Hidden away in the Mount Lofty Ranges of South Australia, Clare Valley is a small wine region with a big reputation for its world-class wines. Home to some important innovations in Australian wine, this scenic region is a place of contrasts. It’s retained its relaxed rural spirit yet built a global reputation. The climate is warm yet capable of producing elegant cooler-climate styles. Ancient soils grow exciting alternative grape varieties, and its long history hasn’t stopped local winemakers embracing modern techniques.
Clare Valley Rieslings are dry in style and intense citrus and lime aromas and a high acidity. With bottle age they can develop honey and toast characters. Care Valley Shiraz is fragrant, powerful and structured. Excellent quality Cabernet Sauvignon is also produced with varying styles depending on the vineyard location, soil and elevation. The best red wines have a long cellaring potential.
The Clare Valley’s warm climate is tempered by cool afternoon breezes and the nights are cold. Many vineyards are planted at altitude 300 to 400 metres (984 to 1,312 feet), some even as high as 520 metres (1,706 feet).
History of Innovation
Clare Valley is one of Australia’s oldest wine-producing areas. Jesuits settled near the township of Clare in 1851 and were impressed by the fertility of the local soil. Vineyards were planted and a winery established to produce sacramental wine. Winemaking has come a long way since the humble beginnings of the Jesuits when they took up residence at Sevenhill, living in a small thatch hut.
Today, winemakers in the Clare Valley have been behind several breakthroughs in Australian wine. The combination of tradition and experimentation has made Clare Valley an influential region. At the same time, it’s retained its down-to-earth spirit, with small-scale producers dominating the wine landscape.
Clare Valley’s unique geology and climate hold the keys to its success in producing diverse wine styles, from delicate whites to full-flavoured reds. A wide array of soil types sit atop rocks formed hundreds of millions of years ago. Varying altitudes and dramatic drops in temperature create different meso climates.
Clare Valley produces a diverse range of wines, with local winemakers winning countless international awards. Regional producers continue to experiment with new and alternative varieties, but three lead the charge: Riesling, Shiraz and Cabernet Sauvignon.
Peaceful and Picturesque
The Clare Valley is a retreat from city life. Rolling green hills, gum trees, wildflowers and tranquil streams make it one of Australia’s most picturesque wine regions. Evidence of its history can be seen in its heritage buildings, and a growing food scene showcases local produce.
The Riesling Trail, a 35 kilometre (22 mile) long walking and cycling track located in the Clare Valley, was named after Riesling, the most important white grape variety in the Clare Valley wine region at the time the trail was established in 1995. The trail was originally a railway line that traveled between Adelaide and Spalding.
Distance: The Clare Valley is about 120 kilometre (75 miles) or a two-hour drive north of Adelaide.
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