Tamara (Homes Down Under)

Wineries and restaurants: McLaren Vale

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    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


    • 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.index



    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.au747507-56867838-fe9c-11e4-9430-4717fa7bce71.jpg

    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.au747078-1eb60800-0352-11e5-9cd4-3a82df739478.jpg

    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, Aldinga747158-92bfe776-fe9c-11e4-9430-4717fa7bce71.jpg

    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.au747781-705fdf7e-fe9c-11e4-9430-4717fa7bce71.jpg

    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.au747371-0065b4d0-0353-11e5-9cd4-3a82df739478.jpg

    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


    VICTORY HOTEL747942-e937148c-0354-11e5-9cd4-3a82df739478.jpg

    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

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    Love McLaren Vale! We had a Fathers Day meal at Woodstock last year and it was really good. Also

    had pizzas at Beach Road which were fab - would eat at both again.

    There's a Facebook page - Winey Kids in Mclaren Vale who let you know about all the Cellar Doors that are child friendly

    so it makes exploring the region with little ones a lot easier. They also have a mummy's wine club once a month at The Salopian Inn.

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    Stopped off at the bakeries before. Good eats :smile:


    If anyone is thinking of taking a trip down to Maclaren Vale I'll suggest going to back routes via the country roads as its a lovely scenic drive, you hardly see another car and no stopping in traffic or being stuck on someones bumper.


    We usually drive out through Clarendon (fab bakery there too and its a pretty little place) and then go via Kangarilla and then take the McLaren Flat road so driving though the town and into McLaren Vale.


    Of course, if you live on the coast somewhere going inland to travel to a place just in from the coast is probably not a good use of your time :cute: But if you are coming from metropolitan Adelaide or on the east side or beyond, you could probably plot a route to take you via some lovely scenery and wildlife.

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    Star of Greece is a fabulous restaurant. We always take UK visitors there for a special meal - especially spring/summer/autumn. My tip is to book early and ask for a window seat and time your meal to enjoy sunset. We usually have a pre-dinner drink (and sometimes entrees) outside enjoying the view, then move inside to eat and watch the sunsetting over the water. Food and location are gorgeous.


    I am yet to try Fino but constantly hear great things about it.


    In McLaren Vale my favourite wineries are Alpha Box & Dice (super quirky in terms of set up, wines and staff - sort of the opposite of going somewhere big, commericial and 'polished' like Jacobs Creek visitor centre); Olivers Taranga (great hospitality, excellent wines), Coriole (excellent wines, beautiful gardens, great food - weekends only I think); Ekhidna (wines don't wow me but beers are good and food is good value, sharing plate style); Samuel's Gorge (beautiful views over the gorge and quality wines - not cheap - you can 'reverse BYO' and take a picnic to enjoy in the garden and buy wine to have with it) and Graham Stevens on the way home to stock up on everyday reds - his 'arrogant cleanskin' is a great cheap drop, and I believe he's the oldest working winemaker in SA.

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    Gemtree just outside of McLaren Flat is great, we always take visitors there; sharing platters are around $35 and you can have meat or cheese - all local and there's enough share for 5 people (especially if you add extra bread). The views from the veranda are fantastic.


    We ate at The Victor Hotel once, we didn't take the children! It was a very nice meal again with good views and I would go back and they do have a children's menu so I suspect it'd be good for all.


    Goodieson's is a fab alternative to the wineries and the beers are pretty drinkable too and the setting is pretty nice - although I'm not sure I've ever seen any 'muddy laughing larrikins' hanging around!


    The Bakery that's in the complex where Target isn't going to be for much longer does great pies but the Cottage Bakery is really family friendly. Pik a Pie up in Meadows is our absolute favourite for pies though. Our favourite for a milkshake though is the Carriage Cafe (which is currently for sale) in an old train carriage - they have over 100 flavours and most of them are delicious.


    One of the few places we've been disappointed at was Beach Road Winery; we went for the wood-fired pizzas and were a little surprised when the cheese and tomato came completely cold and un-melted. The views were superb again though!


    And there's a new-ish place in Kangarilla that's a cellar door for coffee tasting (Dawn Patrol), we haven't tried it out but think it might be on the agenda soon.



    ^^just re-read this and now realise quite why my beach-body didn't materialise the moment I arrived in Australia!

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    on the subject of wine tasting in general:


    The National Wine Centre (-corner of North Terrace and Hackney Rd in the city) have a major tasting facility. Spend a much or as little as you want.

    You can try anything from an in expensive bubbly to Grange Hermitage by the glass. Alternate Friday evenings they also feature selected wineries and put on live music



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