Updated 16th November 2021.
We acknowledge the traditional owners of Kaurna Country, where McLaren Vale is located. We acknowledge that sovereignty was never ceded and pay our respects to the elders past, present, and emerging.
This past weekend the husband and I were lucky enough to attend the wedding of two of our closest friends in McLaren Vale. For the uninitiated, McLaren Vale is an absolutely gorgeous wine region a short drive south of Adelaide. So, I’m completely biased after a loved-up weekend with my one-and-only, and weddings (especially ones of very special people) make me all misty-eyed, so this will be a rave. But I’ll also go light on the wedding details, because it’s not my wedding to splash all over the internet.
McLaren Vale is a spot I head to fairly frequently – Mr. Winter works down here, so he’s an absolute expert! It’s an excellent place to take out-of-towners, and since it’s such an easy drive from the city it’s a wonderful spot to enjoy all the excellent food and wine my state has to offer. It’s popular for weddings, getaways, reunions and milestone birthdays, so I make my recommendations having spent a lot of time here. A weekend in McLaren Vale is a perfect getaway.
Disclaimer: this post contains affiliate links. That means if you click through and make a booking I’ll earn a small commission (at no cost to you). Even so, I’ll only recommend places I truly love.
Where to stay in McLaren Vale
Casa Vino villas
This weekend we hired a villa at Casa Vino with a few friends. And it was A-MA-ZING. Husband, four of our best mates, plenty of beer and wine (and gin) in this gorgeous, kind of euro-vibe villa with all the bells and whistles.
We stayed in the Shiraz villa, which had three bedrooms and two bathrooms (one in the Master bedroom). Cable TV, iPhone docking station, barbeque in the outdoor entertaining area, and hotel toiletries were all highlights. Staying with a big group of friends may not seem uber romantic, but our mates said “thank you” to us for organising the place by allocating us the master suite at the other end of the house. So we definitely got some privacy.
Here’s a quickie tour with my super shitty YouTube skills (I promise I’ve learned something about YouTube videos for the future):
Hotel California Road at Inkwell Wines
Hotel California Road at Inkwell Wines is one of the darlings of McLaren Vale right now, and it’s just perfect for a romantic getaway. Enjoy a luxury bubble bath overlooking the vineyard while you indulge in a bottle of one of Inkwell’s fabulous drops.
Constructed from shipping containers, don’t let the building materials fool you – this is one of the most gorgeous, luxurious places to stay. And so unique too!
McLaren Vale Apartments
A well-equipped, more budget option is the McLaren Vale Apartments. They’re not quite as luxurious as Casa Vino, but they’re spacious, comfortable and clean. Perfect! These are a particularly good option when heading down to McLaren Vale for events such as A Day On The Green (one of the times we have stayed here).
For something extra cosy, the area is rife with cute little B&Bs too.
Where to eat in McLaren Vale
Last weekend was Easter, and the wedding was on the Saturday – we were well fed during the festivities! So, not too much was open on Good Friday. The Tin Shed Cafe was though, and they were friendly and welcoming and handled the large numbers well. The food wasn’t fancy by any means, but it was done well and the place is perfectly situated on the main strip (appropriately named Main Road).
Other favourites of mine in the area on non-Public Holidays are The Currant Shed, Ogre Brewing, and the Salopian Inn. We popped down to Willunga (the next town South) for a coffee and cake on the Sunday morning at The 1839, which was a sweet, quaint little place.
For some really nice options, check out my guide on the best places to eat in Mclaren Vale.
McLaren Vale wineries and breweries
Obviously, McLaren Vale is a big wine region and – call me biased – there are way too many brilliant wineries to list here. So I’ll give a few honourable mentions. Firstly to Leconfield, but I have no choice here; it’s where we attended the wedding reception, and it’s the groom’s family winery. So, you know, an automatic tick there! But other favourites of mine are Beach Road, because the view is stunning and you can sit for hours eating, trying different wines and overlooking the vineyards; Alpha Box and Dice is a great option for your inner hipster, too – and sometimes they hold tastings for people and puppers! The dogs don’t drink the wines though, they just socialise. I also really like Mollydooker (especially their sparkling shiraz).
The Husband love love loves his craft beer and I think he wishes he could have his own brewery. But for now, he’ll have to settle for the brews of Vale Brewing (at Beresford Wines) and (my personal best) Swell.
Activities to try in McLaren Vale
Have no fear, there’s more to do than just drinking (and eating)!
For example, why not try going for a joyride in a biplane?
For the water-babies, head to the nearby beaches for a surf lesson or even scuba diving. For surfing, Fleurieu Adventures have some great options. For diving and snorkelling, Port Noarlunga reef is a short drive away – here you’ll find a rocky reef teeming with life (you might even see SA’s famous Leafy Sea Dragon!). For more information, check out Diving Adelaide.
There are also some gorgeous little galleries and museums to explore too. I particularly like Fleurieu Arthouse and Red Poles (which is a dining venue and gallery). The D’Arenberg Cube is a destination in itself – a giant cube on a hill full of eclectic artwork. Its $10 entry, which includes a tour of the museum. They currently have a Salvador Dali exhibition going!
A weekend in McLaren Vale will almost always include wine, and hopefully a good beer or two as well. But if you’re abstaining right now or it’s just not your thing, you can definitely get a gorgeous place to stay and find your own fun.
Need another Australian weekender idea? How about Melbourne?
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