Let’s be real. Although one can try, it is hardly recommended embarking on glorious day of wine tasting around the wondrous McLaren Vale on an empty stomach.
Located less than an hour north of the CBD, the McLaren Vale is a splendour of foodie delights. From leisurely lunches to light bites and devilish charcuterie boards, there are so many delights to make your wine-ing that bit more delightful.
But where should you head? We’ve done the careful research to discover which wineries serve up a fabulous lunch to add to your afternoon in one of our state’s finest wine regions. We ensured we sipped wines at each location, just to be thorough.
Light Lunches, Platters and Nibbles
Alpha Box & Dice– Lot 8 Olivers Rd, McLaren Vale. Set inside a hip converted shed fitted with grandma-esque furniture, this young and funky winery sets out to make wine tasting approachable to the masses. Beneath the beat of trendy tunes, enjoy a free tasting for groups up to seven people. Made to order, sit inside or soak up some country sun and indulge in Alpha Box & Dice’s gourmet platter. A delicious mix of hard, soft and blue cheeses, gourmet meats and trimmings. Graze away!
Angove– 117 Chalk Hill Rd, McLaren Vale. This family-run institution has been churning out premium Shiraz and Grenache varietals since the 1880s. Hidden in the picturesque hillside, Angove’s offers a raft of wine tasting experiences (starting at $18pp). Available from 12-3pm daily, the food selection is a traditional affair, with a seasonal Ploughman’s Platter the peak of the selection.
Beach Road Wines– 309 Seaview Road, McLaren Vale. The reimagined Beach Road Wines, knows the Italian style wine requirements edible goodies. It wouldn’t be an Italian experience without a pizza. Be sure to try the mushroom served with the Beach Road Greco.
Gemtree Wines– 167 Elliott Road, McLaren Flat. Nothing is more on trend at the moment than biodynamic wines. Gemtree’s organic approach extends to their food offerings. Devour a regional platter chockfull of organic goodies from Gemtree’s own veggie patch. Pairing your nibbles with a structured wine tasting, relax on the deck overlooking the serene vineyards. You can even catch a glimpse of the ocean.
Leconfield– 439 Main Road McLaren Vale. All platters at this sweeping vineyard are $38. Choose from the Ploughman’s or Wine Tasters platters. If we had to pick a fave it’d have to be the Ploughmans crammed with paté, vintage cheddar, Beerenberg pickled onions, pickled cucumbers, olives, Moroccan jam, mixed fresh greens with fresh tomatoes, olive oil, candied balsamic vinegar, dukkah and lavosh. Holy yum! These are available daily 11am – 3pm.
Oxenberry Farm Wines– 24-26 Kangarilla Road, McLaren Vale. Dubbed “the birthplace of the McLaren Vale”, this farmstead has it all. Boutique wine and BnB, is matched by a relaxed dining space spread across a patio and inside. Tasty and refreshing, opt for the antipasto, cured meats and cheese platters. Large meals include a selection of burgers, namely the Oxenburger which pairs Shriaz Grenache infused beed with a smattering of vegetables goodies and chips on the side.
Penny’s Hill– 281 Main Road McLaren Vale. Fitted with stables, open paddock spaces and a two-storey stone farmhouse, Penny’s Hill transports you to yesteryear. Curated by head chef Tom Boden, the artisanal menu perfectly completes a tasting flight. Adapting seasonal, the funky Kitchen Door menu serves everything from blue cheese, kimchi toastie soldiers to a sizeable porterhouse steak with sides. Soak up the wine and ambience lounging in the pristine garden space.
Red Poles/ Vale Brewing/ Brick Kiln– 190 McMurtrie Road, McLaren Vale. The home to the beloved Vale Ale, Red Poles is an entertaining hotspot. Staff go above and beyond to ensure everyone leaves well girthed. Utilising produce from the Fleurieu Peninsula, the produce driven menu is an internationally fluid selection of shares, and larger plates. The dukkah crumbed Haloumi served on Fattoush salad & tahini dressing is a standout. From Wednesday to Sunday, Red Poles now serves breakfast with all the classics (including homemade scones with jam). Pop by on a Sunday and enjoy you feed with a spot of live, local music.
Wirra Wirra– Corner Strout and McMurtrie Roads, McLaren Vale. The picturesque cellar door and lush lawns of Wirra Wirra crave for you to throw down a picnic rug. Better yet, enjoy one of their platters full of local cheese. There’s also Harry’s Deli, a relaxed providore-style café boasting a menu full of South Australian regional produce. The menu focuses on seasonal local produce and offers things like toasted paninis (matched with wine, of course), salads, their famous Son of Trott Pie and an epic selection of platters.
Full Lunches, Restaurant Dining and Three Course Meals
Coriole– Chaffeys Rd, McLaren Vale. Coriole’s iron shed has been converted into a state of the art dining space. At $68pp we recommend following the chef’s sharing menu. Overwhelming at best, add matching Coriole wines for $35pp. Alternatively you can pick from the seasonal a la carte menu. Enjoy a leisurely glass of red with the dry-Aged Beef, tomatoes, preserved green garlic. Coriole is now open seven days from 11.30am.
D’arenberg d’Arry’s Verandah– Osborn Rd, McLaren Vale. This is a place for those extra special occasions (like a visit to the McLaren Vale). d’arry’s menu adapts seasonally, to ensure diners are pairing D’arenberg wines with the absolute freshest tastes. Marvelling at the restore 19th century homestead, soak in the atmosphere with the degustation menus (starting at $125pp). Or, hop straight to d’arry’s signature dish, the Australian lobster medallion with blue swimmer crab and prawn ravioli lobster bisque.
d’Arenberg Cube – Osborn Rd, McLaren Vale Instagram’s at the ready! We have no doubt you have quaked at the stunning postcard-ready location, know as “The Cube”. The geometrical wonder is possible SA’s most sought after luxury dining experience. Michelin star trained husband-and-wife team Brendan Wessels and Lindsay Dürr have sculpted an unforgettable seasonal menu. At $210, the degustation is worth every drooling penny.
Ekhidna– Cnr Kangarilla & Foggo Rd, McLaren Vale. This sleek cellar door and dining space, is dapper dining experience. The open plan restaurant radiates with the aromas of the best seasonal local and imported ingredients. Starting at $74pp, the “Let Us Feed You” takes away the decision, and replaces it with a four course journey that lets you bathe in the stunning vineyard views. Or, the a la carte selection includes a delicious antipasto platter, finished with Onkaparinga brie, smoked salmon, prosciutto and other delights.
Maxwell Wines Restaurant– Corner of Olivers & Chalk Hill Roads, McLaren Vale. Offering what they call a “holistic wine experience”. Maxwell Wines have set out to showcase the best of the wine region. Completing the historic wines, the fine dining restaurant experience balances flavour and ingenuity with class. Head Chef, Fabian Lehmann, guides diners through a seasonal selection of wonder. The menu includes two degustation menu (starting at $90pp). Open Thursday to Sunday, booking ahead is strongly advised.
Middlebrook Estate– 252 Sand Road, McLaren Vale. Still more restaurant style dining but you can choose from fine dining, alfresco or a la carte. Boasting a wonderful ‘Eat Local SA’ menu that highlights regional, local, fresh and seasonal ingredients. The Tournedos Rossini on the menu is listed as “The World’s Best Beef Dish” and we can see why. Chaetuebriend, pancetta wrapped eye fillet on brioche with foie gras, porcini, truffles and madeira jus. To. Die. For.
Mitolo Wines, Little Wolf Osteria – 41 McMurtrie Rd, McLaren Vale. At Mitolo, there is an emphasis on doing things for the family. With a delightful selection of McLaren style wines in tow, the winery’s Little Wolf Osteria is a homage to Italian chef Vincenzo La Montagna’s heritage. Alleviated by the crisp sea air, Little Wolf’s menu packs a welcome punch. Standouts include a refined list of pastas, such as the elegant campanelle with zucchini flowers and lemon, and the heftier Brace e Forno selection, which includes a market steak and lamb tomahawks. La Montagna knows what he is doing, so why not let him feed you. The La Panarda feast is perfect for a incremental long lunch ($120pp for groups of 6 or more).
Serafino McLaren Vale– Kangarilla Road, McLaren Vale. Recently awarded a Chef’s Hat, Serafino is riding high thanks to Executive Chef Daniel Armon and his devoted team. Overlooking the gorgeous Lake McLaren, this contemporary dining space, is open for breakfast, lunch and dinner, across varying days. Aiming to showcase the slightest notes of the venue’s wines, the menu adapts seasonally to best highlight what diners are drinking. Honest and unpretentious, while this is fine-dining, the Italian style menu jeeps things real.
The Currant Shed– 104 Ingoldby Rd, McLaren Flat. A delightful gem, tucked in a currant shed (as the name suggests). A prime location for a host of events, this seasonal menu is as handmade and homey as it is cutting-edge and boundary pushing. The love letter to food written by three different chefs, the inspired menu utilised the finest local produce. Always go for the chef’s selection. There is a 2 course option for $65, 3 course selection for $80, or a mighty 6 course smorgasbord for $105 (wine and beer pairing an additional $45).
Woodstock Coterie– 215 Douglas Gully Rd, McLaren Flat. An enduring force in the McLaren Vale region, Woodstock Wine’s Coterie was the first winery restaurant in the region. Open from Wednesday to Sunday from 10am-5pm, the Coterie was designed to bring people together beneath the gum trees. Through a love of great wine and honest food, the crowds have remained. Executive Chef Chris Bone’s menu is stylish and skilful, yet maintains as rustic edge. Although the seasonal a la carte menu is to die for, we also recommend trying out Woodstock’s selection of pizzas.
So, what are you waiting for? The McLaren Vale is waiting! (As if you needed any more convincing…).