McLaren Vale is only a few minutes from where I live.
This is useful for everyone who stays this side of the world...and for those who would like to try our local eateries....
Has anyone been to any of these? Any recommendations or favourites as I certainly want to give some of them a try...
McLaren Vale guide: Which wineries and restaurants locals love most
- NEWS CORP AUSTRALIA NETWORK
- MAY 26, 2015 9:00PM
McLaren Vale’s vines boast beautiful autumn colours.
SEA and vines just about sums it all up — McLaren Vale is a rare wine region with beautiful beaches.
Ask locals what they love most and you’ll discover great produce, fun restaurants, welcoming bakeries, oh, and some pretty amazing cellar doors as well.Just don’t expect them to tell you their secret fishing spots, where they get the best bacon, or the location of every mulberry tree.Discover the region at the McLaren Vale Sea and Vines Festival from June 5-8.
OUR PLACE @ WILLUNGA HILLAndy Clappis is well-known for the organic bread he supplies to local restaurants and providores, as well as his stall at the Willunga market. But sitting down for one of the lunches he puts on each Sunday at his family property atop Willunga Hill is what most excites Richard Angove. “He feeds you like you are part of his family. It is northern Italian inspired deliciousness,” Richard says.1980 Brookman Rd, Willunga Hill, willungahill.comFINOA long lunch hidden away in the little white-walled cottage in Willunga that is the home of the original Fino remains one of the great dining experiences, says Charlie Seppelt. His tip is to take away the tough decisions by opting for the daily menu — as long as it includes the delicious chorizo made in-house from SchuAm pork. For Sea and Vines, new chef Ben Sommariva is heading over to Wirra Wirra to conduct a “Sunday Service” feast.8 Hill St, Willunga, 8556 4488, fino.net.au
Chef Karena Armstrong from the Solopian Inn, McLaren Vale.
SALOPIAN INNThere’s a whole lot of love from the locals for the Salopian as it continues its great tradition of hospitality tracing back to its days as a rest point for weary travellers and their horses. Mentions seem evenly divided between the cooking of Karena Armstrong — an absolute guru, says Andre Bondar — and husband Michael’s enormous collection of gins. “The absolute must-order item is the pork buns,” advises Andre, “steamed and filled with fresh pork, coriander, and who knows what other goodness, with a chilli sauce that will put some hairs on your chest.” Corinna Wright from Olivers Taranga heads straight to the bar to “be guided by the ‘International Man of Gin’ himself, Michael Armstrong, as he mixes you exotic gin cocktails from all over the world,” she says. Karena will be breaking out the big pans for a “Festive Paella” at the Sea and Vines Garden Party at Willunga Recreational Centre, Corner Main Rd and Aldinga Rd, Willunga, on Sunday, June 7.Corner Main & McMurtrie roads, McLaren Vale, 8323 8769, salopian.com.auRUSSELL’S PIZZAThe old wood oven only fires up on Friday and Saturday nights but this rustic pizzeria remains a firm favourite in these parts. “It’s my absolute favourite place in the world,” says Fino’s Sharon Romeo. “Everything Emma and Gerard do has integrity and simplicity. Locals and others love the vibe, the tunes and the quality of pizzas.” And other times, d’Arenberg’s Clare Findlay recommends Oscar’s Diner in McLaren Vale for wood oven pizzas and more family-friendly fare.Russell’s, 13 High Street, Willunga, 85562571Oscar’s Diner, 201 Main Rd, McLaren Vale, 8323 8707, oscars.com.au
Star of Greece, Port Willunga
STAR OF GREECE“This little shack which hugs the Port Willunga cliffs boasts one of the most ethereal views in the world,” says Wirra Wirra’s Paul Smith, one of many to have fallen for its charms. Selina Kelly from Yangarra has this advice: “Get your loved one and pull up a seat out on the deck. Order a bottle of French champagne and a plate (or two) of the salt and pepper squid which has been caught out in that very bay, and watch the sun settle down into the sea to end its day. Simple, beautiful, pleasure.” Coriole chef Tom Reid shows his English heritage by recommending fish and chips from the takeaway kiosk down on the beach.1 Esplanade, Port Willunga, 8557 7420, starofgreece.com.auSAND BAR CAFEThe Aldinga Bay Surf Life Saving Club turns into a Thai cafe on Friday nights, with home-style cooking by Simon Hartley. It’s recommended by Kate and Kym Davey, at Shingleback, who say to watch out for the dessert maker who has trained with Adrian Zumbo.Norman Rd, Silver Sands, 8556 3178BAKERIES/COFFEE
Cara and Toff West from Home Grain Bakery in Aldinga and McLaren Flat.
HOME GRAIN BAKERYThe story could be filled with accolades for this bakery with outlets at Aldinga and McLaren Flat which seem to feed and make coffee for most of the region’s winemaking fraternity. As well as tributes to their pies (look out for the pie of the month such as “hog and hops”), the croissants and sourdough fruit loaf come in for special mention from the Shingleback team. Wirra Wirra’s Kelly Wellington loves the coffee layer cake. “It’s as good as tiramisu, much easier to transport and makes you by far the best guest if you take it to Sunday lunch,” she says. Coriole staff survive on the almond croissants and Portuguese tarts. The coffee, roasted next door by locally owned Villere Coffee, is the best around, says Andre Bondar.13 Old Coach Rd, Aldinga (also 55 Main Rd, McLaren Flat) 8557 8231, homegrainbakery.com.auMAXWELL’S GROCERYThe go-to destination for healthy eating options, Maxwell’s is part fruit and veg store, part cafe. Winemaker Stephen Pannell says he survives vintage on the store’s beetroot and ginger juice and Bircher muesli, while Chalk Hill’s Tom Harvey indulges in the Wakefield Grange beef burger “chased down with a coffee from Tom the master barista”. “It is on the way to Port Willunga beach so we love to swing by on a hot morning, pick up our coffees and head down to the beach and watch our kiddies splash away,” says Coriole’s Lizzie Sherrah.11 Old Coach Rd, Aldinga
Luka Van Cauteren at Hither and Yon, Willunga.
THREE MONKEYSA favourite for its coffee, cheeses and wide selection of produce, Willunga’s Three Monkeys also benefits from the symbiotic relationship with near-neighbours who share a common courtyard. “Hither & Yon is right next door and is a cosy little cellar door with a merry pot belly stove to defrost the toes and nose,” says Jo Reschke at d’Arrys Verandah. “If you visit on Friday, Saturday or Sunday, you can have a tasting and stay for a bite courtesy of Pizza Kneads which is tucked in behind.”Three Monkeys, 17 High St, Willunga, 8556 4443, 3threemonkeys.com.auHither & Yon, 85562082, hitherandyon.com.auPizza Kneads, 8556 2083, pizzakneads.com.auSHOPS/PRODUCE
Cafe tables at the Willunga Farmers Market.
WILLUNGA FARMERS MARKETThe market that sets up each Saturday morning in Willunga is known Australia-wide for the range and quality of its produce — a selection that inspires many of the region’s chefs. Fino’s Sharon Romeo says to watch out for the Small World Bakery where Emily Salkeld and Chris Duffy make the BEST artisanal sour dough bread. “They have been supplying us for years,” she says. Lizzie Sherrah at Coriole is a fan of The Garden Farmers produce stall that also sells delicious green juices. “There is often a line-up for them,” she warns. Liz also recommends Humble Grounds for coffee and delicious homemade cookies and cakes.For Sea and Vines, the chair of the market board and local food hero Pip Forrester will present the “Market Kitchen Table”, guiding participants around her favourite market stalls, then heading back to The Producers Farm Kitchen for cooking classes and lunch.Corner Main Rd and St Peter’s Tce, Willunga, 8556 4297, willungafarmersmarket.com.au
Ian Shaw from Ellis Butchers, McLaren Vale.
BUTCHERSIf you want to provoke an animated discussion in these parts, start comparing the region’s two great butchers, Ellis of McLaren Vale and Hamlets at Willunga. So devoted are their followers that reports of a taste test of their bacons came to us anonymously. “Hamlets is a bit sweeter with more of a maple edge, Ellis has a touch more smoky deliciousness,” our source says. Pete Fraser likes to throw Ellis’s king henry or rib eye beef on a barbecue when entertaining international guests. Team Shingleback has an each-way bet, saying Ellis is the only place to get Toulouse sausages for a cassoulet, but Hamlet’s has the best kranskies.]Ellis Butchers, Shop 5 Central Shopping Centre, McLaren Vale, 8323 8230, ellisbutchers.comHamlets Meat and Smallgoods, 33 High St, Willunga, 8556 2153CHOCOLATEPip Forrester loves the “divine” chocolates handcrafted by Wendy Ashwin at Four Winds Chocolates. Her tiny shop (between Spook Sisters and Golden Fleece Cafe) is open only on weekends.High St, Willunga, fourwindschocolate.comTHE FRIDGEIf you miss McLaren Vale Orchards at Willunga market, call in at their Sand Road property and find freshly picked fruit in the fridge. “This time of year, grab some fresh apples. They have an honour system where you leave cash in a box — proper old school,” says Primo’s Richard van Ruth.Sand Rd, McLaren Vale, 0418 562 919CELLAR DOORS
BEACH ROAD WINESThere’s nothing in the world like the broad landscape and coastal views from the higher ridges of the region, and to frame the picture perfectly with a sense of it being a Mediterranean experience, head to Beach Road Wines, says environmental co-ordinator Emmanuelle Walton: “Great wood-oven pizzas and Italian-style wines in a beautiful setting, and very child friendly with plenty of space for them to run around,” she says.Beach Road Wines, 309 Seaview Road, McLaren Vale; 8323 7344, beachroadwines.com.au
Woodstock winemaker Scott Collett. Picture: Roger Wyman
WOODSTOCKWhile the region’s beaches are a much-loved attraction, the bush and foothills out around McLaren Flat offer a great Australian landscape of giant gum trees, kangaroos and assorted friends in a wildlife sanctuary — and one of the most nature-friendly, rammed-earth built cellar doors of the area. In one place you can sit and enjoy a platter at the Coterie, bold reds, and a fun rose slushy, while on the Sea & Vines Sunday and Monday a 10-course family style Thai lunch banquet by celebrated Adelaide chef Nu Suandokmai is one of the festival’s star attractions.215 Douglas Gully Rd, McLaren Flat; 83830156, woodstockwine.com.auS.C. PANNELLCelebrated winemaker Stephen Pannell has bought the old Tapestry wedding/function venue in the dress circle precinct of the region and converted into a cellar door everyone’s talking about, not only for the new-gen Mediterranean varietals he crafts but for a stunning view over vineyards to the sea — the quintessential Vale experience. Add to that a Friday-Sunday tapas menu and you get the best of casual winery visiting all in one. It’s also a go-to spot on the Sea & Vines program with Matt Skinner’s Magical Plumm Bus Tour stopping there on Saturday as well as Oliver’s Taranga and Paxton, while on Sunday it’s double trouble time with neighbour d’Arenberg partnering in the Compadre’s Fiesta, a Spanish to South American food and wine event.60 Olivers Road, McLaren Vale; 8323 8000, pannell.com.auHARDY’S TINTARANow for a bit of winery history at this heritage-listed cellar door right in the middle of town surrounded by a leafy and spacious garden perfect for wandering and relaxing. The wine selection is traditional with a range of tastings on offer including the option of masterclasses.For Sea & Vines Sunday, Elbow Room chef brings his party specialty to the grounds with his famous spit-roasted, rolled lamb, pork and chicken “beast” with heaps of roasted winter vegies.202 Main Rd, 8329 4124, hardyswines.comMORE TO DRINK
Jeff and Mary Goodieson of Goodieson Brewery, McLaren Vale.
GOODIESON BREWERYA popular choice for a knock-off-time beer. “It’s usually filled with local laughing larrikins, covered in mud and/or wine,” says Wirra Wirra’s Erin Stacey. “Sit inside by the fire drinking stout or outside under the hops drinking pilsner.” “Jeff and Mary Goodieson are the loveliest of folk and make real beer, hands on, with love,” adds Jo Reschke. “The Brown Ale leaves you with a warm autumnal glow and the coffee and toffee notes of the stout will melt the severest of chills.”194 Sand Rd, McLaren Vale, 0409 676 542, goodiesonbrewery.com.auFALL FROM GRACEA wine shop by day, this cosy spot run by local legend Gill Gordon-Smith is where you’ll find many of the region’s movers and shakers on a Friday night. “It is a place to go at the end of the week to bump into locals, try interesting wines and get a cheese platter or three,” says Lizzie Sherrah from Coriole. “There are often other yummy food options too. In winter she has braziers lit outside to gather around, which we do, chatting and tasting until she closes, when we pick a wine and head down to Russell’s for a pizza!” Fino’s Sharon describes Gill as an “educator, gracious host, and a winemaker with a minimalist approach. Gill is one of the most community-driven people that always promotes the Fleurieu Peninsula.”29a High Street Willunga, fallfromgracewine.comPUBS
Emma Raper and Rachel Lippett enjoy the Victory Hotel’s beer garden. Picture: Tait Schmaal.
Well-known for its never-ending hospitality, awesome wine list and great weekend lunches with a view, this time of year is even more special, says winemaker Charlie Seppelt because oysters are in their prime and publican “Lord” Doug Govan has an impeccable source. “A dozen natural with a current vintage riesling from Clare or latest release Chablis, and Dougie always seems to have a bottle in the ‘back fridge’ — it happens more than it should,” he says.GETTING AROUND
CHOOK“Ever wondered how we locals are able to go out to all these great restaurants in our region, drink gin and wines and have a wonderful time, without having to worry about driving home? Well, we have a Chook for that,” says Corinna Wright. Local legend Chook McCoy runs a number of mini buses for wine tours during the day that are often available as a local taxi service in the evenings. For a flat fee, Chook and his team will get you home safe.Chook’s Little Winery Tours, 0414 922 200, chookslittlewinerytours.com.au