Welcome to the Clare Valley
Delight in some of the world’s best riesling offers as you cycle through picturesque valleys, awe at the magenta veins that run through the earth at Lake Bumbunga before treating yourself to a little more luxury with a stay at a character cottage. Sound like your kind of weekender? Located less than two hours from the Adelaide CBD, the Clare Valley is South Australia’s hidden gem. From postcard perfect scenery to a tantalising tasting journey, the Clare Valley is an unforgettable – yet incredibly accessible – South Australian destination.
WHAT TO DO
Cycle The Riesling Trail
Spanning the 35 kilometres between Clare and Auburn, and about two hours drive from Adelaide, cyclists consider the Riesling Trail to be one of the best bike trails near Adelaide. No bicycle? No problem. Bike hire is available at a variety of locations along the trail. And while balancing wine bottles on a bicycle isn’t recommended, cellar door purchases can be shipped to your accommodation in the Clare Valley or to your home. You’ll need a minimum of two and a half hours to cycle The Riesling Trail, but factor in extra time to truly enjoy this stretch of countryside and cellar door hospitality along the way. You can see bike hire options here.
Ready to pump those legs? Read our in-depth, stop by stop guide for visitors hoping to cycle the Riesling Trail.
Interactive wine making at Knappstein Wines
Ready to roll your sleeves up for the perfect drop? This hands on experience will see all of your senses engaged as you work with the cellar door team, learning how to blend wine. You will come to truly understand why wine making is an art form - as you get creative with your very own signature red blend. The 45 minute master class, held inside the original Enterprise Brewing building that dates back to 1878, also includes a full tasting of the winery's previously blended offerings and a welcome glass of riesling.
Where to eat
Mix avant-garde cuisine with rustic charm at Terroir Auburn, just a 20-minute drive from the town of Clare. The team at Terroir Auburn pride themselves on sourcing as much local produce as humanly possible, with a strong focus on seasonality and a weekly changing menu.
Enjoy a taste of spring dining while taking in the sweeping landscape views from the terrace of a historic settler's cottage. Skillogalee cellar door and restaurant overlook lush gardens and offer an à la carte menu focusing on prime local produce that you can pair with some of the best riesling in all of Australia.
The Olive Bus is a curious and unassuming dining haunt that packs a punch. Enveloped by picture perfect vineyards and namesake olive groves, this restaurant is built around a converted retro bus, with vintage outdoor furniture and earthy tones making it the perfect backdrop for your next Instagram story. Doubling as both a licensed café and cellar door, you can enjoy the afternoon sun over a selection of fresh and seasonal lunch creations. Those on a tighter schedule can simply stop in for a coffee and admire the view. If you happen to find yourself in the valley on Friday night, you can hop on the buss and enjoy pizza night and live music events – be warned though, bookings are highly recommended due to popularity.
The Clare Valley is home to some of the oldest wineries and cellar doors in the state - the oldest being Sevenhill Cellars, which was established in 1851 by Jesuits priests. They planted the first grape vines in order to make sacramental wine. Sevenhill’s wine and history - including a tour of their underground cellars and crypt - make it a favourite with locals.
Good Catholic Girl
Winemaker Julie Barry struck out from the family business to establish this noteworthy drinking destination with a historical twist. Julie spent years studying the art of wine making while working for her parents famous company - Jim Barry Wines - before stepping out on her own in the wake of her father's death. The name, while seemingly pointing to her godly drop, is actually a nod to her grandmother Dorothy Douglas Wilson. Julie calls her a quintessential "good catholic girl" who has a heartbreaking link to World War I. Julie established Good Catholic Girl using the cuttings from her father's famous Armagh shiraz vineyard, with her first release timing divinely - the grapes picked on the day Pope John Paul 11 died. Just like church, Good Catholic Girl has certain days for worship - welcoming visitors to the cellar door in Sevenhill on Friday, Saturday and Sunday.
If you are looking for a taste of something different while exploring the Clare Valley, then you can't go past this quirky cellar door. The little sister to Shut The Gate Wines, the team launched this rustic and retro cellar in 2021 to showcase a range of punchy liqueurs and small batch fortified wines. A new discovery for the younger generation and a nostalgic sensual journey for those older at heart - Mr Nobody is Mr out of the ordinary.
WHAT TO SEE
One hour and 40 minutes’ drive from Adelaide, Lake Bumbunga is the perfect first stop on your Clare Valley experience. Located in Lochiel, the lake has beckoned Instagram savvy holiday makers and fashion designers alike to its shores – thanks to its famous kaleidoscope of colours. The lake is known to change colour from pink, to white, to blue, depending on the salinity of the water throughout the year. Stop the car, snap some shots, then hit the road for the Clare Valley.
The historic town of Mintaro's crowning glory is the Martindale Hall. A short 20 minute drive from Clare, the hall is one of the prettiest country mansions in Australia, presenting as a miniature version of Britain’s Chatsworth House.
Clare Valley has a small but thriving arts and culture scene – with many artists flocking to the region to be inspired by the undulating hills and ever-changing natural environment. Studio Meadows encapsulates this inspiration – housing the works of award-winning artist Christopher Meadows. Wonder the gallery and admire his representational and traditional pieces that are informed by the world – and the landscape – around him, including the vines just outside his gallery door. Complete your visit with a stop off at Stone Bridge Wines, which is a stone’s throw away (literally!).
WHERE TO STAY
Bukirk Glamping Clare Valley
Get in touch with your surroundings by renting one of the five luxury bell tents on offer at Bukirk Glamping. Each tent is kitted out with a combination of queen, king and twin single beds for those that want to reconnect with the earth – without actually having to sleep on it. For those that fear the midnight dash to the nearest bush when nature calls, each tent has a private en-suite to upscale the camping experience. If glamping still has too much camping involved, you can opt for one of their rustic tiny houses, or ‘fancy coops,’ that come equipped with a kitchen, TV and dining area, but retain a natural feel thanks to the exposed beams, corrugated iron cladding and western cedar weatherboards.
Bed In A Shed
Need we say more? It’s all in the name. This curious and quirky respite nestled in the heart of the Clare Valley wine region offers travellers all the modern conveniences of a hotel – but packaged up with four walls of corrugated iron. Who would have thought you could have a sound night’s sleep on a posturepedic Bed in a Shed? The best part about this shed-chic property is the view – you can sip your morning coffee while overlooking the neatly rowed vineyards on your front door step.
Trestrail Cottage is the perfect blend of untouched nature, creature comforts and a splash of wine. The cosy settler's style cottage is tucked away on 100 acres of private bush land and just a stone's throw from the world famous vines of the Clare Valley. Check in and spend your days bush walking, wine tasting and dining before retreating to the open wood fire with a glass of riesling.
Find more Clare Valley accommodation options and start planning your weekend getaway.
For those who want a little more….
Love South Australia's food and wine? Continue your culinary and vino journey and learn why Adelaide has serious cred as a foodie city, including the best restaurants and wineries in South Australia.