The Story Behind MCLaren Vale Wine Region
For lovers of wine the name McLaren Vale is instantly recognisable. Located within the historic city of Adelaide, the Vale is one of Australia’s leading wine growing regions. Over the years the area around the town has blossomed into one of South Australia’s premier wine growing regions producing varietals such as Merlot, Shiraz and a range of sparkling wines. In fact the name of the historic area around the city is pronounced “MC LANGS”. The main wine producing vineyards lie between Mount Isa and Pelsford and the area is renowned for its annual grapevine festival, the largest of its kind in Australia.
The history of the vineyards can be traced back to the 17th Century, when French monks settled in Adelaide after being driven out by the Native Aborigines. Settling to live at the foot of Mount Isa created a fertile environment for the vines to flourish and provided them with many years of vine growing experience. They learned from the Aborigines and moved to establish their own vineyards near the foot of Mt Ngongotaha and other foothills. In colonial times many vineyards were established near the Sydney Mountains where they became the focus of the world’s greatest vintners including Sir Samuel Clegg and his partners who founded the major beverage company Beringer. Although the area was largely undeveloped during this period there were notable exceptions with the establishment of vineyards by the likes of William Hazlitt and Sir Charles Duff.
Today, South Australia is home to some of the finest and most exciting wine growing regions in the country. The unique character of the vineyards, the quality of the grapes grown and the overall climate allow for a diversity of wines from sparkling whites to full bodied reds. With an abundance of soils and climates suitable for vines it has not been easy for the mclaren vale wine makers to succeed. However, with their recent wineries in Launceston and Adelaide they have finally achieved success.
The MCLaren group of companies are led by Managing Director, Paul Clarke and Managing Principal, John Quirk. Their portfolio includes an extensive range of Australian vineyards including Margaret River, Boulia, Berala, Bellingen, Hindmarsh, Maree, Marrumbidgee, Reservoir, Tamar Valley, Wollomombi and many more. They also operate two production facilities in Australia and one internationally accredited facility in Spain. In addition to producing award winning wines they also produce an extensive range of premium quality sparkling wines, Chardonnay and sparkling wines.
The Margaret River district of South Australia is located on the banks of the Murray River. This region has been an important agricultural production base for generations with horses, pigs, sheep, dairy cattle and other livestock making use of the land for grazing, farming and other activities. The district is now home to a diverse group of wineries including MCLaren Vale, which has opened its doors to take in all that this beautiful region has to offer. The company has spent considerable time and effort creating a number of unique products and they are proud to be South Australia’s own signature product. The aim of MCLaren Vale is to create high quality and distinctive wines which can be proudly served at their award winning restaurants and bars.
As part of their focus on quality wines the MCLaren Vale wine region focuses on two key areas; soil types and grape varieties. Both of these play a vital role in how the grapes from the vineyards themselves will be harvested and processed and ultimately sold. The rich soils of Margaret River give the variety of grape varieties that are able to grow so well there is rarely a situation where two different vines can be found growing beside each other. This allows the wine makers to be able to produce the full range of different flavors and colors in their wines with every grape variety having their own taste.
The other important factor to take into consideration when exploring the MCLaren Vale wine region is the incredible array of subregions and regions available for exploration. Subregions are areas within the area that have specific vineyards or landforms that are unique to them. For example the MCLaren Vale is renowned for producing dry whites. While other subregions can produce medium to full-bodied reds, greens and whites. The possibilities are many for any palate and with several wineries located in every region you are guaranteed to find something you like.
The climate of Adelaide also plays a large part in the unique taste of Australian wines. The cool breezes and sunshine combined with the silky smooth texture of the wines play a large part in why so many people love to drink them. The summers are a bit too hot for most but with a drive down the hills during the cooler spring and summer evenings you will be able to savor the natural beauty of the vines while sipping on one of the great Australian made wines.