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Sign for McLaren Vale wine region perched on a grassy hillside

McLaren Vale: the land of many vines and many wines

McLaren Vale is well known in the wine world for making elegant, soft and fruity wines. While this is true, the really special part of the region is the variety of wines that are made in such a small area. To add to this complexity is the amazing range of soils growers have to work with. For these two main reasons, McLaren Vale has quickly become the land of many vines and many wines.

When you get to McLaren Vale a big draw is the beautiful beaches we have along the coastline. This part of the region is our baby at around 10,000 years old. If you walked along the Mount Lofty Ranges from the beach you’ll be striding on soils around 80,000 years old. Finally, once you get up to McLaren Flat and turned west you’d be strolling along walks roughly 700,000,000 years old. With this great mixture of soil ages, comes vineyards with multiple soil types and therefore fruit expression.

mclaren vale soil sample showing many layers of soil

This is one aspect of the winemaking world, viticulture. Viticulture works with oenology, which is the study of wines, to come up with that “lovely liquid” people around the world enjoy. One aspect where viticulture and winemakers work together is deciding what to grow and turn into wine. Knowing the soil types, climate, annual rainfall, drainage of the block, wine style they are striving for and more will come into play when deciding what variety of grape to plant.

When it comes to this point the growers and winemakers in McLaren Vale are lucky beyond belief. With an annual rainfall of around 660ml a year, most years you won’t have to worry about the vines having wet feet. The heat of the summer makes sure the fruit is ripe while the cool nights of autumn help create complex fruity flavours. All of this means it’s pretty easy to grow things in McLaren Vale. Considering there are around 1,400 winemaking grapes in the world, this ability to grow almost anything opens the door to a whole world of possibilities.

The one thing that could stop this growth, experimentation and expansion is the consumer. Wineries have been able to try new things and plant these interesting varieties because customers are interested in and looking for something different. While this continues to be the trend then the wine world will continue to spread its wings and fly. When consumers stop exploring new varieties, the fun ends.

How can you help? Great question! First, come visit McLaren Vale and book a tour here. Secondly, try new wines. Whether it’s on a tour, casual visit of a cellar door or walking through a bottle shop with a tasting on. Try something new. You never know what you might find and enjoy!