and largest winemakers in McLaren Vale. Since 1912 the Osborn family has been growing grapes in this region, which also makes them one of the longest producing wineries in Australia.
At d’Arenberg, all wines are basket pressed and all red wines are foot trod during fermentation. All of the vineyards owned and leased by d’Arenberg are NASAA certified for organic and biodynamic processes.
The names of the wines are some of the most creative and puzzle like, with names like the Apotropaic Triskaidekaphobia (a Shiraz produced on 13 acres), the Solipsistic Snollygoster (a single vintage Shiraz grown in a 100+ year old vineyard), and Stephanie the Gnome with Rose Coloured Glasses (a Sangiovese Cinsault Sagrantino Rosé).
Rising up from the d’Arenberg vineyard is the d’Arenberg Cube. Built to resemble a Rubiks Cube, this five-story building contains several art galleries, a tasting room, a wine sensory room, and Singapore Circus, an award winning restaurant. From the upper levels of the cube, you get panoramic views over McLaren Vale.
There is a fee for a wine tasting plus a fee to tour the art exhibit. During our visit, works of art by Salvador Dali were on display. Learn more on the official website, and if you have interest in dining at Singapore Circus, make your reservation in advance.
d’Arenberg Cube | Wineries in McLaren Vale
The view from the d’Arenberg Cube
One of many sculptures on the d’Arenberg estate
WHY VISIT D’ARENBERG: To tour the d’Arenberg Cube (an artistic spot for wine tastings, art exhibits, and elevated views of McLaren Vale) and to taste one of the most extensive wine lists in McLaren Vale.
PRO TRAVEL TIP: Most cellar doors charge a small fee for a tasting (this generally ranges from $10 to $20 AUD per person) but this fee is waived if you purchase wine.
Oliver’s Taranga was our favorite winery that we visited on our first trip to McLaren Vale. We originally picked this place because people loved the cellar door experience and the fabulous wines.
Oliver’s Taranga is another oldy but goody, dating back to the 1840’s. Grapes have been growing here for years, but it wasn’t until 1994 when winemaking first began here. Now, Oliver’s Taranga produces “ultra premium” Shiraz, as well as Grenache, Tempranillo, Fiano, Mataro and Sagrantino wines.
On our first tasting experience here in 2015, very friendly Sally White took us through Oliver’s Taranga red wines. Everything was delicious. Tim loved the Tempranillo while I loved the Sagrantino.
Then Sally had us try the Reserve wines. So, so good, and Tim and I agreed that the HJ Reserve Shiraz was our favorite.
What makes this wine even better is learning that the same grapes that go into making this wine also get sold to Penfolds to go into their Grange. Oliver’s Taranga’s grapes get selected to go into the Grange more years than not, an accomplishment that really makes them stand out from other wineries. To Tim and I, the HJ Shiraz had a similar taste to the Grange at a fraction of the cost, making this an economical way to get a taste close to the Grange.
Since we had such a positive experience in 2015, we revisited Oliver’s Taranga in 2023. Things are a bit different now, as a spacious, modern room has been added on to the small, historic cottage. This demonstrates how successful Oliver’s Taranga has been in recent years and their demand for wine tastings.
On our second visit, the wine was just as fantastic and we are shipping some home to be enjoyed with family and friends in the future.
Oliver’s Taranga (in 2015) | Wineries in McLaren Vale
The tasting room in Oliver’s Taranga (in 2023)
Learn more about Oliver’s Taranga on their website.
WHY VISIT OLIVER’S TARANGA: Oliver’s Taranga is consistently rated as one of the best cellar door experiences in McLaren Vale. Their grapes are sold to d’Arenberg, Seppeltsfield, and to Penfolds for their Grange, so you can taste and purchase similar wine at a fraction of the cost of the Grange.
Tucked away within the vineyards of Dowie Doole is one of the most unique cellar doors in McLaren Vale, which is really saying something. This cellar door, which is referred to as the tasting pod, is made up of four shipping containers joined together. It is a solar-powered masterpiece with a modern industrial appearance.
You can have a guided wine tasting inside of the tasting pod or have your tasting outside on the lawn (a wonderful experience if the weather is nice).
At Dowie Doole, you can do a traditional wine tasting or a wine tasting paired with chocolate. Wine plus chocolate…this one was a no-brainer for us.
We liked our experience at Dowie Doole. It’s just a short drive from the heart of McLaren Vale but feels like it’s all out on its own. Sitting outside, with views of the rolling hills covered in vines, and having a taste of wine with some chocolate, was a great experience.
Dowie Doole | Wineries in McLaren Vale
Wine tasting and chocolate pairing at Dowie Doole
Learn more about Dowie Doole’s tastings, hours, and story on their website.
WHY VISIT DOWIE DOOLE: This was the only cellar door that we visited that offered a wine and chocolate pairing.
Down the Rabbit Hole
Down the Rabbit Hole is one of the most popular wineries to visit in McLaren Vale. This is a beautiful place to visit, particularly on a warm day. Visitors lay down blankets in the grass, purchase a snack and bottle of wine, and relax in one of the coolest corners in McLaren Vale.
Down the Rabbit Hole | Wineries in McLaren Vale
At Down the Rabbit Hole, you can have lunch inside the small restaurant, taste wine at the wine bar, or have a seat outside in the sun.
Down the Rabbit Hole is well known for their food. We had a three course lunch combined with a wine tasting and it was a lovely experience.
This cellar door has a very hip, feminine vibe, with pastel colors, a sea green double decker bus sitting on the property, and colorful wildflowers growing throughout the property.
On the official website, learn more about Down the Rabbit Hole, make your reservation for lunch, and see more photos of this lovely cellar door.
Lunch at Down the Rabbit Hole
WHY VISIT DOWN THE RABBIT HOLE: To have lunch with a wine pairing and to visit one of McLaren Vale’s most photogenic cellar doors. From October to April, on Friday nights there is live music at Down the Rabbit Hole.
PRO TRAVEL TIP: Most of the smaller cellar doors, such as Down the Rabbit Hole and Battle of Bosworth, are not open to large groups and tour buses. If you plan to travel as a tour group, you may be limited to the larger wineries in McLaren Vale. And if you won’t be traveling as a large group, and like the idea of avoiding places that cater to large groups, plan your day such that you stick to the smaller cellar doors.
Lloyd Brothers is a small, family run winery in the heart of McLaren Vale. They grow Shiraz, Grenache, and Mourvedre (Mataro) grapes as well as the first Kalamata olive grove in South Australia.
The spacious cellar door overlooks the nearby vines and olive groves. On weekends, lunch is offered at the cellar door. This is also a popular venue for weddings and parties.
We enjoyed our visit to Lloyd Brothers but in our opinion, it lacks the character and uniqueness that you find at many other cellar doors in McLaren Vale. However, it’s a great space to host an event or visit with a large group.
Lloyd Brothers Cellar Door | Wineries in McLaren Vale
Learn more about Lloyd Brothers on their website.
WHY VISIT LLOYD BROTHERS: To taste both wine and olive oil. On weekends, lunch is offered at the cellar door.
When you have visited four wineries in one region and two of them recommend Samuel’s Gorge, do you ignore the recommendation?
In 2015, we scrapped our original plans to visit d’Arenberg and made the short drive to Samuel’s Gorge, wondering why this place got so many rave reviews from its neighbors.
Samuel’s Gorge was unlike any other winery we have been to. We arrived at the cellar door by way of gravel roads, located on a hilltop with some of the best views of McLaren Vale. A small sign pointed us to the cellar door. The cellar door was an ancient looking building, lacking fancy landscaping and the beautifully manicured grounds that so many other wineries cannot do without.
The cellar door was an old, rustic building, tucked in behind some weeds and piles of newly fallen leaves. But inside it was warm and cozy, with a fire burning in a wood stove. A woman with a half shaved head and multi-colored hair took us through the tastings, of which there were only three wines to try. All of them were awesome.
Midway through our tasting, a man looking like a younger version of Albert Einstein, with curly hair sticking out in all directions and wearing a sweatshirt with the label of another McLaren Vale winery, joined in our conversation. It sounded like he had been drinking just as much as I had today, slurring his words just a little, not quite making sense. Then suddenly, he walked away, stating he had to get back to work.
Apparently, we had just met Justin McNamee, the winemaker of Samuel’s Gorge, who I now like to call the mad scientist of wine making. For the next fifteen minutes he bounced back and forth between his work and our wine tasting. He gave us travel recommendations on the upcoming leg of our travels through Australia, but honestly, I was having a hard time following what he was saying. Either he needed less wine or I needed more, I am not sure, but this guy was a hoot!
On our second visit to McLaren Vale in 2023, we again asked winemakers where else we should go and again, the answer was almost unanimously Samuel’s Gorge.
In this last 8 years, this place has not changed much, which is nice to see. The cottage is still surrounded by weeds and overgrown trees, but the view over McLaren is one of the best around. Justin unfortunately was not around during this visit but the wine was just as good.
Do yourself a favor and put Samuel’s Gorge at the top of your list and enjoy one of McLaren Vale’s best cellar door experiences.
Samuel’s Gorge Cellar Door | Wineries in McLaren Vale
Learn more about Samuel’s Gorge on the official website.
WHY VISIT SAMUEL’S GORGE: If this cellar door is recommended by numerous winemakers in McLaren Vale, it must be something special. There is nothing fancy about this cellar door…all of the energy and effort is put into making outstanding wine.
If you need a break from wine tasting, how about trying some award-winning gin?
Craig and Bec, a husband and wife team with a history in nursing, made a major career change, starting a gin distillery. They now produce artisan gin that has been winning awards throughout Australia and the rest of the world.
Our love for gin is almost as strong as our love for wine so we really enjoyed this casual, laid-back experience. Plus, the gin is really good and with its adorable label, this makes a great gift for Mother’s Day, birthdays, Christmas, you name it.
Ginny Pig is located inside of the McLaren Vale Visitor Center. Learn more on the official website.
Ginny Pig Gin
For the past several years, Shingleback has been consistently producing award winning wines in McLaren Vale. At this 120 hectare family estate, the winemakers predominantly grow Shiraz and Cabernet Sauvignon, as well as a smaller quantity of Tempranillo, Grenache, Chardonnay, Fiano, and Mataro grapes.
The cellar door is the original barn of the Aldersey Farm, which was built in the 1800’s and renovated in 2003. When it is cool outside, as it was during our visit, a fire is burning in the fireplace, making this a very cozy spot for a wine tasting. When it is warm outside, you can have your tasting outside on the veranda.
Shingleback consistently wins trophies at the McLaren Vale Wine Show, a contest that has some serious competition. In 2022, they won the Most Successful Exhibitor Award as well as the Best Cabernet Blend and the Best Shiraz 3 Years and Older. We thought the wine here was phenomenal, with our favorite being the D Block Reserve Cabernet Sauvignon from 2019.
Shingleback Cellar Door | Wineries in McLaren Vale
Inside the Shingleback cellar door
Learn more about Shingleback on their website.
WHY VISIT SHINGLEBACK: To taste one of the best wines produced in McLaren Vale, as Shingleback consistently wins awards at the McLaren Vale Wine Show each year. The cellar door is also charming and warm during the colder months of the year.
Mollydooker is a bit quirky, with their retro label designs and more modern cellar door. I loved it, but I also love retro art, and yes, I will admit, sometimes I choose wine just by the appearance of the label.
Mollydooker means “left handed” in Australia and this winery got the name since both owners, a husband and wife team, are both left handed.
In 2012, Mollydooker’s Carnival of Love Shiraz won second best wine in the world by Wine Spectator. Impressive! We tasted it, and it was awesome, but we went home with a bottle of The Boxer instead, a more economical choice for our budget.
Since our visit to Mollydooker in 2015, we purchase quite of bit of their wine at home, since this is one of the few McLaren Vale wines that shows up at wine stores at home. We love Mollydooker wines but in 2023, did not return to this cellar door in order to have time to visit a few more new places.
Mollydooker wines | Wineries in McLaren Vale
The view from the Mollydooker cellar door
Learn more about MollyDooker on their website.
WHY VISIT MOLLYDOOKER: A visit to Mollydooker is a colorful experience, not just because their wine labels are a kaleidoscope of colors but also because the atmosphere at this cellar door is fun and quirky.
Bekkers brings a taste of France to McLaren Vale.
Toby and Emmanuelle Bekkers are a husband and wife duo that produce wine with a touch of elegance. Toby is an Australian viticulturist and Emmanuelle is a French viticulturist. Together, they have been traveling back and forth to Europe for over 20 years, learning new techniques and applying these methods to their winemaking. The result is one of the most elegant wines in McLaren Vale.
The Bekkers cellar door is very modern, with floor to ceiling windows and a view over the rolling hills of this wine region. For a small fee, you will have a guided tasting of the wines they produce. On the list is a Chablis which the Bekkers produce in France and import to Australia.
This is one of our favorite wineries in McLaren Vale. The personalized wine tasting, the beautiful setting, and some of the best wine we had in McLaren Vale make this an essential visit for those who want to taste some truly fantastic wine.
Bekkers cellar door | Wineries in McLaren Vale
Learn more about the Bekkers story, the wine they produce, and how to visit their cellar door on the Bekkers official website.
WHY VISIT BEKKERS: To taste some of the best wine in McLaren Vale, in their beautiful, modern cellar door.
Coriole made it onto our list because I heard from multiple sources that their lunch is fantastic. And I have to agree…the food here is amazing.
Coriole has a more upscale feel to it than the more casual Down the Rabbit Hole. They offer an a la carte menu and a “feed me” menu, which is their tasting menu. During our visit, they did not offer a wine tasting with lunch, although you could add on a wine pairing.
This is another lovely cellar door. Coriole sits on a hill, so it has a gorgeous view over McLaren Vale. Wildflowers and manicured gardens surround the restaurant making this another photogenic winery to visit.
Coriole Cellar Door | Wineries in McLaren Vale
Lunch at Coriole
For lunch, we liked the food and the experience more at Down the Rabbit Hole than Coriole (although both are great experiences).
Learn more about Coriole and make your lunch reservation on their website.
WHY VISIT CORIOLE: To have a long, leisurely delicious lunch with a wine pairing and to visit a cellar door surrounded by wildflowers and beautiful landscaping. Plus, the views from this cellar door are stunning.
PRO TRAVEL TIP: Some cellar doors are not open seven days a week. Make sure you check the hours of operation for each winery you plan to visit in advance to avoid disappointment.
We visited Angove in 2015 and it reminded us of the cellar doors in Barossa Valley. This spacious, modern cellar door and its wall of windows overlooks the vineyard. It is bright, sunny, and beautiful, but we thought it lacked the charm of the smaller cellar doors that we liked at so many of the wineries in McLaren Vale.
However, this larger space makes it great for walk-ins, since they can accommodate a lot of visitors. And this cellar door is frequently used for larger functions and social gatherings.
Learn more about Angove on their website.
Angove Cellar Door | Wineries in McLaren Vale
The view from the Angove cellar door
More Wineries in McLaren Vale
With three full days in McLaren Vale, we still had a few wineries left on our list to visit that we didn’t have time for. Here is what we didn’t get to and why we thought they were notable.
Paxton Wines. The Paxton family is known for producing really good fully organic and biodynamic wines.
Chalk Hill. This is another winery that consistently wins trophies at the McLaren Vale Wine Show year after year.
Mitolo Wines. We heard this winery offers one of the best dining experiences in McLaren Vale.
Hither & Yon. This cellar door produces great wine and has a younger, hip vibe, similar to Down the Rabbit Hole.
Wineries in McLaren Vale: On a Map
How to Use This Map: Click the icons on the map to get more information about each cellar door. Click the star next to the title of the map to add this map to your Google Maps account. To view it on your phone or computer, open Google Maps, click the menu button, go to “Your Places,” click Maps, and you will see this map on your list.
Our Five Favorite McLaren Vale Wineries
Narrowing down our list of wineries in McLaren Vale, here are our five favorite experiences in McLaren Vale.
Oliver’s Taranga. This was our favorite spot in 2105 and we had a great time here in 2023. Some of their grapes go into the Penfolds Grange and also into their own wines. So, you can get a wine similar to the Grange without paying a small fortune.
Down the Rabbit Hole. Tim and I loved the leisurely lunch plus wine tasting that we had at this charming cellar door.
Bekkers. Bekkers produces fantastic wines and you can enjoy it in their modern cellar door with big views of the surrounding vineyards. They produce some of the best wine we tasted in McLaren Vale.
Samuel’s Gorge. Samuel’s Gorge is a favorite of locals, visitors, and it is recommended by other winemakers. Visit this small, rustic cellar door, taste their wines, and keep your fingers crossed that you get to see Justin McNamee in action.
Battle of Bosworth. Visit this tiny cellar door and taste some more of McLaren Vale’s best wine.
As a bonus, I think d’Arenberg is worthwhile for those with an interest in art or those who are already familiar with d’Arenberg wines and want to taste more of them. And gin lovers should stop into the Visitor Center for a quick gin tasting at Ginny Pig Distillery…there’s a good chance you’ll be sending home more than just wine from McLaren Vale.
Wine tasting at Bekkers
Tips for Visiting McLaren Vale
What about Drinking and Driving?
Both times we visited McLaren Vale, we had a rental car and Tim was our driver. On a typical day, starting at 10 am and going to 5 pm, it’s possible to visit 5 or 6 cellar doors. Wine tastings really add up when it comes to your blood alcohol level.
To avoid drinking too much wine, we would both share one tasting or Tim would skip a tasting altogether, to keep his BAC low. And if we didn’t like a wine, we’d pour it out (that was tough to do at first!).
If you and everyone in your group does not want to limit how much you have to drink, consider joining a tour or hiring a private driver to take you around. If you join a tour, just keep in mind that the smaller cellar doors will not accept tour groups.
Can Wine Be Shipped Outside of Australia?
If you live in Australia, shipping wine home is easy and straightforward. Outside of Australia, things get to be more difficult.
We live on the east coast of the United States. Most wineries in McLaren Vale do not ship to the USA.
Coming to the rescue is a company called Get Freighted Cellar Door. This small company will work with the wineries to package your wine into one shipment and deliver it to your house.
For example, if you love the wine at Samuel’s Gorge, you can purchase 6 bottles at the cellar door. Get Freighted will work with Samuel’s Gorge to get your 6 bottles. And if you also want to purchase wine from Oliver’s Taranga, purchase 6 more bottles and this gets added to your Get Freighted delivery. At the end of your visit to McLaren Vale, Get Freighted will work with the wineries to get your orders of wine. This gets combined into one shipment and then is mailed to your address.
You can purchase as many bottles at each winery as you like (for example, 1 bottle at Shingleback, 2 bottles at Mollydooker, and 3 bottles at Bekkers), but it is best to have a shipment that is divisible by 6, in order to get the best price. Learn more about this on the Get Freighted website.
You will not pay Australian tax at the cellar door, so your price for the wine will be slightly cheaper than what is quoted at the cellar door, but the taxes will later be added to your shipment.
One of the great things about Get Freighted is that they also work with wineries in Barossa Valley, Kangaroo Island, and Adelaide Hills, so if you plan to visit multiple wine regions, you can assemble your wines into one shipment.
Once a month, the wines are shipped to their recipients. From the date of shipping, we were quoted a 3 week delivery time.
It’s a bit nerve wracking, if you will be placing a big shipment from multiple wineries, to have it all combined into one shipment (talk about putting all of your bottles of wine into one basket). We placed our order in May, it shipped in early June, and we received our wine 3 weeks later (we live on the east coast of the USA). All of our wine arrived in one shipment. The wine was well packaged and nothing was damaged. From start to finish, we had an excellent experience with Get Freighted.
Another benefit to Get Freighted is that once you drink all of your wine, you can reorder more through their website, or try some new wines that are harder to get where you live.
Do You Need to Make a Reservation in Advance?
Both of our visits to McLaren Vale were during the month of May, which is the shoulder season here. We made reservations for lunch but did not make any reservations for wine tastings and never had an issue. We were able to taste wine right away at each cellar door without a wait.
However, if your visit will be during the busier summer season, then consider making a reservation for your wine tasting, to avoid disappointment.
If you prefer to have a seated wine tasting, it is also best to make a reservation in advance. We were fine standing at the wine bar for our tastings but having a reservation gives you the advantage of the seated tasting, which is a slightly more formal experience.
How Much Time Does It Take to Do a Wine Tasting?
On average, a guided wine tasting takes about an hour, but we had some last as little as 30 minutes and some take over an hour (this usually happened if we continued onto the reserves and older vintages and then made a purchase).
McLaren Vale Itinerary
Plan on spending at least one full day in McLaren Vale to taste wine at a few cellar doors and have a leisurely lunch. The cellar doors open between 10 am and 11 am and close between 4 pm and 5 pm. At many places, the cellar doors are not open every day of the week, so check the hours of the ones you are interested in before your visit.
We typically visited five wineries in McLaren Vale per day, starting at 10 am. We would do a wine tasting at 10 am, a wine tasting at 11 am, lunch at noon, and then wine tastings at 2 pm, 3 pm, and 4 pm.
If you plan your itinerary right, it could be just a 5 to 10-minute drive from one winery to the other.
Not having reservations makes it more flexible to visit the wineries but during the busier summer months, you risk not being able to be accommodated. If it were me, I’d book what I thought are the essential wineries in advance, to make sure I didn’t miss out.
If you have any questions about the wineries in McLaren Vale, or if you would like to share your favorites, let us know in the comment section below.
More Information for Your Trip to Australia
SOUTH AUSTRALIA: One of the best things to do in South Australia is to visit the wine regions near Adelaide. Plan your visit with our Guide to Barossa Valley and our Guide to Clare Valley. We also have a recap about our visit to McLaren Vale and Barossa Valley from our first visit to Australia.
SYDNEY: Get started with our Sydney Bucket List, which contains 40 of the best things to do in Sydney. We also have a guide to the Sydney Bridge Climb and the Coogee to Bondi Coastal Walk, with a lot more information coming soon.
GREAT OCEAN ROAD: Driving the Great Ocean Road is one of the most scenic drives in the world.
Read all of our articles about Australia in our Australia Travel Guide.
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