Clare Valley: A Hub of Quality Down Under Wines

VineyardOne blog seems to be leading to another this week.

On Monday, our blog on the Sonoma-Cutrer winery mentioned that its winemaker, Mick Schroeter, is a native of Australia and a devotee of legendary Aussie vintner Daryl Groom.

On Tuesday, we shared a vintage column from 1998 that dealt with the importance of balance in winemaking, and included quotes from both Schroeter and Groom.

And today, we shine the spotlight on one of Australia’s most important winegrowing areas: the Clare Valley.

The roots of the Clare Valley’s winemaking history have been growing for more than 150 years, making it one of the oldest wine-producing regions Down Under.

The unique combination of geography, geology and climate results in terroir that is perfect for producing world-class wine. It’s little wonder that the country’s wine pioneers chose this little corner of South Australia upon which to stake their names.

With five separate sub-regions, the Clare Valley is an expanse of sweeping gullies and rolling hills. During the grapes’ growing season, the days are warm and the nights are cool. It’s this diurnal temperature range — from as much as 40 degrees C in the day, to only 5 degrees C at night — along with the character-forming “terra rossa” soil that makes the valley equally favorable for producing superb Cabernet Sauvignon and Shiraz, as well as Riesling that has been acclaimed as some of the best in the world.

The Clare Valley plays a vital role in the quality of winemaking. It’s essential to everything, from the way the grapes develop on the vine, to the taste and color of the wine, making each vineyard much more than just a plot of land.

Sevenhill Cellars is the oldest winery in the region. Jesuits built it in 1851 and started making sacramental wine. Now, it also produces premium white, red and fortified wines. Its wine and history make Sevenhill a favorite “cellar door” to visit.

Reilly’s Wines is located in an original stone and slate building, built by Hugh Reilly in 1856. This building is now utilized as a tasting room and restaurant, offering visitors fresh, locally produced food, matched with dry-grown wines. It’s open for lunch seven days a week.

Paulett Wines is in Polish Hill River Valley. Winemaker Neil Paulett started his career at Penfolds and has more than 30 years’ experience. He makes wines of finesse, elegance and intensity, and the views from the cellar door are breathtaking.

Knappstein is a small producer of premium wines. Its Riesling is among Australia’s best, and its cellar door is in a 19th-century brewery.

Annie’s Lane produces one of Australia’s finest ranges of wine. The winery has won hundreds of awards. A cellar door, museum and art gallery are open daily.

As you can see, there’s a lot to see and do — not to mention drink — in Australia’s Clare Valley.

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Posted in Wine Region Profiles
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