| The Clare Valley, in South Australia's Mt Lofty Ranges, is a world-renowned wine-growing region, famous for its table wines, particularly Riesling and Shiraz. It is also a fertile agricultural area producing grain, stud sheep and wool.|
Despite the wine region's proximity to its larger neighbour, the Barossa Valley, Clare Valley retains its own identity with a concentration of smaller, boutique wineries. There are several distinct sub-regions within the Clare Valley each with its collection of wineries and cellar door outlets. First settled in the 1840s, the region is steeped in history and there are museums and historic homes to visit.
|How do I get there?|
|The area is only about 130 kilometres from Adelaide and many visitors come to the Clare Valley for a day trip. Guided tours are available and these can be invaluable if you are planning to do some wine tasting at the cellar doors. Alternatively you can make your own way to Clare Valley - simply head north from Adelaide along the Main North Road and Barrier Highway, turning off to Auburn and the other Clare Valley towns.|
|Where do I stay?|
|If you want to spend some time getting to know the area, let Travelmate take care of all your Clare Valley accommodation needs. |
|Clare Valley has hot, dry summers and cool winters. The area has only a modest rainfall with most of the rain coming down in the winter months.|
|What are the main towns and what can I do?|
|Many visitors to Clare Valley enjoy a chance to sample some of the local wine at some of the many cellar door outlets in the region. Often you will be served by the winemaker and you will have the opportunity to ask questions about the wines you are tasting.|
As you turn off the Barrier Highway and approach Clare Valley from the south, you will first come to Auburn. The town is the birthplace of C.J. Dennis, who penned The Sentimental Bloke, and the C.J. Dennis Festival is held in the town each year. There are many historic bluestone buildings including the old railway station, now a cellar door outlet where you can have lunch at the weekend.
Next, take the side road to Mintaro. Famous for its slate, the town once provided slate for many of the world's billiards tables and many of the town's buildings are made from the same stone. The historic buildings are very well-preserved and there is a heritage walk around the town. Just outside Mintaro is Martindale Hall, a magnificent Georgian-style mansion built by a local pastoralist for his bride who jilted him. You might recognise it from the film "Picnic at Hanging Rock".
Watervale also has some historic buildings and you should be sure to see the Wine Museum at Quelltaler Estate. At Sevenhill is the district's oldest winery, Sevenhill Cellars, established in 1851 by the Jesuits anxious to maintain a supply of sacramental wine. Visitors may wander through the monastery buildings including the crypt.
The town of Clare is the administrative centre for the region. The Old Clareville Museum pays tribute to the area's agricultural and viticultural heritage, while the Old Police Station Museum reflects the human aspect through a collection of furniture, clothing and other personal items. Wolta Wolta homestead, built in 1846, was badly damaged in the 1983 bushfires, but it has been restored and is open to the public on Sundays.
A great way to see the Clare Valley is to walk or cycle along the Riesling Trail, which hugs the route of the former railway line between Auburn and Clare. It passes close to many of the area's cellar doors and through vineyards and agricultural land.
As you spend time in this lovely area, don't forget to sample the local gourmet products, including olive oil and handmade pickles and preserves, made from locally grown produce. There are many fine cafes and restaurants in the area, some at cellar door locations, which highlight fresh, locally grown produce on their menus.