McLaren Vale – My favourite wineries of 2014


Holidays are a distant memory now.  Instead of spending my evenings writing blog posts and planning my next sojourn I’m doing readings and writing assignments. That’s right, I’ve gone back to uni.

I’m trying not to neglect Day Jaunts but it’s a tough balance.

So tonight I’m going to reminisce about those hedonistic days in January when there was nothing to do but drink wine, take photos and watch the Tour Down Under.


McLaren Vale took up most of our time on this year’s trip to South Australia.  We stayed for 7 nights in the caravan park tucked between the main street and vineyards, a pleasant bike ride away from some of the wineries.




One morning we left the caravan after breakfast and rode along the rail trail to the town of Willunga.  From there we rode to Penny’s Hill winery.

There are some advantages to riding a bike around a wine region but there are also some distinct drawbacks. We decided to stop for a tasting platter and a bottle of rosé to replenish.  We didn’t quite finish the bottle of wine.  I only have a little pannier bag on the back of my bike and it only fits one bottle of wine.  Even one bottle pokes conspicuously out the zip.




The day just got hotter and so beer became the drink of choice.  Here another issue with the bike became apparent.  I pack my pannier bag light and don’t generally carry my wallet.  I just shoved a few notes into by phone case and assumed that it would be enough.  It might have been a blessing.  We could only afford 3 beers at Goodieson’s brewery but sitting under the shade of a gum tree, the smell of malt in the hot summer air, those beers were going down a little too well and it was only the lack of funds that stopped us from sitting there all afternoon and saved us from a wonky ride home.

But do you know what’s even better than riding a bike to a winery?  Having Deb the designated driver.




After watching the Tour Down Under make its 5 laps of Willunga driver Deb took us to Woodstock.

I feel for Woodstock.  The winery was named after a village in Oxfordshire, England well before the advent of 500ml cans of discounted bourbon and coke that are their namesake.

The Woodstock cellar door is nestled into the forest.  They make an awesome rosé and with my wallet loosen by liquor I also bought a bottle of The Octogenarian, a Grenache Tempranillo that I swore I would have the willpower to cellar. I’m proud to announce that in late April the wine remains in its bottle and not in my belly.




Next we asked Deb to drive us to an old favourite D’Arenburg. I was a little disappointed that we missed out on lunching at this winery.  Next year I’ll book more than a week in advance.

All restraint had left me by the time we made it to D’Arenburg and I left with a box of The Dry Dam Riesling.  One of the many charms of D’Arenburg is their creatively named wines. While I have managed to cellar a few of the more expensive reds that were purchased on this trip the box of Dry Dam has taken a battering.  Only 3 bottles remain.




But my favourite new find in 2014 was Alpha Box & Dice.  While other sommeliers might describe a wine in terms of tannins, oaks or berries the guy dolling out the wine tastings described one wine as like, ‘a busty blond in hot pants getting out of a Bentley’.  There was another wine that I was instructed not to take home to my mother and the labels were as creative as the descriptions.  Next time I visit I’m taking a note pad.







One thought on “McLaren Vale – My favourite wineries of 2014”

  1. Designated driver is happy with the Jensie photo and fabulous time that was had. Looking forward to doing it again in 2015

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