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Crafting the perfect McLaren Vale Cellar Door Tour

Group walking in the gardens towards Battle of Bosworth Cellar Door

Heading to McLaren Vale for a cellar door tour with friends and wondering where to start planning? Here’s our guide to crafting the ideal wine-tasting itinerary.


McLaren Vale is easily accessible to Adelaide for a wine-tasting day trip. With stunning vineyards, charming wineries and a range of sub-regions, each with different growing conditions, McLaren Vale offers a host of wine experiences. As McLaren Vale locals and cellar doors owners, we’re sharing our tips to get the most out of your McLaren Vale Cellar Door tour.

Thoughtful Selection of Cellar Doors:

Strike a balance between the number of wineries to visit and the time to dedicate to each is essential to ensure you don’t get overwhelmed. We recommend sticking to 3 to 4 cellar doors per day to ensure you relish the experience without feeling rushed or overwhelmed. If you’ve been to the larger McLaren Vale wineries before, plan your day around lesser-known labels or concentrate on a sub-region like our home ground in Willunga.

Take Your Time

The staff at each cellar door are there to share their wine story and provide you with the best experience possible.  Allow at least 45 minutes at each cellar door stop to get the best appreciation, learn the story behind each winery and allow yourself time to really savour each of the wines on offer.

Visit a Variety of Winery Styles

McLaren Vale has an array of wine styles, from the bold Shiraz to the elegant Grenache and beyond. To make your tour enjoyable, select a mix of wineries specialising in different wine varieties & choose wine labels that offer alternative varietals outside the McLaren Vale’ norm’. If you can, allow a little flexibility and ask for recommendations from cellar door staff as you go to ensure you’re covering the cellar doors recommended by people in the know.

 Intersperse Wineries with Food Stops

Remember to eat between wine stops! You can add a lunch stop to your itinerary or plan a roving feast by choosing cellar doors that offer ‘build your own platters’. Have a delicious cheese here and an antipasto selection there. Ask the staff what to add to your platter to go with the wines on tasting. This adds another layer of enjoyment to your tour as you savour both the wines and the local flavours.

 Mastering Wine Tasting Etiquette

If you’re a newcomer to wine tasting, a little knowledge of wine-tasting etiquette helps create a pleasant experience for you and the winery staff. A few pointers include:

  • Taste with your eyes first: Start by looking at the colour of the wine. Hold it against a white background to better assess its hue. What is the colour telling you about what’s in the glass? Is it pale and transparent or deep and rich? Is it vibrant or does it have the tell-tale hints of ageing?
  • Swirl: Gently swirl the wine in your glass. This releases aromas, which are a crucial part of the tasting.
  • Smell: Put your nose to work. Inhale the wine’s aroma to detect different scents. Start with big groups of scents. Does it smell like red berries or black? Tropical fruit or citrus fruit? Then, see if you can break it down from there. Is it more like blackberry or raspberry? Apple or lemon?
  • Taste: Take a small sip and let it linger on your palate. Notice the initial flavours, the body, and the finish. Then, after swirling the wine in your mouth, swallow. Take time to notice the different flavours you detect afterwards.
  • Describe: Use descriptive words to capture your impressions. Is the wine fruity, spicy or earthy? Is it light or full-bodied?
  • Savour Every Sip: Take your time to appreciate the flavours. Don’t be afraid to go back and taste an earlier wine again for comparison so you can identify the wines you want to take home.
  • Stay Hydrated: Sip water between tastings to cleanse your palate and stay refreshed.
  • Respect the Staff: Engage in conversation with winery staff. They’re passionate about their craft and are more than willing to share their knowledge.

Choosing the Perfect Bottles to Bring Home

As you conclude your tour, consider purchasing wines that captivated your palate. Here are a few tips:

  • Go Beyond Your Comfort Zone: Experiment with varieties you haven’t tried before to expand your horizons.
  • Consider Food Pairing: Opt for wines that pair well with your favourite dishes. Seek guidance from winery staff on suitable pairings.
  • Age-Worthy Wines: If you’re patient, invest in wines that can be aged. This allows you to savour them at their peak down the road.

Crafting the ideal McLaren Vale cellar door tour involves a blend of wines, matching food experiences, getting to know the people behind the wine & memories of the day with friends. By embracing these tips, you’ll create an experience that stays in your memory rather than becoming a blur of wines.

Here’s to an unforgettable adventure of flavours, aromas, and connections. We hope to see you at Battle of Bosworth Wines soon.   

Start planning your McLaren Vale and Willunga cellar door tour hereVisit McLaren Vale Wine Website