Eat, Stay, Play: Clare Valley three-day itinerary

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Imagine pastel pink shores, sipping your way through some of Australia’s finest rieslings and supping on scrumptious cuisine on a three-day road trip to the Clare Valley – fewer than two hours’ drive from Adelaide.

You’ll witness the bubble gum shores of Lake Bumbunga, with its famous pink hues, on the way to fabulous food and wine on this itinerary served up by South Australia Tourism. While the itinerary can be knocked out in a few days, if you have some more time on your hands, you may wish to stay and sample more of the 40 or so cellar doors in Australia’s most famous riesling region.

Day one
Stop at Lake Bumbunga on the way to the Clare Valley
One hour and 40 minutes’ drive from Adelaide, Lake Bumbunga’s magenta shores beckon. Located in Lochiel, the lake is known to change colour from pink, to white, to blue, depending on the salinity of the water throughout the year. Stop the car, snap some shots, then hit the road for the Clare Valley.

Arrive at Trestrail Cottage
After 40 minutes, you’ll arrive at Sevenhill where your cosy cottage nestled in nature awaits. The perfect blend of untouched nature, creature comforts and a splash of wine, Trestrail Cottage is a cosy settler’s-style cottage tucked on 100 acres of private bushland just a stone’s throw from the world-famous vines of the Clare Valley. Check in and spend your days bush walking, wine tasting and dining before retreating to the open wood fire with a glass of riesling.

Drink in history and wine
Down the road from your abode a generous glass of wine and a good helping of history awaits. The Clare Valley is home to some of the oldest wineries and cellar doors in the state; the oldest being Sevenhill Cellars, which was established in 1851 by Jesuits priests. They planted the first grape vines in order to make sacramental wine. Sevenhill’s wine and history makes it a favourite with tourists. Visit the cellar door and tour the underground cellars and crypt.

Wine and dine at Terroir Auburn
Mix avant-garde cuisine with rustic charm at Terroir Auburn, just a 20-minute drive from the town of Clare. The team at Terroir Auburn pride themselves on sourcing as much local produce as humanly possible, with a strong focus on seasonality and a weekly changing menu. For a take-home option, head to Seed Street Diner and Takeaway for gourmet burgers, seafood, ramen and dumplings.

Read more: Ultimate Winery Experiences

Day two
Cycle the Clare Valley Riesling Trail
One of the best ways to experience the Clare Valley is by bike, along the Clare Valley Riesling Trail. Hire some wheels in the town of Clare, then cycle 35km across stunning wine country. Stop for a sip at Tim Adams Wines, Clos Clare and Crabtree Wines and grab lunch (and more wine) at Pikes Winery. Finish off the day with tapas and riesling in Mr Mick’s sunny courtyard.

Dig into dinner at Umbria Rustic
With a menu drawing on the traditions of Umbria and Tuscany, Umbria Rustic offers an authentic taste of Italy in the heart of Clare. Head chef Edoardo Strappa’s menu showcases local produce wherever possible, and the pasta is made fresh daily. The wine list features an impressive blend of Clare Valley wines sourced from the surrounding vineyards as well as Italian classics.

Read more: Three-day Barossa Valley foodie itinerary

Day three
Grab breakfast in Watervale, then explore Martindale Hall
Grab breakfast from the Watervale General Store then hit the road early driving 30 minutes to the Burra. Explore this historic mining town with the Burra Heritage Passport and be sure to stop at Martindale Hall on the way: one of the prettiest country mansions in Australia, presenting as a miniature version of Britain’s Chatsworth House.

Enjoy a long lunch at Skillogallee
End your Clare Valley escape with a lingering long lunch at Skillogalee. The cellar door and restaurant are set in an historic settler’s cottage, surrounded by beautiful gardens. Take your pick from an à la carte menu focusing on prime local produce, and pair it with some of the best riesling in all of Australia.

Got more time? Retrace your steps and visit more than 30 cellar doors in South Australia’s riesling capital
There is so much choice when it comes to exploring cellar doors in the Clare Valley. Some operate out of stone cottages, some in heritage buildings, some in brand new state-of-the art structures and others out of old farm sheds. These authentic cellar doors showcase the passion Clare Valley has for its wine.

History in a bottle
The Clare Valley is also home to some of the oldest wineries and cellar doors in the state; the oldest being Sevenhill Cellars. What’s old is new again at Mr Mick Cellar Door and Mr Mick’s Kitchen. Owner and winemaker Tim Adams first learnt his craft at the site in 1975 under the late Karl Hubert Knappstein, aka Mr Mick.

Tim and his wife Pam Goldsack bought the winery in 2011, becoming the first private owners of the jam factory turned winery since the Knappstein family sold it to H. J. Heinz in 1971.

The Clare Valley’s first families
Taylor’s is an inspired combination of old world estate philosophy and new world winemaking innovation, resulting in a range of wines that regularly receives international awards and accolades.

Jim Barry Wines is another world-class producer with its wines available in more than 25 countries around the world. Jim Barry, a pioneer of the industry, started the winery in 1959. The winery now produces its own fruit in 10 locations around the Clare Valley.

Read more: Australia’s best wineries

Pikes Wines is a family owned winery, established in 1984 by Neil and Andrew Pike – descendants of Henry Pike who emigrated from Dorset to South Australia in 1878. Henry Pike founded H Pike & Co. which became known throughout South Australia for its quality beer, ales, soft drinks and cordials. In 1996, Pikes Beer was reintroduced to the winery and beer has since been produced onsite.

Boutique wineries
Paulett Wines can be found in Polish Hill River Valley. Winemaker Neil Paulett started his career at Penfolds Wines and has more than 30 years’ experience. He makes wines of finesse, elegance and intensity. Try his outstanding Riesling and marvel at the views from the cellar door.

Knappstein is a small producer of premium wines with its Riesling among Australia’s best. If you’re looking for something different, the quaint cellar door is in a 19th century brewery.

Reilly’s Wines is located in an original stone and slate building, built by Hugh Reilly in 1856. This beautiful building now houses a cellar door and restaurant, offering visitors fresh, locally produced food, matched with dry grown wines.

Another favourite for wine lovers is boutique winery Skillogalee. A father and son handcraft the wines, with beautiful gardens surrounding the restaurant and cellar door. Sit on the verandah when the weather is good or huddle in by log fires when it’s not.

Originally published as Clare Valley three-day itinerary and Clare Valley wineries and cellar doors. For more fabulous itineraries, visit www.southaustralia.com

Have you visited the Clare Valley? What was the highlight of your trip?

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