Nestled between the mountains and the sea, McLaren Vale is internationally known for its full-bodied shiraz and experimental wines, but it’s also highly regarded for its regional outdoor activities, fine-dining, beaches, local producers, and exploding art-scene. For a weekend in search of Mediterranean climates and similarly European scenery among some of the finer things in life, put South Australia’s McLaren Vale at the top of your list.
Only 45 minutes south of Adelaide, take the Brand-New Mazda BT-50 and enjoy the scenic route around to McLaren Vale, stopping off in the 19th-century town of Hahndorf. Known for its original Germanic architecture and traditional food offerings, it’s the perfect place for a dose of a charming Bavarian-style lunch. Be sure to pick up a block or two of chocolate (the coconut ruff is hard to say no to) from boutique chocolatiers ‘Chocolate No. 5’. Outside of Hahndorf, it’s a short journey to reach the McLaren Vale, but with winding roads, rolling hills and cliff-lined beaches, it was made for a road trip, so don’t be shy about taking a surprise detour and using the BT-50’s Apple CarPlayTM to plot easy detours when spontaneity strikes.
If you do find yourself drawn to the coastal side of the valley (and you should), check out the coastal village of Port Willunga, home to the storm-wrecked ship The Star of Greece, that has been slowly crumbling in the sand since 1988. Lapping at the foot of the wreck is sparkling blue water that practically begs for you to take a dip in it. With dual cab space in the BT-50, fill it with friends, family, or just your beach umbrella and a couple of towels, and spend a couple of hours of relaxed beach time to kick off your weekend away.
While you’re checking out the coast, an easily-accessed permit (with a few days of forethought) will allow you to drive along the sand of a number of the region’s beaches. For those in the mood for embracing your surroundings to their fullest, drive across to Maslin Beach, where the sand is endless, and the clothing is optional. With a weekend in McLaren Vale usually focused on slowing down, the adrenaline of fanging down a deserted beach will keep you feeling pumped for the entire weekend.
Whether you’re exploring the McLaren Vale with the family, friends, or on a romantic getaway, The Vineyard McLaren Vale is about as idyllic as wine-country accommodation can get. Unpretentious and stylish, modern yet cosy, each of The Vineyard’s six guest houses and cadoles boast commanding views over its working vineyard, with a private deck to snack on your Chocolate No. 5 in peace.
A leisurely Sunday morning is always welcome, but mornings in here are worthy of being fully embraced and made the most of. Spring out of bed and head into town for the 6km McLaren Vale Heritage Walk, a self-guided tour through the former villages of Bellevue and Gloucester that gives a fascinating insight into the history of the region; including its transition from a crop-farming hub into the world-class wine region that it is today. After your walk, enjoy a quick drive to Kangarilla for a morning cellar door visit to Dawn Patrol Coffee – where the coffee is taken as seriously as the wine.
After checking out of your accommodation, a visit to McLaren Vale is incomplete without a stop at the celebrated winery d’Arenberg. Whilst most will recognise the five-story cubic architecture of d’Arenberg before they recognise the name, you’ll never forget it after seeing it in the flesh. Prior to sitting down for the ultimate Sunday long-lunch, explore the views, wander the vines, and experience a (surreal) surrealist exhibition sale featuring 25 authentic Salvador Dali bronze sculptures and graphic artworks.
With plenty of time to drive back to the city, the seasonally changing degustation menu at d’Arry’s fine dining restaurant will blow your socks off, but equally impressive and slightly more low-key is d’Arry’s Verandah Restaurant, housed in a restored 19th-century homestead with spectacular views for long, leisurely lunches. Dictate your own schedule with the choice of two or three courses, or opt for the full degustation. Whether you’re dining inside ‘the cube’ or outside on the verandah, just relax and enjoy the ride.
When the afternoon sun begins to fade, and the time comes to hit the road back home, explore the alternative scenic route away from the coastline and into the Adelaide Hills; back through Kangarilla, Clarendon, Chandlers Hill and O’Halloran Hill, winding through the towns, and winding down in the effortless Mazda BT-50.
This article is part of a series, proudly presented in partnership with the Brand-New Mazda BT-50. Thank you for supporting the brands who support Boss Hunting.