There are more than 70 cellar doors to visit in the McLaren Vale wine region of South Australia as well as distilleries and craft breweries so on a recent stay in the area we decided to try venues that we hadn’t visited before. These are my latest top 4 and the reasons why.
South Coast Brewing Co.
We actually found this by accident while visiting the Willunga Farmers Market and looking for a good hearty bacon and egg roll for breakfast. We certainly weren’t disappointed with a bacon and poached egg delight, served with tomato relish on a brioche bun and while it was a bit early in the day to sample their brews we did grab a six pack to try later.
This is a spot we will definitely revisit with a menu of burgers and ribs, perfect food to match with beers, and there are vegetarian and vegan options as well. The range of beers include the names of local areas including Goolwa Gold, Maslin’s Red Ale, Port Willy Porter (Port Willunga), Sellick’s Oatmeal Stout (Sellicks Beach) and Earl of Seaford Bitter. Others in their range are Southern Session Ale, Porties Pale Ale, Bitter Sou’westerly and a special one, Cockle Diver Ale which was made for, and named after the local footy team, the Port Noarlunga Cockle Divers.
The atmosphere at the South Coast Brewing Co. is really relaxed and there are indoor and outdoor areas to linger a while. You’ll find them at 8 Hill Street Willunga and they’re open from Friday to Sundays 12-9pm.
Dowie Doole Wines
A unique cellar door, made out of four shipping containers which are situated in the midst of the vines. It offers indoor and outdoor spaces to relax, try the wines and enjoy the atmosphere. There is more room outdoors than in and lawn games are provided to enjoy on sunny days, as well as a fire pit to cosy up to during the cooler times of the year.
The tasting room pod which was opened in November 2019, has really picturesque glimpses of the vines and a separate shipping container houses the bathrooms which also have a picture worthy outlook from the washroom. You can choose a variety of wine tasting flights, or purchase by the glass and you can also build your own platter of regional food. Dowie Doole is located at 695 California Road, McLaren Vale and is open 7 days a week from 10am – 5pm and my recommendation is to try the Rose.
Molly Dooker Wines
The Molly Dooker winery has been on Seaview Ridge at McLaren Vale since 2007 so it’s hard to believe it’s taken me this long to find this gem. In 2018 one of the owners, Sarah Marquis took over as sole owner and chief winemaker and another unique part of this winery is their ‘Sip it Forward’ program. This means a portion of wines sales go towards three different charities which are, ‘Transform Cambodia’ which assists in the education of children in Phnom Pehn, ‘Mercy Multiplied’ in the US supports women breaking free from abusive situations and ‘The Hutt Street Centre’ where donated money supports homeless and vulnerable people of Adelaide.
The name of the winery, Molly Dooker, comes from an Aussie slang term for a left handed person (which Sarah Marquis is) or a left handed boxer which is referred to in one of their red wines, ‘The Boxer’. Red wines are the specialty here with Merlot, Cab Savs and Shiraz the main varieties but they also make a Verdelho and the ones I would recommend to try are in the ‘Fun Series’ a sparkling Verdelho called Euphoria and an early pick Verdelho, ‘Summer of 69’. I would be really tempted to buy these bottles purely for their labels – very pretty. What I loved about this winery was that for our $10 tasting we got to take the glass home afterwards. Great value for money and the service was terrific too.
You can visit Molly Dooker Wines at 23 Coppermine Road, McLaren Vale, 7 days a week from 10am – 4.30 pm.
Chalk Hill Collective
I’m counting this as one venue but it actually is a partnership of three venues in one amazing location. Perched on top of a hill with far reaching views, this is a one stop shop where you can try Chalk Hill Wines, gins from Never Never Distilling Co. and casually dine on Italian street food provided by Cucina di Strada, with a range of food including Panini, antipasto platters, meatballs and arancini and pizzas.
On our visit on a sweltering summer like day, we couldn’t go past trying some gins from Never Never. They tasted as good as they looked with our choices being: a Triple juniper and tonic, with lemon and lemon thyme, Juniper freak and tonic, with pink grapefruit and rosemary, Fancy fruit cup served with lemonade, dry ginger ale and seasonal fruit (think of this as tasting like a mix of gin and Pimms) and Gin and juice with freshly pressed apple juice.
The venue is beautiful with places to sit and enjoy the surroundings under cover or outdoors overlooking the amazing view while watching the helicopter wine tours, bringing the rich and famous in for a visit. And while you’re here, no visit would be complete without posing at the Never Never Distilling Co. painted wall along with all the other beautiful people.
Chalk Hill can be found at 56 Field Street McLaren Vale and is open daily from 11am – 5pm.
While in McLaren Vale we couldn’t go past visiting a favourite winery Ekhidna Wines which also is home to a range of excellent craft beers, cider and ginger beer. We love it here because it has everything going for it, from the wines (love the Single Vineyard Rose and the Grenache Shiraz), beers, share food plates, wow views over vineyards but mostly because of the owner and winemaker Matt Rechner. If his attention to detail in winemaking is anything like his attention to customers then it’s no wonder he has had award winning success and will no doubt continue to do so. We are always so impressed with his personal touch to wine tastings where he takes the time to explain his wine varieties and methods and goes above and beyond in providing an experience that keeps bringing people back.
The winery is at 67 Branson Road McLaren Vale and is open Saturdays, Sundays and Mondays from 11am – 5pm.
A few more down – a lot more to go!