To celebrate Summer, Clare Country Club has launched an amazingly indulgent VIP package with the help of some of their friends around the Clare Valley region.
In addition to staying at the recently renovated property, guests are offered a range of add-ons to choose from to enhance the experience and can decide which are best suited to their individual taste.
Glam Adelaide feature writer Darren Hassan spent a recent weekend in Clare to ‘test-drive’ the experience
After a seamless check in at the Clare Country Club, the friendly manager Steve saw me to the newly refurbished Kitchenette Spa Suite overlooking the tranquil Inchiquin Lake. You are drawn into the beauty of the property, with the towering gum trees and gentle breeze creating an ideal backdrop for a relaxed and natural setting.
First stop was Stone Bridge Wines to meet the owners, Craig & Lisa Thomson. The vibe is laid-back, as if you’ve gone to visit a friend’s house rather than a business.
I tasted the 2014 and 2009 Rieslings, the older suiting my semi-informed palate and proving a good match with the grazing platter before me. It was a crisp, refreshing taste of the region and when it comes to the country hospitality that the Clare Valley is known for, Craig and Lisa tick all those boxes with their open approach to guest relations. It’s just the right balance of attention and care that makes you comfortable whilst giving you space to appreciate the experience. Stone Bridge Wines are located at Gillentown Rd, Clare. Ph:08 88434143 www.stonebridgewines.com.au.
Then it was off to Sevenhill Winery, the oldest winery in the Clare Valley, in operation since 1851 when Austrian Jesuits saw the opportunity to produce sacramental wine for the Catholic Church. After another warm welcome from hosts Jane and Kath, I’m invited to take in the landmarks on the property namely the hand excavated wine cellar. The history associated with Sevenhill alone is an amazing aspect of this vineyard, but the surrounds are mellow and calm. Little wonder there is a retreat attached to the church so people can go to reflect and meditate.
I return to the cellar to try their wine range. The Rieslings were floral and zesty but where they really made an impression was in their red offerings. The real high priest was undoubtedly the limited release 2009 Brother John May Reserve Release Shiraz. At $85 per bottle this isn’t usually on the tasting menu, but from a reserve parcel of old-vine Shiraz it was one of the best reds I’d tasted in a while, and I immediately grabbed one to lay down at home.
I was beginning to feel like I should have taken the hire bicycle from the Clare Country Club as several others had done, to work off the afternoon’s indulgence. It was though, a gorgeous day made even more divine by the level of VIP attention. Sevenhill is located at 111C College Rd, Sevenhill. Ph: 08 88434222 www.sevenhill.com.au.
A quick change into dinner attire and onto the balcony of Conner’s Bar & Restaurant for a pre-dinner aperitif or two was the perfect wind down from the first day of The VIP Experience.
The Dinner Menu is outstanding, and offers a range of gastronomic delights that make choice difficult. I opt for the Scallops Two Ways as an Entrée, with half the serve prepared with a lime and olive oil drizzle and the other half gently baked in a coriander, ginger and soy glaze that is a perfect starter.
For the main course, I go for the Veal Cutlet with Tiger Prawns on Mash and Vegetables. It’s perfectly cooked and made even more enjoyable with the ambience. The service is once again warm, welcoming, genuine, and honest. For dessert I order a Vanilla Bean Affogato with Kahlua, topping off an already amazing culinary experience.
Back in the room all the noise of daily life begins to disappear. The gentle sound of a calm breeze blowing through the trees acts as nature’s lullaby, and I sleep well in the divinely comfortable bed ready for the second day of the VIP Experience.
Awaking to the sound of birds and the unmistakable absence of suburbia, I head back to Conner’s for a delicious buffet breakfast. After an easy checkout where I’m taken care of once again by thoughtful staff, it’s time to get some more VIP Treatment Clare Valley Style.
The first of the experience today is Pikes Wines and Beer Company at Sevenhill, where I meet owner Andrew Pike and discuss their produce and the new brewing facility under construction, to be ready before Christmas. Pikes are a family owned winery with Andrew’s son Alistair joining as a brewer once the new facility is up and running. Their crafted beers are hearty, and their wines are equally as robust. Do try their stout if you can. Pikes are at 233 Polish Hill River Rd, Sevenhill Ph:08 88434370 www.pikeswines.com.au @PikesCV.
Onto Shut The Gate Wines where I meet owners Rasa and Richard, an incredibly friendly, hospitable couple who love what they do. After a chat about their groovy wine label artwork, we get down to tasting. The Riesling is delicate, fresh and fizzy as a young 2014 would be, and the flight travels through his range nicely, arriving at the reds. The 2012 Ripple Iron Sangiovese catches my eye and my palate. Smooth, and berry laden, it’s my pick so far and I’m offered a glass to enjoy with the picnic lunch Rasa has planned.
This is where they really excel at Shut The Gate! Rather than a pre determined gourmet platter, they have a extensive larder with a vast range of delicatessen goodies that you get to choose yourself. There are assorted sardines and herrings, cold meats, cheeses, olives, dips – it’s heaven! Once you’ve selected your picnic basket of goodies, the hosts will prepare an assortment of bread to accompany it. It is seriously scrumptious and made even more enjoyable by the company and rustic open-area specially designed for guests to indulge in. Shut The Gate Wines are at 2 Main North Road water vale. Ph: 08 88430111 https://www.facebook.com/ShutTheGateWines.
Next on the itinerary is Clare Valley Brewing Co- Hop And Vine offer a half dozen brews ranging from a delicate Grape Cider to a full on Stout. The Monkey’s Uncle Red Ale is more like a traditional brewed bitter, as is the yummy King Kong Stout in terms of being true to form as an authentic drop. The standout for this aficionado of brewed beverages was the Miss Molly Malone Grape Cider. It’s part moscato, part sensational, and a perfect summer drink for both ladies and gents. Clare Valley Brewing Co- Hop And Vine are located at 20 Main North Road, Auburn. Ph: 0448079406 http://www.clarevalleybrewing.com.au @CVBeer.
Just before heading back to Adelaide, I quickly grab a tray of truffles by Sugar Rush Truffles and Chocolates directly across the road. They’re hand made and simply irresistible. Sugar Rush Truffles and Chocolates are located at 17 Main North Road, Auburn. Ph:08 88492328 https://www.facebook.com/pages/Sugar-Rush-Truffles-and-Chocolates/552013921506673.
The Clare Valley VIP Experience is an affordable, family-friendly option only 2 hours drive from the City of Adelaide. It is the perfect weekend getaway either as a single, couple, or family. There are many things to choose from as part of the package, you can even develop your own itinerary. One thing’s for sure though, the Clare Valley holds its own as a remarkable piece of what our brilliant State has to offer. Add to that the warmth and charm of the genuine Valley style hospitality, you should have no trouble choosing the Clare Valley VIP as your next getaway. Full details can be found here http://www.clarecountryclub.com.au/item/Summer_VIP/
Story by Darren Hassan
* VIP bookings can be made online at www.clarecountryclub.com.au from Monday 24 November or over the phone on 08 8842 1060, quoting ‘Summer VIP’. The VIP offer is valid for travel until 28 February 2015. Guests with existing reservations during this period will also be offered the option to upgrade their current booking to the VIP experience upon their arrival at the resort.