McLaren Vale is one of South Australia's oldest and most picturesque regions, nestled between the Mount Lofty Ranges and the white, sandy beaches of the Gulf of St Vincent.  It offers exceptional wines and regional produce all set amongst rolling vineyards, a rugged coastline and a charming collective of villages including Willunga, Clarendon, Kangarilla, Sellicks, Port Willunga, McLaren Flat and the township of McLaren Vale.

The unique marriage of a wine region and beach lifestyle has created a melting pot for all things culinary, vinous and artistic. McLaren Vale has a rich history and is widely recognised as one of Australia’s greenest wine regions because of its ongoing water use efficiency strategies and commitment to environmental sustainability. There is substantial climatic variation throughout McLaren Vale, due to varying exposure to the cooling influence of the nearby ocean. Site selection and the matching of site to variety are all-important; Shiraz, Cabernet Sauvignon, Grenache, Semillon, and Chardonnay all do very well in the appropriate location.

Regional Checklist:

  • McLaren Vale is one of South Australia's oldest and most picturesque regions, offering exceptional wines, flavoursome regional produce, unique coastline and a warming culture. 
  • John Reynell established Chateau Reynella in 1838 
  • The region is currently home to more than 110 wineries. 
  • Widely recognised as one of Australia’s greenest wine regions. 
  • There is substantial climatic variation throughout McLaren Vale, due to varying exposure to the cooling influence of the nearby ocean.
  • There is a wide variety of soil types, a reflection of the varied terrain, details of which the region has captured in the world’s most comprehensive geological survey of a wine region. The map detailing the enlightening findings is available in most cellar doors 
  • The main varieties grown in the region are Shiraz, Cabernet Sauvignon, Grenache, Semillon, Sauvignon Blanc and Chardonnay.
  • New plantings of varieties, such as Sangiovese, Tempranillo, Mourvedre, Savagnin and Fiano, suited to the Mediterranean climate continue to reflect to continued development in McLaren Vale.

Regional website:
www.mclarenvale.info

Climate: 
There is substantial climatic variation throughout McLaren Vale, due to varying exposure to the cooling influence of the nearby ocean. There are also significant changes in altitude as the region merges with the Adelaide Hills to the Eastand the Fleurieu Peninsula to the South.  Summer rainfall is low, and supplementary irrigation is considered essential. Site selection and the marriage of site to variety are all-important; Shiraz, Cabernet Sauvignon, Grenache, Semillon, Sauvignon Blanc and Chardonnay all do very well in the appropriate location.

Soil:
There is a wide variety of soil types, a reflection of the varied terrain - red-brown sandy loams, grey-brown loamy sands with yellow clay subsoils interspersed with lime, distinctly sandy soils and patches of red or black friable loams are all to be found. Most soils in the region are well suited to grape growing.

Wines:
Shiraz: The balance, power and grace of McLaren Vale Shiraz has ensured it is the region’s signature variety. Generous, textured and complex, McLaren Vale Shiraz combines intense fruit flavours with unique savoury characters.

Cabernet Sauvignon: The opulent Cabernet Sauvignon of McLaren Vale is renowned for its varietal character and layers of flavour. This combination has ensured that these wines continue to win accolades domestically and abroad and the variety's profile within the region is constantly on the rise.

Grenache: This variety has enjoyed a spirited renaissance during the last decade. The older plantings predominantly bush vines, produce incredibly richly flavoured wines, with an almost juicy sweetness.

Chardonnay:  Since its introduction more than 15 years ago, Chardonnay is now the major white grape planted in the region. The style varies according to site, winemaker input and vintage conditions, ranging from elegant, citrus-tinged wines through to richer, fleshier, peachy and buttery versions.  

Other Varieties: The climatic diversity has helped McLaren Vale producers to successfully embrace varieties such as Barbera, Fiano, Tempranillo and Mourvedre, and explore re-emerging varieties like Viognier, Sangiovese, Zinfandel and Verdelho.

Vital Statistics:
Map Coordinates:                                   34° 14'S
Altitude:                                                50 – 200 metres (164 - 656 feet) 
Heat degree days:                                  1910 (cut off at 19ºC (66.2º F) but otherwise not adjusted) 
Growing season rainfall, October - April:  180 millimetres (7 inches) 
Mean January temperature:                     21.7°C ( 71°F) 
Relative humidity, 3 pm:                         Average 46% 
Harvest:                                                February  - late April


 

Michael Fragos, 2010 McLaren Vale Bushing King, winemaker, Chapel Hill, McLaren Vale, South Australia

“Since its establishment in 1973 by Adelaide Professor Tom Nelson, Chapel Hill has been at the forefront of development in McLaren Vale. Enjoying a unique position overlooking McLaren Vale, today more than ever, Chapel Hill remains committed to crafting fine wines, implementing sustainable viticulture and maintaining a strong regional presence. Sourcing fruit from two estate vineyards and 16 growers, Chapel Hill values highly the relationships it shares with all who contribute to its success.

Chapel Hill’s winemaking philosophy is to produce wines that truly reflect their varietal characters and regional origins. Powerful and graceful wines that are balanced and seamlessly integrated.
It was a great honour to have our 2008 Vicar Shiraz recognized by our peers, winning the Bushing King award as McLaren Vale’s top wine at the 2010 McLaren Vale wine show as it is a true reflection of the way in which we approach things. We are passionate about McLaren Vale, we love its wine, food and beaches, but most of all we cherish the people of McLaren Vale and the friendships we share with them.”

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