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. 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.
First thing’s first… somewhere to sleep
This weekend we hired a villa 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. You can book direct or through booking.com. If Casa Vino is fully booked, another fave of mine is the McLaren Vale Apartments. They’re not quite as luxurious as Casa Vino, but they’re spacious, comfortable and clean. Perfect! For something extra cosy, the area is rife with cute little B&Bs too.
Here’s a quickie tour with my super shitty YouTube skills (I promise I’ve learned something about YouTube videos for the future):
I need food!
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 Au Pear (try their handmade gnocchi!), The Barn, 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.
…and the wine, of course. And these days, craft beer too!
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 another favourite of mine is 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.
The Big Deal at the moment is D’Arenberg’s Cube – a giant cube on a hill full of eclectic artwork. Whether you go for the wine or not, the building is a destination in itself. Its $10 entry, which includes a tour of the museum.
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 and (my personal best) Swell.
Wine not your thing? Or beer? Or weddings? (cynic)
Have no fear, weirdo! You could go for a joyride in a biplane (yup!) or head to the beaches nearby for a surf lesson or even scuba diving. There are also some gorgeous little galleries and museums to explore too (have a look here).
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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