Clare Valley Wineries
The Clare Valley is located approximately 140 kilometres north of Adelaide and known for its world-class rieslings, boutique wineries and hometown hospitality. Here are four must-visit wineries when in the region: the dream-like Skillogalee; the ultra-modern O’Leary Walker Wines; the stunning Kilikanoon Wines; and the music-filled Claymore Wines.
Steeped in history and beauty, Skillogalee is surrounded by wooded hills in Sevenhill. The award-winning restaurant and cellar door are in an 170-year-old stone cottage. Drop in for a tasting, and stay for lunch under the 90-year-old olive tree, while taking in the view of a sea of vines. Skillogalee spans 300 acres, with the vineyards covering almost half of the land, and all wines are made using estate-grown fruit. Spokesperson Lisa Clausen says the team at Skillogalee are extremely passionate about nurturing the land they make wines on, with biodynamic practices driving their viticulture and winemaking processes.
"We’re very proud of our wines and believe they embody so much of what makes the Clare Valley such an acclaimed wine region around the world. When vines were first planted at Skillogalee, many thought they wouldn’t thrive at such high altitudes – 50 years later, we’re delighted to be proving the doubters wrong. Skillogalee’s special topography and soils mean terroir exerts a powerful influence here. When you open a bottle of Skillogalee, you’re connecting with an ancient landscape which is like no other. That’s what we love about our wines – that they could only have been made here." Lisa says.
Lisa's wine of right now is the Trevarrick Shiraz, the perfect red for autumn, full of licorice and mulberry lusciousness. If you haven't yet tried a Skillogalee wine, start with the 2021 riesling. Made with grapes from low-yielding vines, grown on the highest slopes of the estate – at about 500m above sea level – it captures the distinctiveness of the vineyard.
Local favourite spot: the 35km Riesling Trail weaves past Skillogalee, check out the hikes in Spring Gully Conservation Park, and wander around the historic Martindale Hall.
Find out more | Trevarrick Rd, Sevenhill | (08) 8843 4311
O'Leary Walker Wines
Established in 2000 by David O'Leary and Nick Walker, O'Leary Walker Wines craft small batch, premium wine from regionally distinct vineyards across South Australia. With over 35 years of experience making wine with some of Australia's most prestigious companies, these long-time friends are committed to producing distinctive wines with depth, character and personality. For many years O’Leary Walker wines has been recognised as a Halliday Five-Red-Star winery.
The O’Leary Walker cellar door and restaurant takes in one of the best views of the famous Watervale wine region. Guests can enjoy a range of contemporary regional tasting experiences along with a seasonal menu from the in-house restaurant focusing on estate-grown, and locally sourced ingredients with an aim to highlight the best of South Australia’s produce. Led by head chef BJ, the O'Leary Walker restaurant was recognised as one of South Australia's top 50 regional restaurants by delicious.SA and The Advertiser.
Riesling lovers must try the Watervale Riesling, the classic lime and lemon flavours shine through, and the organic Polish Hill River Riesling with bath talc, perfume and minerality.
Owner and winemaker David O'Leary says the Clare Valley is one of the most reliable viticultural regions in Australia. The rieslings are world-famous for a reason, micro climate and soils combine to produce outstanding wines with great balance, depth of flavour and natural acidity.
O’Leary Walker’s next generation of winemakers Jack Walker and Luke Broadbent, have launched their seasonal release project wines. They are small batch creations that champion unique regional varieties. Jack and Luke's go-to wine right now is the savoury, juicy, and soft nero d'Avola.
Local favourite spot: Mr Nobody’s bar in Auburn, and the newly-built Seed – a fun rooftop bar with delicious food, a fantastic drinks list and pantry.
Find out more | 7093 Horrocks Hwy, Leasingham | 1300 342 569
Based in founder Kevin Mitchell's childhood home, the Kilikanoon cellar door is surrounded by rolling hills, established orchards, and one of the winery's most famous vineyards, which produces the flagship Tregea cabernet. A destination cellar door, Kilikanoon offers award-winning wines through its Revelation Tasting Experience. The tasting takes guests on a journey through some of the winery's greatest wines, from the best vintages, while exploring what makes the region so unique as well as its climate, geology and geography.
Chief winemaker Peter Warr says Kilikanoon represents the essence of the Clare Valley. "Riesling from the renowned Watervale sub-region, which displays intense mineral and lime characters, and the single-vineyard sites, to blends of the some of the oldest established vineyards in Clare. Kilikanoon is reflective of the unique soil structures, and continental climate that results in cold nights and long, warm days. This ensures the ultimate balance of freshness and flavour concentration in the wines. It's power and elegance that you will not find in any other region."
Peter's favourite wines right now are grenache-dominant blends, especially the 2018 Baudinet GSM. For those getting to know Kilikanoon, Peter says explore the winery through a couple of different price points as this allows you to taste the difference across vineyard age, site selection, and soils. Start with the Killerman’s Run Shiraz, then the Covenant Shiraz and finally the flagship Oracle Shiraz.
Local favourite spot: Our cellar door of course! You must also eat at Terroir in Auburn, or grab a beer at Seed's rooftop bar in the heart of the Clare Valley township.
Find out more | 30 Penna Lane, Penwortham | (08) 8843 4206
Claymore Wines' ethos is family, and that's what you feel when you step into the cellar door. The intimate wine tastings showcase the regional heroes and the artisan limited-release emerging varietals, you can even indulge in a full reserve or back vintage release tasting. Complete your culinary immersion with a grazing board featuring local produce including cheeses and cured meats. Located an easy coast down from the Riesling Trail (we won’t talk about the return ride back up the hill), the award-winning bakery, The Little Red Grape is right next door, and the cellar door is only a stone’s throw from the Watervale township.
General Manager Carissa Major loves that the cellar door overlooks some of the best riesling in the Valley. "Our wines are made in the vineyard and are a true reflection of site and region. We're proud of our viticultural heritage and we produce our wines from premium, largely dry-grown fruit from our 140 acres of estate-owned vineyards. Anything we add into the winemaking process is done to highlight and elevate pristine primary fruit characters. We produce powerful and balanced rieslings and red wines of elegance."
Carissa's go-to wine for cooler nights is the 2021 Miseducation Tempranillo, or for bright, citrus flavours the 2021 Walk This Way Riesling is a winner. For those just discovering Claymore, a few things to note, the wine labels are inspired by music that moves the team (the Dark Side of the Moon Shiraz), and Carissa says the perfect introductory wine is 2021 Miseducation Tempranillo – it originated as a tiny and opportune batch of fewer than 200 dozen back in 2016 from a grower located at the southern end of the Clare Valley – or of course the Joshua Tree Riesling.
Local favourite spot: The Watervale Hotel or Terroir in Auburn, both offer a premium garden to kitchen dining experience. Or for a pub meal try the Magpie and Stump Hotel in Mintaro, where you can lose yourself (or the kids!) in the Mintaro Maze.
Find out more | 7145 Horrocks Hwy, Leasingham | (08) 8843 0200
Learn more about the Clare Valley in our essential guide.
This article was produced by Halliday Wine Companion in partnership with the featured wineries.
Top image credit: Skillogalee